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Don’t mess with Texas | ticker VIEWS

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They say “don’t mess with Texas”, but how about when Texas is messing with the U.S?

The two most potent threats to two of the most important constitutional rights – a woman’s right to choose whether or not to bear a child, and the rights of all citizens to vote – are coming from Texas. 

What’s happening in Texas is on the brink of sweeping across the country.

Both issues are at the heart of the political culture of the Democratic Party and its supporters

The right to choose and the right to vote are bedrock beliefs to Democratic voters and Democrats elected to Congress.  They also have wide appeal to independent swing voters, especially in America’s suburbs.  

And both issues are hitting a brick wall in the United States Senate.

The constitutional right to an abortion was established by the Supreme Court in Roe v Wade in 1973. 

The Court held in Roe and subsequent cases that a woman has a right to terminate a pregnancy without undue burdens imposed by the state until the fetus is viable, which is generally placed at 24-28 weeks.

The right to vote without discrimination on the basis of race, colour or previous servitude was enshrined after the Civil War, and further protected by landmark voting rights legislation in the 1960s.

Over the past fortnight, Texas has taken double-barrel aim at both

On abortion, the new Texas law forbids abortions when cardiac activity is detected, which medical experts say is at about 6 weeks of pregnancy, with no exception for pregnancy resulting from rape or incest. 

It also provides, in enforcement of the abortion ban, that any citizen, anywhere in the United States, can sue any abortion provider in Texas, or anyone who assists or facilitates provision of an illegal abortion.  (And a bonus: if your anti-abortion lawsuit is successful, you are awarded a bounty of $10,000.)

It is this Texas law that the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision last week – reflecting Trump’s success in ensuring a solid anti-abortion majority on the court — refused to set aside by issuing an emergency stay to provide orderly argument in the lower courts on whether this new law is constitutional under Roe.

As a result, this law is now in effect in Texas.

Women needing an abortion will have to go to another state where it is legal – if they can.

On voting rights, the Texas legislature joined 14 other US states that have already enacted 30 bills this year to restrict voting further. 

It severely limits absentee voting, and places severe impediments on early voting and mail-in voting. 

The genesis of all this legislation is Trump’s call for the states to prevent the “stealing” of his election – which did not happen – from ever “happening” again. 

The key tactic is to make it harder than ever for poorer, less educated, less affluent voters, and especially voters of colour, from casting their votes

Trump won Texas handily last November, but that clean win wasn’t good enough for Texas Republicans to future proof Texas against dramatically changing demographics. 

Texas is a majority-minority state, with the white population at 40 per cent.

Trump won 52 per cent of the vote in Texas last year, and Republicans hold 55 per cent of the state legislature’s assembly seats and 63 per cent of their US House of Representatives congressional delegation.

No matter: time to protect Republicans even more in a state where they are politically dominant

What’s happening in Texas – the rawest exercise of radical conservatism – may well stick for much of the country. 

The highest institutions of government in the United States are on the verge of failing to protect these fundamental constitutional rights:

  • The Supreme Court will hear and rule on a Mississippi law – which has been stayed pending this case being heard – that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. This case will decide the fate of much of the new Texas statute. The five justices who refused to temporarily halt the extreme Texas law must be seen as likely to overturn Roe and allow states to be ever more restrictive on abortion.  14 states with Republican legislatures and governors have already enacted new abortion restrictions and Florida is poised to join them.  This will mean that the 35% of American women who live in these states will not have the same access to abortion as other American women.
  • Congress will not be able to resolve these issues.  On abortion, House Speaker Pelosi has announced the House will vote on legislation to codify Roe and make access to abortion available on equal terms across the country. While this is politically popular – polling regularly shows that over 60% of the country supports legal access to abortion – there are no Republicans in the House who will vote for abortion.  Similarly, the House has passed massive voting rights legislation, but the Senate’s filibuster, which requires a supermajority of 60 votes to pass it – or 10 Republicans to cross the floor – killed it.  The same fate awaits any abortion rights bill that passes the House.

These are severe outcomes, with no easy remedy. 

Texans are fond of saying, “Don’t mess with Texas.” But Texas is messing with America’s democracy and plunging the country into a political and constitutional crisis. 

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Sport

Bombshell pro-Russian video emerges from Australian Open

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A bombshell video has emerged of the father of tennis star Novak Djokovic, amplifying the Russian controversy the Australian Open

 
Djokovic’s father was seen posing for pictures with a group of Putin supporters after his son won against Russia’s Andrey Rublev, to qualify for his 10th semi-final.

Russian flags have been banned from the Australian Open, but that didn’t stop one fan.

A man was seen holding a Russian flag with Putin’s face on it and wearing a t-shirt with the pro-war ‘Z’ symbol on it.

Four spectators were questioned by police and evicted from Melbourne Park.

After losing her semi-final, Belarusian Viktoria Azarenka hit back at media when pressed on tennis’ relationship with Russia’s war on Ukraine.

She told reporters incidents like Novak’s father posing with Russian fans have nothing to do with players.

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World

FBI Director discusses classified documents as U.S. lawmakers demand answers

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Bipartisan outrage on Capitol Hill as politicians say the Biden administration is stonewalling their quest for answers

FBI Director Christopher Wray is speaking out for the first time after several batches of classified documents were discovered in U.S. President Joe Biden’s Wilmington home and Washington think tank office.

On Thursday, Wray urged lawmakers and officials to be “conscious of the rules” when dealing with classified documents.

The statements appear to be a veiled criticism of President Biden after news broke that some of the classified papers in the President’s possession date back 14-years ago to when Biden was a Delaware Senator raising questions if this is a pattern for the president to mishandle classified information.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, there is bipartisan outrage as lawmakers say the Biden administration is stonewalling them in their quest for answers.

Currently, both Biden and former President Donald Trump are facing special counsel investigations into their mishandling of classified documents—and just this week, former Vice President Mike Pence turned over classified documents to the DOJ.

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World

Black box from Nepal plane disaster to be sent to Singapore

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The black box recovered from the January 15 Nepal plane crash in Nepal is being sent to Singapore for analysis

The aim will be to identify the cause of the Yeti Airlines crash that killed all 72 people on board.

Both the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder will be examined by experts at Singapore’s Transportation Safety Investigation Bureau.

A government committee is still looking into the cause of the plane disaster.

It was initially suggested the black box be taken to France where the aircraft was manufactured, but Nepalese authorities decided to send it to Singapore.

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