Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 3, 2022

A leaked draft opinion suggests the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade, Russia expected to annex parts of eastern Ukraine, and more

1

Politico: Leaked opinion suggests Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade

The Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that established abortion rights nationwide, Politico reported, citing what it said was a leaked initial draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito. "Roe was egregiously wrong from the start," Alito wrote in the draft opinion published by Politico. Hours after the report was released, scores of protesters gathered outside the Supreme Court to rail against the decision, which, if released by the court, would uphold Mississippi's ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy and trigger stricter abortion bans in a dozen states. The court's decisions aren't final until published, and justices sometimes change their votes as they circulate draft opinions. If authentic, this is the first high court draft leaked in the court's modern history.

2

U.S. says Russia to claim eastern Ukraine regions 

Russia plans to annex the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk plus the southern city of Kherson, in a bid to solidify gains despite continuing battlefield setbacks, U.S. officials said Monday. It was not immediately clear how Ukraine would respond, but the move could "thrust the conflict into an unpredictable, even more explosive phase," according to The Washington Post. Russia resumed shelling of the battered Mariupol steel plant where about 200 civilians, including 20 children, are hiding out with the last Ukrainian defenders of the besieged port city. Dozens of civilians managed to evacuate the steel plant over the weekend. A convoy of buses was supposed to shuttle out more on Monday, but the plan stalled.

3

Retired NYPD officer convicted of Jan. 6 police assault

A federal jury on Monday found former New York City police officer Thomas Webster guilty of assaulting an officer during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a mob of former President Donald Trump's supporters. Webster was the first person prosecuted for assault in connection with the riot. He is also the first to claim self-defense. Webster, 56, testified that he used a metal flagpole to strike a "rogue cop" who punched him in the face. He also accused the Metropolitan Police Department officer, Noah Rathbun, of starting the clash. A juror told reporters the jury "unanimously agreed that there was no self-defense argument here at all." Webster is scheduled to be sentenced in September.

4

Philadelphia officer who fatally shot 12-year-old charged with murder

Philadelphia authorities said Monday that the former Philadelphia police officer who fatally shot 12-year-old Thomas "TJ" Siderio in March has been charged with murder. The officer, Edsaul Mendoza, was with three other plainclothes officers in an unmarked police vehicle when Siderio appeared to have fired a gun at the vehicle. The other officers took cover, but Mendoza, 26, started a "tactically unsound" foot chase, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said. He fired three shots at Siderio. Investigators said he fired the final, fatal shot into Siderio's back from a half-a-car length away when Siderio no longer had a gun and was face-down on the ground. Evidence suggested the boy might have been turning to surrender before he was killed.

5

Fed starts 2-day meeting expected to end with half-point rate hike

The Federal Reserve on Tuesday starts a two-day policy meeting expected to conclude with a half-percentage-point interest rate hike. The Fed has telegraphed the move as part of its accelerating efforts to fight inflation, which has surged to a 40-year high. A half-point increase would be the central bank's sharpest hike since 2000. The Fed is expected to follow up with another half-point hike at its next meeting, in June. Another could come in July, with further increases later in the year. Economists also expect the Fed to announce that it will start reducing its Treasury and mortgage-bond holdings, which it piled up as it pumped money into the economy to boost the recovery from the pandemic-induced 2020 recession.

6

Supreme Court rules Boston rejection of Christian group flag unconstitutional

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that Boston violated the Constitution by refusing to raise a Christian group's flag in a city hall ceremony because the city had never turned away anyone else. The city government argued that its ceremonial flag-raising program was a form of government speech, so it could choose which flags it would fly. Lower courts agreed the city was within its rights. Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the unanimous high court, rejected that logic. He said the flags weren't government speech because the city had no role in "the crafting of their messages." That meant the flag raisings amounted to private speech, so rejecting a lone group constituted a violation of its First Amendment free-speech protections.

7

Germany's acceptance clears path for E.U. Russian oil embargo

Germany said Monday it is prepared to join a European Union embargo on Russian oil to punish Moscow for invading Ukraine. The move is expected to drive up fuel prices in Germany. "It is a heavy load to bear but we would be ready to do that," Economy Minister Robert Habeck said before E.U. ministers met in Brussels to discuss Russia. The decision marked a shift for Germany, Russia's biggest energy customer in Europe. The change could clear the way for the E.U. to ban Russian oil within days. Ukraine has called for an embargo, saying without it European countries are providing hundreds of millions of dollars per day in funding for Moscow's war effort.

8

India-Pakistan heatwave tests 'limits of human survivability'

Temperatures in parts of India and Pakistan have soared to record highs, the Indian Meteorological Department said Monday. The average maximum temperature for northwest and central India reached 96.62 degrees and 100 degrees Fahrenheit in April, the highest since record-keeping started 122 years ago. New Delhi last month recorded seven straight days over 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat was severe enough to put millions of lives at risk, damage crops, and, in the words of one climate researcher, test "the limits of human survivability." It also has forced authorities to close schools, and strained energy supplies. The cities of Jacobabad and Sibi in Pakistan's southeastern Sindh province recorded highs of 116.6 degrees Fahrenheit on Friday.

9

House Jan. 6 committee requests testimony from 3 GOP lawmakers

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack has sent letters requesting voluntary interviews to three House Republicans, Reps. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), and Ronny Jackson (R-Texas). Committee members said the lawmakers had a "patriotic duty" to testify. The requests followed reports about texts the three House members sent to then-President Donald Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, as Trump supporters were storming the Capitol, hoping to prevent Congress from certifying Trump's loss to President Biden in the 2020 election. Brooks is running for an open Senate seat. Trump recently withdrew his endorsement of Brooks, who said in a March statement that Trump had pressured him to reject the election results and force Biden out of office.

10

Amazon workers reject union push at N.Y. warehouse

Amazon workers have voted down a proposal to unionize at a second warehouse on Staten Island in New York, according to the Monday vote count. The 618 to 380 vote, conducted over four days last week, marked a setback for the Amazon Labor Union. The union was formed by a former warehouse supervisor, Chris Smalls, and co-worker Derrick Palmer, who got workers at a massive Staten Island fulfillment center to vote in favor of the union last month. At that warehouse, the first Amazon facility to unionize, 55 percent of those voting backed the upstart union. The vote at the second warehouse came as Amazon announced that it was ending its COVID-19 sick leave policy, which gave staffers infected with the coronavirus 10 paid days off. Now staffers will get up to five unpaid but excused sick days.

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