Senate bid to save Roe v. Wade falls to GOP-led filibuster
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate fell far short Wednesday in a rushed effort toward enshrining Roe v. Wade abortion access as federal law, blocked by a Republican filibuster in a blunt display of the nation's partisan divide over the landmark court decision and the limits of legislative action.
The almost party-line tally promises to be just the first of several efforts in Congress to preserve the nearly 50-year-old court ruling, which declares a constitutional right to abortion services but is at serious risk of being overturned this summer by a conservative Supreme Court.
President Joe Biden said that Republicans “have chosen to stand in the way of Americans’ rights to make the most personal decisions about their own bodies, families and lives.”
Biden urged voters to elect more abortion-rights lawmakers in November and pledged in the meantime to explore other ways to secure the rights established in Roe.
For now, his party's slim majority proved unable to overcome the filibuster led by Republicans, who have been working for decades to install conservative Supreme Court justices and end Roe v. Wade. The vote was 51-49 against proceeding, with 60 votes needed to move ahead.
Ukraine to hold first war crimes trial of captured Russian
ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s top prosecutor disclosed plans Wednesday for the first war crimes trial of a captured Russian soldier, as fighting raged in the east and south and the Kremlin left open the possibility of annexing a corner of the country it seized early in the invasion.
Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said her office charged Sgt. Vadin Shyshimarin, 21, in the killing of an unarmed 62-year-old civilian who was gunned down while riding a bicycle in February, four days into the war.
Shyshimarin, who served with a tank unit, was accused of firing through a car window on the man in the northeastern village of Chupakhivka. Venediktova said the soldier could get up to 15 years in prison. She did not say when the trial would start.
Venediktova’s office has said it has been investigating more than 10,700 alleged war crimes committed by Russian forces and has identified over 600 suspects.
Many of the alleged atrocities came to light last month after Moscow's forces aborted their bid to capture Kyiv and withdrew from around the capital, exposing mass graves and streets and yards strewn with bodies in towns such as Bucha. Residents told of killings, burnings, rape, torture and dismemberment.
Judge: Trump must pay $110K, meet conditions to end contempt
NEW YORK (AP) — A New York judge said Wednesday he will lift Donald Trump’s contempt of court order if the former president meets conditions including paying $110,000 in fines he’s racked up for being slow to respond to a civil subpoena issued by the state’s attorney general.
Judge Arthur Engoron said he will end his contempt finding if Trump submits additional paperwork by May 20 detailing efforts to search for the subpoenaed records and explaining his and his company’s document retention policies.
Engoron declared Trump in contempt on April 25 and fined him $10,000 per day for not complying with a subpoena in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ long-running investigation into Trump's business practices.
James, a Democrat, has said her three-year investigation uncovered evidence that Trump's company, the Trump Organization, misstated the value of assets like skyscrapers and golf courses on financial statements for over a decade.
Trump, a Republican, denies the allegations. He has calling James’ investigation “racist” and a politically motivated “witch hunt.” James is Black. Trump's lawyers have accused her of selective prosecution.
Slain Al Jazeera journalist was icon of Palestinian coverage
An Al Jazeera correspondent who was shot dead on Wednesday during an Israeli raid in the West Bank was a highly respected journalist in the Middle East whose unflinching coverage was known to millions of viewers.
News of Shireen Abu Akleh's death reverberated across the region. The 51-year-old journalist became a household name synonymous with Al Jazeera’s coverage of life under occupation during her more than two decades reporting in the Palestinian territories, including during the second intifada, or uprising, that killed thousands on both sides, most of them Palestinians.
Abu Akleh's name trended across Twitter in Arabic on Wednesday, setting social media alight with support for the Palestinians. Her image was projected over the main square in the West Bank city of Ramallah as mourners flooded the Al Jazeera offices there and her family home in east Jerusalem.
Al Jazeera and witnesses, including her producer who was shot in the back Wednesday, said she was killed by Israeli gunfire. Israel said it was unclear who was responsible, calling it “premature and irresponsible to cast blame at this stage.” Later Wednesday, Israeli Defense Minister, Benny Gantz promised a transparent investigation, and said he was in touch with U.S. and Palestinian officials.
Abu Akleh's coverage of the harsh realities of Israel’s military occupation was inextricably linked with her own experiences as a Palestinian journalist on the front lines. Her death underscores the heavy price the conflict continues to exact on Palestinians, regardless of their role as journalists.
North Korea confirms 1st COVID outbreak, Kim orders lockdown
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea confirmed its first coronavirus infections of the pandemic Thursday after holding for more than two years to a widely doubted claim of a perfect record keeping out the virus that has spread to nearly every place in the world.
The official Korean Central News Agency said tests of samples collected Sunday from an unspecified number of people with fevers in the capital, Pyongyang, confirmed they were infected with the omicron variant.
In response, leader Kim Jong Un called for a thorough lockdown of cities and counties and said workplaces should be isolated by units to block the virus from spreading, KCNA said.
The country’s population of 26 million is believed to be mostly unvaccinated, after its government shunned vaccines offered by the U.N.-backed COVAX distribution program, possibly because those have international monitoring requirements.
Kim during a ruling party Politburo meeting called for officials to stabilize transmissions and eliminate the infection source as fast as possible, while also easing the inconveniences to the public caused by the virus controls. Kim said “single-minded public unity is the most powerful guarantee that can win in this anti-pandemic fight,” KCNA said.
Justices to meet for 1st time since leak of draft Roe ruling
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court’s nine justices will gather in private Thursday for their first scheduled meeting since the leak of a draft opinion that would overrule Roe v. Wade and sharply curtail abortion rights in roughly half the states.
The meeting in the justices' private, wood-paneled conference room could be a tense affair in a setting noted for its decorum. No one aside from the justices attends and the most junior among them, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, is responsible for taking notes.
Thursday’s conference comes at an especially fraught moment, with the future of abortion rights at stake and an investigation underway to try to find the source of the leak.
Chief Justice John Roberts last week confirmed the authenticity of the opinion, revealed by Politico, in ordering the court's marshal to undertake an investigation.
Roberts stressed that the draft, written by Justice Samuel Alito and circulated in February, may not be the court's final word. Supreme Court decisions are not final until they are formally issued and the outcomes in some cases changed between the justices’ initial votes shortly after arguments and the official announcement of the decisions.
Lawyers: Nearly $1B tentative settlement in condo collapse
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A nearly $1 billion tentative settlement has been reached in a class-action lawsuit brought by families of victims and survivors of last June's condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida, an attorney said Wednesday.
Harley S. Tropin announced the $997 million settlement during a hearing before Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Michael Hanzman. Still pending final approval, the settlement involves developers of an adjacent building, insurance companies and other defendants.
“I think it’s fantastic,” Hanzman said, reacting to the update from attorneys. “This is a recovery that is far in excess of what I had anticipated.”
Earlier this year, Hanzman had approved an $83 million settlement to compensate people who suffered economic losses such as condominium units and personal property. A key question from the beginning has been how to allocate money from the property’s sale, insurance proceeds and damages from lawsuits among wrongful death cases and property claims.
The 12-story Champlain Towers South condominium partially collapsed in the early-morning hours of June 24, almost instantly destroying dozens of individual condo units and burying victims under tons of rubble. Rescuers spent weeks carefully digging through mountains of concrete, first to find survivors and later to recover the remains of those who died. Ten days after the initial collapse, demolition crews used explosives to bring down the remaining portion of the building to give searchers access to additional areas where survivors might have been located. A total of 98 people were killed.
US finds 500 Native American boarding school deaths so far
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A first-of-its-kind federal study of Native American boarding schools that for over a century sought to assimilate Indigenous children into white society has identified more than 500 student deaths at the institutions, but officials expect that figure to grow exponentially as research continues.
The Interior Department report released Wednesday expands to more than 400 the number of schools that were established or supported by the U.S. government, starting in the early 19th century and continuing in some cases until the late 1960s. The agency identified the deaths in records for about 20 of the schools.
The dark history of Native American boarding schools — where children were forced from their families, prohibited from speaking their languages and often abused — has been felt deeply across Indian Country and through generations.
Many children never returned home, and the Interior Department said that with further investigation the number of known student deaths could climb to the thousands or even tens of thousands. Causes included disease, accidental injuries and abuse.
“Each of those children is a missing family member, a person who was not able to live out their purpose on this Earth because they lost their lives as part of this terrible system,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, whose paternal grandparents were sent to boarding school for several years.
Holiday stops Celtics' last 2 plays, Bucks take 3-2 lead
BOSTON (AP) — Bobby Portis made a putback off Giannis Antetokounmpo's missed free throw with 15 seconds left, Jrue Holiday snuffed Marcus Smart on Boston's final two possessions and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Celtics 110-107 on Wednesday night to take a 3-2 series lead.
Antetokounmpo had 40 points and 11 rebounds, Holiday finished with 24 points, eight rebounds and eight assists and Portis added 14 points and 15 rebounds for the defending NBA champion Bucks.
Milwaukee has a chance to wrap up the Eastern Conference semifinal in Game 6 at home Friday night. The Celtics need a win to force a decisive seventh game back in Boston on Sunday.
The Celtics led by 14 in the fourth quarter before the Bucks closed the gap, tying it at 105 on Holiday's 3-pointer with 43 seconds left. Jayson Tatum, who scored 34 points in all, hit a pair of free throws to give Boston the lead.
Antetokounmpo went to the the line with a chance to tie it and made the first, then Portis grabbed the rebound of the second and put it in off the backboard to give Milwaukee its first lead since early in the second quarter.
Jokic's NBA MVP a win for hoops-crazed nations outside US
LONDON (AP) — Maybe it’s the ćevapi, or the souvlaki, or the mbanga soup.
Whatever it is, there’s no denying the tinge of international flavor when it comes to the NBA elite with Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic winning the league’s MVP award for a second straight season Wednesday.
Jokic made it four straight MVPs for foreign-born players.
The Serbian big man beat out two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of Greece and the reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia center Joel Embiid of Cameroon to mark another first — never before have the top three in MVP voting all been internationals.
The NBA playoffs are loaded with international talent, including Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, the 2019 rookie of the year and EuroLeague champion from Slovenia.