Illinois proposes Texas-style bounty for sexual abusers. World’s largest tree wrapped in fire-resistant blanket. AUKUS Pact peeves France, China.
Illinois proposes Texas-style bounty for sexual, domestic abusers
Texas’ Heartbeat Act (S.B. 8) allows any person to sue anyone who “aids or abets” any woman in obtaining an abortion after six weeks. S.B. 8 makes no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. In response, an Illinois state representative has proposed a law that puts a similar bounty on sexual abusers in her state.
State Representative Kelly Cassidy proposed The Expanding Abortion Services Act (or the “TEXAS Act”) to protect Illinois citizens’ access to reproductive care. The TEXAS act also extends those protections to people who travel from “jurisdictions seeking to restrict access to abortion and other reproductive health care”.
The law would allow any victim of sexual assault or anyone with an unwanted pregnancy to sue abusers for $10,000. Victims could sue anyone whose abuse leads to an unintended pregnancy, or anyone who engages in domestic violence or sexual assault. Half of the fines awarded from these lawsuits would go into a new state fund to help people “forced to flee their home states to seek reproductive health care”.
Since the passage of S.B. 8, abortion clinics in Texas’ neighboring states have seen a significant rise in demand. A Planned Parenthood clinic in Oklahoma City reports than more than 60% of its 219 appointments over the next two weeks are for patients from Texas.
Firefighters wrap world’s largest tree in fire-resistant blanket
California firefighters have taken an extraordinary step to try to protect the world’s largest tree from a rapidly advancing wildfire. General Sherman, the record-holding giant sequoia, stands at about 275 feet tall, has a volume of 52512.91 cubic feet, and is between 2,300 to 2,700 years old.
Firefighters wrapped General Sherman, some of the other giants in Sequoia National Park, and a number of the park’s buildings in fire-resistant blankets. They hope that the blankets will provide some level of protection against the Colony Fire which is bearing down on them. Another wildfire in 2020 killed thousands of giant and equally ancient sequoias.
In general giant sequoias are well-adapted to fire. An occasional fire helps release seeds from the tree’s cones and create room for new trees to go. But the fires in recent years have become increasingly intense due to climate change. The heat and destructive force of these fires are now more than the hearty old trees can withstand.
New US, UK, Australia pact peeves France, China
Earlier this week, President Biden, UK PM Boris Johnson and Australian President Scott Morrison signed the AUKUS defense pact. The move is widely seen as an attempt to counter China’s growing influence in the Asian sphere. Under the deal, the U.S. would share technology to build nuclear-powered submarines with Australia. The U.S. would also establish a greater military presence on Australia’s shores.
Some US allies have not welcomed the news. France in particular had a 50-year, multi-billion dollar submarine contract with Australia, which has now bit the dust. The reaction in the EU in general has been mixed. Many European leaders see the need to keep China in check, but also see China as an important trading partner. This and other recent world developments have stirred calls from EU officials for the bloc to build its own military presence on the world stage.
In the UK, critics fear the new pact could drag Britain into a potential US-led war with China.
China has also accused the US, UK and Australia of embracing a “Cold War mentality”. In recent years, China has been aggressively claiming its neighbors’ territorial waters for itself, in violation of international maritime law.
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