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News Making International Headlines: 04 May 2022

Now for a look at news making international headlines this Wednesday 04 May

Dems and GOP Clash over Roe v. Wade Draft

INTERNATIONAL: Senate Democrats will put forward a bill that will codify abortion rights into law this week, with a vote taking place next week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said at a weekly press conference on Tuesday (May 3).

The announcement comes after a leaked draft decision showed a majority of the country's top court would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the legal precedent ensuring abortion access for Americans.

Schumer said, “Republicans are spending all their focus on the leak because they don't want to focus on Roe v Wade, where they know they're on the wrong side of history and on the wrong side of the American people. Try as they might, they can't distract from the truth. The blame for this decision falls squarely on Senate Republicans who spent years pushing extremist judges and justices while claiming this day would never come. But come it has. So in light of this potential ruling, I want to make three things very clear. First, it is our intention for the Senate to hold a vote on legislation to codify the right to an abortion in law. Second, a vote on this legislation is no longer an abstract exercise. This is as urgent and as real as it gets. We will vote to protect a woman's right to choose, and every American is going to see which side every senator stands on. Third, to the American people, I say this -- the elections this November will have consequences because the rights of 100 million women are now on the ballot."

Biden has said that voters will need to elect more members of Congress who support abortion rights so that they can pass legislation making Roe v. Wade the law of the land. The Roe decision recognized that the right to personal privacy under the U.S. Constitution protects a woman's ability to terminate her pregnancy.

Chief Justice John Roberts announced an investigation into how the draft - authored by Justice Samuel Alito of the court's conservative 6-3 majority - was leaked, calling it a "betrayal" of the confidentiality of the judicial process.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday called for an investigation of the leak.

"I hope that the leaker, who is extremely likely to be found, given the limited number of people who have the ability to access early drafts of opinions, will be dealt with as severely as the law may allow," McConnell said.

Senator Elizabeth Warren was seen blasting the Supreme Court, hours after the draft leak. She said that the burden of this ruling would not fall on rich women who will have the means to protect themselves but on the poorest women in the country. She vows to do what she can to protect the rights of women.

She said, “I am here because I am angry and I am here because the United States Congress can change all of this. I am angry but committed. Understand this, understand this. I have seen the world where abortion is illegal and we are not going back, not ever!”

If Roe is overturned, abortion is likely to remain legal in liberal states. More than a dozen states have laws protecting abortion rights. Numerous Republican-led states have passed various abortion restrictions in defiance of the Roe precedent in recent years.

No One Can Assume Russia Will Not Attack Other Countries

INTERNATIONAL: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday (May 3) that no one could assume that Russia would not attack other countries and Germany would support Finland and Sweden if they decided to join NATO.

"If these two countries decide they should join the NATO alliance then they can count on our support," Scholz told reporters after hosting the Swedish and Finnish leaders at a two-day cabinet retreat north of Berlin.

He continued to say that it was clear to all that borders would not be moved by force and that countries’ sovereignties must be respected. Russia broke this law and that’s why no one can assume that the Russian president and the Russian government will not break the law with violence in other countries at another opportunity. That’s the reason why he and friendly countries decided to expand their defense spending.

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said the European Union’s sanctions against Russia should be expanded while Swedish Premier Magdalena Andersson vowed to increase her country’s defense spending to 2% of the GDP “as soon as is practically possible.”

Bolivia to Grant Pardons for Inmates Who Read Books

INTERNATIONAL: Inmates in Bolivia's overcrowded prisons are now able to knock small amounts of time off their jail sentences by reading books in a novel program copied from Brazil that aims to spread literacy and give hope, despite a notoriously slow judicial process.

The state program 'Books behind bars' offers a chance to get out of jail days or weeks early.

Bolivia does not have a life sentence or death penalty, but preventive detention can last for many years due to a slow judicial system.

The program has been launched in 47 prisons that do not have resources to pay for education, reintegration, or social assistance programs for prisoners, the Andean country's Ombudsman's office says.

So far, 865 inmates are sifting through sentences of prose to edge closer to freedom while improving their reading and writing skills.

One inmate is Jaqueline, who has already read eight books in a year and has passed four reading tests.

"It's really hard for people like us who do not have relatives outside (prison) who have no income," she said. "There are people here for example who are just learning how to read and write."

Nadia Cruz with the Ombudsman's office explained that the main focus of the program was giving hope to inmates awaiting trial, trapped by the country's notoriously slow justice system.

"That is important because what is reduced (on the sentences) is relatively little, it is hours or days in some cases, depending on what the board decides," she told Reuters.

"It varies from prison to prison, and from book to book."

With a daily salary of 8 bolivianos ($1.18) the inmates are forced to work to be able to eat and pay the high court costs if they ever want to get out.

Baking bread, knitting, or doing laundry for outside clients are some of the jobs available. Without this income, inmates cannot afford to purchase goods such as toiletries.

Learning to read can help escape the prison walls, at least in the mind, said Mildred, an inmate at the Obrajes women's prison in the highland city of La Paz.

"When I read I am in contact with the whole universe. The walls and bars disappear," she said.

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