There's a battle brewing in Texas.
What do you mean?
This year, the Lone Star State's Republican-controlled legislature has been making headlines. In May, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed a bill banning most abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. Later that month, state Republicans tried to pass new voting restrictions (think: new absentee voting requirements and a ban on drive-thru and 24-hour voting). But Democrats walked out of the House, squashing the bill's fate. Now, the gap between Dems and Republican state lawmakers is growing. Literally.
Voting rights…Last week, Texas began a 30-day special legislative session and circled back to voting restrictions. Both the state House and Senate re-intro'd bills including things like outlawing 24-hour polling places and ballot drop boxes. Republicans have said it'll make elections safe and secure. But earlier this week, more than 50 Texas House Dems tipped their cowboy hats, boarded two planes, and set up camp over 1,000 miles from home in Washington, DC. The reason? To prevent the bill's vote and urge Congress to pass the For the People Act.
Abortion rights…Remember the heartbeat bill we mentioned above? Well, there's more to it. Starting in September, the law also allows (and encourages) citizens to sue those who help someone get an abortion – like doctors, orgs, or friends that provide money, transport, child care, or more. Those who sue could get a $10,000 reward. Now, abortion rights advocates and providers are suing, saying it puts a "bounty" on people. And that the law could disproportionately affect Black, Hispanic, and low-income women. But supporters have hailed the bill as a key step toward doing away with abortions entirely.
So what happens now?
President Biden called Republicans' crackdown on voting rights "un-American," asking them "have you no shame?" And vowed to fight – with Congress's help – to pass legislation that would help end voter suppression. But didn't say he'd end the filibuster – something Senate Republicans recently used to block voting rights reform. Meanwhile, Abbott says he'll just keep calling special sessions until lawmakers "do their job" and pass the bill. On the abortion rights front, advocates are hoping to score a win and block the law. But supporters of abortion hope challenges like the Texas lawsuit could make their way to the Supreme Court that holds a conservative majority.
Across the country, Republican-led states have passed stricter voting and abortion bills. And some opponents are pulling out all the stops to make it, well, stop. But with neither side budging, those who could be most affected by these bills are left waiting to see what happens next.
Where things are escalating…
South Africa. Last week, former President Jacob Zuma turned himself in to serve a 15-month prison sentence. Zuma led South Africa for nearly a decade. But his political career's been overshadowed by scandal and corruption. And he was sentenced to prison after defying court orders in an anti-corruption investigation. But Zuma's arrest has triggered the worst violence in years. Hundreds of protesters and looters – many angry about his arrest – took to the streets and clashed with police. Others, angry over the high unemployment rate, joined in. At least 72 people have died. Over 1,200 others have been arrested. Supporters of the former president reportedly said there'd be no peace until Zuma's release. Meanwhile, gov officials say all the violence could lead to food shortages.
The legal system: Zuma has reportedly appealed to have his sentence reviewed. But the court said it's considering the arguments and will decide at a later date.
What scientists are monitoring…
The Western US. Climate experts are warning that the area's stuck in a cycle of extreme heat, droughts, and fires. And will be until climate change is addressed. The region's seen record-breaking temperatures in three heat waves this summer. And it's caused water reserves to evaporate, leaving little moisture in the air, which increases the risk for wildfires. Without change, the cycle will keep going. Experts warn it's having a huge effect on disadvantaged communities' water supplies and air quality
What's reminding us that binge-watching is a full-time job...
The Emmys. Yesterday was nomination day for the best of the best in TV. Or as we now lovingly know it: Zoom without having to talk to other people. "The Crown" and "The Mandalorian" picked up the most noms (24). Ted Lasso'd in some love. As did other shows that got us through quarantine, like "Bridgerton" and "The Queen's Gambit." "SNL" is still SNLoved by critics. And this year, for the first time ever, there's a transgender nominee in a lead acting category: Mj Rodriguez. Pose for history
What's good news at breakfast time...
This study. Researchers found that consistently having one or more cups of coffee per day could lower your risk of COVID-19 by about 10%. Who brew, right? But before you milk this study there's also something that's been proven to work better: vaccines. Sip on that.
What's giving some people jealousy, jealousy…
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