Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 22, 2023

Supreme Court temporarily preserves abortion pill access, Ex-Trump prosecutor to testify before House Judiciary Committee, and more


Supreme Court temporarily preserves abortion pill access

The Supreme Court on Friday upheld nationwide access to the abortion pill mifepristone, at least temporarily. The justices placed a hold on a lower court ruling from Texas-based U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk that would have stripped mifepristone's approval by the Food and Drug Administration, even though the drug has been on the market for more than 20 years. A legal battle ensued, and the case is expected to be heard before the Supreme Court. The justices did not provide a reasoning for the hold, but it is thought that it was ordered to give them more time to prepare the facts of the case. Conservative Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito were the only noted dissents. 


Ex-Trump prosecutor to testify before House Judiciary Committee

The Manhattan district attorney's office made a deal with the GOP-led House Judiciary Committee on Friday to have Mark Pomerantz testify before their panel in May. Pomerantz was a former senior prosecutor in the officer's criminal investigation against former President Donald Trump. The investigation eventually led to the indictment of Trump this past March, though Pomerantz had resigned from the case more than a year before this occurred. The Judiciary Committee had subpoenaed Pomertanz in connection with the Trump investigation, and while the Manhattan DA had sued to block the subpoena, a federal judge upheld the committee's ruling. Pomerantz is slated to appear before the committee on May 12. 


Senate invites chief justice to testify on Supreme Court ethics

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday invited Chief Justice John Roberts to testify at a hearing related to the ethics of the Supreme Court as well as potential reforms to these rules. In a letter sent to Roberts, the chair of the committee, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) wrote that in the past decade, "there has been a steady stream of revelations regarding justices falling short of the ethical standards expected of other federal judges and, indeed, of public servants generally." Durbin added that there had been a failure of the court to address these issues, and that the "status quo is no longer tenable." The request comes amidst continued fallout from allegations of ethical violations by Justice Clarence Thomas


Mexican migrant camps set alight across border from Texas

Around two dozen makeshift tents were reportedly set on fire and destroyed this past week at a migrant camp in Mexico, just across the border from Texas. Witnesses told The Associated Press that the fires were set on Wednesday and Thursday at the massive migrant camp, which contained about 2,000 people. The camp was located in Matamoros, near Brownsville, Texas, and was home to migrants mostly from Venezuela, Haiti, and Mexico. While there were no reports of deaths or major injuries, at least 25 makeshift homes were reportedly burned to the ground, and many migrants reportedly lost what minimal belongings they had. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. 


World commemorates fight against climate change on Earth Day

Saturday marks Earth Day, when the world comes together to commemorate green initiatives and heighten the fight against climate change. As the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration notes that "global climate change has had an alarming effect on Earth and its inhabitants," eco-friendly companies around the world are trying to come up with new ways to help be friendly to the planet. This is especially crucial when it comes to traveling, with initiatives such as embarkations on sustainable ships becoming more popular. Hiking, using green ski resorts, and cycling are also being promoted as better ways to get around and still enjoy a fun vacation.  


Criminal charges against Alec Baldwin dropped in ‘Rust’ shooting

Prosecutors officially filed a notice Friday dropping the criminal charges against Alec Baldwin related to the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film Rust in 2021. The manslaughter charges were dismissed without prejudice after it was determined that "new facts were revealed that demand further investigation and forensic analysis which cannot be completed before the May 3, 2023 preliminary hearing," prosecutors said. However, they added that the investigation into Hutchins' death remains "active and ongoing." Baldwin has admitted to holding a prop gun that went off and struck Hutchins, killing her, but has always maintained that the shooting was an accident. Baldwin's attorneys said they were "pleased with the decision" to dismiss the case.


Officer who killed Daunte Wright to be released from prison

Kim Potter, the former Minnesota police officer that shot and killed Daunte Wright in 2021, is set to be released from prison on Monday. Potter had been sentenced to two years behind bars for killing Wright during a traffic stop in the Twin Cities suburb of Brooklyn Center. According to the official criminal complaint, Potter had pulled Wright for a hanging air freshener and attempted to arrest him on a separate warrant. Potter then testified that she accidentally pulled out her gun instead of her Taser when Wright tried to flee, shooting and killing him. Potter was convicted of first and second-degree manslaughter, which came at a time when the country was still reeling from the George Floyd murder. 


NFL indefinitely suspends three players over gambling

The NFL announced Friday that it had indefinitely suspended three players for gambling on football games during the 2022 season. Quintez Cephus and C.J. Moore of the Detroit Lions, and Shaka Toney of the Washington Commanders have all been barred from the NFL until at least the end of the 2023 season, at which point they can petition for their reinstatement. Two additional Lions players, Stanley Berryhill and Jameson Williams, were also suspended for six games for violating the league's gambling policy. The Lions immediately terminated the contracts of Cephus and Moore, saying in a statement that they "exhibited decision-making that is not consistent with our organizational values and violates league rules." Toney remains with Washington. 


Explorers find WWII-era POW ship that sunk in 1942

The wreckage of a World War II-era Japanese ship that sank in 1942 has been discovered, the Australian government said Saturday. The Montevideo Maru, a ship carrying thousands of prisoners of war, mostly Australian, foundered after it was torpedoed by a U.S. Navy submarine as it traveled near New Guinea, at that time an Australian territory. The ship did not have any markings to indicate it was carrying POWS, and all aboard died in the largest loss of life at sea in Australia's history. The wreck was spotted earlier in April northwest of the Phillippine island of Luzon, officials said, and was discovered by a private company after 12 days of searching. 


Australian comedian Barry Humphries dies at 89

Barry Humphries, a Tony Award-winning comedian known for his stage persona Dame Edna Everage, has died at the age of 89. In a statement Saturday, Humphries' family said that the Australian comedian passed away following complications from hip surgery, and "was completely himself until the very end, never losing his brilliant mind, his unique wit and generosity of spirit." An international icon for more than 70 years, Humphries had lived in London for decades and created a number of well-loved characters that became cultural icons. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese tweeted that Humphries "entertained us through a galaxy of personas, from Dame Edna to Sandy Stone...he was both gifted and a gift."


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