Occupy Wall Street joined the NAACP as thousands marched in midtown Manhattan on December 10, 2011 to defend voting rights. Photo: Michael Fleshman/flickr
In a move civil rights groups denounced as a blatant attempt by the Trump administration to intimidate minorities, spread hysteria about non-existent voter fraud, and suppress turnout, the Justice Department announced on Monday that it is dispatching personnel to “monitor” 35 voting locations in 19 states during Tuesday’s midterms just as President Donald Trump warned in a tweet that any “illegal voting” will be punished with “maximum criminal penalties.”
“We condemn the Justice Department’s announcement regarding the deployment of federal observers,” Kristen Clarke, president and CEO of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said in a statement. “In stark contrast to how these observers have been deployed in the past, Attorney General Jeff Sessions does not have his eyes set on voter suppression and last-minute intimidation but is instead exploiting this moment to push a false narrative about voter fraud.” Continue reading →
A fire burns at the Tri-Chem Industries plan in Cresson, Texas on Thursday March 15, 2018. (Photo: KDFW/screenshot)
While the Trump administration continues its push to stymie and roll back federal regulations by fighting in court to uphold a delay of the Chemical Disaster Rule, hazardous materials crews are searching for a worker presumed dead after an explosion at a Texas chemical plant.
Two other workers were injured Thursday in the blast at the Tri-Chem Industries plant in Cresson, which is about 50 miles southwest of Dallas. Efforts to battle the blaze were temporarily halted by concerns about exposure to toxic fumes and the subsequent explosions. Continue reading →
The kickback scheme was allegedly hashed out over weeknight drinks at a steakhouse in a border county in south Texas. Amid surf and turf and expensive scotch, a Hidalgo County official said he would meet with contractors in the clubby confines of the restaurant in a strip mall in McAllen.
There, Godfrey Garza Jr., director of the county’s drainage district, cajoled company executives to hire a firm owned by his family in exchange for a cut of lucrative construction contracts, according to new documents filed in state district court in Hidalgo County. The target of the plan: a $232 million project funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the county to build a border fence and rehabilitate aging dirt levees along the Rio Grande. Continue reading →
Thanks to the new decision, said the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, “The new maps could result in a delegation that more closely resembles the will of Pennsylvania’s voters.” (Photo: Penn State/Flickr/cc)
Pennsylvania’s high court on Monday ruled that the state’s gerrymandered congressional map “clearly, plainly, and palpably” violates the state constitution and ordered the state to draw up a new map to be used in the primary.
“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court today ruled in favor of voters choosing politicians rather than politicians choosing voters, and that is major victory for all Pennsylvanians,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause, which filed an amicus brief in the case. “The court order will result in new maps in time for the 2018 election so that voters will not be forced to face a fourth congressional election under these unconstitutionally gerrymandered congressional districts.” Continue reading →
“The court’s decision once again makes clear that politicians cannot force their way into private medical decisions that should stay between patients and physicians. Access to vital reproductive health services should not depend on a woman’s zip code.”
In 2013, protesters gathered outside the Senate Gallery at the Texas State Capitol minutes before midnight to stall a bill that would put strict regulations on abortion facilities from going to a vote. (Photo: Lauren Gerson/Blackbird Film Co./Flickr/cc)
After temporarily halting a Texas abortion law that was slated to take effect earlier this year, and which critics warned would endanger women who seek to terminate a pregnancy in the second trimester, a federal judge issued a blow to the state’s notorious anti-choice Republicans on Wednesday and permanently blocked the legislation.
U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel issued a permanent injunction on Senate Bill 8, which sought to ban dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedures after 15 weeks, despite that it’s among the most common types of abortion procedures for women in their second trimester of pregnancy and amid warnings that it would force pregnant women and providers to turn to more costly and risky options. Texas, a hotbed for anti-choice measures, already bars women from having an abortion after 20 weeks. Continue reading →
“Rosa Maria is finally free. We are thrilled that she can now recover, surrounded by her family’s love and support,” said the ACLU on Twitter. (Photo: The Independent/courtesty of family)
Rosa Maria Hernandez, a 10-year-old undocumented immigrant with cerebral palsy who was detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents last week, was finally released from federal custody on Friday after 11 days of separation from her family.
“We’re just thrilled—it’s such a relief,” Michael Tan, a staff attorney at the ACLU, told the New York Times. “It’s actually quite overwhelming. This was the first time in her life she was separated from her family.” Continue reading →
Dickinson, TX — Government suppression of free speech can take many forms. It’s not always censorship in the media or storm troopers in the streets bashing in the heads of protesters. For proof of this, one need look no further than Dickinson, Texas.
The small coastal town southeast of Houston took some of the worst Hurricane Harvey had to offer, with almost 7,400 homes damaged — many of them beyond repair. In response, the city council decided to set up a relief fund. People can donate to the city, and then a committee distributes the money to residents on a case-by-case basis. Continue reading →
Texas lawmakers’ attacks on reproductive rights have closed more than 80 of the states family planning clinics, including 11 Planned Parenthood clinics. Photo: The Trott Line
Illustrating the potential consequences if Republicans fulfill their threat to defund Planned Parenthood nationwide, a new study shows that when Texas slashed state funding for family planning clinics in 2011, the abortion rate among teenagers in the state actually increased.
The Texas state legislature launched a series of attacks on reproductive rights, beginning in 2011, when it cut funding for family planning services by 67 percent and restructured the way it allocates the remaining funds. These measures closed more than 80 clinics, including 11 Planned Parenthood clinics. One of the purported goals, said Republican backers, was to decrease abortion rates. As then-governor Rick Perry said: “We will continue to pass laws to ensure abortions are as rare as possible under existing law.” Continue reading →
Houston, TX — Local activists attempting to hand out food and gifts were shocked on Thursday afternoon when Houston police forced the homeless to throw away the donations. Around 1 pm on Thursday, several individuals met in downtown Houston to distribute plates of hot food, blankets, and other supplies to the city’s growing homeless population. Soon after, Houston police arrived on the scene of two different intersections where the homeless advocates were giving out gifts and food.
According to witness testimony posted on Facebook, the police instructed the homeless to throw away everything they had been given. “Not only were the police called, but they brought a large waste management truck and are forcing the homeless to throw away their food, pillows and other items,” reads one post. Continue reading →
“The state agency has once again ignored the concerns of the medical community and thousands of Texans by playing politics with people’s private healthcare decisions,” said Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas. (Photo: Do512/flickr/cc)
As of December 19, Texas healthcare providers will be required to bury or cremate embryonic and fetal tissue that results from abortions or miscarriages at their facilities.
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) finalized the new regulation on Monday, inviting a legal challenge from reproductive rights advocates, who strongly oppose the rule on the grounds that it has no medical or safety benefits, would be costly to implement, and could exacerbate what for some women is already a difficult experience. Continue reading →