First Thing: Five women denied abortion care in Texas sue state over bans | US news

Good morning.

Five women denied abortions in Texas, along with two doctors, have sued the state after they were refused abortion care despite experiencing severe complications with their pregnancies.

None of the plaintiffs’ fetuses had a chance of survival. The state’s abortion bans are supposed to allow for the procedure in cases where there is a fatal diagnosis for the fetus, as well as when the pregnancy poses substantial harms to the pregnant person’s health.

And yet, under the overlapping abortion bans in effect in Texas – which threaten doctors with losing their medical licenses, hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and up to 99 years in jail for providing abortion care – the plaintiffs claim they were not given the healthcare they needed and were entitled to, writes Poppy Noor.

“People are scared and outraged at the thought of being pregnant in this state,” Amanda Zurawski, one of the plaintiffs in the case said on Tuesday in a press conference about the lawsuit in front of the Texas capitol in Austin.

  • What are the lawyers aiming for? “We want the state of Texas to acknowledge the women behind me should have received timely abortion care,” said Molly Duane, the lead litigator in the case, outside the Texas capitol. She said the lawsuit aimed to establish that what happened to the plaintiffs was a violation of their basic human rights according to the Texas constitution.

Biden reportedly considers detaining migrant families in major reversal

Migrant children are carried across the Rio Grande to the US from Mexico.Pin
Migrant children are carried across the Rio Grande to the US from Mexico. Photograph: Patrick T Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

The Biden administration is considering detaining families who cross into the US illegally as it prepares to end Covid-19 restrictions at the US-Mexico border, according to officials familiar with the plans. That would be a significant reversal after officials in late 2021 stopped holding families in detention facilities.

Department of Homeland Security officials are working through how to manage an expected increase of migrants at the border once the pandemic curbs that have been in place since 2020 are lifted in May. Detention was one of several ideas under discussion and nothing had been finalized, the officials said.

If families were detained, they would be held for short periods, perhaps a few days, and their cases expedited through immigration court, one official said. The officials were not authorized to speak publicly about internal deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, declined to comment on “rumors” that the policy was under consideration. “I’m not saying that it is, I’m not saying that it’s not,” she said. She refused to say whether President Joe Biden believed the detention of families was humane.

  • What do immigration advocates say? “The Biden administration is seeking to find a balance that protects the rights of those fleeing persecution and violence and the desire to enhance the orderliness of asylum processing,” said Sergio Gonzales, the executive director of the Immigration Hub. “Detaining families has no place in this quest. We implore the administration to reject this shameful, retrograde practice.”

Rupert Murdoch feared Fox hosts may have gone ‘too far’ on 2020 voter fraud claims, court files show

Rupert MurdochPin
Rupert Murdoch questioned whether some Fox News hosts went too far in coverage of voter fraud claims, according to an email. Photograph: Mary Altaffer/AP

Rupert Murdoch said the Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham maybe “went too far” in their coverage of voter fraud claims, according to an email submitted as evidence in the defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox.

Dominion is suing Fox News Networks for $1.6bn, accusing the cable TV network of amplifying debunked claims that their voting machines were used to rig the 2020 US presidential election against Donald Trump in favor of Biden.

The reams of documents that became public on Tuesday offer a window into Fox’s internal deliberations as it covered the election. They show top executives, producers and hosts discussing concerns about the network’s reputation and casting doubt on the plausibility of Trump’s claims of election fraud.

More than 6,500 pages were released on Tuesday, although the full extent of the evidence is not clear as many filings are heavily redacted.

  • What did Murdoch say? In one exhibit, Murdoch, the chair of Fox Corporation, emails Fox News president Suzanne Scott the day after Biden’s inauguration, asking: “Is it ‘unarguable that high-profile Fox voices fed the story that the election was stolen and that January 6th an important chance to have the result overturned’? Maybe Sean and Laura went too far. All very well for Sean to tell you he was in despair about Trump but what did he tell his viewers?”

In other news …

Elon Musk holding a microphonePin
Elon Musk got into a Twitter feud with employee Haraldur Thorleifsson over the latter’s employment status at the company. Photograph: NTB/Reuters
  • Elon Musk has backpedalled after mocking a disabled Twitter employee in tweet ‘storm’. Haraldur Thorleifsson was locked out of his computer, but after nine days of no answer from the company, decided to tweet the chief executive to find out if he still had a job only to be met with laughter and questions about his disability.

  • The UK home secretary, Suella Braverman, has denied the government is breaking the law with its immigration proposals, despite telling Conservatives there was a more than 50% chance the plans may be incompatible with the European convention on human rights.

  • The US is preparing to relax Covid-19 testing restrictions for travellers from China as soon as Friday, according to two people familiar with the decision. The curbs were put in place on 28 December and took effect on 5 January during a surge in infections in China when Beijing suddenly eased pandemic restrictions.

  • The White House said it backed legislation introduced on Tuesday by a dozen senators to give the administration new powers to ban the Chinese-owned video app TikTok and other foreign-based technologies if they posed national security threats.

  • Federal investigators announced yesterday a special investigation into the rail operator Norfolk Southern after a derailment on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border in February and several other accidents, including the death of a train conductor just hours earlier on Tuesday.

Don’t miss this: Laura Bates – ‘For teenage girls, escaping harassment, revenge porn and deepfake porn is impossible’

Feminist activist and writer Laura Bates.Pin
Laura Bates: ‘Almost every school I visit now has got a feminist society or gender equality society.’ Photograph: Linda Nylind/The Guardian

Laura Bates wrote the definitive book on online misogyny, which led to the police installing a panic alarm in her home. Bates explains how the “manosphere” radicalizes boys, how the media feeds the problem – and why she is still hopeful.

Teenagers live in a world dominated by phones, platforms for constant communication, online porn and internet videos. For millions of girls, what that means is terrifyingly clear: “The impossibility of escaping from harassment, revenge pornography, deepfake porn – just a whole bombardment,” Bates says. “I was talking to a 14-year-old girl at a book event the other day. She said 10 boys had messaged her, pressuring her to send them nude pictures, in a single night. That landscape of what teenage girls are navigating is completely new.”

… or this: ‘It feels unconditional’ – the secrets of lifelong friendships, according to lifelong friends

Lifelong friends Susan and Julia, smiling.Pin
Lifelong friends Susan, left, and Julia. Photograph: Courtesy of Susan and Julia

Friends are essential to our health and happiness, and even affect how long we live. Research shows overwhelmingly that friendship is good for us. “It’s not their primary purpose but friendships have this massive effect on your mental health and welfare, and on your physical health and welfare – they even affect how long you’re going to live,” says Dunbar.

“If you look at the data, the effect is far stronger than all the things your family doctor worries about on your behalf. This is my pitch for the NHS: just find everybody a friend or two.” Emma Beddington spoke to friendship lifers who have stayed close over decades of good and bad times and everything in between. Are there any secrets, and do they have advice for the rest of us?

Climate check: EU targets 40% of clean tech to be made within the bloc by 2030

The European Commission president, Ursula von der LeyenPin
The European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, is meeting Joe Biden in Washington next week. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters

The EU executive is considering a target that would lead to 40% of the bloc’s clean tech being made in Europe by the end the decade, as part of a response to a wave of subsidies from the US and China. According to a draft of the EU’s Net-Zero Industry Act, which is due to be outlined next week, 40% of green tech needed to meet the bloc’s climate and energy targets should be made in the EU by 2030. The 40% target, which could change before the draft is finalized, is part of Europe’s answer to the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which offers $369bn of subsidies to green-tech manufacturers, as well as China’s long-running policy of lavish state support for the sector. Critics argue the IRA discriminates against European companies selling to the US and provides inducements for them to shut up shop in Europe and move production to America.

Last thing: ‘Alligators don’t make good pets, y’all’ – Texas zoo rescues reptile stolen as egg

An alligator enjoys a dip.Pin
An alligator enjoys a dip. Photograph: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

A Texas zoo has retrieved an 8ft alligator that was stolen as an egg more than 20 years ago, then kept as a back-yard pet. In an Instagram post accompanying footage of three agents gingerly lifting the reptile into a truck and releasing it into a zoo enclosure, the state parks and wildlife department said: “Alligators don’t make good pets, y’all.”

A Parks and Wildlife Department spokesperson said a game warden found the animal, named Tewa, during an unrelated investigation in Caldwell county last month. A woman confessed to taking an egg from Animal World and Snake farm zoo, near Austin. She did not have a permit to keep the alligator as a pet.

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