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Allen West Steps Down as Chair of Texas Republican Party

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Allen West announced Friday that he is resigning from his role as chairman of the Texas Republican Party and possibly eyeing his sights on running for a more statewide political position.

What We Know:

  • West, a former Army official and congressman in Florida, has been the Texas GOP’s chairman for less than a year after beating former Texas Chairman James Dickey. On the state party’s website, West stated that it’s been “a distinct honor to serve as Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas….I pray Godspeed for this governing body.”
  • The now-former chairman has been at odds with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott over his handling of COVID-19 and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick over gun legislation throughout his term. West believes both men are not going to the “right enough” with laws, especially during a time Texas is seeing a steady climb of switching from a red state to a battleground one. West has even gone as far as suing Abbott and protesting outside his home regarding extending early voting and restrictions during the pandemic.
  • Many Texas GOP officials are happy to see West step down after his 11 chaotic months in office. Matt Mackowiak, chairman of the Travis County GOP, tweeted that West was leaving “disaster” in his wake and only took the chairman position to better his political future and not to better the party.
  • In a recent news conference, West hinted at running against Abbott in the upcoming 2022 midterm elections. He stated it would be “very disingenuous with so many people that have asked me to consider something, to not explore a run.” Abbott, who is up for his third term, was just recently endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
  • Current vice-chair Cat Parks has stated that she will be speaking with her family about possibly running for the position. Former GOP state Rep. Matt Rinaldi has already announced his candidacy for the position via Twitter.

The state’s party believes West will continue fighting against progressive socialism and supporting Texas ideals, no matter where he ends up. West will maintain his role of chairman until July 11th, when the state’s GOP votes for his replacement.

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Coronavirus

Altruistic COVID-19 Vaccine Intentions Solidified by White House

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A nurse prepares to administer the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine under the COVAX scheme against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Eka Kotebe General Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 13, 2021. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo

Previously, President Joe Biden announced plans to share extra COVID-19 vaccines with foreign countries. The White House unveils intended destinations for all 80 million doses.

What We Know:

  • In May, Biden promised to export 80 million vaccines by the end of June. The US has an excess supply of COVID-19 vaccines, making vaccine diplomacy possible. However, challenges emerge on diplomatic and logistical fronts. Diplomatic challenges include which countries to supply vaccines since infections are intensifying across the globe. Another difficulty is determining quantity allocation. Logistically, transporting condition-sensitive vaccines poses challenges.
  • President Biden stated the US will not operate by trading doses for influence, referencing perceived favor-securing practices by both China and Russia. The United States and other wealthy countries faced criticism early this year for racing ahead with vaccine rollouts while other countries struggled.
  • 41 million of the 80 million doses go to COVAX, a humanitarian program directed in part by the World Health Organization. COVAX’s goal is fair vaccine distribution of 2 billion vaccines by the end of 2021, so far dispensing 88 million.
  • The issue of vaccine discrepancies, targeted by COVAX, is evident when comparing national wealth. Upper-middle-income and high-income countries make up 85.61 percent of the total administered COVID vaccines while low-income countries make up only .029 percent.
  • Accordingly, from the US supply, COVAX settled upon sending 14 million vaccines to Latin American and Caribbean countries, 16 million to Asian countries, and 10 million to African countries. Another 14 million will be distributed to regional priorities, specifically low-income countries. These include Colombia, Argentina, Haiti, other Caribbean countries, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Panama, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Cabo Verde, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Yemen, Tunisia, Oman, Ukraine, Kosovo, Georgia, Moldova, Bosnia and West Bank and Gaza.
  • All 80 million of the vaccines are accounted for, however, distribution lags. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki attributes the slow down to transportation issues as well as language barriers.

While all 80 million vaccines may not depart by the end of June, they are on track to arrive shortly thereafter. The 500 million Pfizer vaccines bought by the US to donate will systematically depart.

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Business

Supreme Court Favors Nestle and Cargill in Child Slavery Lawsuit

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The U.S. Supreme Court sides with food corporations Nestle and Cargill in child slavery lawsuits.

What We Know:

  • The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of the two corporations on claims brought up by six men who use to work for them. The six men say that they were taken from Mali as children and were made to work on cocoa farms in Ivory Coast. The group reports that they had to work between 12 to 14 hours a day on the farms; they were hardly paid for their work and had armed guards watch them as they slept, to prevent them from escaping.
  • The group’s case had been dismissed twice before reaching the US. Appeals of the 9th Circuit. They argued the case back in December and former President Donald Trump, supported both corporations. The men were suing the corporations for a case action suit that included all the child workers that the corporations used in the past. They also claimed that corporations “aided and abetted” their child workers and purchased cocoa beans from other farms that did the same.
  • Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the 9th Circuit shouldn’t have allowed this case to be tried on U.S. land, as the claims happened overseas. The 9th Circuit allowed the case to be held because the corporations supposedly made “major operational decisions” in the country. He also said that the six men failed to provide enough evidence to sue under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), proving that the companies committed labor abuse on overseas farms.
  • West Africa contributes to almost 70% of the cocoa distributed throughout the world, and the U.S. receives a majority of it. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, about 1.56 million children work on cocoa farms in Ghana and the Ivory Coast.
  • Paul Hoffman, the group’s lawyer, says that his clients are disappointed, but they aren’t giving up. He says the group will see if a lower court will amend the lawsuit and hopefully this meets the court’s requirement for ATS. Hoffman also believes that Nestle and Cargill were aware of what went on at the farms and they should be held accountable for not putting an end to it. However, neither corporation owns a cocoa farm in the Ivory Coast and only provided equipment and service to them.

Both corporations have maintained their innocence and said to be doing their parts to prevent child slavery from happening within their industry.

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LGBTQIA+

Supreme Court Supports Catholic Adoption Agency’s Right to Deny LGBTQ Couples

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(Shawn Thew — EPA / Shutterstock)

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court sided with Catholic Social Services (CSS) in their lawsuit against the city of Philadelphia for terminating their contract to screen foster parents due to CSS’s refusal to consider same-sex couples.

What We Know:

  • Philadelphia has custody of 5,000 children that have been abused or neglected. They have 30 contracts with private agencies to provide various services for these children, such as foster care, placement, and group homes. The contracts ban discrimination against LGBTQ couples in screening for foster parents, which CSS has a policy against due to religious reasons.
  • CSS’s lawyer argued that the city was trying to prevent CSS from doing work it has done for “two centuries.” Neal Katyal, the lawyer for the city’s representation, pointed out that despite the cancellation of their screening contract, CSS was still be receiving millions for other programs they were in contract with.
  • Justices were divided 6 to 3 on the reasoning of the decision. Chief Justice John Roberts penned the opinion of the majority, stating that Philadelphia violated the First Amendment. Longstanding precedents in the court consider laws that are neutral to religion and generally applicable to be constitutional.

Roberts wrote, “As an initial matter, it is plain that the city’s actions have burdened CSS’s religious exercise by putting it to the choice of curtailing its mission or approving relationships consistent with its beliefs.”

  • His opinion was more narrow in scope than conservatives were hoping for. LGBTQ supporters were concerned this ruling would strike down a 1990 precedent.
  • The 1990 precedent, Employment Division v. Smith, protects neutral and generally applicable laws that “burden religion.” This provides leeway for states and cities to forbid discrimination. Justice Samuel Alito felt as though Robert’s narrow reasoning was rendering the court’s decision temporary. In reference to Employment Division v. Smith, Alito said, “This severe holding is ripe for reexamination.”

The decision overrules the opinion of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which sided with Philadelphia. Diana Cortes, Philadelphia City Solicitor, responded, “With today’s decision, the Court has usurped the city’s judgment that a non-discrimination policy is in the best interests of the children in its care, with disturbing consequences for other government programs and services.”

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