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By the time Dr. Hector Gonzalez arrived in Laredo, Texas, in 2001, the last abortion clinic had already closed. He spent the next 20 years experiencing firsthand where the largely Hispanic and heavily Catholic community along the border with Mexico usually sided.

“Definitely it was, ‘No abortion,’” said Gonzalez, the city’s former public health director.

That culture has helped protect the region’s nine-term congressman, Henry Cuellar, who is one of the last anti-abortion Democrats in Congress. But he’s facing the stiffest challenge of his career on Tuesday in a runoff election against progressive rival Jessica Cisneros, a 28-year-old immigration attorney who supports abortion access.

With the U.S. Supreme Court poised to potentially overturn abortion rights in a ruling this summer, the runoff is being closely watched for clues about whether the issue will animate Democratic voters. An infusion of money that outside groups have poured on the ground and across TV in South Texas is an indicator of an important race, with abortion rights advocates trying to lower expectations about broader implications.

“National trends are not set by one election and not determined by one election,” said Laphonza Butler, president of Emily’s List, which backs women who support abortion rights and has endorsed Cisneros.

Regardless, the race will provide insight about the direction of the Democratic Party. Progressives have scored some notable wins so far this primary season, defeating a moderate candidate in last week’s Senate primary in Pennsylvania and potentially unseating an incumbent congressman in Oregon, where vote counting is still underway.

Eager to protect an incumbent, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has stood by Cuellar even as she reaffirms her staunch support of abortion rights. Rep. Jim Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat in the House, campaigned with Cuellar in Texas this month, saying the most important priority should be keeping the seat in the party’s hands. Cisneros, he argued, was at risk of losing to a Republican.

Still, a leaked draft of the court’s ruling in April has shaken up what was already a close — and increasingly costly — race. In the March primary, Cisneros finished roughly 1,000 votes behind Cuellar, forcing the runoff after neither candidate met the majority threshold to win outright. It was as close as Cuellar has come to losing his 17-year grip on the seat.

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Elected officials have voted to remove two courthouse murals in Columbia that show a white man pointing a gun at a Native American man and an attempted lynching.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reports that the Boone County Commission made the decision Thursday after lawyers raised concerns. The murals, painted by Sidney Larson in 1994, will be placed in storage.

The murals depict multiple scenes from Columbia’s history, including when Southern guerrillas terrorized Union loyalists in 1864. Another scene shows a white man being punished for stealing a cow. Three shirtless Black men also are shown chained by their ankles as they carry a plank.

The majority of those who spoke at a public hearing late last month were in favor of the murals’ removal from the courthouse.

Among them them was attorney Gary Oxenhandler, who said that the art in the courthouse is a wedge.

“Boone County can either be a justice leader or an embarrassing media soundbite,” he said at the hearing. “I have never met a person of color who needed to be reminded their ancestors were lynched by mobs or beaten by police.”


Spain’s Supreme Court refused Monday to suspend a government decision allowing a former Venezuelan spymaster to be extradited to the United States.

Lawyers for Gen. Hugo Carvajal, who for over a decade was late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez’s eyes and ears in the Venezuelan military, asked the court to put the Spanish government decision — taken 18 months ago — on hold.

But the Supreme Court said in its written decision that Carvajal had presented no new arguments against the government decision, which he had already opposed at the court in May last year.

Carvajal’s extradition procedure is currently on hold at the National Court, after he filed a request for asylum in Spain.

Nicknamed “El Pollo,′ or “The Chicken”, Carvajal was arrested Sept. 9 in a small apartment in Madrid, where he had been holed up for months. His arrest came nearly two years after Carvajal defied a Spanish extradition order and disappeared.

In the United States, he faces federal charges for allegedly working with guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia to “flood” the U.S. with cocaine.


In a win over FIFA at sport’s highest court, Empoli midfielder Nedim Bajrami won the right Monday to switch national teams from Switzerland to Albania.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said its panel upheld an appeal by Bajrami and the Albania soccer federation against a FIFA judge rejecting their request in May.

The urgent ruling clears the 22-year-old Bajrami to be selected for Albania in World Cup qualification games this week against Poland and Hungary. Its group is currently led by England.

Bajrami has Albanian family roots but grew up in Switzerland and represented its teams from youth level through to the Under-21s.

“The panel considered that Nedim Bajrami never played with the Swiss (senior) national team and already held Albanian nationality,” the court said.

Bajrami split with Switzerland in March when he declined selection for the U21 European Championship.



Cruz Reynoso, a son of migrant workers who worked in the fields as a child and went on to become the first Latino state Supreme Court justice in California history, has died. He was 90.

Reynoso died Friday at an elder care facility in Oroville, according to his son Rondall Reynoso. The cause of death was not disclosed.

In a legal career that spanned six decades, Reynoso played a prominent role in the movement to uplift the poorest workers in California, especially farmworkers from Mexico like his parents, and guided many minority students toward the law.

As director of California Rural Legal Assistance — the first statewide, federally funded legal aid program in the country — in the late 1960s he led efforts to ensure farmworkers’ access to sanitation facilities in the fields and to ban the use of the carcinogenic pesticide DDT.

One of the biggest cases won by CRLA while Reynoso was its director centered on Spanish-speaking students who were incorrectly assessed by their schools and placed into classes for the mentally challenged when, in reality, they were simply new English learners. The 1970 class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of Latino students in the Monterey County town of Soledad ended the practice of giving Spanish-speaking students IQ tests in English.

After leaving CRLA in 1972, Reynoso taught law before he was appointed to the state’s 3rd District Appellate Court in Sacramento. In 1982, Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Reynoso to the state Supreme Court, the first Latino to be named to the state’s high court.

He earned respect for his compassion during his five years on the state Supreme Court but became the target of a recall campaign led by proponents of the death penalty who painted him, Chief Justice Rose Bird, and Associate Justice Joseph Grodin as being soft on crime. The three were removed in 1987.

After leaving the bench, he practiced and taught law at the University of California in Los Angeles and in Davis and served on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton in 2000.

“Cruz Reynoso was a giant for the judiciary and the legal profession in California and across the country,” Mariano-Florentino Cuellar, a justice on the California Supreme Court, said in a statement.

“His accomplishments were as remarkable as his humility. His memory and deeds will continue to inspire so many of us across California and the rest of our country.”

Born in Brea on May 2, 1931, Reynoso was one of 11 children and spent summers with his family working the fields of the San Joaquin Valley.

After graduating from Pomona College in 1953, he served two years in the Army before attending law school at UC Berkeley.

He was married to Jeannene Reynoso for 52 years until her death in 2007. He married his second wife, Elaine Reynoso, in 2008. She died in 2017. He is survived by four children and two stepchildren.


Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett won crucial backing Saturday when one of the last Republican holdouts against filling the seat during an election season announced support for President Donald Trump’s pick ahead of a confirmation vote expected Monday. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, declared her support during a rare weekend Senate session as Republicans race to confirm Barrett before Election Day. Senators are set Sunday to push ahead, despite Democratic objections that the winner of the White House on Nov. 3 should make the choice to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Barrett’s nomination  already appeared to have enough votes for confirmation from Senate Republicans who hold the majority in the chamber. But Murkowski’s nod gives her a boost of support. Only one Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, is now expected to vote against the conservative judge.

“While I oppose the process that has led us to this point, I do not hold it against her,” Murkowski said. The fast-track confirmation process is like none other in U.S. history so close to a presidential election. Calling it a “sham,” Democrats mounted procedural hurdles to slow it down. But the minority party has no realistic chance of stopping Barrett’s confirmation, which is set to lock a 6-3 conservative court majority for years to come.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., noted the political rancor, but defended his handling of the process. “Our recent debates have been heated, but curiously talk of Judge Barrett’s actual credentials or qualifications are hardly featured,” McConnell said. He called her one of the most “impressive” nominees for public office “in a generation.” Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York warned Republicans the only way to remove the “stain” of their action would be to “withdraw the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett until after the election.”

With the nation experiencing a surge of COVID-19  cases, Democrats made several unsuccessful attempts to force the Senate to set aside the judicial fight Saturday and instead consider coronavirus relief legislation, including the House-passed Heroes Act that would pump money into schools, hospitals and jobless benefits and provide other aid.  Majority Republicans turned aside those efforts and kept Barrett’s confirmation on track.

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