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As a legal battle plays out in the courts, the Biden administration has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block a Texas law that bans most abortions in the state.
The Justice Department asked the high court Monday to reverse a decision by an appeals court that allows the law to remain in effect while litigation over the policy continues.
The Republican-backed law bans abortions once cardiac activity has been detected in an embryo, which typically occurs at six weeks, a point when some women are not aware they are pregnant.
The law also allows members of the public to sue people who may have facilitated an abortion after six weeks.
The Supreme Court has already ruled on the issue once before in a lawsuit filed by abortion providers. In a 5-4 vote last month, the court allowed the law to remain in effect as the legal battle over it continues.
The Supreme Court, however, has not yet ruled on the constitutionally of the Texas law.
The high court became more conservative under former President Donald Trump, who appointed three justices to the nine-seat bench. Conservatives now hold a 6-3 majority.
The court's handling of the abortion issue is being closely watched since it allowed the restrictive Texas law to take effect last month. Later in September, the court announced it would hear arguments in December in a case that directly challenges Roe v. Wade, the decades-old ruling that gives women the right to an abortion.
The court scheduled oral arguments for December 1 to hear a case concerning a Mississippi state law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
The case asks justices to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that allows women to have abortions in most circumstances. Roe v. Wade establishes a woman's constitutional right to an abortion before a fetus is viable, typically around 24 weeks of pregnancy.
The court's latest actions have fueled speculation that a majority of the justices could be inclined to formally curtail abortion rights.
A poll released by Monmouth University last month found that 62% of Americans believe abortion should either always be legal or be legal with some limitations. Twenty-four percent said it should be illegal except in rare circumstances such as rape, while 11% said it should always be illegal. (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Abortion Law, Texas, Biden Administration
The two most populous states in the United States, California, and Texas, have long competed to attract companies and talent. Data from the 2020 U.S. census show that Texas is drawing more people, including Californians. Texans have a saying: “Everything is bigger in Texas.” By size, it is the largest state in the contiguous U.S. There are many reasons why the state’s population is also getting bigger. “Your quality of life is so much higher here in Austin,” said Alex Backus, who moved with his teenage daughter from San Jose, California, to the Texas capital almost two years ago.
Backus has been bouncing back and forth between the two states over the years. He said that while he missed the outdoor activities and mild weather in California’s Bay Area, it is not a financially friendly place for young adults such as his daughter. “Most of the kids that are in the Bay Area and they graduate, they kind of need to leave the Bay Area because it’s so expensive. I kind of figured in Austin, there was a shot that she might actually choose to try to stay in Austin to go to college and start her life,” Backus explained.
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Correlation between states
“They each have a singular history. Both of them were governed by Spain and Mexico. They both have a sort of a nation-state identity unlike any other state,” said Bill Fulton, director of Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research, in Houston. Fulton moved to Texas from California for his current job. He has been studying the migration patterns between the two states through census data and noticed a correlation. “When home prices in California go up, more people move to Texas. When home prices in California go down, fewer people move to Texas,” Fulton said.
Census and politics
While California still has 10 million more residents than Texas, the migration patterns of each state have been going on for years, and Texas has won the popularity contest, according to the 2020 census results. For the first time in the state’s history, California, a Democratic bastion, lost one U.S. congressional seat determined by the state’s population. Republican-leaning Texas, the biggest winner of all 50 states, gained two seats.
While the impact will be felt in Washington, Fulton said its political significance depends on who is moving from California to Texas — whether they are conservative Republicans who do not like liberal-leaning California with its state tax and more regulations, or Democrats from California looking for better opportunities in Texas. “It may well be that a flow from California to Texas increases the likelihood that at some point in the future, Texas will turn blue. And if it does, of course, that’s good news for the Democrats and bad news for the Republicans nationally because then the two largest states are locked in to be Democratic states. But that would still be a way off if it happens,” Fulton said.
Impact of pandemic
During the pandemic, out-migration from expensive states such as California and New York picked up. States with lower costs of living, including Texas and Florida, are seeing an influx of new residents, said Los Angeles-based Eric Willett, director of research and thought leadership for the Pacific Southwest division at commercial real estate firm CBRE.
He studied the impact of the pandemic on people’s decision to move by looking at data from the U.S. Postal Service. With people working from home, there was a trend of people across the U.S. leaving denser urban regions for homes in the suburbs. “Whether it’s a backyard or an extra bedroom, those sorts of living environments became much more highly desired during the pandemic,” Willett said. The urban dwellers who moved tend to be young, affluent, highly educated, and childless.
While Willett found that most Californians who moved did so within the state, the migration patterns of people who chose to move out of state were consistent with pre-pandemic trends. “The states that saw the most out-migration last year are also the states that saw the most outmigration in 2019. It just was an accelerated path of out-migration,” Willett said.
Elon Musk, the co-founder of Tesla and SpaceX, moved last year from California to Texas, where his business priorities are located. Tesla Cybertruck and SpaceX’s spaceport are in Texas. Tech companies Oracle and HP Inc., as well as CBRE, have relocated their headquarters to Texas. Japanese automaker Toyota also chose to relocate its North American headquarters from California to Texas, which is not only known for its ample housing and lower cost of living but also its business-friendly environment. Nicknamed “Silicon Hills,” Austin has been an attractive location for many tech companies.
“There’s no question that Texas has fewer business regulations than California,” Fulton said. Texas may be popular, but Willett said it does not mean there is a mass exodus of businesses from California.”Increasingly, companies are looking to diversify their talent base, and California is a mature market in many industries. And it makes sense for these companies to look elsewhere to continue to expand their access to talent,” Willett explained.
“Facebook and Google are constantly fighting for downtown office space of more than a million square feet (92,903 square meters). They’re looking for additional properties, and it just seems like every company is trying to expand their presence here in Austin,” said Job Hammond of the Austin Board of Realtors. Hammond, originally from Northern California, moved to Austin 14 years ago when he relocated for his then-employer Oracle. He is now a relocation expert who helps people from other cities find homes in Austin.
“They all seemingly want the same sort of thing — a good quality of life, a reasonable price in terms of a home, and, in some cases, to avoid state income tax,” Hammond said. Texas Realtors, the state-level association of realtors, reported that in the first quarter of 2021, the median sales price of single-family homes in the state reached $275,000. In contrast, the California Association of Realtors reported that the median price of a single-family home in the state in March was $758,990.
“A California family will cash in their home equity to get a bigger house in Texas, and they’re probably not going to reverse that pattern,” Fulton said. Foreign investors are also noticing Texas. Hammond has helped investors from Malaysia, Nepal, China, Europe, and Mexico find properties.”I was on the phone about 12 o’clock midnight with somebody in Shanghai who’s interested in not having cash in the bank because she’s worried about things like inflation,” Hammond said.
Backus has enjoyed the live music and arts scene in Austin and picked up surfing on Lake Austin. But Texas summers are a lot hotter than they are in Northern California, with its milder climate, diverse geography, and plentiful biking opportunities and outdoor activities, which Backus misses. “I still have my home there. It’s rented out there, and I’m questioning whether I should keep it because I might want to go back. I do miss going snow skiing,” he said. (VOA/JC)
By Cathy Carter
Most Texans tend to get nostalgic and emotional when they plan to Buy Texas Flag because of the sense of patriotism it creates in them. The joy of hoisting the esteemed flag in their premises imbibes an inexplicable feeling.
Brief History of Texas Flag
Delving into a bit of Texas’s history will tell you that Texas has had no less than six flags flying over its territory. The most popular and recognized one is the Lone Star Flag, which is the state’s current flag that flies proudly today.
Although it is believed that Senator William H. Wharton designed the Texas flag, there seems to be some confusion. According to Charles Spain, an attorney based in Houston, a vexillologist (an expert in flags), no one knows who designed the iconic Texas flag. What is established is that the flag came into existence after the Texas Revolution, as Texas needed a ‘national standard’ as it was still a fledgling nation.
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The Revolution and its Effects
The revolution leaders congregated and designed an official flag for Texas while drafting the constitution and declaration of Independence in Washington. Simultaneously, there were many designs put forward, including one that sported a lengthy quote of George Washington and yet another that reminded folks of Mexico the red, white, and green colors in it. Not many people were happy with these designs until someone else came up with the ‘lone star’ design that unanimously won everybody’s likes.
The Original Designer of Texas Flag
Another strong theory is that a lawmaker Charles B. Stewart, who was a signatory to the Texas Declaration of Independence, and a founding father of the state, designed the flag. This reason alone is probably enough for the locals to be proud of this version of the flag, to which they have an emotional connection. That’s perhaps the main reason why people want to buy a Texas flag even today.
The Varied Claims Behind the Design of the Texas Flag
Let’s explore some more about the history of the Texas flag. Pat Spackey, an important citizen of the City of Conroe in Montgomery County, is a direct descendent of Charles B. Stewart. Spackey claims that a committee was not responsible for handling the Texas flag project and her ancestor designed the Lone Star flag. Hence, the theory that the designer of the flag is not known is not true.
The City of Conroe organized a park project in 2011 to honor Stewart as the sole designer of the Texas flag, which again prompts Montgomery’s proud residents to buy a Texas flag and fly it proudly in their offices and homes.
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There is a library to commemorate Stewart’s memory, since the park, where a bust of Stewart was installed has a reference as a mark of respect to Texas flag’s sole designer. The inscription under Stewart’s bust reads, “Charles Bellinger Stewart designed the world-famous Lone Star Flag of Texas, which was adopted in 1839.
However, as a dampener to Montgomery’s proud residents, Spain claims that Stewart did not design the Texas flag all by himself. A committee designed the flag, and there are no records to support the claim of Spackey that Stewart was the sole designer of the Texas flag.
Despite the controversy, people still flock to flag stores a few days before June 14 (Flag Day) to buy this iconic flag as they are proud of its history.
More Facts about the Texas Flag
The Texas flag is similar to the American flag as far as the narratives and aesthetics are concerned. Spain draws a comparison between Betsy Ross’s story (a claim that her ancestors designed the American flag) and Spackey’s story and claims that the descendants of both have created similar stories about the origins of both the flags.
Spackey claims vehemently that Charles Stewart’s story has been a subject of discussion in her family, which has been passed down as a fiercely guarded legacy. A prized family possession was a piece of linen with Mirabeau B. Lamar’s signature appended. Spackey’s family donated this heirloom to the state in 1966.
However, records at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission indicate that the Texas flag was most probably designed by Peter Krag, an Austin based artist, for $200.
Summing it Up
There’s a raging debate on Stewart and Ross’s stories ever since the flags came into being, as there is no written record to prove either claim. However, this is no dampener for people who still love to buy a flag for the sake of hoisting it, as it is more a matter of pride than anything to do with historical evidence.
(Disclaimer: The article is sponsored, and hence promotes some commercial links.)
Former diplomat Sri Kulkarni’s campaign for an open U.S. Congress seat representing the Houston area is one of the most watched in the country. Matched up against a conservative county sheriff and President Donald Trump ally, Kulkarni is hoping to carry the largest Asian American populated district in Texas to become the fifth Indian and fifth Hindu American member of Congress.
Kulkarni is uniting a multi-ethnic, multi-religious district, and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) sees in Kulkarni a chance at flipping Texas to blue.
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But in August, a California based political operative, Pieter Friedrich, took aim at Kulkarni. Too many Houstonian Indian Americans supporting Kulkarni were also supportive of the Indian government, Friedrich alleged. And only a week later, Friedrich leveled a nearly identical attack on Democratic Michigan State House member Padma Kuppa, the first Hindu and Indian American elected to that state’s house.
Friedrich’s rants may have gone unnoticed if not for his recently discovered ties within the California Democratic party. Those ties reach right up to Amar Shergill, chair of the California Democratic Progressive Caucus. Shergill, a lawyer of Indo-Canadian origin, first amplified Friedrich’s work disparaging the first Hindu American elected to the House of Representatives, Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), and then, joined Friedrich in going after a senior Hindu director in the Biden presidential campaign, Amit Jani.
Friedrich, Shergill, and their political allies targeted not only Kulkarni, Kuppa and Gabbard (D-HI), but also Indian American Democratic legislators like Ami Bera (D-CA) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL). Democratic candidates Jenifer Rajkumar, a New York Assembly candidate, and Rishi Kumar, member of the Saratoga City Council and California congressional candidate were also targeted. Besides Jani, Friedrich also went after another senior Biden Campaign staffer, senior Policy Advisor and former President Obama appointee, Sonal Shah.
The attacks follow a pattern: depict prominent Hindu American donors who assert Hindu identity, call out Hinduphobia, or promote robust U.S.-India relations as “Hindu nationalists,” “Hindu supremacists,” or “Hindu fascists.” Allege dual loyalty. Raise suspicion against all of them, and then intimidate them through reputational harm, even dox them. Only Hindu American candidates supported by these donors are singled out for attack.