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Pennsylvania Supreme Court issues new election map

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Pennsylvania’s high court issued a new congressional district map for the state’s 2018 elections on its self-imposed deadline Monday, all but ensuring that Democratic prospects will improve in several seats and that Republican lawmakers challenge it in federal court.

The map of Pennsylvania’s 18 congressional districts is to be in effect for the May 15 primary and substantially overhauls a congressional map widely viewed as among the nation’s most gerrymandered. The map was approved in a 4-3 decision.

Most significantly, the new map likely gives Democrats a better shot at winning seats in Philadelphia’s heavily populated and moderate suburbs, where Republicans had held seats in bizarrely contorted districts, including one labeled “Goofy Kicking Donald Duck.”

The redrawn map could boost the Democratic Party’s quest to capture control of the U.S. House and dramatically change Pennsylvania’s predominantly Republican, all-male delegation.

Meanwhile, sitting congressmen, dozens of would-be candidates and millions of voters have to sort out which district they live in barely a month before the candidates’ deadline to submit paperwork to run.

Republican lawmakers are expected to quickly challenge the map in federal court, arguing that legislatures and governors, not courts, have the constitutional responsibility to draw congressional maps.

The Democratic-majority state Supreme Court ruled last month in a party line decision that the district boundaries unconstitutionally put partisan interests above neutral line-drawing criteria, such as keeping districts compact and eliminating municipal and county divisions.

The decision is the first time a state court threw out congressional boundaries in a partisan gerrymandering case and handed a victory to the group of registered Democratic voters who sued last June in a lawsuit backed by the League of Women Voters.

Candidates can start circulating petitions to run in their new district in a little over a week, Feb. 27. Pennsylvania has seen a surge in interest in running for Congress with six incumbents elected in 2016 not running again — the most in four decades — and Democrats vehemently opposing President Donald Trump.

Pennsylvania’s Republican delegation has provided a crucial pillar of support for Republican control of the U.S. House since 2010.

Republicans who controlled the Legislature and governor’s office after the 2010 census crafted it to elect Republicans and succeeded in that aim: Republicans won 13 of 18 seats in three straight elections under the now-invalidated map, even though Pennsylvania’s statewide elections are often closely divided and registered Democratic voters outnumber Republicans.

The new map will not apply to the March 13 special congressional election in southwestern Pennsylvania’s 18th District between Republican Rick Saccone and Democrat Conor Lamb.

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Dominic Raab slashes China foreign aid budget by massive 95% – UK pledges less than £1m

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DOMINIC RAAB has slashed the foreign aid to China by a staggering 95 percent, with the UK sending just £900,000 to Beijing.

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Senate to vote on Vanita Gupta for Justice Dept. No. 3 despite broad GOP opposition

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WASHINGTON — The Senate is set to vote Wednesday afternoon on the nomination of Vanita Gupta for associate attorney general despite nearly unified opposition from Republicans.

The Senate advanced Gupta’s nomination for the Justice Department’s No. 3 spot in a 51-49 vote earlier Wednesday after Moderate Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, joined all Democrats in bringing the nomination to a final vote. Murkowski’s support for the vote meant Vice President Kamala Harris was not needed to break a tie.

Harris could still be needed to do so for the final confirmation vote, expected around 2:15 p.m. ET. The final vote comes almost a month after the Senate Judiciary Committee took a 11-11 party-line vote on her nomination, which required the Senate to vote last week to discharge the nomination from committee to allow it to come to the floor.

Gupta, who ran the Justice Department’s civil rights division as an associate attorney general during the Obama administration, will bring a “long overdue perspective” to the department, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Wednesday.

“Not only is Ms. Gupta the first woman of color to ever be nominated to the position, she is the first civil rights attorney ever to be nominated to the position — the third-ranking official in the Justice Department,” he said. “And just to give you a sense of Ms. Gupta’s commitment to civil rights and racial equity, in her very first case after law school, she won the release of several African Americans who had been wrongfully convicted by all-white juries in Texas.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Wednesday that he would “strongly oppose” Gupta’s nomination, arguing that she has “repeatedly amplified left-wing fear-mongering toward judicial nominees and sitting federal judges” and “levied attacks on members of this body.”

McConnell also accused Gupta of employing “the loosest possible interpretation of her oath to deliver honest testimony” during her confirmation process and said her reputation “contrasts sharply” with that of Attorney General Merrick Garland, whom he voted to confirm.

“The White House needs to make a better choice for this key post,” he said. “The Senate should create that opportunity by voting no today.”

President Joe Biden praised Gupta, who serves as head of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, in his remarks Tuesday night following the conviction of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd.

Biden said Gupta and Kristen Clarke, the head of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, whom he nominated to run the DOJ’s civil rights division, “are eminently qualified, highly respected lawyers who have spent their entire careers fighting to advance racial equity and justice.”

Gupta and Clarke have the experience and skill “to advance our administration’s priorities to root out unconstitutional policing and reform our criminal justice system, and they deserve to be confirmed,” Biden said.

Many Republicans have voiced opposition to Clarke’s nomination as well.



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Fat chance! EU mocked over 2050 green target as Germany falters – hours after UK pledge

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GERMANY has been criticised for lagging behind its climate targets after Angela Merkel welcomed new EU emissions laws.

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