June 12, 2019

Just weeks after neighboring Missouri passed one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, Illinois is flipping the switch.

The state's Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) on Wednesday signed into a law a bill that provides sweeping protections for abortion rights, which he has said makes Illinois the "most progressive" state in the nation when it comes to the issue. The news comes at a time when several states, including Missouri, Alabama, and Georgia, have passed and signed laws that provide numerous challenges for those seeking access to abortion, such as early cutoff timelines and eliminating rape and incest as viable exceptions. But Pritzker and Illinois opted to go in a different direction, with the governor touting the progressive nature of the new bill.

"In a time when too many states are taking a step backward, Illinois is taking a giant step forward for women's health," Pritzker said in a statement. "Illinois is demonstrating what it means to affirm the rights of individuals to make the most personal and fundamental decisions of their lives, no matter your income level, race, ethnicity, or religion." The Reproductive Health Act, as its called, is effective in the state immediately. Whereas the restrictive laws elsewhere are widely viewed as part of a movement to overturn Roe v. Wade at the federal level, the sponsors of the Illinois law said that the new bill is meant to serve as a "firewall" should Roe be overturned.

The bill states that a "fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights," protects the right of individuals to make "autonomous" choices about their own reproductive health, and repeals a 1975 state law that penalized doctors for performing "unnecessary" abortions. Tim O'Donnell

1:07 p.m.

President Trump continued his trend of commenting on current affairs on Twitter this weekend as protests against police brutality take place across the country, but he's mostly stayed out of the physical spotlight.

The White House on Sunday declared a lid, which means no one should expect to see or hear from the president for the rest of the day, and ABC News reports there's a growing divide within the Trump administration about how Trump should respond to the situation. Some of his advisers, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, don't think there's any political benefit to Trump addressing the nation from the Oval Office since the few times he's done so haven't turned out so great, ABC News reports. But others, like White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, believe it's a chance for Trump to show that he's a strong leader and a unifier in a fashion similar to former President George H.W. Bush during the 1992 Rodney King riots in Los Angeles.

One person who doesn't want to hear the president speak is Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Bottoms said Sunday she hopes Trump remains quiet, arguing he'd likely only make a difficult time even worse. Tim O'Donnell

12:26 p.m.

National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien still believes it's just "a few bad apples" within U.S. law enforcement agencies that have caused problems leading up to the current nationwide unrest, like the Minneapolis police officer who put his knee on George Floyd's neck earlier this week before Floyd died in custody.

CNN's Jake Tapper asked O'Brien on Sunday if he believed systemic racism was at the heart of issues plaguing American law enforcement. O'Brien said he doesn't believe that's the case, arguing that 99.9 percent of officers are "great Americans" and his "heroes." The officers who don't fall into that category, he said, "need to be rooted out."

O'Brien isn't alone in feeling this way — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) recently made a similar argument. But, ABC News's Pierre Thomas, who is black, offered a different opinion Sunday. While he did agree with O'Brien that the majority of the nation's police officers are good people who work very trying jobs, he said the issue isn't only centered around police brutality. Rather, what's driving the protests are the "indignities black men and women and people of color face all the time," explaining that, among other things, he's been pulled over simply for driving a nice car multiple times. "I think we're at a point where people are saying 'we're sick and tired of being sick and tired,'" he said. Tim O'Donnell

11:17 a.m.

Protests against police brutality following the death of George Floyd have drawn large crowds in dozens of major cities across the United States and internationally in London and Berlin. This has many — including those who have voiced their support for the movement — fearing that a new spike in coronavirus cases could be just around the coroner, The Associated Press reports.

Many demonstrators are wearing masks, but the crowd sizes make social distancing challenging, and public health experts have also pointed out the virus is spread by droplets released when people cough, sneeze, sing, or talk. Chanting, of course, is a common practice at protests. Add in the fact the virus appears to spread even among asymptomatic carriers, and their worries certainly make sense.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said people who attended the protests this weekend "probably need to go get a COVID test this week," while also warning that the pandemic "that's killing black and brown people at higher numbers" won't pause for the protests. Read more at The Associated Press. Tim O'Donnell

10:53 a.m.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon, carrying American astronauts Bob Behnke and Doug Hurley, successfully docked with the International Space Station on Sunday after a 19-hour journey from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The mission, run jointly by SpaceX and NASA, was the first crewed space flight launched from U.S. soil since 2011 and the first ever orchestrated by a private company.

The Crew Dragon arrived at the station a few minutes early, and Hurley and Behnken are now conducting a series of pressure and leak checks to ensure their safety before they open the hatch and enter the station. The flight went as planned, and the astronauts said the capsule performed beautifully, per The Associated Press. Watch the docking below and follow along as Behnke and Hurley prepare to enter the station here. Tim O'Donnell

8:39 a.m.

One of the most striking scenes from Saturday's nationwide police brutality protests occurred when New York Police Department vehicles were seen driving into a crowd of protesters, some of whom were holding onto a barricade in front of one the trucks.

It is unclear if there were any injuries. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio weighed in on the incident, saying that he wished the officers "hadn't done that," but they "were being surrounded by a violent crowd" and "if those protesters had just gotten out of the way," the "troubling" moment never would have happened.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) was not pleased with the mayor's response, deeming it "unacceptable," especially since the police department ultimately falls under his leadership (although the police union hasn't always taken too kindly to the mayor, either). DeBlasio, she added, needed to "de-escalate" the situation. Tim O'Donnell

8:13 a.m.

President Trump isn't considered a big fan of multilateral diplomacy, and he's often willing to set a separate course for the United States and operate outside the traditional international system. But, when it comes to the Group of Seven, the U.S. president actually want to expand the talks to include several other countries.

Trump on Saturday postponed the G-7 summit, which he had hoped to host in Washington, D.C., at the end of June, until at least September. Both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau refused to commit to attending over concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, but Trump didn't indicate their potential absences were the primary reasons for his decision.

Instead, Trump said he believes the current group of countries — the U.S., Germany, Canada, Great Britain, France, Japan, and Italy — is "outdated" and doesn't represent "what's going on in the world." He said he plans to extend invitations to Australia, South Korea, India, and Russia. The latter will likely prove the most controversial; Russia was expelled from what was then the Group of Eight in 2014 over Moscow's annexation of Crimea, and other G-7 leaders have continually rejected Trump's efforts to bring Russian President Vladimir Putin back into the fold.

Per Reuters, it seems one of the factors motivating Trump to expand the invite list is so the countries can discuss China, which he's grown increasingly critical of in the wake of the pandemic and its efforts to curtail Hong Kong's autonomy. Read more at CNN and Reuters. Tim O'Donnell

May 30, 2020

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are making their 19-hour journey from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the International Space Station inside SpaceX's Crew Dragon after NASA and SpaceX teamed up for the first launch of a spacecraft carrying humans into space from U.S. soil since 2011.

The launch was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but lightning and rain led to its postponement. Weather threatened to derail Saturday's launch, as well, but the skies cleared in time.

The mission is considered the start of a new era in spaceflight. Not only is it the first launch from U.S. soil in nearly a decade, it's the first time a private company orchestrated a crewed mission to space. Watch a replay of the launch below and follow along with the rest of the astronauts' journey here. Tim O'Donnell

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