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Thursday, June 17, 2021

First Thing: Texas Republicans to resurrect voting restrictions bill | US news

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After a historic show of force from Texas Democrats, in which they walked out of the state capitol before the midnight deadline for a bill described as “Jim Crow 2.0” by the left, Republicans are already plotting their next move to resurrect their fight for sweeping voting restrictions.

The Texas governor, Greg Abbott, who says “election integrity” remains an emergency in the state, has announced he will include the issue on his agenda when he reconvenes the legislature for a rapid-fire special session.

  • In Texas, governors wield control to call special sessions that are essentially legislative overtime, though it is unclear when this particular session will begin.

  • This bill sought to ban 24-hour and drive-through voting, restrict the use of drop boxes, lower the bar for overturning an election and make it a state jail felony for a public official to proactively solicit or send vote-by-mail applications.

  • Abbott’s announcement comes as Texas establishes itself as the Republican resistance to the Biden administration.

  • And nationwide, conservative activists continue to push for a review of the 2020 election, an effort experts say is dangerous to democracy.

Wounds from Tulsa race massacre still open, one century later

On 31 May 1921, a horde of white Tulsans destroyed an area of the city known as Black Wall Street in one of the most grotesque acts of white supremacist terrorism in US history. A hundred years later, Tulsa remains “one of the most segregated and discriminatory” cities in the US, according to its residents.

  • “Our family history is the one thing that was not stolen from us”: descendants of the Tulsa massacre reflect on the “incalculable” loss and trauma.

  • How much has changed in a century? “The long-hoped-for racial reckoning still awaits a country seemingly unwilling to acknowledge in its historical memory the most terrible, deliberately obscured sins in its past and their impact today,” writes Jimmie Briggs.

  • “I call on the American people to reflect on the deep roots of racial terror in our nation,” Joe Biden said in a statement about the Tulsa massacre. He said as well that the federal government must “reckon and acknowledge” the role it had played in “in stripping wealth and opportunity from black communities”.

Naomi Osaka withdraws from French Open over press conferences

Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the French Open to ‘take some time away from the court’.
Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the French Open to ‘take some time away from the court’. Photograph: Steven Paston/PA

After her decision not to speak to the press during the tournament, Naomi Osaka announced her withdrawal from Roland Garros one day after she was fined $15,000 by the French Open for the decision.

In other news …

  • Covid-19 strains to be given Greek alphabet names to avoid stigma, with the four variants known to the public as the UK/Kent (B.1.1.7), South Africa (B.1.351), Brazil (P.1) and India (B.1.617.2) variants, to now be known Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta, respectively, according to the World Health Organization.

  • The discovery of a mass grave of more than 200 indigenous children at a former school site in Canada has spurred calls for a nationwide search for more mass graves like it.

  • Four more members of the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia group, have been indicted in the 6 January Capitol riot attack.

Stat of the day: 39% of American households own guns

Today’s stat comes as gun sales continue to increase across the country, with first-time buyers making up more than a fifth of Americans who have bought guns.

Don’t miss this: a look at the cicada explosion taking place along eastern US

An adult cicada flies from a clover flower in Washington.
An adult cicada flies from a clover flower in Washington. Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/AP

There is no definitive explanation for the 17-year cycle that culminates in trillions of periodic cicadas emerging en masse from dormancy underground, but no matter your feelings on insects, it is one of the world’s great natural spectacles.

Last Thing: Moulin Rouge at 20

A look back at Baz Luhrmann’s “spectacular, spectacular” 20 years later.

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