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A federal court nullified two of Texas’ 36 congressional districts Tuesday, unanimously ruling that they were drawn with the intent to weaken minority voting power in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution.

Hispanic voters in one county in the state's 27th Congressional District, which includes Corpus Christi, “were intentionally deprived of their opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice,” the three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas wrote in a 107-page ruling.

The court also called the 35th Congressional District, which includes parts of San Antonio and Austin, an “impermissible racial gerrymander.”

However, the court sided with the state with regard to other districts, ruling there was no evidence of “intentional discrimination/dilution” in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Houston or the 23rd Congressional District.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called the ruling “puzzling” because “the legislature adopted the congressional map the same court itself adopted in 2012, and the Obama-era Department of Justice did not bring any claims against the map.”

“We appreciate that the panel ruled in favor of Texas on many issues in the case,” Paxton said in a statement Tuesday. “We look forward to asking the Supreme Court to decide whether Texas had discriminatory intent when relying on the district court.”

The suit was brought in 2011 by several Texas voters, Democratic and minority lawmakers along with several advocacy groups, including the NAACP, the Mexican American Legislative Caucus and the League of United Latin American Citizens.


A Hong Kong court sent young activist Joshua Wong and two other student leaders to prison Thursday for their roles in huge pro-democracy protests nearly three years earlier, in the latest sign that tolerance for dissent is waning in the Chinese-ruled former British colony.

The High Court overturned an earlier verdict that let Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow avoid prison, agreeing with prosecutors that the original punishment for joining or leading an unlawful assembly that sparked the protests was too light.

They were immediately taken to serve their sentences of up to eight months, which have the added consequence of blocking each of them from seeking public office for five years.

Wong had little visible reaction as the verdict was read out but tweeted minutes after: "You can lock up our bodies, but not our minds! We want democracy in Hong Kong. And we will not give up." "See you soon," he added. He pumped his fist in the air as he walked out of the dock into custody.

The three were found guilty last year of leading or encouraging an illegal rally in September 2014 that kicked off the "Umbrella Movement" protests that captured world headlines. Youthful activists brought major thoroughfares to a standstill for 11 weeks to protest Beijing's plan to restrict elections in the semi-autonomous region.

Wong and Law were originally given community service and Chow had received a suspended three-week prison sentence.

A three-judge panel on Thursday decided to stiffen those sentences following the justice secretary's request. The judges, who said there was a need to deter others, gave Law eight months in prison, seven to Chow and six for Wong, following deductions that included one-month cuts in sentences for the community service Wong and Law completed.


The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday denied a motion from attorneys seeking to halt the execution of a man scheduled to die next week but did not explain its decision.

Attorneys for Marcellus Williams had asked the state Supreme Court and Gov. Eric Greitens to stop the punishment, citing DNA evidence that they say exonerates him. Williams, 48, is scheduled to die by injection Aug. 22 for fatally stabbing former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Lisha Gayle in 1998 during a robbery at her University City home.

In a filing to the Missouri Supreme Court and a clemency request to the Republican governor, Williams' attorneys said testing conducted in December using techniques that were not available at the time of the killing shows DNA found on the knife matches an unknown man, but not Williams.

"That means in our mind the actual killer is not him," one of Williams' lawyers, Kent Gipson, told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday ahead of the court's decision. "It certainly would give most reasonable people pause to say, 'Should you be executing somebody when you've got reasonable evidence suggesting another man did it?'"

After the ruling, Gipson told St. Louis Public Radio that he was surprised by the quick decision and planned to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Certainly something involving a claim of innocence that is this substantial, you would think they would at least write an opinion or at least a short opinion giving the reasons why they denied it," Gipson said, "because that makes it more difficult to take it up to a higher court because they don't know exactly on what basis the ruling was made."

Loree Anne Paradise, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Josh Hawley, said the office remains confident that Williams is guilty based on other evidence in the case. Greitens' spokesman, Parker Briden, declined comment, saying only that the claim will need further review.


distribute pot products to the state's new recreational retailers.

Nevada's Taxation Department says the protracted legal fight has created a delivery bottleneck that's undermining an otherwise robust marijuana industry and the state revenue that comes with it.

Legal sales started with a bang July 1. But Tax Director Deonne Contine (kahn-TEEN') says the tiny distribution network's inability to keep pace with demand is forcing up prices and sending buyers back to the black market.

She says it's also jeopardizing worker safety at dispensaries forced to stockpile supplies and huge amounts of cash to accommodate erratic deliveries.

A Carson City judge plans to hear her request Thursday to lift the latest injunction blocking licenses for anyone other than alcohol distributors.



Germany's top court has declined to hear a series of challenges to the European Central Bank's bond-buying stimulus program, referring them instead to the European Court of Justice.

The dpa news agency reports Tuesday that those against the program claimed it constituted illegal budget financing and that Germany's central bank should not be participating.

The Federal Constitutional Court ruled that because the challenge was about European Union regulations, it was up to the European court to decide.

The ECB's 2.28 trillion euro ($2.7 trillion) bond-purchasing program is only due to run through 2017, raising the question of whether the case can be heard before the program has already ended.


A Pakistani official says former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has filed petitions with the Supreme Court to challenge his disqualification and removal from office.

Environment Minister Mushahidullah Khan, who is in Sharif's party, said Tuesday that the former prime minister's lawyers filed three petitions to review the verdict.

The court disqualified Sharif after documents leaked from a Panama-based law firm showed that his family held previously undisclosed overseas assets. A five-judge panel last month disqualified Sharif, accusing him of concealing assets.

Last week Sharif held a series of rallies across the country, criticizing the court ruling and seeking to whip up popular support.



Missouri defensive end Nate Howard, already suspended and facing a felony drug charge, was arrested again Monday night by UMPD for an out-of-county warrant for failing to appear in court for a speeding ticket in Montgomery County.

Howard had a ticket arraignment scheduled for last Thursday in Montgomery Circuit Court for a misdemeanor speeding ticket filed March 28. Howard didn't pay the ticket for $121 or appear in court to contest the charge, according to online court records.

Howard was contacted during a traffic stop Monday when MU police discovered the warrant, MUPD Lt. Buddy Anliker said in an email.

Howard's next court date in his felony drug possession case is Aug. 24. Howard, a former All-Metro standout at Ladue High School, was arrested June 14 in Columbia on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance and suspicion of marijuana possession when police found illegal mushrooms and marijuana in the vehicle he was driving. Howard has been charged with a class D felony for possession of a controlled substance. All MU athletes charged with a felony are suspended indefinitely until their case is resolved.

Howard has not practiced with the Tigers since the spring and is not on the current 105-man roster. Howard has 15 tackles in 15 career games.

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