UK's Johnson to resign, Mississippi abortion law, Griner's trial: 5 things to know Thursday

·5 min read

Britain's embattled Prime Minister Boris Johnson to resign

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Thursday that he would resign, ending an unprecedented political crisis over his future that has roiled the United Kingdom in recent weeks. Johnson said the process to select his successor would begin immediately and a timetable for the change in leadership would be announced next week. Johnson’s departure will end his three-year turn as the British leader. It comes after days of turmoil triggered by his evolving explanations of what he knew about a sexual misconduct scandal involving one of his allies. Two of Johnson's top Cabinet ministers quit earlier this week, followed by more than 30 others who said they could no longer serve under his leadership and who urged him to step down. Johnson's hold on power also was weakened by a cost-of-living crisis exasperated by Britain's departure from the European Union, known as "Brexit," which Johnson championed.

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Last Mississippi abortion clinic to shut down ahead of state enacting new law

Barring an unlikely intervention by the state's conservative Supreme Court, Mississippi, the state with the highest infant mortality and teen birth rates in the nation, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will enact a law to ban most abortions Thursday. Physicians at Jackson Women's Health Organization in Jackson, the state's only abortion clinic, performed the last legal abortions in the state Wednesday. Some staffers were expected to be at the clinic, also known as the Pink House, Thursday for paperwork ahead of its closure, but no procedures will be performed. Abortion access has diminished across wide swaths of the U.S. as conservative states enact restrictions or bans that took effect when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. Mississippi was one of 13 states with "trigger laws" on the books, which automatically, or through quick state action, banned abortions after the high court ruling.

Brittney Griner's trial set to continue in Russia

The trial of American basketball star Brittney Griner, who is facing drug smuggling charges, is scheduled to continue in Russia Thursday after beginning last week. The Phoenix Mercury star was arrested Feb. 17 at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport after vape canisters with cannabis oil allegedly were found in her luggage. She played for Russian pro team UMMC Ekaterinburg in the WNBA offseason. If convicted, Griner could face 10 years in prison. She recently made an appeal in a letter to President Joe Biden, saying she feared she might never return home and asking that Biden not "forget about me and the other American detainees." On Wednesday, Biden spoke by phone to Griner's wife, Cherelle Griner, and also plans to send Brittney Griner a letter while she remains detained, the White House said in a statement. Griner's supporters are encouraging a prisoner swap like the one in April that brought home Marine veteran Trevor Reed.

Derek Chauvin faces sentencing on federal charges in George Floyd killing

After pleading guilty in December, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin will be sentenced Thursday for federal civil rights violations in the killing of George Floyd. Chauvin admitted he willfully deprived Floyd of his right to be free from unreasonable seizure, including unreasonable force by a police officer, during the May 2020 arrest. He was also convicted in a separate case on state charges of murder and manslaughter and is already serving a 22 1/2-year state sentence. Chauvin's plea agreement calls for a sentence of 20 to 25 years in prison. Federal prosecutors last month asked for 25 years, on the high end of that range, saying his actions were cold-blooded and needless.

17 to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Joe Biden on Thursday will present the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to 17 people who have made "exemplary contributions" to the nation. Among the honorees are Olympic champion gymnast Simone Biles, Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington, and the late John McCain, the Arizona Republican with whom Biden served in the U.S. Senate. Other winners include the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, soccer star and LGBTQ advocate Megan Rapinoe, and civil rights veterans Diane Nash and Fred Gray. Biden himself is a medal recipient: President Barack Obama honored Biden's service as a longtime U.S. senator and vice president before they left office in 2017.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Boris Johnson out, Mississippi abortions: 5 things to know Thursday