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Just How Strict Will Texas Republicans’ Voting Bill Be?

Republicans in the state recently softened the bill to remove measures banning drive-through voting and 24-hour voting. But one key state senator wants to add them back.,Republicans in the state recently softened the bill to remove measures banning drive-through voting and 24-hour voting. But one key state senator wants to add them back.

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Biden Marks L.G.B.T.Q. Holiday Against Bigotry

President Biden commemorated the anniversary of the World Health Organization’s move in 1990 to declassify “homosexuality” as a mental disorder.,President Biden commemorated the anniversary of the World Health Organization’s move in 1990 to declassify “homosexuality” as a mental disorder.

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They Live in the U.S., but They’re Not Allowed to Come Home

Thousands of immigrants who live in the United States on temporary visas and traveled to India in recent weeks have been stranded there under the Biden administration’s travel ban.,Thousands of immigrants who live in the United States on temporary visas and traveled to India in recent weeks have been stranded there under the Biden administration’s travel ban.

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Join The Daily to Celebrate Graduation

After a year like no other for schools across the country, Michael Barbaro and “The Daily” team celebrate commencement with the students and faculty of “Odessa.”,After a year like no other for schools across the country, Michael Barbaro and “The Daily” team celebrate commencement with the students and faculty of “Odessa.”

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Former Gaetz Confidant Pleads Guilty and Agrees to Cooperate

Joel Greenberg admitted to an array of crimes, including sex trafficking a minor.,

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Joel Greenberg, the former confidant of Representative Matt Gaetz, pleaded guilty on Monday in federal court in Orlando to a range of charges, including sex trafficking a 17-year-old girl, as part of a plea deal that will require him to help in other Justice Department investigations.

The deal was an ominous development for Mr. Gaetz, who is under investigation into whether he violated sex trafficking laws by paying the same 17-year-old for sex. Although Mr. Gaetz’s name was not mentioned in court, Mr. Greenberg has told investigators that he witnessed Mr. Gaetz have sex with the girl and that she was paid. Mr. Gaetz has denied ever paying anyone for sex.

The hearing punctuated a dramatic fall for Mr. Greenberg, who, after a life of business failures and struggles with addiction, had been elected as the tax collector in Seminole County, Fla., in 2016, casting himself as a Trump supporter who would root out corruption. But almost as soon as he took office, he began using taxpayer money to pay for sex and sought to ingratiate himself with up and coming Republicans in Florida state politics, like Mr. Gaetz, by providing them with drugs and access to women and girls, according to court documents.

For an hour on Monday morning, Mr. Greenberg — in a dark blue jumpsuit, a white surgical mask, tan slippers with white socks, and handcuffs — listened as a judge read through the litany of charges he was pleading to, including sex trafficking a child, identity theft, wire fraud and using his position to defraud his former office.

“Are you pleading guilty to these charges because you are guilty?” U.S. Magistrate Court Judge Leslie Hoffman asked toward the end of the hearing.

“Yes,” Mr. Greenberg said.

Throughout the plea hearing, Mr. Greenberg showed no emotion. His lawyer, Fritz Scheller, who has been at Mr. Greenberg’s side for the past several months as he has begun cooperating with the government’s investigation into Mr. Gaetz and others, twice patted Mr. Greenberg on the shoulder.

Mr. Greenberg, who had been initially indicted on nearly three dozen charges, had such a lengthy plea agreement at 86 pages that Judge Hoffman declined to read it in court, saying, “We’ll be here all day.”

The hearing on Monday formalized the plea agreement that had been filed by federal prosecutors on Friday in which Mr. Greenberg did not implicate Mr. Gaetz by name but said that he had “introduced the minor to other adult men, who engaged in commercial sex acts” with her, according to the documents, and that he was sometimes present.

The documents provided a window into how Mr. Greenberg recruited the women.

“In particular, Greenberg was involved in what are sometimes referred to as ‘sugar daddy’ relationships where he paid women for sex, but attempted to disguise the payments as ‘school-related’ expenses or other living expenses,” the documents said. He also labeled them as payments for “‘school, ‘food’ and ‘ice cream,'” the documents said.

It was unclear what will happen next in the Justice Department’s investigation. Mr. Greenberg is the only person who has been publicly charged in the case. Along with Mr. Gaetz, several others in Republican Florida state politics are having their conduct examined.

Mr. Greenberg faces over 12 years in prison, but his sentencing date was not clear. The judge said the sentencing could be scheduled in about two and a half months. As part of his plea agreement, Mr. Greenberg needs to provide substantial help to the Justice Department’s prosecutions of others in exchange for help persuade a judge to give him a more lenient sentence. Defense lawyers typically want to delay the sentencing for as long as possible in order to give their clients the most time to help the government.

Shortly after taking office, according to court documents, Mr. Greenberg began committing a range of fraud and other crimes, including using taxpayer money to pay women for sex and buy sports memorabilia.

He was first indicted last June. At the end of last year, Mr. Greenberg began cooperating with the government as he realized that prosecutors had substantial evidence against him and that he could spend decades in prison if he went to trial and lost.

Mr. Scheller, had told reporters after a court hearing last month that “I am sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today.” But he declined to elaborate.

In response to questions outside the courtroom on Monday about whether Mr. Greenberg would cooperate in a case against Mr. Gaetz, Mr. Scheller provided a slightly more measured response, saying that his client was bound by the plea agreement.

“He will honor it,” Mr. Scheller said.

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‘A Great Sense of Inspiration’: Anti-Abortion Activists Express Optimism

The Supreme Court on Monday said it would consider a case from Mississippi that would ban abortion after 15 weeks of gestation, a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.,

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Anti-abortion activists across the country expressed optimism on Monday that they might be on the cusp of achieving a long-held goal of the movement: overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that extended federal protections for abortion.

The Supreme Court announced on Monday morning that it would consider in its next term a case from Mississippi that would ban abortion after 15 weeks of gestation, with narrow exceptions. The case is a direct challenge to the 1973 ruling, which prevents states from banning abortion before fetal viability — around 23 or 24 weeks of gestation.

It is the first abortion case under the court’s new 6-3 conservative majority, and activists expressed hope that this case would be the one to remove federal protections for the procedure. Such a ruling would give the right to regulate abortions at any point in pregnancy back to the states, many of which in the South and Midwest have imposed tough restrictions.

“There’s a great sense of inspiration across the country right now,” said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life. “This is the best court we’ve had in my lifetime, and we hope and pray that this is the case to do it.”

In a statement, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List, a national anti-abortion organization, called the court’s move “a landmark opportunity to recognize the right of states to protect unborn children,” and noted that state legislatures have introduced hundreds of bills restricting abortion in this legislative season.

Abortion rights advocates, for their part, said they were shocked that the Supreme Court had taken the case.

“Alarm bells are ringing loudly,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only clinic in Mississippi still performing abortions. “The consequences of a Roe reversal would be devastating.”

In the past, abortion rights groups often had success in federal appeals courts. But over the years, a concerted effort by Republicans to get more conservatives appointed to the federal bench has shifted the balance. At the very top, the appointment of two conservatives, Amy Coney Barrett and Brett M. Kavanaugh, to the Supreme Court by former President Donald J. Trump has tipped the balance toward conservatives.

It remains to be seen how the court will rule on this case. Still, the shifting makeup of the Supreme Court has energized the anti-abortion movement. This year alone, hundreds of bills have passed Republican-controlled state legislatures, largely in the South and the Midwest.

The Guttmacher Institute, which tracks women’s reproductive health legislation, has counted 536 abortion restrictions that passed between January and the end of April, with 61 of those restrictions enacted in 13 states. By this time in 2011, the year “previously regarded as the most hostile to abortion rights since Roe,” Guttmacher said, 42 restrictions had been enacted.

The group said that Louisiana was the only other state to have passed a 15-week ban. A spokeswoman for Guttmacher said the Louisiana ban would go into effect if the Mississippi law is upheld.

For years, Mississippi’s legislature has passed restrictions that have whittled down access to abortion. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is the only clinic left in the state. The 15-week ban was passed in 2018, and the following year the state, along with a number of others, passed a six-week ban. All of the bans have been suspended, while the court system works out whether they will be allowed to stand, given the constraints imposed by Roe and the Supreme Court’s 1992 decision, Planned Parenthood vs. Casey.

The Mississippi case will not be decided until 2022, in the Supreme Court’s next term. In the meantime, anti-abortion advocates said they will continue to work at the state level to restrict access to the procedure. Mr. Gonidakis said his organization was working on getting a so-called trigger ban passed by the Ohio legislature, effectively stopping all abortions in the state should Roe v. Wade be overturned.

“You’re going to see pro-life legislators across the country rush to pass legislation,” he said.

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Train in Iowa With Hazardous Materials Derails, Prompting Evacuation

About 80 people in Sibley, Iowa, were ordered to evacuate. The train was carrying a highly combustible fertilizer and asphalt, officials said.,

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About 80 people in a city in northwest Iowa were evacuated on Sunday afternoon after part of a Union Pacific train hauling hazardous materials, including fertilizer and asphalt, derailed and then caught fire, officials said.

The fire continued to burn on Monday morning.

The derailment of about 47 cars took place around 2 p.m. local time on Sunday in Sibley, said Robynn Tysver, a spokeswoman for Union Pacific. By 3 p.m., local officials had texted an evacuation order to people nearby, citing “HAZMAT train derailment and fire.”

There were no reports of injuries or fatalities, said Lucinda Parker, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

The train was headed to North Platte, Neb., about 380 miles away, when it derailed, Ms. Tysver said on Monday. The affected cars were carrying asphalt, hydrochloric acid, which is often used to process steel, and potassium hydroxide — also known as lye. One of the cars had also been carrying liquid ammonia nitrate, a highly combustible fertilizer.

“It was empty at the time of the derailment, but there was likely residue inside the car,” Ms. Tysver said.

Wendy J. Buckley, the president and chief executive of STARS Hazmat Consulting, said that ammonium nitrate mixed with diesel fuel is “a very explosive mixture.” The combination is used in the mining industry as an explosive.

Sibley, which is about 80 miles north of Sioux City, has a population of about 2,700. Because of the wind on Monday morning, smoke was blowing toward the countryside and away from the town, Glenn Anderson, the Sibley city administrator said. He added that it was fortunate that the train derailed on Sunday afternoon when there weren’t many people downtown.

Dan Bechler, the emergency management coordinator for Osceola County, said in an interview Sunday that responders were still trying to piece together what happened.

Robin Eggink and her husband, Scott, were eating inside a Pizza Hut when they noticed a large train nearby.

“It was slowing down and then it came to a stop,” she said.

Mr. Eggink, 52, had worked as a train conductor for about a year and “he just knows by the noise that it shouldn’t have came to a stop like it was,” she said. He said the noise sounded like the “squeal” of some type of brake being deployed.

Seeing the train stop at that location was unusual, Ms. Eggink said. The train was blocking a highway intersection and “it can’t stop for very long where it’s at,” she recalled thinking.

About 10 minutes later, they saw the smoke and fire, Ms. Eggink said.

Ms. Buckley, whose firm advises companies on how to transport and store hazardous material, said a train derailment resulting in the loss of hazardous material is very uncommon.

Trains, she said, are the safest transportation method for such material.

“Per million miles traveled, rail is far safer than highway or vessel,” she said. “And you can’t really transport bulk quantities of hazmat on an airplane.”

Heather Murphy contributed reporting.

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Supreme Court to Hear Major Abortion Case

The case, arising from a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks, could undermine the constitutional right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade.,

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The Supreme Court will hear a major abortion case.

Activists demonstrating for and against abortion rights in front of the Mississippi state capitol in Jackson, Miss. in 2019.Credit…Andrea Morales for The New York Times

May 17, 2021, 9:52 a.m. ET

The Supreme Court on Monday said it would hear a case from Mississippi challenging Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. The case will give the court’s new 6-to-3 conservative majority its first opportunity to weigh in on state laws restricting abortion.

The case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, No. 19- 1392, concerns a law enacted by the Republican-dominated Mississippi legislature that banned abortions if “the probable gestational age of the unborn human” was determined to be more than 15 weeks. The statute included narrow exceptions for medical emergencies or “a severe fetal abnormality.”

Lower courts said the law was plainly unconstitutional under Roe, which forbids states from banning abortions before fetal viability — the point at which fetuses can sustain life outside the womb, or around 23 or 24 weeks.

Mississippi’s sole abortion clinic sued, saying the law ran afoul of Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision that affirmed Roe’s core holding.

Judge Carlton W. Reeves of Federal District Court in Jackson, Miss., blocked the law in 2018, saying the legal issue was straightforward and questioning the state lawmakers’ motives.

“The state chose to pass a law it knew was unconstitutional to endorse a decades-long campaign, fueled by national interest groups, to ask the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade,” Judge Reeves wrote. “This court follows the commands of the Supreme Court and the dictates of the United States Constitution, rather than the disingenuous calculations of the Mississippi Legislature.”

“With the recent changes in the membership of the Supreme Court, it may be that the state believes divine providence covered the Capitol when it passed this legislation,” wrote Judge Reeves. “Time will tell. If overturning Roe is the state’s desired result, the state will have to seek that relief from a higher court. For now, the United States Supreme Court has spoken.”

A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, affirmed Judge Reeves’s ruling. “In an unbroken line dating to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s abortion cases have established (and affirmed, and reaffirmed) a woman’s right to choose an abortion before viability,” Judge Patrick E. Higginbotham wrote for majority.

Judge James C. Ho, issued a reluctant concurring opinion expressing misgivings about the Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence.

“Nothing in the text or original understanding of the Constitution establishes a right to an abortion,” he wrote. “Rather, what distinguishes abortion from other matters of health care policy in America — and uniquely removes abortion policy from the democratic process established by our Founders — is Supreme Court precedent.”

Lynn Fitch, Mississippi’s attorney general, urged the justices to hear the state’s appeal in order to reconsider their abortion jurisprudence. “‘Viability’ is not an appropriate standard for assessing the constitutionality of a law regulating abortion,” she wrote.

Lawyers for the clinic said the case was straightforward. The law, they wrote, “imposes, by definition, an undue burden.”

“It places a complete and insurmountable obstacle in the path of every person seeking a pre-viability abortion after 15 weeks who does not fall within its limited exceptions,” they wrote. “It is unconstitutional by any measure.”

The court will hear arguments in the case during its next term, which starts in October. A decision is not expected until the spring or summer of 2022.

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Joel Greenberg, Former Confidant to Matt Gaetz, Pleads Guilty

Mr. Greenberg is facing over 12 years in prison. As part of his plea agreement, he needs to provide substantial help to the Justice Department’s prosecutions of others.,

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Joel Greenberg, the former confidant of Matt Gaetz, pleaded guilty to a range of crimes.

Joel Greenberg, the former confidant of Representative Matt Gaetz, has agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors.Credit…Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel, via Associated Press

By Michael S. Schmidt and Eric Adelson

May 17, 2021, 11:17 a.m. ET

Joel Greenberg, the former confidant of Representative Matt Gaetz, pleaded guilty on Monday in federal court in Orlando to a range of charges, including sex trafficking a minor, as part of a plea deal that will require him to help in other Justice Department investigations.

“Are you pleading guilty to these charges because you are guilty?” said United States Magistrate Court Judge Leslie Hoffman.

“Yes,” said Mr. Greenberg, who wore a dark blue jumpsuit and white surgical mask and was handcuffed.

Mr. Greenberg admitted in a plea agreement filed on Friday to a range of crimes. The hearing on Monday formalized that agreement, and Mr. Greenberg answered questions from a judge before admitting his guilt.

Mr. Gaetz is under investigation into whether he violated sex trafficking laws by paying the same 17-year-old for sex. On Monday, Mr. Gaetz’s name was not mentioned in court, nor was it referenced in the court documents filed Friday.

Mr. Greenberg is facing over 12 years in prison but it was unclear when he will be sentenced. As part of his plea agreement, he needs to provide substantial help to the Justice Department’s prosecutions of others in exchange for help convincing a judge to give him a more lenient sentence. Defense lawyers typically want to delay the sentencing for as long as possible in order to give their clients the most time to help the government.

Mr. Greenberg, a Republican, was a newcomer to politics when he won a local election in 2016 to become the tax collector in Seminole County, Fla., north of Orlando.

Shortly after taking office, according to court documents, he began committing a range of fraud and other crimes, including using taxpayer money to pay women for sex and buy sports memorabilia.

He was first indicted last June. At the end of last year, Mr. Greenberg began cooperating with the government as he realized that prosecutors had substantial evidence against him and that he could spend decades in prison if he went to trial and lost.

Mr. Greenberg’s lawyer, Fritz Scheller, had told reporters after a court hearing last month that “I am sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today.” But he declined to elaborate.

In response to questions outside the courtroom on Monday about whether Mr. Greenberg will cooperate against Mr. Gaetz, Mr. Scheller provided a slightly more measured response.

“He is bound by it the plea agreement — he will honor it,” Mr. Scheller said.

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