News rundown: What you missed week of Feb. 21

A lot has happened in the world over the past week. Let’s catch up on the major news headlines:


Texas wildfires continue

Earlier this week, Smokehouse Creek, Texas was hit with a wave of devastating wildfires. The fight against these fires continued on Monday after lasting over a week, with the rapid growth making mass devastation a reality. 

These fires have heavily affected Texas ranchers and farmers. Their lands have been destroyed, including a loss of livestock and burned fields. This has been the second-largest wildfire in the state of Texas with about 142,000 acres on Wednesday, which has gradually moved up and is now covering over 1 million acres. There are at least two dead and two firefighters injured from these wildfires.  

Authorities have not said what ignited the fires, but strong winds, dry grass and unseasonably warm temperatures fed the blazes.


Mitch McConnell steps down

On Wednesday, Feb. 29, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell announced to the Senate that he is stepping down. McConnell plans to be done with his current role after the 2024 presidential election in November. 

McConnell gave no specific reason for the timing of his decision, which he has been contemplating for months. The recent death of his wife’s youngest sister, however, pushed him to contemplate such a decision. 

He has stated that he will move down from his current position to just working with the Senate. He still has a bit of time as his Senate term ends in 2027.


Prices increase on New Jersey Tolls

The New Jersey Turnpike has increased their toll prices by 3%. This went into effect on March 1. The 3% equals up to an extra 5 cents.

Talk of the increase dates back to January when the New Jersey Turnpike Authority approved its budget, which included the updated toll prices. Gov. Phil Murphy vetoed the plans back in October amidst backlash from both parties. 

The collected funds from the tolls are expected to go into specialized government projects that are undisclosed to the public. 


Ghana passes new anti-LGBTQ+ Bill

On Wednesday, Feb. 29, Ghana’s parliament unanimously passed an anti-LGBTQ+ bill. This bill not only affects Ghana citizens that are in same-sex relationships but also those who are supporters. 

African countries today still widely criminalize same-sex activity because of laws from the colonial era, but recent bills and laws including this one have looked to clarify and strengthen the laws against it. If the Ghana president signs the bill, then it will become a new law. 


Mexico City water shortages

More than 21 million Mexico City residents have been affected by dreadful water shortages this year. As climate change continues to bring droughts and high temperatures, Mexico’s infrastructure is not holding up, producing more issues for the community. 

Neighborhoods have been using water tanker trucks to deliver water to their homes, but even with the water trucks residents are still dealing with complications. “Sometimes it takes four or five days for the trucks to arrive,” resident Olga Gonzáles said to NBC News

About 70% of Mexico City’s water is from underground aquifers. However, due to overuse, the ground is starting to sink. The shortage could continue to get worse in the next few months.


France makes abortion a constitutional right during International Women’s Month

On Monday, March 4 at the Palace of Versailles, France officially became the first country to establish abortion as a constitutional right. In a 780-72 vote, France has made a monumental decision that can lead to other countries to do the same as well. 

The move was driven by concern that snowballed in France as the U.S. started taking away abortion rights two years ago, when Roe v. Wade was overturned. French President Emmanuel Macron promised that France would ensure women’s right to abortion was protected if there were to be any moves to restrict access at any time in the future.

Macron announced after the vote that the amendment would be inscribed in the constitution on Friday, March 8 during the country’s International Women’s Day ceremony.


Featured photo courtesy of Fletcher6, Wikipedia