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Democratic Senator Joe Manchin joined with Senate Republicans Wednesday to block a bill to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would have preserved federal abortion rights even if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. President Biden criticized opponents of the legislation, saying their votes run “counter to the will of the majority of the American people.” Prior to the vote, Democratic Senator Jacky Rosen of Nevada urged her colleagues to support the bill.
Sen. Jacky Rosen: “We’re not living in a hypothetical anymore. We are staring a post-Roe world in the face, and the time to act is now. My colleagues on the other side of the aisle have also made it clear: If they regain control of this chamber, they will pass a national ban on abortion rights. And they may go even further. I urge every senator who cares about women, who cares about women’s health, who cares about women’s autonomy and their rights, I urge them all to join me in voting to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act.”
The Supreme Court’s nine justices plan to meet privately today for the first time since last week’s publication of a leaked draft opinion showing the court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Palestinians are holding a state funeral in Ramallah for Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh a day after she was fatally shot in the head while covering an Israeli military raid in a refugee camp in Jenin in the occupied West Bank. Witnesses, including other journalists at Al Jazeera, said she was shot dead by Israeli forces. At the time of her death, she was wearing a helmet and a vest marked “press.” Shireen Abu Akleh, who was a U.S. citizen, had worked at Al Jazeera for 25 years and was one of the best-known television journalists in Palestine and the Arab world. Israel initially claimed she may have been shot by a Palestinian gunman, but later said it was unclear who shot her. Palestinian authorities accused Israel of committing the “crime of execution” and rejected an offer from Israel to carry out a joint probe into her death. On Wednesday, Ala’ Salameh, the head of the Palestinian Media Association, spoke out against the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh and other Palestinian journalists.
Ala’ Salameh: “Our protest today confirms that the occupation must be pursued, to pursue the Israeli leaders and war criminals who were involved in these crimes, the crimes which led to the death of those journalists, and their last was the journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.”
We’ll have more on this story after headlines. We will speak to Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi.
The Senate is expected to move quickly to approve $40 billion in new military and economic assistance to Ukraine. The massive spending package was passed on Tuesday with little debate by the House, with the entire Democratic caucus supporting it. Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says he expects the Senate to approve the aid “as soon as possible.” On Wednesday, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev accused the United States of waging a proxy war against Russia, saying the funding bill was part of a U.S. effort to “deal a serious defeat to our country.”
In Ukraine, authorities in the Russian-occupied region of Kherson have said they plan to ask Russia to annex the area. The request came from an official who was put in charge of the region by Moscow in April.
Ukraine has announced it will put a captured 21-year-old Russian soldier on trial for war crimes. Ukrainian authorities say he fatally shot an unarmed man in the head in the village of Sumy. A top U.N. official in Ukraine, Matilda Bogner, has called on both Russia and Ukraine to probe possible war crimes by its forces, including the use of schools as military bases and the mistreatment of prisoners of war.
Finland’s president and prime minister have announced their support for Finland to join NATO, ending decades of neutrality. Finland shares an 830-mile border with Russia. Russia responded to the news by threatening to take “retaliatory steps” in order to stop what it called “threats to its national security.” Sweden is also expected to seek NATO membership soon.
A new report by the Interior Department has documented the deaths of 500 Indigenous children at Indian boarding schools run or supported by the federal government in the United States, but the actual death toll is believed to be far higher. The report also located 53 burial sites at former schools. The report marks the first time the agency has documented some of the dark history at the schools, known for their brutal assimilation practices, forcing students to change their clothing, language and culture. The report was ordered by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, who is a member of the Laguna Pueblo and whose grandparents were forced to attend boarding school at the age of 8. Haaland spoke on Wednesday.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland: “I come from ancestors who endured the horrors of the Indian boarding school assimilation policies carried out by the same department that I now lead. This department was responsible for operating what we now know to be 408 federal boarding schools across 37 states or then-territories, including 21 schools in Alaska and seven schools in Hawaii. Now we are uniquely positioned to assist in the effort to recover the dark history of these institutions that have haunted our families for too long.”
The World Meteorological Organization has warned there is a 50% chance average global temperatures will temporarily reach 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels at some point in the next five years. Climate negotiators have long aimed to keep global warming at or under the threshold, which is the equivalent of 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit.
In northern New Mexico, a massive wildfire has now burned 237,000 acres. The fire grew by 50 square miles between Tuesday and Wednesday. Meanwhile, in California, 20 homes burned down in the city of Laguna Niguel in Orange County. Both New Mexico and California are experiencing a record-setting drought.
The CDC has found gun deaths in the United States reached a new high during the first year of the pandemic. According to the CDC, more than 45,000 people in the United States died in gun-related incidents in 2020 — a 35% increase over the previous year.
House lawmakers have announced plans to hold a hearing on the growing shortage of baby formula in the United States. Analysts say over 40% of baby formula products are now out of stock, with some brands near impossible to buy. The shortage is due in part due to the closing of a manufacturing plant in Michigan owned by Abbott Nutrition, the nation’s largest baby formula manufacturer. The plant was shut down in February over concerns about bacterial contamination following the deaths of two babies. A former worker at the plant had warned the Food and Drug Administration about problems at the plant in October, months before the babies died, but the FDA did not interview the whistleblower until December and didn’t inspect the plant until the end of January. The whistleblower had been fired by Abbott after raising concerns internally about safety issues at the plant.
In Florida, a state judge has blocked an effort by Governor Ron DeSantis and Republican lawmakers to remake Florida’s congressional map in a way that critics say is designed to curtail Black political power in the state. State Judge J. Layne Smith, who was appointed by DeSantis two years ago, criticized the map, saying it “diminishes the ability of African Americans to elect candidates of their choice.”
The state of Arizona has executed Clarence Dixon, a blind 66-year-old man who, his lawyers say, suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and was in declining health. Witnesses said authorities had to wipe up a fair amount of blood after officials struggled to inject lethal drugs into him. It was the first execution in Arizona in eight years. Dixon was convicted of murdering a student in 1978, but he always proclaimed his innocence.
North Korea has declared a “severe national emergency” after COVID-19 was detected in the capital Pyongyang for the first time. North Korea closed its borders over two years ago and had not reported any COVID cases until today. Authorities have ordered lockdowns across the country.