Trump impeachment: defense wraps up, claiming free speech is at stake – live

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In states across the US legislation from Republican lawmakers seeking to undermine abortion rights is on the move. For anti-abortion activists, the goal has long been to challenge the supreme court decision that gave pregnant people the right to abortion 48 years ago: the landmark Roe versus Wade.

Each spring, especially in the last decade, Republicans have introduced restrictive abortion laws tailored to challenge that supreme court precedent by creating test cases. In 1973, Roe versus Wade provided women with a right to abortion up to the point the fetus can survive outside the womb, generally understood to be 24 weeks.

Abortion restrictions investigate the outer limits of that right, by creating laws that provoke reproductive rights advocates to sue, and for courts to consider their legitimacy.

“The more ambitious a restriction the court upholds, that will greenlight even more restrictions in the states,” said Mary Ziegler, a Florida State University law professor whose recent book, Abortion in America: A Legal History, tracked the history of the nation’s most important abortion cases.

“What we’ve been seeing is not what anti-abortion lawmakers want, but it’s been tailored to what they think the supreme court wants,” said Ziegler.

This effort is not meant to reflect the will of the majority of Americans, 77% of whom believe the supreme court should uphold Roe v Wade. The effort is meant to please a motivated, religious voter base, who have helped power Republican victories since the Reagan era. Trump played for the same “social conservatives” when vowing to appoint supreme court justices who would overturn Roe. But since Trump rose to power, exactly how to do that has become a vexing question for the Republican party.

Bills that ban abortion, demand doctors perform the impossible and “reimplant” ectopic pregnancies, punish women and doctors under murder statutes and whose authors believe the fundamental legal principle of precedent should not apply to their cases have all shown up in state legislatures in the last couple years.

Bans in recent sessions have been “extremely aggressive”, said Hillary Schneller, a senior staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, and who is now fighting a Mississippi law that could ban abortion at 15 weeks. The state has appealed to the supreme court.

Recent bans have been, “saying the quiet part out loud – that they’re not just restriction abortion, they want to end access to abortion entirely”, said Schneller.

Read more of Jessica Glenza’s report here: Republicans employ new ‘extremely aggressive’ tactics to ban abortion

Fast-food workers in 15 cities will hold a Black History Month strike on Tuesday to demand that the McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s restaurant chains pay them $15 an hour.

The action comes as Congress prepares to debate a federal rise in the minimum wage to $15 from its current rate of $7.25, the first federal raise since 2009.

Workers in cities including Atlanta, Charleston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston and St Louis will be joined by home care and nursing home workers in support of a $15 minimum wage and the right to join a union.

Joe Biden pledged to increase the minimum wage during his election campaign but has recently suggested the increase may not make it into the $1.9tn coronavirus relief package he is trying to push through Congress. Biden has said the increase is central to his pledge to narrow racial economic inequality.

“This Black History Month, we have a chance to make our own history by winning a living wage of at least $15 an hour and lifting millions of families out of poverty,” said Taiwanna Milligan, a McDonald’s worker from Charleston, South Carolina.

Milligan added: “For decades, McDonald’s has made billions in profit off the backs of workers like me, paying us starvation wages. I’m striking today because I need at least $15 an hour to survive and because I know the only way to make change is to stand up, speak out and demand it.”

Read more of Dominic Rushe’s report here: US fast food workers hold Black History Month strike to demand $15 an hour

Though in-person gatherings might be limited across the world, millions are still celebrating Lunar New Year today and ushering in the year of the ox.

Based on a traditional calendar observed by China, South Korea, Vietnam and others, this year’s new year and spring festival comes with its own specific significance. “The ox, in Chinese culture, is a hardworking zodiac sign. It usually signifies movements so, hopefully, the world will be less static than last year and get moving again in the second half of the year,” said Thierry Chow, a Hong Kong-based feng shui master, in a CNN interview.

Andrew Yang🧢🗽🇺🇸 (@AndrewYang)

Happy Lunar New Year!! The Year of the Ox 👍❤️🎉 pic.twitter.com/khZ0Af6gk2

February 12, 2021

Meanwhile, some are encouraging the celebration as a means of diplomacy. Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison encouraged federal politicians to celebrate the Lunar New Year to help foster good relationships with Chinese people in the country, despite ongoing political tension with Beijing, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Others are highlighting the recent racism and attacks against Asian American people in their posts about the festival.

Velo Librarian (@velolibrarian)

Happy Lunar New Year, Chinese New Year, Tết, and Seollal!🧧 Please remember that the United States has a history of violence and racism towards Asian Americans and we need to acknowledge that we are celebrating a holiday of people we systematically oppress. https://t.co/gu0ibyftL0

February 12, 2021

Here in New York, organizations in the city are holding both in person and virtual events in a year like no other.

Lunar New Year decorations are displayed in Chinatown on the eve of the Lunar New Year in New York. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Georgia state election board referred two cases to prosecutors on Wednesday connected to organizations that helped mobilize a record number of voters in the state during the 2020 election, a move critics say is an intimidation effort.

One case involves the New Georgia Project (NGP), the group founded by Stacey Abrams in 2014, that helps mobilize voters of color. In 2019, investigators allege, the group violated state law by not handing in 1,268 voter registration applications within the 10 days required under state rules. The named respondent in the matter is Senator Raphael Warnock, who the group says was serving as the chairman of its board at the time, but was incorrectly listed on documents as the group’s CEO, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“The February 10th State Election Board meeting was the first time NGP heard about the allegations regarding NGP’s important voter registration work from 2019,” Nse Ufot, who has served as the group’s CEO since 2014, said in a statement. “We have not received any information on this matter from the Secretary or any other Georgia official so we will have no further comment on the investigation.”

The episode marks the latest example of Republicans targeting the group. In 2014, Brian Kemp, then the state’s top election official, announced an investigation into allegations of forged registration materials but found no widespread wrongdoing. Late last year, the secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, accused the group of soliciting people from outside of Georgia to register in the state – which the group denied.

Those investigations force the organization to allocate resources towards lawyers it says could otherwise be invested in voter registration.

“Every dollar that we have to spend to defend ourselves against the nuisance and partisan investigations is a dollar that we aren’t able to put into the field to register new voters and have high quality conversations about the power of their vote and the importance of this moment,” Ufot told the Guardian last year.

Read more of Sam Levine’s report here: ‘Intimidation tactic’: Georgia officials investigate groups that mobilized Black voters