A roundup of key developments and the latest in-depth coverage of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
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The "Dobbs" in the case title refers to Thomas Dobbs, an infectious diseases doctor who became Mississippi's top health officer the same year the state adopted new abortion restrictions.
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Reactions to the Supreme Court's decision to overturn the constitutional right to an abortion were mixed across the country.
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Physicians must treat in line with patients' wishes and standards of care. Some medical ethicists say that abortion bans will force doctors to disregard these obligations in order to follow the law.
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Some nonprofit groups have welcomed the U.S. Supreme Court decision. But many global reproductive and women's rights groups condemned the ruling.
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A group of Black women in Congress are urging President Joe Biden to take urgent action to protect abortion rights, as the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade and seizes abortion access from millions of people across the country.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Massachusetts) led 20 lawmakers in sending a letter to Biden on Thursday, asking him “to use every tool at your disposal” to protect reproductive rights, including “declaring a public health and national emergency” to combat attacks on abortion access. The letter was signed by progressives like Rep. Cori Bush (D-Missouri) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) and was first reported by USA Today.
Friday’s decision “will obliterate legal abortion rights across the nation and exacerbate multiple public health crises disproportionately impacting Black communities,” the lawmakers wote. “The effects of this decision on the lives and health of Black women and pregnant people will be devastating and require an urgent and whole-of-government response.”
Anti-abortion movements have been rooted in anti-Black racism and hatred throughout their long history. The lawmakers noted in their letter that Black communities are especially vulnerable to maternal health problems; research has found that Black people are over three times more likely to die as a result of pregnancy and three times more likely to get an abortion than white people.
Roughly 26 states will either certainly or are likely to quickly ban abortions now that Roe is gone, which will have devastating effects on public health, especially among the most vulnerable communities. With a conservative supermajority on the Supreme Court, only Congress or the Biden administration can act to protect abortion rights on the federal level — and Congress has already failed to pass its abortion rights bill thanks to conservatives in the Senate.
Meanwhile, far right politicians are already gearing up to pass a nationwide abortion ban in the case that they continue to consolidate their power in Congress or the White House.
As a result of the Roe overturn, mental health and economic crises will also be exacerbated. In a country that already perpetuates the highest incarceration rates in the world, criminalization will see yet another uptick, compounding socioeconomic issues that disproportionately affect Black people.
“These unprecedented and calculated attacks on our bodily autonomy are a direct affront to the lives and freedom of Black women,” the letter reads. “In the midst of a Black maternal mortality crisis already robbing us of the lives of Black women three to four times the rate of white women, restricting access to abortion care will disproportionately endanger the lives of Black women and pregnant people.”
The lawmakers said that declaring an emergency over the abortion rights crisis will give the administration flexibility over unilateral pro-abortion actions.
Senate Democrats have also highlighted steps that Biden can take to protect abortion rights, including directing the federal government to create a national plan to retake abortion rights from the hands of white christofascists in the Supreme Court, Congress and state legislatures. They argue that Biden has “unique power” over the federal government to organize a response.
Though Biden has criticized the Supreme Court for ending Roe, activists say that he hasn’t done enough to protect abortion rights. His administration had claimed that it was waiting for the Roe decision to come out before announcing an action plan, but activists contend that Biden could have acted before the consequential decision came down to explore every option possible to protect abortion rights.
The decision follows the company's layoff of 150 employees in May and the loss of 200,000 U.S. subscribers in April, the first customer decline in over a decade.
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Saudi Arabia releases Murtaja Qureiris, once the youngest political prisoner in the kingdom -- ESOHR
Historically, hearings such as those currently investigating the January 6 sacking of the Capitol have usually left a footprint in memory. For Watergate, it was John Dean’s statement about “a cancer on the presidency,” along with the revelation of recording devices in the Oval Office. For Iran/Contra, it was President Reagan repeating some permutation of “I don’t remember” more than 200 times, along with Oliver North’s ghastly emergence as a right-wing superstar.
These January 6 hearings are no different in content – a number of no-bullshit “smoking guns” have been revealed, with more potentially to follow – but they are also unfolding at the same time as a hard right Supreme Court has chosen to rain down hard right rulings on reproductive freedom and guns.
The duality of the moment is horrifying. On one side, Congress is actually doing something on guns and Trump corruption — small things, yes, but actual tangible things like the hearings… while down the block squats SCOTUS, dragging us all deeper and deeper into a bog of hyperviolent patriarchy.
It’s a mind-cramp, to be sure. What will we remember most about the January 6 hearings into Trump’s criminality and the insurrection? The overthrow of Roe v. Wade. Just when things get really bad, they get worse. Such is the way of the 21st century. Makes you wish the Y2K bug actually had obliterated all the computers. Maybe we’d be tending cooking fires and hunting rabbits, and we’d be free.
And so much for all that. Notwithstanding the giant dung bombs raining down from the high court, the January 6 hearings have been nothing short of remarkable. “The bipartisan congressional commission investigating the January 6 coup attempt has found strong evidence that Donald Trump is a criminal,” reports Mitchell Zimmerman for Common Dreams. “As the hearings reveal, the former president illegally plotted to stay in office after the American people voted to boot him out. Now he must be indicted.”
Thursday’s testimony delivered three thunderclaps, none louder than former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue’s contemporaneous handwritten notes from a conversation with Trump about the 2020 election. “Just say the election was corrupt,” Donoghue quotes Trump as saying, “and leave the rest to me and the Republican Congressmen.” It does not get much clearer than that right there.
Trump’s statement came within the context of the second thunderclap: His overwhelming effort to stuff the Justice Department with partisans, and to get them along with officials already at Justice to do just what the note said: Call the election corrupt, back that with the power of the department, and leave the rest to me. The plot failed when officials like Donoghue refused to cooperate, and sent Trump’s handpicked minions scuttling like baby ducks. Wannabe-AG Jeffrey Clark may have been the most conniving, grasping, pathetic Trump official of the bunch, and that is saying something.
The third thunderclap: The stampede of pro-Trump politicians seeking pardons both before and after the January 6 attack. “Videotaped testimony presented at the end of Thursday’s hearing named Reps. Matt Gaetz, Mo Brooks, Andy Biggs, Louie Gohmert and Scott Perry as the lawmakers who sought preemptive pardons after or, in at least one case, before the Capitol breach,” reports The Washington Post. “They were among the most active and outspoken supporters in Congress of Trump’s false claims of election fraud.”
As Committee member Rep. Adam Kinzinger pointedly noted, “The only reason I know to ask for a pardon, because you think you’ve committed a crime.” Yet another quote for the ages on a day of testimony that deserves to be remembered.
“Perhaps the most decisive piece of evidence that the hearings are working,” reports Molly Jongh-Fast for The Atlantic, “is an ABC poll, done after the first three hearings, showing that ‘nearly 6 in 10 Americans believe former Pres. Trump should be charged with a crime for his role in the Jan. 6 riot.’ It’s hard to get Americans to agree on anything, let alone something as polarizing as this…. We don’t know what the Justice Department will do. But if it takes action, it will almost certainly be thanks, in part, to the very compelling testimony and proof that the January 6 committee presented to the American people.”
There is nothing to suggest these hearings will decelerate into the mundane once they start up again, and more revelations are sure to follow. It is our collective lot to absorb what these hearings tell us while the Supreme Court runs wild, and as we wait for action from a Justice Department still badly denuded and disgraced by the Trump years. The hottest summer burns on.
The Senate passed a compromise gun reform bill on Thursday night, after weeks of negotiation between Democrats and Republicans in response to a surge in mass shootings throughout the country.
The bill is a far cry from what gun reform advocates have been calling for, as it doesn’t address the root causes of the U.S.’s gun violence epidemic, including the deep-pocketed and politically powerful gun lobby. But the bipartisan group of 20 senators — which includes 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans — still praised the legislation as being a worthwhile step forward.
“This bill is a compromise. It doesn’t do everything I want,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut). “But what we are doing will save thousands of lives without violating anyone’s Second Amendment rights.”
After the bill was passed in the Senate, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said that the House of Representatives would take up the legislation “first thing” Friday morning to ensure a quick passage in that chamber so that President Joe Biden can sign the bill into law.
Myriad polling data has demonstrated that the American public wants stricter standards enacted when it comes to who can purchase a weapon in the U.S. An Economist/YouGov poll published earlier this week, for example, found that 55 percent of Americans wanted stricter gun laws, while only 36 percent said that laws should be unchanged or made less strict.
Pressure for lawmakers to pass gun legislation intensified earlier this month following congressional testimony from victims of mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, where 10 individuals were killed by a white supremacist at grocery store, and in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and two teachers were killed by a gunman in an elementary school. Among those who testified to the House Oversight and Reform committee was Miah Cerrillo, a fourth-grader who covered herself with the blood of a classmate and pretended to be dead in order to hide from the shooter in her school.
The Senate compromise bill would increase funding for mental health and school safety measures, and enhance background checks for gun purchases by those under the age of 21. It would also create incentives for states, through $750 million in federal funding, to implement “red flag laws,” which allow for guns to be temporarily taken away from individuals that judges deem to be a risk to themselves or others.
The new legislation would also close the so-called “boyfriend loophole,” restricting gun purchases for any person charged with domestic abuse. Currently, those convicted of domestic violence against their spouses, their live-in partners or those they co-parent with are restricted from buying guns, but individuals who have been convicted of domestic violence in relationships that don’t fit that criteria are unaffected.
Gun safety advocates have been critical about what’s not included in the Senate bill, noting that guns themselves are largely ignored. The bill does not include, for example, bans or restrictions on semi-automatic weapons or high-capacity magazines, both of which are commonly used in mass shootings.
Progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) has previously voiced concerns about whether the bill will be effective, due to its focus on bolstering law enforcement and increasing criminal punishment. “I am disappointed to hear a focus on increased criminalization and juvenile criminalization instead of having the focus on guns,” she said in a recent interview with CNN.
Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday slammed oil companies for raking in huge profits on the backs of U.S. consumers and reiterated his case for a windfall tax, a demand that came as President Joe Biden’s call for a federal gas tax holiday faced growing pushback from progressives and top officials in his own administration.
“Corporate greed is destroying this economy. Right now, people all over the country are paying $5, $6 for a gallon of gas,” said Sanders (I-Vt.), the chair of the Senate Budget Committee. “Meanwhile, in the first quarter of this year, oil company profits were $93 billion, and they’re going to spend $88 billion on dividends and stock buybacks for their wealthy stockholders.”
“This is outrageous,” he added. “Corporate profits soar, working people can’t afford to fill up their gas tank. We need to pass a windfall profits tax now.”
In March, Sanders led the introduction of a bill that would impose a 95% tax on the windfall profits of major companies, including oil giants that are taking advantage of Russia’s war on Ukraine to hike prices and pad their bottom lines, helping to push inflation to a four-decade high. The Vermont senator has also signed onto a separate measure that would specifically target Big Oil with a new tax and use the resulting revenue to pay out quarterly rebates to U.S. households.
Price increases in the U.S. have only accelerated since Sanders unveiled his legislation, with the average cost of a gallon of gas reaching an unprecedented level earlier this month as oil majors such as Chevron and ExxonMobil tout their surging profits.
“Gas is over $5 a gallon,” Sanders noted Thursday. “Why? Well, oil companies made $93 billion in profits in the first quarter and are spending $88 billion on stock buybacks and dividends to enrich their wealthy stockholders. Yes, it’s time for a windfall profits tax now.”
It’s time for a windfall profits tax. pic.twitter.com/slDwljhPyS
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) June 23, 2022
Under mounting pressure to boldly confront corporate profiteering to rein in prices, Biden earlier this week pushed Congress to enact a three-month suspension of the federal gas tax of 18.3 cents per gallon and the diesel tax of 24.3 cents per gallon — a plan that, like the windfall profits tax, faces long odds in the Senate thanks in part to fossil fuel industry ally Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
The president’s call for a gas tax holiday was immediately met with criticism from Democratic lawmakers and even top administration officials who — according to the Washington Post — “said privately that it would probably do little to significantly lower gas prices.”
“I fully understand that a gas tax holiday alone is not going to fix the problem,” Biden acknowledged Wednesday. “But it will provide families some immediate relief, just a little bit of breathing room, as we continue working to bring down prices for the long haul.”
But leading Democratic lawmakers, including Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), countered that a “gas tax holiday won’t make it down to consumers or stop the profiteering of oil and gas companies.”
“It also robs the Highway Trust Fund of necessary infrastructure funds,” Jayapal added. “An excess profits tax on oil companies with a rebate to consumers is a better solution.”
Sanders, too, has rejected the idea of a gas tax holiday, expressing agreement with former President Barack Obama that the proposal is a mere “gimmick.”
“Barack Obama was right,” Sanders said in March. “A gas tax holiday was a bad idea in 2008 and it’s a bad idea today. If we’re serious about providing consumers relief at the gas pump, let’s take on the greed of Big Oil by enacting a windfall profits tax and ending OPEC’s illegal price-fixing cartel.”
While Senate passage of a windfall profits tax is unlikely due to opposition from Manchin and the entire Republican caucus, the proposal is overwhelmingly popular with U.S. voters — which proponents say makes it both better policy and better politics than a gas tax holiday ahead of the November midterms.
One recent poll showed that 80% of U.S. voters, including 73% of Republicans, back the idea of “placing a windfall profits tax on the extra profits oil companies are making from the higher gasoline prices they are charging because of the Russia-Ukraine situation.”
“We need to get gas prices under control, but a gas tax holiday is not the answer,” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) tweeted Thursday. “We can’t trust oil execs to pass the savings on to consumers — rebates and windfall taxes would be far more meaningful and wouldn’t rob infrastructure funds.”
President Joe Biden speak publicly Friday afternoon, just hours after the Supreme Court officially overturned the constitutional right to abortion.
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Confirming the findings of several major journalistic investigations, the United Nations Human Rights Office said Friday that Israeli forces fired the shots that killed beloved Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and wounded her colleague last month as they covered a raid in the occupied West Bank.
Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement that it is “deeply disturbing that Israeli authorities have not conducted a criminal investigation” in the six weeks since Abu Akleh’s killing, which sparked international outrage.
“We at the U.N. Human Rights Office have concluded our independent monitoring into the incident,” said Shamdasani. “All information we have gathered — including official information from the Israeli military and the Palestinian attorney general — is consistent with the finding that the shots that killed Abu Akleh and injured her colleague Ali Sammoudi came from Israeli Security Forces and not from indiscriminate firing by armed Palestinians, as initially claimed by Israeli authorities.”
“We have found no information suggesting that there was activity by armed Palestinians in the immediate vicinity of the journalists,” Shamdasani added.
The U.N. body’s findings came days after the New York Times published its investigation showing that the “bullet that killed Ms. Abu Akleh was fired from the approximate location of the Israeli military convoy, most likely by a soldier from an elite unit.”
“The evidence reviewed by the Times showed that there were no armed Palestinians near her when she was shot,” the newspaper noted. “It contradicted Israeli claims that, if a soldier had mistakenly killed her, it was because he had been shooting at a Palestinian gunman.”
Last month, two weeks after the killing, CNN similarly concluded that “there was no active combat, nor any Palestinian militants, near Abu Akleh in the moments leading up to her death.”
“Videos obtained by CNN, corroborated by testimony from eight eyewitnesses, an audio forensic analyst, and an explosive weapons expert, suggest that Abu Akleh was shot dead in a targeted attack by Israeli forces,” the outlet reported.
The major publications’ findings confirmed Al Jazeera’s initial response to Abu Akleh’s killing. In a statement issued shortly after its Palestine correspondent was shot in the head, the Al Jazeera Media Network accused Israel of “deliberately targeting and killing our colleague.”
“Al Jazeera holds the Israeli government and the occupation forces responsible for the killing of Shireen,” the network said. “It also calls on the international community to condemn and hold the Israeli occupation forces accountable for their intentional targeting and killing of Shireen.”
The U.N. human rights body said Friday that “in accordance with our global human rights monitoring methodology, our office inspected photo, video, and audio material, visited the scene, consulted experts, reviewed official communications, and interviewed witnesses.”
The office went on to outline its findings:
On 11 May 2022, soon after 06h00, seven journalists, including Shireen Abu Akleh, arrived at the western entrance of the Jenin refugee camp in the northern occupied West Bank to cover an ongoing arrest operation by Israeli Security Forces and the ensuing clashes.
The journalists said they chose a side street for their approach to avoid the location of armed Palestinians inside the camp and that they proceeded slowly in order to make their presence visible to the Israeli forces deployed down the street. Our findings indicate that no warnings were issued and no shooting was taking place at that time and at that location.
At around 06h30, as four of the journalists turned into the street leading to the camp, wearing bulletproof helmets and flak jackets with “PRESS” markings, several single, seemingly well-aimed bullets were fired towards them from the direction of the Israeli Security Forces. One single bullet injured Ali Sammoudi in the shoulder, another single bullet hit Abu Akleh in the head and killed her instantly. Several further single bullets were fired as an unarmed man attempted to approach Abu Akleh’s body and another uninjured journalist sheltering behind a tree. Shots continued to be fired as this individual eventually managed to carry away Abu Akleh’s body.
“International human rights law requires prompt, thorough, transparent, independent, and impartial investigation into all use of force resulting in death or serious injury,” the U.N. statement continued. “Perpetrators must be held to account.”
On Thursday, two dozen U.S. senators called on President Joe Biden to ensure that the United States government is directly involved with investigations into the killing of Abu Akleh, an American citizen.
Thus far, the Biden administration has declined to play a role, insisting that the Israeli government should lead the probe. Earlier this month, in the wake of CNN’s investigation, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken asserted that the facts of Abu Akleh’s killing had not been “established.”
In their letter to Biden on Thursday, the 24 U.S. senators wrote that “the U.S. government has an obligation to ensure that a comprehensive, impartial, and open investigation into her shooting death is conducted — one in which all parties can have full confidence in the ultimate findings.”
“In order to protect freedom of the press,” they added, “a thorough and transparent investigation under U.S. auspices must be conducted to get to the truth and provide accountability for the killing of this American citizen and journalist.”
With the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, abortion bans in many states will kick in. Here are the states with laws with abortion bans and restrictions in place.
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The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol revealed Thursday that six Republican members of Congress who supported Donald Trump’s lies sought broad presidential pardons for their involvement in the campaign to discredit the election results: Mo Brooks of Alabama, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Andy Biggs of Arizona. “The only reason I know to ask for a pardon is because you think you’ve committed a crime,” noted Republican committee member, Congressmember Adam Kinzinger.
Please check back later for full transcript.