Professional packer’s 10 tips for car trips – including a bin and toy cushion

Nicola Lewis – who runs the thisgirlcanorganise Instagram page – has a passion for fitting things ergonomically into the back of cars and likes to help others do the same

Portrait of a smiling family with two children at beach in the car
Fitting everyone in the car can be difficult

A specialist car packing expert has shard her top tips for squeezing everything into a motor.

As anyone with a sizeable family, large dogs or a passion for car boot sales knows, fitting everything you need into a car is difficult.

That problem becomes even more pronounced when heading off on a holiday that requires luggage.

To offer a helping hand to those struggling to make all of life’s objects fit, renowned organisation expert Nicola Lewis – who runs the thisgirlcanorganise Instagram page – has provided her top tips for those travelling to near and far destinations in their cars over the summer months.



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Nicola’s handy hacks and hints for savvy space-saving packing include:

  • Clip a hook on the back of the front seats to hang your bag.
  • Introduce a car bin to keep the car tidy – The lining is also waterproof so can be cleaned easily.
  • If you have little ones, then a hanging car organiser is very useful for storing the kids’ toys.
  • Fill a cushion with your kid’s comforters or cuddly toys. It also acts as a cosy pillow for long car journeys.
  • Plastic wallets are great for storing small essential items like copies of your driver’s licence, insurance details, receipts, notepad, and pen. Store them inside your glove compartment along with your logbook.
  • Store a small coin purse in the side panel of your car to use when at the supermarket or car parks.
  • Pack a ‘just in case’ bag filled with tissues, eco wipes and sick bags should there be a spillage or accident enroute. Store the bag under the front passenger seat.

Earlier this year flight attendants from Emirates s hared some similarly sage wisdom, but for those heading off on a plane rather than in the car.

They advised:

Making a list

Make a checklist of everything you need. Not only will this help you save time packing, but it can also reduce the risk of forgetting essentials you need for your travels.

Rolling your clothes rather than folding

Try tightly rolling your clothes. Not only does this mean they’ll be more compact and leave you with extra space, but this method can also help to cut down on creases!

Packing versatile items

Opt for clothes that are flexible enough to cover a variety of situations, such as jeans or plain T-shirts. This is a simple yet effective way to reduce the amount you’re taking, and leave yourself plenty of room for all of the other essentials you need. (Or even for a holiday souvenir or two!).

Always leaving extra space

You may not plan to pick up any souvenirs, but you never know; if something catches your eye or you find yourself doing some unexpected shopping, you won’t need to worry about fitting everything in a suitcase that was already full.

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Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez’s parents travel from Cuba to see son play for the first time

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When Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez stepped up to the plate in the first inning Tuesday night, he had three extra special guests cheering for him.

Fresh after arriving from Cuba, his father, Agustín Eduardo Álvarez Salazar, teary-eyed mother Mailyn Cadogan Reyes and brother Yonder Alvarez Cadogan each proudly wore a No 44 Alvarez jersey as they gazed wide-eyed at the field, watching the Houston star play professionally for the first time.

“This is one of my biggest moments in my entire life,” his father told The Associated Press in Spanish through a translator. “And I could be able to say so many words, but the truth is that there are no words to express what I’m feeling right now.”


Houston Astros' Yordan Alvarez watches his single against the Minnesota Twins during the third inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022, in Houston.

Houston Astros’ Yordan Alvarez watches his single against the Minnesota Twins during the third inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022, in Houston.
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

His son did his part, too, getting an early hit as the AL West leaders beat Minnesota 4-2.

To be at Minute Maid Park to see Alvarez play for the first time in his fourth major league season was a long and arduous operation that involved many roadblocks.

“It was an extensive process to get here,” Salazar said. “We’ve had to go through a lot of difficulties to get here today.”

Despite those struggles, the family never lost hope that they’d make it to see their son play in the majors. They arrived on Friday.

“It never crossed our minds that we were not going to be able to be here,” his father said. “We know that in order to make things happen we have to confront difficulties and that’s why we’re here today.”

So how did Alvarez, who has long spoke of his desire for his family to see him play, respond when he learned that they’d finally be watching him after such a long wait?


The parents of Houston Astros' Yordan Alvarez, Agustín Eduardo Álvarez Salazar, rear, and Mailyn Cadogan Reyes walk to their seats to watch the Minnesota Twins and Houston Astros play a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022, in Houston. Alvarez's parents got to see him play as a professional for the first time Tuesday night after arriving from Cuba Friday.

The parents of Houston Astros’ Yordan Alvarez, Agustín Eduardo Álvarez Salazar, rear, and Mailyn Cadogan Reyes walk to their seats to watch the Minnesota Twins and Houston Astros play a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022, in Houston. Alvarez’s parents got to see him play as a professional for the first time Tuesday night after arriving from Cuba Friday.
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

“He was just happy and excited because we were all waiting for this moment to come,” Salazar said.

Alvarez was moved to know how special it was for his parents to finally see him play after being away from them for so long.

“It means everything,” he said in Spanish through a translator. “Obviously, when I came into the United States it was not easy. And when I arrived here, I arrived by myself. I knew I had their support, but obviously they weren’t here.”

Alvarez defected from Cuba in 2016 and established residence in Haiti before signing with the Dodgers as an international free agent in June of that year. That August he was traded to the Astros. He made his MLB debut in June 2019 and went on to win American League Rookie of the Year.

His parents missed that stellar rookie season as well as his two trips to the World Series. They said the last time they saw him play in person came all the way back in 2014.

Alvarez said he was the most nervous he’d ever been in a game Tuesday night, even more than in any game of either World Series he’s played in.

While they were away from their son they worried a bit of course, but they didn’t have too many concerns because they knew there was an entire community keeping an eye on the 25-year-old.

“I want to thank Houston because … they have adopted Yordan as their own kid,” his father said. “And that’s something that makes us feel safe and in peace. And I’m glad for that.”


His father beamed as he watched his son’s first at-bat Tuesday. For his mother the entire night was a bit too much.

When reminded of a game earlier this year when Alvarez called her back home to say he’d hit a homer for her on her birthday, she became overcome with emotion and wept openly — wiping away tear after tear as they streamed down her face.

“I’m just proud,” his mother said. “And this is a feeling that only a mom knows what it feels like. I don’t have words to express what I’m feeling right now and what is going through my mind right now.”

It was easy to see how proud Alvarez’s parents are of their son, who entered Tuesday tied for third in the majors with 31 homers. And although they’re thrilled with his success on the field, they’re equally excited for who he is off it.

“The first thing that makes us feel proud is the human being that he has become, that we raised such a good kid,” Salazar said. “Since he was a kid, we saw the talent that he has, but we never thought or imagined how far he was going to go and how far he has been able to get to. So, we’re just asking God to bless him and maintain his health.”

The parents of Houston Astros' Yordan Alvarez, Agustín Eduardo Álvarez Salazar, left, and Mailyn Cadogan Reyes watch the Minnesota Twins and Houston Astros play a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022, in Houston. Alvarez's parents got to see him play as a professional for the first time Tuesday night after arriving from Cuba Friday.

The parents of Houston Astros’ Yordan Alvarez, Agustín Eduardo Álvarez Salazar, left, and Mailyn Cadogan Reyes watch the Minnesota Twins and Houston Astros play a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022, in Houston. Alvarez’s parents got to see him play as a professional for the first time Tuesday night after arriving from Cuba Friday.
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

For now, the family is staying with Alvarez at his home in Houston. They aren’t sure how long they’ll get to stay. But for however long it is they’re soaking up every moment.

“Hopefully they stay here forever,” Alvarez said after the game.

Asked what the long-awaited night meant to them, both mother and father responded almost in unison with the same phrase.


“Un sueño hecho realidad,” they said in Spanish.

Translation: A dream come true.

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Shopping tips for Aldi newbies

OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) – August 24 in Ocean Springs, Aldi will open its first store on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and shoppers are excited.

In an effort to keep costs low, Aldi operates a little differently than most other grocery stores. And it’s that slight mystery that’s adding to the anticipation. Here are a few things you should know before your first shopping trip to Aldi.

1. Bring a quarter for a shopping buggy

Don’t worry, you’ll get your quarter back. But in order to use a buggy, you must first put in a quarter to unlock it from the others. When you bring it back, you get the quarter back. Remember, they’re cutting costs and that means they’re not paying an employee to go wrangle all the stray buggies people leave in the parking lot.

If you’re going to be a regular, you may want to pick up the Aldi Quarter Keychain. It attaches to your keyring so you’ll always have a quarter with you. The store is always coming out with new designs, so you’ll be able to find one that suits your style.

The Aldi Quarter Keychain attaches to your keyring so you’ll always have a quarter with you for...
The Aldi Quarter Keychain attaches to your keyring so you’ll always have a quarter with you for a shopping buggy.(WLOX)

2. Bring your own bags

If you ever shop at Sam’s Club, you should be used to this one. Just bring your own reusable bags, or snag an empty box off a shelf to help you carry everything out. The no free bag policy helps cut costs, and you can feel good about using less plastic. If you don’t have any bags to bring, you can buy reusable grocery bags at the store. You’ll find them for sale at the checkout.

3. Bag your own groceries

This one should be obvious, since you have to bring your own bags. The cashier will scan your items and load them back into your buggy. Typically, you will then bag up your items after you pay. The good news is however you prefer for your groceries to be bagged is exactly how they will be bagged at Aldi. (Because you’re doing the bagging. Get it?)

4. No coupons allowed

If you love clipping coupons and pairing them with the weekly sales, you’re going to have to save that hobby for another store. More than 90% of everything sold in Aldi stores is packaged under the Aldi brand. And for the few national brands in the store, they don’t accept coupons. There is one exception. Occasionally, Aldi will print and distribute coupons for a special, regional promotion, like a grand opening. So if you go to the grand opening of the Ocean Springs store, you may get one of the elusive Aldi coupons. But they won’t be online. They’re always handed out at the stores or mailed to you personally.

5. There’s an Aisle of Shame

The Aisle of Shame is an affectionate nickname for the center aisle of Aldi that features seasonal items which change every week. But it’s even more than that. There’s also a blog and newsletter for Aldi fans, which you can find at And there’s an Aisle of Shame Facebook page and Facebook Group with 1.3 million members. This is part of what makes Aldi different than other grocery stores. It kind of has a cult, I mean, community following.

6. Aldi’s return policy is 🔥

They call it their Twice as Nice Guarantee. If for any reason you are not 100% satisfied with the quality of any Aldi brand food item, Aldi will replace the product AND refund your money. You must have your receipt if you want the refund in the same way you paid. But even if you don’t, they’ll give you an Aldi Merchandise Credit gift card equal to the current retail price of the returned item. Computers and electronics are the only items that have a time limit on returns. They must be returned with a receipt within 90 days of purchase.

7. Aldi offers grocery delivery and pickup

Aldi’s delivery is operated by Instacart. So if you already have an Instacart account or the mobile app, just log in with your email address and password. You can also visit and enter your zip code to determine if your local store offers delivery and/or pickup. Learn more at

ALDI is opening 150 new stores this year with 20 of those in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Florida. By the end of 2022, ALDI is on track to be the third largest grocer in the country.

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Mercedes driver in 13 crashes before Windsor Hills, D.A. says

The nurse accused of killing five people last week when her Mercedes plowed into traffic at a busy Windsor Hills intersection had been involved in 13 previous crashes, Los Angeles County prosecutors alleged Monday in charging her with murder.

Authorities revealed new details about Thursday’s crash and about the driver, Nicole Lorraine Linton, 37, whose permanent address is in Texas and who is currently renting a room in Los Angeles while working as a traveling registered nurse.

Prosecutors said they are reviewing multiple previous crashes linked to Linton — both in and out of California — including one in 2020 that involved bodily injury in which two cars were totaled. They provided few additional details, however.

Linton’s attorney, Halim Dhanidina, asked the court Monday to continue her arraignment to October because he is reviewing her out-of-state history of “documented profound mental health issues.” Dhanidina did not elaborate on those issues but said the Windsor Hills crash could be linked to them.

Here’s what we know:

The crash

CHP officials walk around a scene of incinerated wrecked cars

California Highway Patrol officers investigate a fiery crash where multiple people were killed near a Windsor Hills gas station on Thursday.

(Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times)

Surveillance video just before Thursday’s deadly crash shows a dark-colored Mercedes barreling down La Brea Avenue at high speed as dozens of cars cross on Slauson Avenue in Windsor Hills. Prosecutors say Linton was behind the wheel.

The Mercedes does not appear to slow before running a red light shortly after 1:30 p.m. The light had been red for nine seconds before the car barreled through the intersection, slamming into multiple cars, prosecutors said. The Mercedes burst into flames and hurtled into a light pole, where it came to rest. After the crash, a streak of fire burned on the ground, and billowing smoke could be seen from miles away.

Prosecutors say Linton was speeding as fast as 90 mph.

At least six vehicles were involved in the crash, according to California Highway Patrol investigators. In addition to the fatalities, eight people were injured.

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón said there is no evidence of any alcohol use by Linton at this point.

In announcing charges against her Monday, he declined to discuss what led to the crash, saying it was still under investigation and he was “not going to get into the details.”

The aftermath

Candles, balloons, and flowers have been left at the site of a deadly crash

Candles, balloons and flowers at a street memorial to victims of a deadly crash at the intersection of La Brea and Slauson avenues in Windsor Hills.

(Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times)

The impact of the crash and fire it caused killed 23-year-old Asherey Ryan; her 11-month-old child, Alonzo Quintero; her boyfriend, Reynold Lester; and their unborn child. Ryan was 8½ months pregnant when she was killed. The boy she was carrying had been named Armani Lester, according to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.

Two additional women killed in the crash have yet to be identified.

Linton was hospitalized with moderate injuries for several days before being taken into police custody.

Photographs posted online after the crash appear to show Linton sitting on the curb with a bloody arm. She seems to be wearing hospital scrub pants and a shirt that has writing on the breastplate and sleeve.

Images from the scene show massive front-end damage to the Mercedes, which rammed headfirst into a light pole. A law enforcement source told The Times that Linton suffered a broken foot and broken wrist in the collision, but the car’s advanced air bag systems for a front-end collision seems to have protected her from the worst of the impact.

A specialized CHP accident investigation team is extracting data from the Mercedes’ computers that capture speed, braking and acceleration.

The charges

Linton was charged Monday with six counts of murder and five counts of gross vehicular manslaughter. The vehicular manslaughter charges are for the deaths of the four adults and the baby, who was about two weeks shy of his first birthday. Ryan’s unborn child cannot be included in those charges.

Linton faces up to life in prison if convicted of all charges.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Natalie Stone denied her bail, which previously had been set at $9 million, at the request of the district attorney’s office, which said she is a flight risk. Linton was set to leave L.A. and travel to Hawaii for work, prosecutors said.

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Here’s why you should keep a travel journal

It’s a question almost as ancient as the urge to travel: How do you preserve the discoveries you made—and the lessons you learned—on your journeys?

In these days of digital documentation the question is even more pressing. Because even though the Internet is forever, a posting on Instagram barely scratches the surface of the sensations of real travel: How being somewhere new makes you feel, the scent in the air, the taste of food, the laughter in the café, the echo in the canyon.

Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that travel journals are making a comeback. If a journal was good enough for Greek historian Herodotus, whose account of his journeys in the eastern Mediterranean and Egypt (Histories, circa 440 B.C.) has stood the test of time, then it’s good enough for your own travels.

(Travel through time with 21 female explorers who changed the world.)

Through the time-honored technology of a travel journal, you can take an intimate and authentic snapshot of an experience and let it inform your life and future journeys—while striking a balance between relegating expansive moments to Instagram, and stuffing your house with keepsakes.

But there are some modern ways to keep a useful and inspiring journal. Surprisingly, they don’t involve posting about your travels online. There’s a reason: Our online profiles showcase our best sides, and, intentional or not, we usually tailor posts to what we think other people want to see. In a personal travel journal, you record a more authentic version of events without catering to an external audience. Your goal is a readership of one: Yourself.

With a physical record, you keep much more than a photo and a few words. You record things that feel significant to you. When thumbing through a journal or printed photos, you share a moment with your past self, as you chat about what you were thinking and feeling during your travels. With a little planning, pen, and paper, all the most important parts of your next trip can be accessible to you for years to come. It may seem intimidating, but the hardest part is starting.

Make time for yourself

Before you get on the road or take to the skies, the first step for journaling success is packing the right materials. Hedda Helle Kalland (@mochibujo on Instagram and YouTube) of Norway makes her living sharing her travels and journaling online.

“You’re going to use things that are easy to pull out and bring with you everywhere,” Kalland says. “I try not to make things too elaborate and too big because then it’s not going to be convenient, especially when you’re traveling.”

(Planning a trip is good for your mental health—here’s why.)

To make sure you’ll have time to pause and reflect, block sections of time to sit at a café or bar, lie out on the beach or in a park. Set a reminder on your phone to sit down and jot down whatever comes to mind, without judgment, for just five or ten minutes. On busy sightseeing trips, it can be a godsend to have some time to rest your feet and really take in all the beautiful and interesting things you’ve seen. It can also help to choose a time when there’s a natural pause in activity, like on a train ride or at the end of the evening.

For moments of writer’s block, jot some simple prompts in the front of your notebook, like: What did I do or see for the very first time today? When today did I notice strong emotions? What can I hear or smell right now in this spot? What was the hardest thing about today and how did I deal with it? What did I see or do today that I wish I could incorporate into my daily life?

Pro tip: Add fun stationery to your kit to make journaling time more enjoyable. Try colorful pens. Pack some stickers, stamps, and washi tape to make your entries stand out. Let your destination inspire a color palette and make that the visual theme of your journal.

Focus on things that matter to you

Recording an experience is always secondary to being present and mindfully participating in your travels. When you get a feeling of enchantment, wonder, or even adrenaline or nerves, take the time to experience that feeling.

You can’t capture every detail of your trip, so decide what to focus on by noticing moments that affect you. Maybe it’s a meal, museum display, a conversation with a vendor or your travel partner. Snap a photo, jot down some notes, gather receipts, sketches, ticket stubs, or flowers to press in your notebook. The details you capture will help you recall and re-engage with those experiences years from now.

(Here’s how to forget about work on vacation.)

Jotting down a few core pieces of information will make your notes and photos much more useful to look back on. Get into the habit of noting the date, time, and location wherever you can.

National Geographic staff photographer Mark Thiessen uses his phone to record GPS data when he’s on assignment. It helps him identify images on trips, including one he made to an archeological dig in Ethiopia, where many locations looked similar in an expansive desert.

“I was in the Ethiopian desert on an archeological dig just before COVID hit, and I wanted to know where I was. Camp was in the middle of the desert, we drove 45 minutes in the morning to get to another part of the desert, and it all looked the same,” he says. “Just like folding over the corner of a book to mark an interesting page, taking a photo with your GPS-enabled smartphone essentially bookmarks that location, as well as the date and time and what that location looks like. This is like leaving digital breadcrumbs of your journey.”

Thiessen notes that if you’re using a digital camera with GPS abilities, that function can drain its battery; an easy workaround is snapping a smartphone photo to get all the information you need.

When you get a chance to work on your analog journal, take the information from those digital conveniences to help your future self place details in time and place. It can be as simple as leaving a dateline (for example: 4:40 p.m., East Village, NYC) above details of a memory, or as elaborate as devoting a page to sketch out the shape of a city or country, and plotting rough points where special moments happened.

Pro tip: Don’t know what to write about? Start with your senses. Recording how that Parisian pastry tastes or how the prairie grass near Mount Rushmore smells is one of the most evocative ways to relive experiences and recall memories.

Select just a few photos

The best record of your experience begins with images and notes that evoke what moved or inspired you at the time. Your snapshot of the Eiffel Tower is unique to the moment you were there.

The journal-keeper’s challenge is to distill an expansive experience into a focused narrative. You might not remember everything, but you can preserve a sensation and immersion that matters to you.

National Geographic staff photographer Becky Hale says she tries to choose a single photograph that is evocative of a trip, such as an image she printed after visiting Scotland with her husband.

“Honestly, I could have spent the entire trip just taking photos. When I got home, I settled on printing one simple image I made while hiking in the Scottish Highlands. I printed it quite large, to try and capture how small I felt hiking in that environment,” Hale says. “For me, printing a single, strong image that felt emblematic of where we’d been, felt better than trying to print and frame every great moment from our trip. Every time I look at it, I think about our great afternoon hike, but also all of the stunning landscapes I encountered while traveling.”

Pro tip: When curating your pictures, don’t be too precious. Print some photos, but not too many; each photo you choose should tell a different story instead of featuring several similar images. Set a limit for selected photos from each day of your trip. Choose one image that captures the whole trip to hang on your wall.

Create your story

As powerful as visuals are, don’t stop with images. Once you’ve collected snapshots, random thoughts, and ephemera (tickets, brochures, postcards), how do you turn these into an integrated story in your journal?

Imagine your travel archive is a gift that you will give yourself years from now. What can you include to imbue it with meaning when you revisit it? Keep it small enough to be accessible, not overwhelming. Group items in your archive by date and location to help anchor moments in space and time. Images and journal entries help you recall how you felt when you were there.

Don’t feel like you need to agonize over every choice. Remember, your curation should be a enjoyable reflection on your travels.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help—or advice from experts. With a photographic collection that includes images dating back to the 1870s, the archivists at National Geographic have found notes, journals, letters, and collected items to be invaluable resources.

“We have mostly photographic assets, though we do also have artwork and additional materials like photographer captions and expedition notes,” says Rebecca Dupont, an image archivist at National Geographic. “The captions and notes associated with these assets, often written by the photographers themselves, can provide stories from their experiences, people they spoke to, things they witnessed, along with all the basics of date and place.”

Any trip you take, near or far, whether it was full of new experiences or quiet and relaxing—can yield records as rich as those from great explorers breaking new ground. Reliving a memory becomes easy with just a little time and note taking.

Pro tip: Limit the space you dedicate to an archive for each trip. One notebook, a limited number of printed photos, and a small box should be enough space for your mementos, notebook, and photos.

Anna Lee Beyer is a writer based in Texas. You can find her on Twitter.
National Geographic Travel executive editor George Stone and editor Allie Yang contributed to this story.

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US: Biden signs order to protect travel for abortion | News | DW

US President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed another executive order to protect abortion rights, this time in regards to out of state travel for the procedure.

It’s the latest bid by the Biden administration to ensure access to abortions after the Supreme Court ruled in June to end the nationwide constitutional right to abortion.

What does the order do?

The order will allow states which have not banned abortion to apply for Medicaid funds. This money can then be used to support women who travel from out of state, and facilitate their access to an abortion. 

The application of the order could be tricky, as Medicaid funds are not to be used for abortion services unless the woman’s life is in jeopardy or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.  

The order also urges healthcare providers to comply with federal non-discrimination laws in regards to medical care.

The latest executive order on abortion by Biden comes amid Republican-led efforts across the country to outlaw and restrict access to the procedure. The recent Supreme Court reversal on Roe v. Wade struck down the constitutional right to an abortion, leaving it up to the states to decide whether it should be legal.

Biden hails Kansas abortion vote 

Biden on Wednesday also touted a major pro-choice victory in Kansas.

Kansans a day earlier voted against amending the state constitution to say there is no right to an abortion. The vote is unusual in a state that leans highly conservative.

“Last night in the American heartland, the people of Kansas sent an unmistakable message to the Republican extremists,” Biden said. “If it’s going to happen in Kansas, it’s going to happen in a whole lot of states.”      

In other parts of the country, abortion rights are still under attack, however. In several weeks, the western state of Idaho will enact a near-total ban on abortion, with the Biden administration suing over the measure.

The Midwestern state of Indiana also recently advanced a near-total ban in the state Senate, with the legislation now headed for debate in the state’s House of Representatives this week. 

wd/rs (Reuters, AP)

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