First Thing: Senate blocks bill to codify abortion rights

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<span>Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock</span>
Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

In a 49-51 vote, with all Republicans and one conservative Democrat, Joe Manchin, voting against the measure, majority leader Chuck Schumer warns that ‘it will be open season’ on people’s freedoms


Good morning.

Republicans have blocked legislation in the US Senate that would codify the right to an abortion into federal law, in advance of an anticipated supreme court decision striking down the protections enshrined by Roe v Wade.

The conservative Democrat Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, joined the Republicans in their unified vote to defeat the legislation by 51 votes to 49.

“Sadly the Senate failed to stand in defense of a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body,” Kamala Harris, the first woman and woman of color to serve as vice-president, told reporters outside of the Senate chamber.

Democrats moved quickly to stage the vote after a leak last week of a draft opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, indicated that the court’s conservative majority had privately voted to strike down Roe and subsequent rulings.

  • “If we do not take a stand now to protect a woman’s right to choose, then mark my words, it will be open season, open season on our God-given freedoms,” majority leader Chuck Schumer said in a floor speech before a vote.

  • Already, advocates of reproductive medicine are warning that in vitro fertilization treatment could be a “casualty” of some of the proposed anti-abortion laws that are emerging across the US.

Finland expected to announce bid to join Nato

Finland must apply to join Nato without delay, its president and prime minister said, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to reshape European security and the Atlantic military alliance.

Sauli Niinistö and Sanna Marin made the call in a joint statement, saying: “We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days.”

The announcement comes as five diplomats and officials told Reuters that Sweden’s bid for Nato membership will likely follow soon after Finland’s. According to Reuters, Nato expects Finland and Sweden’s membership to be granted quickly, paving the way for an increased troop presence in the Nordic region during the one-year ratification period.

Judge strikes down Florida governor’s election map

Ron DeSantis speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida.
Ron DeSantis speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida. Photograph: Marco Bello/Reuters

Yesterday, a state judge struck down new congressional districts in north Florida, saying that governor Ron DeSantis, who drew the lines, had made it harder for Black voters to elect their chosen candidates.

“I am finding the enacted map is unconstitutional because it diminishes African Americans’ ability to elect candidates of their choice,” circuit judge Layne Smith said, according to the Tributary.

In other news …

Lynn Wencus of Wrentham, Massachusetts, holds a sign for her son, Jeff, and wears a sign showing loved ones lost to OxyContin and opioid overdoses, during a protest at Purdue Pharma headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut.
Lynn Wencus of Wrentham, Massachusetts, holds a sign for her son, Jeff, and wears a sign showing loved ones lost to OxyContin and opioid overdoses, during a protest at Purdue Pharma headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. Photograph: Jessica Hill/AP
  • The US has passed 1 million overdose deaths since officials began collecting records two decades ago, with 107,622 deaths recorded in the last year alone – a 15% increase from the year before.

  • An Ohio woman who sold hundreds of marbled crayfish online has pleaded guilty to selling the invasive species across 36 states, as authorities work to curb the ecological threat posed by the small creatures with invasive species laws.

  • A Mississippi school district has upheld the firing of a teacher who read “I Need a New Butt” to his students. The teacher plans on continuing to fight the dismissal, which has sparked a debate about free speech.

Stat of the day: divers have pulled more than 25,000 pounds of debris out of California’s famed Lake Tahoe

Boats ply the waters of Emerald Bay of Lake Tahoe.
Boats ply the waters of Emerald Bay of Lake Tahoe. Photograph: Rich Pedroncelli/AP

A California not-for-profit this week concluded a project to collect litter beneath the top 25 feet of the surface of Lake Tahoe from the 72 miles of the lake’s shoreline. Scuba divers ended up pulling out a whopping 25,000 pounds of waster, including plastic bottles, engagement rings, 1980s Nikon film cameras, entire lamp-posts and … “no littering” signs.

Don’t miss this: How Trump officials and meatpacking industry execs kept plants open at the expense of lives at the height of Covid

In this April 2020 photo provided by Tyson Foods, workers wear protective masks and stand between plastic dividers at the company&#x002019;s Camilla, Georgia, poultry processing plant.
In this April 2020 photo provided by Tyson Foods, workers wear protective masks and stand between plastic dividers at the company’s Camilla, Georgia, poultry processing plant. Photograph: AP

Internal documents reviewed by the congressional select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis have revealed how meatpacking industry representatives lobbied Donald Trump officials to downplay the threat of Covid-19 to plant workers, and to block public health measures. The end result was catastrophic and deadly: at least 59,000 workers at five of the largest meatpacking companies contracted coronavirus in the first year of the pandemic, of whom at least 269 died.

… or this: MyPillow fight

Michael J Lindell, known also &#x002018;Pillow Guy&#x002019;, speaks at Trump&#x002019;s &#x002018;Save America&#x002019; rally in Greensburg.
Michael J Lindell, known also ‘Pillow Guy’, speaks at Trump’s ‘Save America’ rally in Greensburg. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Mike Lindell, the MyPillow chief executive and staunch Trump ally, is continuing his crusade endorsing big lie advocates for top offices in 2022 and spending lavishly on lawsuits to ban voting machines.

Climate check: US fracking boom could tip the world to the edge of climate disaster

A worker pulls a line from a pumpjack in an oil well in Signal Hill, south of Los Angeles, California.
A worker pulls a line from a pumpjack in an oil well in Signal Hill, south of Los Angeles, California. Photograph: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images

When gas prices began skyrocketing across the country, many on the right began questioning why the US wasn’t drilling more of its own oil to offset the rise in costs at the pump caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. A new study published in the Energy Policy journal found that the US, the world’s largest extractor of oil, will release 140bn metric tons of planet-heating gases if fully realized, unleashing emissions four times larger than all of the planet-heating gases expelled globally each year – an act that will place the world on track for disastrous climate change.

Want more environmental stories delivered to your inbox? Sign up to our new newsletter Down to Earth to get original and essential reporting on the climate crisis every week

Last Thing: Oh, the horror

The image on the Miramichi Mystery Machine Facebook page.
The image on the Miramichi Mystery Machine Facebook page. Photograph: Facebook

A small town in New Brunswick, Canada, has gotten swept up in a horror-themed treasure hunt that has thousands of local people grappling with a succession of clues – and the promise of a cash prize. Miramichi, a town of 17,000, is following a trail of clues laid out by a a shadowy figure calling themself Roman Dungarvan, and claiming to be a descendant of an Irish cook robbed and murdered at a nearby logging camp in the late 19th century. While Friday’s cash prize totals C$1,300 ($1,000), it’s the thrill of the search in a town where many have felt stifled by Covid health restrictions that has been most exciting.

“I don’t think anything of this magnitude has ever happened in Miramichi,” said Adams Robichaud, a high school student. “And we just absolutely love it.”

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