Justice Department sues Texas over new redistricting maps

Justice Department sues Texas over new redistricting maps. The Department of Justice sued Texas over new redistricting maps Monday, saying the plans discriminate against voters in the state’s booming Latino and Black populations.The lawsuit, filed in the Western District of Texas, claims the state violates part of the Voting Rights Act.

The lawsuit notes that the vast majority of Texas’ population growth over the last decade came from Black, Latino and Asian people, but the new maps that state Republicans drew doesn’t give any of these communities new opportunities to choose their own representatives.

Instead, the maps pack Black and Latino communities into bizarre-shaped districts — a Dallas-area one is referred to as a “sea horse” shape — while preserving safe seats for white Republicans.

The governors of Nevada and California said Sunday that they have a plan to bring some immediate relief to traffic congestion on Interstate 15 at the border of the two states.

In a joint announcement with Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the shoulder about five miles south of the border will be made into a third lane for use during peak hours.

The Las Vegas Journal reports that the project will cost about $12 million. Newsom said existing money will be used to complete the project and it will be done by the summer of next year.

Newsom said a more permanent solution to I-15 traffic woes is still needed, however. According to the Journal, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman has been calling on California and federal officials to step in to develop a fix to I-15 traffic backups.

Antonio Romero had waited all night in a packed arena here for the band to play his favorite song, a brassy, sultry cumbia he had danced to as a teenager in Mexico City.

It had been 22 years since he had left home, 22 years since his friends had told him: “We found a beautiful place. It’s 100% different than Mexico, but it’s beautiful.”

And they were right. North Carolina was beautiful, the work plentiful. But even though Romero, now 42, had built a good life here — with a family, a well-paying job as a handyman and a side gig as a DJ for quinceañeras and cumpleaños — the truth was his heart often ached for Mexico.

He missed the chaos of the capital, the greasy miracle that is a quesadilla de chicharron. Most of all he missed his mother and his siblings, who 25 years earlier had accompanied him to a street festival to see the very band now before him on a Greensboro stage: Los Ángeles Azules.

So when the opening accordion line of “El Listón de Tu Pelo” finally rang out, igniting a roar from the audience of 4,000, Romero was flooded with nostalgia. He belted the lyrics — “Untie the ribbon from your hair / Remove the dress from your body” — and shuffled side to side with his friends. And when he looked over at his wife, who was also born in Mexico, his eyes were shining with tears.

Los Ángeles Azules is a band that transports — and connects. Its achingly romantic cumbias were born in Mexico City’s barrios but have come to transcend class and geography, booming at both block parties and extravagant weddings from California to Argentina. A few of its songs have been streamed on YouTube well over a billion times.

The longing melodies, layered over the trancelike scraping of the guacharaca, carry an undeniable magic — a synchronicity of sound and feeling that flows naturally when six brothers and sisters have been making music together for four decades.

“It’s a beautiful harmony,” said Elías Mejía Avante, 65, the eldest and the band’s front man. “That’s something that is transmitted to the people.”

The siblings were children when their parents bought them instruments and sent them to play parties around Iztapalapa, their working-class warren of concrete block homes. Bands were always fed after performing, so the parents knew their kids wouldn’t go hungry.

It’s been a long, sometimes turbulent journey since: uncountable hours on the road, a difficult period when cumbia fell out of style and a remarkable comeback fueled by a reinvention of the band’s sound and collaborations with some of Latin music’s biggest stars.

Which is how they found themselves here, midway through a triumphant 40th anniversary tour through the United States. By the time they arrived in Greensboro, on a chilly day in November, they had already played sold-out shows in Houston, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

Now they were embarking on a three-date run in the South, home to America’s fastest-growing Latino population, which now exceeds 23 million.

In North Carolina, where it’s not uncommon to see a Mexican or Salvadoran flag flying along a country lane, 1 in 6 children is Latino. Many are the American-born offspring of immigrants, like Alfredo Ordoñez, 30, whose parents came from Guatemala.

“I love the South,” Ordoñez drawled. “I represent it all the way.”

When Ordoñez was a kid, he would roll his eyes when his mom played Los Ángeles Azules while she was cleaning. He preferred Kanye West or 50 Cent. But when he found out the band was coming to Greensboro, just 20 miles from his hometown of Liberty, he told his wife they had to go.

The first song had just started when the aisles began filling with spinning couples. Ordoñez and his wife didn’t quite know how to cumbia, but joined in. The steps, they realized, weren’t so different from country western line dancing.

Later on, Elías, the front man, began calling out different regions of Latin America.

“Are there people with Mexican blood running through their veins?” he asked. Thunderous applause.

“Are there people here from Central America?”

The response was a little less loud, but Ordoñez was doing his part, howling with pride.

A lonesome accordion melody drifted down the concrete halls of a stadium in Duluth, Ga. In a bare, fluorescent-lit dressing room, the youngest of the Mejía Avante siblings was warming up the instrument that he credits for the band’s “classic sound.”

President Biden expressed cautious optimism after meeting in June with Russian President Vladimir Putin, suggesting the next three to six months would reveal whether their frank face-to-face discussion in Geneva was yielding progress.

“Did the things we agreed to sit down and try to work out, did it work? Do we — are we closer to a major strategic stability talks and progress?” he said at the time.

Nearly six months later as the two leaders prepare to speak again by videoconference Tuesday, cyberattacks from within Russia appear to have slowed, but tensions are rising over Russia’s ongoing buildup of troops along its border with Ukraine.

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