Alabama gov signs abortion bill, Iran threat disputed & Bezos' space colonies: The Morning Rundown

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio launched his presidential bid, becoming the 23rd candidate running for the Democratic Party's 2020 nomination.
Image: "Rabbit" by Jeff Koons is displayed during a media preview at Christie's in New York,
"Rabbit," a sculpture by Jeff Koons, sold for $20 million over its pre-sale estimate. Seth Wenig / AP

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By Petra Cahill

Good morning, NBC News readers.

If you can believe it, a sculpture of a rabbit sold for a record $91 million last night. And New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has joined the ever-growing list of Democrats running for president

Here's what else we're watching today.


Alabama governor signs country's most restrictive abortion bill into law

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a near-total abortion ban into law Wednesday.

The bill, designed to challenge more than 40 years of federal abortion protection under Roe v. Wade, makes it a felony for a doctor to perform or attempt an abortion during any stage of pregnancy.

The state's Republican governor said in a statement that the legislation was a testament to "Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God."

But she also acknowledged that the bill may be unenforceable because of the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

"As citizens of this great country, we must always respect the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court even when we disagree with their decisions," Ivey said.


Trump to unveil plan for merit-based immigration system

President Donald Trump will roll out a two-pronged immigration proposal on Thursday that would make sweeping changes to the legal immigration system — including requiring a civics test — and enhance border security.

The proposal would greatly scale back the current family-based immigration system and increase education and skill requirements for immigrants seeking to enter the U.S.

The plan, crafted by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, White House adviser Stephen Miller and economic adviser Kevin Hassett, is expected to face opposition from lawmakers in both political parties.

It doesn't touch DACA or the status of so-called Dreamers, making it a nonstarter with Democrats. It also doesn't address the 11 million people in the country illegally.

Meantime, the U.S. military is planning to build six tent cities near the border to house up to 7,500 migrants.

And another child has died in U.S. custody after being detained at that border. The 2-year-old from Guatemala is the fourth known minor to have died in after being detained by the Border Patrol since December.


'We need to understand what we're doing'

Senators from both sides of the aisle on Wednesday demanded that the Trump administration explain why it had evacuated U.S. diplomatic missions in Iraq and brief lawmakers on the alleged threats from Iran that prompted the move.

Foreign officials have also disputed the Trump administration's Iran threat claims.

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"There's been no increased threat from Iranian backed forces in Iraq and Syria," Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika, a British deputy commander in the global coalition against the Islamic State, told reporters from Baghdad Wednesday.


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Plus


Science + Tech = MACH

Billionaire Jeff Bezos foresees a trillion people living in millions of space colonies. Here's what he's doing to get the ball rolling.


Live BETTER

These people in their 30s are doing a simple thing to get rich. Here's what we can learn from them.


Quote of the day

"It's an extreme law, and they wanna challenge Roe versus Wade, but my humble view is that this is not the case we want to bring to the Supreme Court because I think this one will lose."

Televangelist Pat Robertson on Alabama's abortion law.


One fun thing

This Sunday, Anna Ocegueda will become the first person in her family to graduate from a four-year university.

But it won't be just her family and friends celebrating — people all over the country are rooting for her after a photo she posted with her parents went viral.

Ocegueda and her four siblings are the children of migrant farm workers from Mexico. Her parents have been picking seasonal fruits in Orange Grove for more than 25 years.

“Knowing they’re out there working in the hot sun kept me going and doing it for them,” she said in a phone interview with NBC News.

Anna Ocegueda posted this photo with a caption in Spanish that reads "Por Ustedes y Para Ustedes," which translates to "Because of You, and For You."Courtesy Anna Ocegueda

Thanks for reading the Morning Rundown.

Yesterday, the link to the TWA terminal turned hotel was broken. Apologies for that, we're investigating because it's the second time we've had a problem with a video link lately.

Here is the correct link. It's a fun one, so worth a peek: Inside the iconic TWA terminal-turned hotel at JFK airport

If you have any comments — likes, dislikes — drop me an email at: petra@nbcuni.com If you're a fan, please forward it to your family and friends. They can sign-up here.

Thanks, Petra