Texas’ population has grown 40% this century, and 91% of the new Texans are people of color. Federal judges now have to decide whether those monumental changes are reflected in the state’s political maps.
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With new political maps like these, it would have been surprising if the U.S. Department of Justice had decided not to sue the state of Texas.
Texas has about 8.3 million more residents than it did at the beginning of the century, according to the U.S. Census Bureau — and 7.6 million of those new residents are people of color. It means the state has nearly equal numbers of Latino and white residents (39.3% and 39.8%, respectively), according to the 2020 census. Black residents accounted for 11.8% of the state’s population, Asian residents for about 5.4%.
You wouldn’t know that by looking at the new maps drawn for representation in the state’s congressional delegation or its Legislature. In 65% of the congressional districts, white Texans are in the majority; Hispanic residents are the majority in 18.4% of those districts.
Roughly equal in population, unequal in representation.
Here’s how the DOJ said it in the federal lawsuit the agency filed this week: “The Legislature refused to recognize the State’s growing minority electorate.”
Courts have frowned on maps that go in the wrong direction, taking districts away from populations that have historically been in the minority. The Texas maps arguably do that in two ways, and their detractors are making those arguments.
The DOJ lawsuit points to the 23rd Congressional District that stretches from San Antonio to El Paso and takes in most of the state’s international border. As it tried to do 10 years ago, the feds contend, “Texas made District 23 less of an electoral opportunity for minority-preferred candidates by consciously replacing many of the district’s active Latino voters with low-turnout Latino citizens, in an effort to strengthen the voting power of Anglo citizens while preserving the superficial appearance of Latino control.”
A second way to diminish the power of groups of voters is to ignore their growth, leaving a map drawn for one snapshot of the Texas population in place when that population has changed considerably.
Since the start of the century, 8.3 million more people live in Texas. What was a state with 20.9 million residents in 2000 is now a state with 29.1 million, according to the census. In the first 10 years of the century, according to the 2010 census, 89% of the 4.3 million new Texans were people of color. In the second, 95% of the growth was attributable to people of color.
Over those two decades, for every 10 additional Hispanic, Black, Asian and other Texans of color, there was one additional white Texan.
This is the first time in decades that Texas hasn’t had to seek federal approval of its maps before putting them into effect. That “preclearance” requirement was struck down by a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said places like Texas that had histories of racial discrimination in their election and voting laws and practice would no longer be automatically subjected to federal approval.
The maps drawn this year are the first overhauls of the state’s political districts since that ruling. The federal government’s lawsuit against the state contends that Texas hasn’t changed its ways — that state legislators discriminated on the basis of race in the design of the new maps. Without that built-in obstacle of preclearance, the federal lawyers who used to have some say over changes in Texas election law now have to go to court. Their objections this year come in the form of a lawsuit, but they mirror DOJ objections of years past against maps drawn by Republican and Democratic Texas lawmakers.
Demographically, Texas is not the same state it was 20 years ago. The population has increased nearly 40% in that time. But voting power, thanks in large measure to the fervent efforts of the state Legislature, hasn’t shifted at the same pace.
The state’s conservatism has been relatively constant; Texas has been strongly Republican in its voting patterns for that whole period, including in the statewide elections that aren’t subject to redistricting. It’s not about what party people favor, but about whether maps are being drawn to favor particular groups on the basis of race.
It’s hard to deny the numbers.
Senate redistricting chair Joan Huffman, R-Houston, has said that the mapmakers were “race-blind” — that they didn’t draw the maps based on racial or ethnic differences.
Intent doesn’t matter. If racial disparity was the result — whether or not lawmakers had race in mind when they were making the maps — then those maps are not legal.
Even before the lawsuits started to fly, the differences between what the census found and what the politicians put on paper were vast. And now this all goes to the courts, where federal judges will say whether Texas was fair and legal when it portioned out political power to its citizens.
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Extreme Radiation Hazard at Kwajalein Atoll
A public NOTAM alert (Notice to Airmen) has been issued for Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, warning of a severe radiation hazard.
The airspace north of the airport’s runway should be avoided at all costs, as it poses significant risks to life. In order to mitigate these dangers, all flights are directed to utilize southern approach and departure routes instead. This information has been provided by the International Civil Aviation Organization.
Currently there is no other information about what the radiation risk is or it’s cause.
The United States Space Force recently built one of the most advanced space-detection systems on Kwajalein Atoll, nicknamed “Space Fence”. This severe radiation could be a test of Space Fence – as it’s phased-array radar could be turned on full power. The science-fiction like system can help detect potential object collision, hyper-sonic missiles that maneuver in the atmosphere, and more.
Kim Jung Un says military should ‘annihilate’ US and SKorea if provoked…
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his military should “thoroughly annihilate” the United States and South Korea if provoked, state media reported Monday, after he vowed to boost national defense to cope with what he called an unprecedented U.S.-led confrontation.
North Korea has increased its warlike rhetoric in recent months in response to an expansion of U.S.-South Korean military drills. Experts expect Kim will continue to escalate his rhetoric and weapons tests because he likely believes he can use heightened tensions to wrest U.S. concessions if former President Donald Trump wins the U.S. presidential election in November.
In a five-day major ruling party meeting last week, Kim said he will launch three more military spy satellites, produce more nuclear materials and develop attack drones this year in what observers say is an attempt to increase his leverage in future diplomacy with the U.S.
In a meeting Sunday with commanding army officers, Kim said it is urgent to sharpen “the treasured sword” to safeguard national security, an apparent reference to his country’s nuclear weapons program. He cited “the U.S. and other hostile forces’ military confrontation moves,” according to the official Korean Central News Agency.
Kim stressed that “our army should deal a deadly blow to thoroughly annihilate them by mobilizing all the toughest means and potentialities without moment’s hesitation” if they opt for military confrontation and provocations against North Korea, KCNA said.
In his New Year’s Day address Monday, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said he will strengthen his military’s preemptive strike, missile defense and retaliatory capabilities in response to the North Korean nuclear threat.
“The Republic of Korea is building genuine, lasting peace through strength, not a submissive peace that is dependent on the goodwill of the adversary,” Yoon said, using South Korea’s official name.
At the party meeting, Kim called South Korea “a hemiplegic malformation and colonial subordinate state” whose society is “tainted by Yankee culture.” He said his military must use all available means including nuclear weapons to “suppress the whole territory of South Korea” in the event of a conflict.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry warned in response Sunday that if North Korea attempts to use nuclear weapons, South Korean and U.S. forces will punish it overwhelmingly, resulting in the end of the Kim government.
KCNA said North Korean officials held talks on Monday to implement an order by Kim to disband or reform organizations handling relations with South Korea to fundamentally change the principle and direction of the North’s struggle against the South. There was no immediate explanation of how that might alter inter-Korean relations, which have been stalled for an extended period.
Experts say small-scale military clashes between North and South Korea could happen this year along their heavily armed border. They say North Korea is also expected to test-launch intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the mainland U.S. and other major new weapons.
In 2018-19, Kim met Trump in three rounds of talks on North Korea’s expanding nuclear arsenal. The diplomacy fell apart after the U.S. rejected Kim’s offer to dismantle his main nuclear complex, a limited step, in exchange for extensive reductions in U.S.-led sanctions.
Since 2022, North Korea has conducted more than 100 missile tests, prompting the U.S. and South Korea to expand their joint military exercises. North Korea has also tried to strengthen its relationships with China and Russia, which blocked efforts by the U.S. and its partners in the U.N. Security Council to toughen U.N. sanctions on North Korea over its weapons tests.
KCNA said Kim and Chinese President Xi Jinping exchanged New Year’s Day messages on Monday on bolstering bilateral ties. North Korea faces suspicions that it has supplied conventional arms for Russia’s war in Ukraine in return for sophisticated Russian technologies to enhance the North’s military programs.
Estimates of the size of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal vary, ranging from about 20-30 bombs to more than 100. Many foreign experts say North Korea still has some technological hurdles to overcome to produce functioning nuclear-armed ICBMs, though its shorter-range nuclear-capable missiles can reach South Korea and Japan.
Sen. Fetterman says he thought news about his depression treatment would end his political career
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. John Fetterman acknowledges having “dark conversations” about harming himself before he hit “the emergency brake” and sought treatment for depression.
He remembers thinking about his three school-age kids. “I can’t be a blueprint for my children. I can’t let them be left alone or not to understand why he would have done that,” the first-term Pennsylvania Democrat told NBC’s “Meet the Press” in a deeply personal and introspective interview taped before the broadcast that aired Sunday.
So he checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, last Feb. 15. “There was nowhere else to go,” he said, describing how he often felt during his stay that “there wasn’t any hope sometimes and like, ‘What do I have left?’”
He also wondered whether he would survive politically.
“When it got released where I was and where it was going, it was a big story. And so, I had assumed that that would be the end of my career,” he said
When he sought treatment for clinical depression, Fetterman was still coping with the effects of the stroke he had in May 2022, during his campaign for one of the Senate’s most contested seats. “My heart technically stopped, and it was a very touch-and-go situation,” said Fetterman, 54. A pacemaker was implanted with a defibrillator to manage two heart conditions, atrial fibrillation and cardiomyopathy.
His victory over Republican Mehmet Oz had helped Democrats keep control of the Senate and made him a national figure. It was the height of his political career. But he couldn’t make it out of bed at his home in Braddock, in western Pennsylvania.
“I really scared my kids, and they thought, ’You won, Dad. Why aren’t we enough? Why are you still so sad? Why are you even more sad?’ And it was hard for — to explain why I was. And, of course, a 9-year-old child wouldn’t understand that. And it was awful,” Fetterman said.
So much so that he said he “pleaded not to go down to D.C.” later that November for orientation sessions in Washington for newly elected lawmakers.
His favorite holiday was nearing, yet he was unable to think about getting Christmas presents for his children and “dreading” his swearing in on Capitol Hill early in the new year.
Within two months, he was at Walter Reed. Aides had described the new senator as being withdrawn and uninterested in eating, discussing work or the usual banter with staff.
“This is a conversation that I’ve had with myself and anybody that knows they’re unable to address their depression, is they start to have dark conversations with themself about self-harm,” Fetterman said. “And things continued to kind of tick off the list. And then I kind of hit the emergency brake.”
He added, “I knew I needed help.”
Before checking into Walter Reed, Fetterman had never publicly discussed his battle with depression. He has since said that he has experienced it on and off throughout his life.
He left Walter Reed at the end of March after six weeks of inpatient treatment with his depression “in remission,” according to a statement from his office.
Doctors describe “remission” as when a patient responds to treatment so that they have returned to normal social function and they are indistinguishable from someone who has never had depression.
Fetterman has since become a visible presence in the Capitol, bantering with reporters, joking with Senate colleagues and speaking up at Senate hearings.
To others who are now “facing a really dark holiday time,” Fetterman offered this guidance: “I know that last year’s was desolate. And this year’s might be desolate. Next year’s can be the best ever. And that’s what happened for me.”