Senate Democrats and the abortion fight, officer dies amid inmate escape: 5 Things podcast

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On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: Senate Democrats and the abortion fight

Reporter Candy Woodall breaks down the vote this week. Plus, Putin ties World War II to the invasion of Ukraine, the corrections officer who helped an Alabama inmate escape has died, reporter Cady Stanton talks about the toll of new legislation on LGBTQ students and we hear more about what happened to American tourists who got sick and died in the Bahamas.

Podcasts:True crime, in-depth interviews and more USA TODAY podcasts right here.

Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text. 

Taylor Wilson:

Good morning. I’m Taylor Wilson and this is 5 Things you need to know Tuesday, the 10th of May 2022. Today, Senate Democrats move on abortion rights. Plus the latest from an Alabama jailbreak and more.

Here are some of the top headlines: 

  1. North Korea says leader Kim Jong-un reiterated his solidarity with Russia. A report by North Korean state media did not include specific mentions of Russia’s war with Ukraine, but it said Kim Jong-un supports Russia’s efforts to defend its dignity against hostile forces.
  2. Former Michigan State basketball star Adreian Payne was shot and killed early yesterday morning in Orlando. Payne earned second-team All-Big Ten honors twice, but his biggest legacy may have been his friendship with eight-year-old Lacey Holsworth, who fought cancer during Michigan State’s 2013/14 season. She died just a week after that season ended.
  3. And the UK’s parliament opens today, but Queen Elizabeth II will not be in attendance. Buckingham Palace said she’s dealing with ongoing mobility issues.

Senate Democrats are leading a vote this week on abortion rights, and they know it’ll fail. But as Congressional reporter Candy Woodall tells us, the vote is a formality, part of a larger effort to save Roe vs. Wade.

Candy Woodall:

The Senate will vote Wednesday to codify Roe vs. Wade, and they right now do not have the votes that they will need to do that. But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said this vote is about getting every senator on record, so that every American knows where every senator stands on the issue. This would make abortion, or Roe v. Wade, law of the land. It would legalize abortion nationally. This act is an update of something that was introduced in 2021. That failed, and this one is expected to fail also because really, the way senators voted then, they’re planning on voting now. There’s one senator, Senator Warnock from Georgia, who didn’t vote in the last one and will this time, and so that will be a new vote. But otherwise, we’re aware of how the senators voted in the past and nobody has changed their view of that.

Taylor Wilson:

If abortion is left up to states, many would restrict or outright ban the procedure. Several, including Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Arizona have already passed laws significantly restricting abortions without exceptions for rape or incest. But others are making moves to expand access. That’s the case in New York, where Attorney General Letitia James announced a new program yesterday to increase funding for abortion services. The program looks to help New Yorkers, but also those who might travel to the state from elsewhere.

Letitia James:

It’s important that we protect the individual right to choose, that we stand up for abortion, that we stand up for healthcare in the State of New York, and that we provide access to individuals outside the state of New York, and we protect that right, and that it be ingrained in our Constitution, embedded in our Constitution. And that’s why I came out over the weekend in support of a constitutional amendment. The governor supports such an effort, and I joined with her in supporting a constitutional amendment to protect the right to privacy, which is implicit in our Constitution.

Taylor Wilson:

For more on the abortion front, check out Candy’s full story in today’s episode description, and stay with USATODAY.com.

The House will vote today on sending billions more in aid to Ukraine. That comes a day after President Joe Biden conceded that he would separate his $33 billion emergency request for Ukraine from the billions he’s also seeking in pandemic funding. There’s been historic bipartisan support for helping Ukraine, but Republicans have complained that Biden is looking for too much additional pandemic money. In the other chamber, Bridget Brink is scheduled to go in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today for a confirmation hearing to be the next US ambassador to Ukraine. Lawmakers will likely grill her on plans for reopening the US Embassy in Kyiv, and also the Biden administration’s broader efforts to help Ukraine. But Democrats will largely push for a quick confirmation.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin attended a military parade on Russia’s Victory Day yesterday. Putin did not use the day to escalate his invasion of Ukraine, as some in the West had predicted. But he did tie the Soviet Union’s triumph over Nazi Germany with Russia’s current war.

Taylor Wilson translating for Vladimir Putin:

With such feelings of genuine patriotism, the soldiers of Minin and Pozharsky rose for the Fatherland and went on the attack on the Borodino Field, fought the enemy near Moscow and Leningrad, Kiev and Minsk, Stalingrad and Kursk, Sevastopol and Kharkiv. And now these days, you are fighting for our people in the Donbas, for the security of our Homeland Russia.”

Some of those cities he mentioned from World War II are in present-day Ukraine. Earlier today, Russia pounded Odessa, and Ukrainian fighters continue to make a stand at a steel mill in another port city, Mariupol. Most recently a Ukrainian official said a hundred civilians are also still there, along with Ukrainian forces, despite earlier reporting that all civilians had gotten an out over the weekend.

The corrections officer who escaped with an inmate from an Alabama prison has died. 56-year-old Vicky White and 38-year-old Casey White, who are not related, evaded authorities for over a week. But they were arrested after a police chase and car wreck in Evansville, Indiana. Lauderdale County Alabama Sheriff Rick Singleton.

Rick Singleton:

There was a pursuit this afternoon in Evansville, Indiana. Evansville, Indiana is about 219 miles from here. The US Marshalls were in pursuit of a black Ford pickup, I think it was a Ford F-150. And Casey White was driving that vehicle. Vicky White was a passenger. During the pursuit, the pickup truck wrecked. Casey White surrendered. What I’m very thankful for tonight is that no one was hurt, no citizens were hurt, no law enforcement officers were hurt as a result of this escape. We got a dangerous man off the street today. He is never going to see the light of day again.

Taylor Wilson:

A coroner’s office in Indiana did not release a cause of death for Vicky White, but police say she shot herself after the chase. The Whites disappeared on April 29th, and authorities have since said they had a jailhouse romance and were planning their escape.

Legislation targeting conversations about sexuality, gender identity and LGBTQ related topics is spreading across the country. And some LGBTQ students say they feel they’re getting crushed. Reporter Cady Stanton has more.

Cady Stanton:

So I spoke to about 10 students in different states, including Florida, where the “Don’t Say Gay” bill was recently passed. And then other states where similar legislation is proposed about how they’re feeling about the legislation, how it impacts them. And they shared lots of feelings of frustration and disgust with what is being passed, but also frustration with lawmakers. Most of these individuals who are impacted by these bills aren’t old enough to vote. And so there’s a lot of lawmakers making decisions for them who they didn’t elect, or who they don’t have a say in the choices they make.

A lot of these bills are in different places in terms of states of legislation, some have been passed, some are still in committee, some are still being considered. But ultimately, it’s leading to more discussions about discrimination at schools. And some students have seen an influx and more support from other peers as a result of that, while others have seen an influx in bullying. A couple of students told me about times where they were comforting peers who were crying in bathrooms, or seeing more outward instances of bullying, especially against trans youth, where a lot of these bills are targeting those individuals. And there’s also lots of statistics about how this impacts LGBTQ youth mental health. For schools that are seen as more affirming schools, because they have more LGBTQ representation in their curriculums, students had a 40% lower odds of attempting suicide in those schools, as opposed to individuals who are at schools who aren’t affirming. And those rates of suicidality and severe mental health outcomes are higher, specifically for LGBTQ youth who are trans and non-binary.

The only thing I would want to add that one of the students brought up, that I think is a really important point is, a lot of us remember what high school was like. And for many, it’s not a fun time. You’re discovering a lot of things about yourself, there’s a lot of hormones, there’s a lot of confusion. And so tacking on these bills that are leading to more confusion, that are leading to bullying, that are leading to bad mental health outcomes, it makes it even harder for these LGBTQ kids who are really just trying to survive and find out who they are in high school. And there’s some existing challenges there. So definitely wanted to point that out as well because it’s an important piece of context for this kind of topic.

The three Americans who got sick and died at a Sandals resort in The Bahamas had been treated for symptoms at a hospital the night before, according to Bahamas police. At a press conference, Police Commissioner Paul Rolle said two couples who became sick were treated at different times and ate at different places. He said they’re investigating to see if it was food or something else that caused the deaths. 64-year-old Vincent Paul Chiarella from Florida died. His wife, Donnis Chiarella, was also hospitalized in The Bahamas before being airlifted to a Florida hospital in serious condition. And 68-year-old Michael Phillips and 65-year-old Robbie Phillips also died. Police have said they do not suspect foul play in the deaths. Hotel staff at the Emerald Bay Sandals resort found three people unresponsive on Friday morning. And the Chiarella’s son, Austin, told ABC News that his mom, who survived, woke up unable to move her arms and legs. The US State Department, on Sunday, said it was closely monitoring the investigation. Samples collected from the bodies and nearby area have been sent to a Philadelphia lab to be examined, and results are expected within a week.

Taylor Wilson:

Thanks for listening to 5 Things. You can find us seven mornings a week on whatever your favorite podcast app is. Thanks to PJ Elliott for his great work on the show. And I’m back tomorrow with more of 5 Things, from USA TODAY.