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Supreme court hands win to Republicans over Texas voting maps

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An ideologically divided U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday handed a win to Republicans in Texas by putting on hold rulings that said electoral districts drawn by state lawmakers discriminated against minority voters.

On a 5-4 vote, with the court’s conservatives in the majority and the liberal justices dissenting, the court in a brief order blocked two different lower court decisions that found fault with both congressional districts and state legislative districts drawn by the Republican-controlled state legislature.

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In August, a federal court in Texas struck down two Republican-drawn congressional districts saying they were discriminatory and ordering new maps to be drawn ahead of elections in 2018.

The court said the 27th and 35th congressional districts were drawn in violation of the U.S. Voting Rights Act. Texas has 36 districts, with Republicans holding 25 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and Democrats 11.

The August decision and a similar ruling on the state legislative districts will both remain on hold, meaning no new districts will be drawn in the interim while the high court considers Texas’ appeal in the cases.

Voting rights advocates say the Republican lawmakers drew up the districts to undermine the influence of racial minority voters, who typically show more support for Democrats than Republicans.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; editing by Grant McCool)

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New book highlights Trump’s startling ignorance of basic history

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US President Donald Trump's shaky grasp of geography includes not knowing that India shares a border with China, according to a new book by a pair of reporters for The Washington Post.

The book, "A Very Stable Genius" by Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig, highlights episodes of volatile behavior by the president along with his ignorance of basic geography and history.

"It's not like you've got China on your border," the authors quoted Trump as telling Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a meeting between the two leaders.

India and China share a border and the two countries went to war in 1962 over a disputed Himalayan section of the frontier.

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Treasury inspector general probes possible Trump tax break abuses

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ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

The Treasury Department’s inspector general is looking into the opportunity zone program following stories by ProPublica and The New York Times about how the tax break meant to help the poor had been manipulated by billionaires.

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Trump says US is ready for war — but not all his troops are so sure

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ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

Between the killing of Iran’s most important general and Iran’s missiles hurtling toward American troops in Iraq, President Donald Trump took time to discuss America’s military prowess.

“The United States just spent Two Trillion Dollars on Military Equipment,” he tweeted on Jan. 5. “If Iran attacks an American Base, or any American, we will be sending some of that brand new beautiful equipment their way.”

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