Protests are continuing to take place across the country following the publication of a leaked Supreme Court opinion that reveals the court is preparing to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that established a constitutional right to abortion in the United States. On Tuesday, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the leaked document is authentic, but said it is only a draft opinion. Roberts has launched an investigation into the leak. President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris both spoke out in defense of reproductive rights on Tuesday. Harris spoke at a gala hosted by Emily’s List.
Vice President Kamala Harris: “If the court overturns Roe v. Wade, it will be a direct assault on freedom, on the fundamental right of self-determination, to which all Americans are entitled.”
Legal experts are warning the overturning of Roe could pave the way for the conservative justices to also end same-sex marriage and access to contraceptives. On Tuesday, Congressmember Pramila Jayapal spoke at a protest in Seattle.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal: “There is a straight line from upending abortion rights to getting rid of access to contraception, to banning gay marriage. And our low-income communities, our Black and Brown communities, our LGBTQ communities will be the ones who pay the steepest price, because abortion won’t go away, but safe and legal abortion will, endangering millions of people.”
On Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate will soon vote to codify abortion rights into law, but the effort is expected to fail even though Democrats control both houses and the presidency. This is in part because Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona continue to oppose changing the filibuster rules.
On Tuesday, Oklahoma’s Republican Governor Kevin Stitt signed a law banning abortions after just six weeks of pregnancy. The bill is modeled on Texas’s anti-abortion law that took effect in September. Oklahoma’s new law allows any state resident to sue doctors who perform abortions or anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion — with rewards of at least $10,000. According to the Guttmacher Institute, Oklahoma is one of 26 states where abortions could be banned once the Supreme Court overturns Roe.
The European Union has unveiled a proposal to ban all Russian oil imports by the end of the year as part of a new round of sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen spoke earlier today in Brussels.
Ursula von der Leyen: “Today we are addressing our dependency on Russian oil. And let’s be clear: It will not be easy, because some member states are strongly dependent on Russian oil. But we simply have to do it. So, today, we will propose to ban all Russian oil from Europe. This will be — this will be a complete import ban on all Russian oil, seaborne and pipeline, crude and refined.”
The EU is planning to give exemptions to Hungary and Slovakia to allow them to keep importing Russian oil for a longer period of time.
Parts of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv remain without power and water after Russian missiles hit three electrical substations on Tuesday in the first attacks on the city in over a week. In eastern Ukraine, local authorities in Donetsk say 21 civilians have died after Russian attacks on Tuesday. In the southeastern city of Mariupol, there are reports Russian tanks are storming the Azovstal steel plant where Ukrainian fighters and civilians have been holed up. In recent days over 100 civilians were able to evacuate the plant.
The Belarusian military has just begun large-scale military drills to test its army vehicles for combat readiness. Belarus is a close ally of Russia and shares a nearly 700-mile border with Ukraine.
On Tuesday, President Biden visited a Lockheed Martin plant in Alabama where Javelin anti-tank missile systems are made. Biden called on Congress to approve his request for $33 billion more for Ukraine, including over $20 billion in military funding.
President Joe Biden: “As I said from the beginning, this fight is not going to be cheap. But caving to aggression would be even more costly. We either back the Ukrainian people as they defend their country or we stand by as Russia continues its atrocities and aggression.”
Pope Francis has revealed that he asked to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow three weeks ago in an effort to end the war, but the pope says he has not received a response. In an interview with an Italian newspaper, the pope appeared to lay some of the blame for the Ukraine conflict on NATO. The pope said Putin may have been reacting to “NATO’s barking at Russia’s gate.” The pope went on to say, “I wouldn’t know if this provoked an ire, but perhaps it facilitated it.”
The U.N. World Food Programme says about 4.5 million tons of grain are stuck in Ukraine due to Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea. The U.N. has been warning for weeks that the war in Ukraine could lead to a spike in global hunger and famine.
The U.S. State Department has declared that WNBA superstar Brittney Griner is being “wrongfully detained” in Russia, in a sign the Biden administration may begin to press harder for her release. She was jailed in February after cannabis oil was found in her luggage when she flew into Russia to play during the WNBA’s offseason. Brittney Griner is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and seven-time WNBA all-star. She is also a Black lesbian who has been outspoken for LGBTQ+ rights. The State Department has now transferred her case to the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs. The office played a key role in securing the recent prisoner swap with Russia that led to the release of former marine Trevor Reed.
BP has become the latest oil giant to announce massive profits. The company made $6.2 billion in profits in the first three months of the year — that’s almost $3 million in profit every hour.
The Wall Street Journal has revealed CIA Director William Burns made a secret trip to Saudi Arabia last month where he met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The meeting came as the Biden administration is pushing the Saudis to pump more oil.
Voters in Ohio and Indiana went to the polls Tuesday for two of the first primaries of this midterm election cycle. In Ohio, J.D. Vance won the Republican Senate primary after securing the backing of Donald Trump. Vance praised the former president during his victory rally Tuesday night.
J.D. Vance: “Thanks to the president for everything, for endorsing me. And I’ve got to say, a lot of the fake news media out there — and there are some good ones in the back there; there are some bad ones, too, let’s be honest — but they wanted to write a story that this campaign would be the death of Donald Trump’s 'America First' agenda. Ladies and gentlemen, it ain’t the death of the 'America First' agenda.”
J.D. Vance is a venture capitalist and author of the best-selling book “Hillbilly Elegy.” He was heavily backed by the right-wing tech billionaire Peter Thiel. Politico reports Thiel spent more than $15 million to back Vance, who will face Democratic Congressmember Tim Ryan in November’s election to fill the seat currently held by Republican Senator Rob Portman.
In another closely watched race, Democratic Congressmember Shontel Brown has defeated challenger Nina Turner, the former co-chair of Bernie Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign. It was a rematch of last year’s special election that brought Brown to Congress. We will have more on the Ohio election later in the program.
A former Philadelphia police officer has been charged with murder and is being held without bail for fatally shooting an unarmed 12-year-old boy named Thomas Siderio in March. Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner accused the officer, Edsaul Mendoza, of shooting the 12-year-old while the boy was face down on the sidewalk after a foot chase. Prosecutors say the 12-year-old had fired a gun at one point but had discarded it about 40 feet away from where he was shot.
A former New York City police officer has been convicted of assaulting a D.C. police officer during the deadly January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Thomas Webster was found guilty on six counts. Prosecutors accused Webster of attacking a D.C. police officer with a flag pole and then tackling the officer to the ground. Webster retired from the NYPD in 2011. He used to work on former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s security detail.
Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper says that former President Donald Trump wanted Black Lives Matter protesters to be shot in 2020 as protests calling for racial justice spread across the country following the police killing of George Floyd. In his new book, Esper quotes Trump saying, “Can’t you just shoot them? Just shoot them in the legs or something?”
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has warned the war in Ukraine is aggravating a food, energy and financial crisis across Africa. Guterres made the remarks during a trip to West Africa, where he also called for debt relief for African nations and for the military juntas in Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali to hand over power to civilians “as soon as possible.” The head of the military government in Guinea recently said a 39-month transition period is needed before civilian rule returns.
Israel is now holding 600 Palestinians without charge or trial — the highest number since 2016. This according to a report by the Israeli human rights group HaMoked. Palestinians are often arrested on secret evidence and not given a chance to defend themselves in court while being held in what’s known as administrative detention.
North Korea has launched a suspected ballistic missile off its east coast. This comes about a week after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un vowed to develop the country’s nuclear arsenal at “the fastest possible speed.” Today’s test also comes just days before the May 10 inauguration of South Korea’s new president, Yoon Suk-yeol.
PayPal has canceled the account and frozen the funds of the independent news outlet Consortium News, which has criticized U.S. policy on Ukraine. The site’s editor-in-chief, Joe Lauria, said, “Given the current political climate it is more than conceivable that PayPal is reacting to Consortium News’ coverage of the war in Ukraine, which is not in line with the dominant narrative that is being increasingly enforced.” Paypal also recently froze the account of another site, MintPress News.
Norman Mineta has died at the age of 90. He was the first Asian American cabinet secretary, serving under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Mineta was the son of Japanese immigrants. As a child, he spent two years living in an internment camp in Wyoming. As a member of Congress, he pushed for the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 to grant reparations to Japanese Americans who were interned by the U.S. government during World War II.