RIGHTS: Yesterday, a West Virginia judge blocked enforcement of the state’s 150 year old abortion ban - meaning pregnant people can once again get abortions in the state. The law makes performing or obtaining an abortion a felony punishable by up to a decade in prison, with an exception for when life is at risk. West Virginia’s only abortion clinic argued that the law is void because, well, it hasn’t been enforced in more than 50 years and it conflicts with modern abortion laws - and it looks like the judge agrees. In other news, aides to 8 members of the House of Reps just filed petitions to form unions in their offices. This marks the first real action by congressional staff to organize to bargain for better work conditions. Meanwhile, Russia’s last independent channel is back on air. This comes more than 4 months after it was forced to close over its coverage of Russia’s war on Ukraine.
HEALTH: Recently, Ghana confirmed its first two cases of Marburg, a highly infectious (and deadly) disease in the same family as the disease that causes Ebola. Both patients died in Ghana’s southern Ashanti region. Now, officials say nearly 100 people are under quarantine as suspected contact cases of Marburg. Meanwhile, the US has its mind on monkeypox. Experts are warning people to take the virus more seriously, claiming that “the window for getting control of this and containing it probably has closed.” This comes as at-risk communities struggle to get access to vaccines and testing. Also making headlines in the US: covid cases are once again on the rise. This time, the highly transmissible BA.5 variant is driving the surge in new infections, though many health officials say it’s cause for caution, not alarm.
COURT: ICYMI, back in October 2021, the House of Reps voted to hold Steve Bannon (as in one of Donald Trump’s closest allies) in criminal contempt. The why: he defied a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. Now, more than 9 months later, jury selection has begun in Bannon’s trial at a court in Washington, DC. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, a jury will decide whether Nikolas Cruz faces the death penalty or life in prison for the 2018 Parkland school shooting. Cruz previously pleaded guilty to 17 counts of first-degree murder over the massacre. Defense lawyers are pushing for life in prison without parole, while prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. It’s the deadliest shooting to go before a jury in the US.