The Wider World

U.S. to sue Texas over districts

A LEGAL BATTLE is brewing over a redistricting plan in Texas (Shutterstock).

The struggle over how legislative districts are drawn and who draws them is headed to the courtroom.

According to USA Today, the U.S. Department of Justice announced on Monday it would sue the state of Texas over its redistricting plans. Attorney General Merrick Garland claims the new maps – drawn in consequence of new data from the 2020 Census – diluted the voting strength of Latino and Black voters.

A spokesman for Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott replied that the Justice Department’s action was a “partisan attack” on the decisions of the state legislature, where Republican holds majorities.

Drawing districts for racial reasons is illegal under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but doing so for political reasons – also known as “gerrymandering” – is not. Black and Latino voters tend to vote for Democratic candidates.

“Diplomatic boycott” of Beijing games

The United States will stage a “diplomatic boycott’ of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China. According to the Associated Press, American athletes will compete but official U.S. government personnel would not be present for any of the ceremonial “fanfare” of the games.

In response, the Chinese government threatened “firm countermeasures.” At issue is China’s human rights record, including allegations of abuse and persecution of the Uyghur ethnic minority in China, as well as aggressive moves toward Taiwan.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) called the Biden administration’s announcement “a half measure” and urged a full boycott of what he called the “Genocide Games.”

Sports: Salary race begins for college jocks

If you are a lineman on the University of Texas football team, you can expect to get paid $50,000 a year, stretching the definition of “amateur” to the breaking point. Sports Illustrated is reporting that a non-profit group called Horns With Heart will begin paying Longhorn linemen on scholarship in August 2022 for the use of their name, image and likeness.

Their use would go towards raising money for charitable causes. The organization is expecting to expand the program to other football positions and other sports at Texas.

Weather: Winter-y days are ahead

The West Orange County area will look a little like the East Coast for the next few days, with chillier temps and some rain. The forecast calls for a daytime high of 65 on Tuesday (52 overnight) with morning clouds turning to afternoon sun. But there’s a 24 percent chance of rain. Wednesday should be similar with an 11 percent chance of rain. On Thursday, the thermometer is expected to drop to 59 (43) with a 77 percent chance of rain.

Finance: Tough morning, better afternoon

Wall Street slumped heavily Monday morning, but then turned around and showed gains by the closing bells in the afternoon.

As worries about the impact of the omicron variant of the coronavirus seemed to recede, the financial markets recovered. The S&P 500 was up 7.50 points (0.16 percent) to 4,597.50. The Dow increased by 65 points (0.18 percent) to 35,277 and Nasdaq gained 19 points (up 0.12 percent) to 15,861.75.

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