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The hottest political reform so far is gaining momentum



Meanwhile, Donald Trump happened. However, someone felt that the victory of candidates without a majority, the potential for ranked electoral voting to reduce extremism and encourage broad appeal suddenly made it more relevant. And Minnesota ran out of new cities to enroll. In 2020, Massey took to her council with an audacious plan to identify state legislators and candidates from any party who would take the lead vote and do whatever it took to win the upcoming election.

Maureen Reed, a retired physician who heads the board, understood the logic. “I wasn’t an emergency room doctor,” she told me over lunch at Rathskeller, the vaulted basement restaurant of Minnesota’s majestic State Capitol. “I worked in internal medicine and geriatrics. I tried to keep people healthy.” In search of root causes, Reed moved from medicine to public health and public policy. Her own work in health care convinced her that “the rhetoric of hyperpartisanship had led to a dead end.” The board approved Massey’s plan. The organization has received large gifts for its lobbying and educational program from local, regional and national foundations; by far the largest amount, $1,755,000 over three years plus $150,000 for More Voices Minnesota, PAC FairVote, came from John Arnold, a Houston-based hedge fund manager and philanthropist. Arnold is indeed out of state, but the funds have been made public. He doesn’t seem to have anything to do with George Soros.

The 2020 elections proved to be a warm-up in the age of Covid. In the 2022 election, FairVote gave $140,000 in political donations to Democratic candidates, a significant amount for races across the state, and also ran its spirited door-strike campaign. The ratings choice vote was hardly the main issue that year; issues of abortion and criminal justice have been much more important since the death of George Floyd. But the money and energy of FairVote helped turn the state Senate upside down and spawned a “trinity”—the Democratic House, the Senate, and the Governor. Many of these Democrats have reason to be grateful to FairVote. As I pursued Massey through the State Capitol, I asked why State Senator Heather Gustafson agreed to speak at a rally the next day. “She’s a big supporter,” Massey explained. “We targeted swing areas,” including her. (In fact, Gustafson did not show up for the rally.)

Trifecta made it possible to pass a law on ranked voting, but hardly. Though there are notably moderate Republicans in the state, including former US Senator Dave Durenberger and the ex-governor. Arne Carlson supported this idea. The Republican Party of Minnesota, like the party almost everywhere else, has become more conservative and more hardline. Today’s Republicans view nearly all seemingly neutral political reforms, whether they eliminate fraud, reduce the influence of money, or hold non-partisan primaries, as a conspiracy to elect Democrats. So it’s not surprising that no Republican legislator in the state has publicly endorsed the ratings vote.

When I asked Mark Koran, a Republican member of the House of Representatives and a leading critic, why he opposes the bill, he first told me about dark money out of state, although without repeating the Soros canard. Koran challenged the theses of the vote on the rating. “It is argued that we can create a softer electoral system,” he said. But after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, he said, progressive candidates launched inflammatory campaigns. He added that Minnesota already had a high turnout and a wide variety of candidates. Why fix something that isn’t broken? If here What the problem, he said, was “transparency”. He claimed that outside dark money was used to defeat district attorneys willing to investigate election fraud. The Qur’an told me about the 2008 US Senate race in which Democrat Al Franken defeated Republican Norm Coleman on what he called “11,000 rigged votes,” including 340 unauthorized criminals. It was a real election problem – and no one looked at it.

Jean Massey lined up the star witness at the House Select Committee hearing is Mary Peltola, an Alaskan Democrat who defeated Palin in Congress last year. Peltola won only 10 percent of the vote in the state’s open primary, but that was enough to get her through to the general election, where she defeated Palin largely because 15,000 people who voted for more moderate Republican Nick Begich put Peltola on the ticket. not Palin as their second choice. At the same time, Senator Lisa Murkowski, who voted to impeach Trump for inciting riots in the Capitol on January 6, ended up in a virtual tie with Trumpist Kelly Chibaka and then retained her seat thanks to the votes she received after the removal of the Democrat. . Alaska provided a proof of concept—and lived up to the fears of the right.

The room where the committee met had tables, chairs, and microphones in the center, with seats raised up on either side. As if by some unspoken premise, blue shirts occupied one row of seats and orange shirts the other. Thus, the hearing bore an uncanny resemblance to a college football game, although the referees do not usually have to silence the fans as the presiding member did with the blues during the testimony of a ratings-voting opponent. The first to speak was Democratic Rep. Cedric Frazier, the bill’s sponsor in the House of Representatives. Frazier, who is black, argued that the rank-and-selection vote encourages ethnic and racial minorities, as well as other outsiders, to run for office as they can win in the later rounds.

Peltola then sat down next to him. A native of Yup’ik, Peltola has a warm smile and a noble air. She spoke about the dynamics of rating voting with posters on the lawns. “I couldn’t afford to alienate the supporters of my opponents,” she said, “because the voters who chose the second and third options were crucial in determining who would win. I couldn’t take a single vote for granted or write off any voter.” Later that morning, in testimony before a State Senate committee, Peltola made a startling remark about non-partisan primaries. “I wouldn’t have gotten through the primary,” she said, “because I’m not liberal enough.” She complained that in the partisan primaries “we go further to the right and further to the left.”

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Transitional youth care bans spread across the US



Over the past three months, ten states have passed laws banning so-called gender-affirming care for young people, thanks to the sweeping efforts of Republican lawmakers across the country.

Laws prohibit or severely restrict the use of puberty blockers, sex hormones, and surgery for persons under 18 years of age. Last week, Indiana and Idaho became the latest states to enact bans.

So far this year, only three state legislatures have introduced full or partial bans. In addition to 10 signed laws, the bans have passed at least one chamber of seven more state legislatures on their way to passage this year.

The Florida State Medical Boards also issued a rule last year barring physicians from offering sex-verification assistance to new patients under 18 years of age. While not a law, the decree has the same effect of stopping treatment.

Legislative assemblies of two more states in Oklahoma another South Carolinasuccessfully pushed major hospitals to stop providing gender-affirming care to minors by tying this care to the use of public funds.

And the Missouri Attorney General announced on Thursday provisional order severely limiting gender confirmation assistance to both adults and minors by imposing strict requirements, including evidence of three years of gender dysphoria documented by physicians. It should come into force on April 27.

Including previous bans, this means sex-verified health care has been restricted by law or by other means in 13 states, and two more are pending in court.

These state-level actions are part of a broader wave of anti-trans legislation that has been proposed and passed in the United States. And hospitals faced significant harassment for providing gender-affirming assistance over the past few years.

Republican state legislators have called gender-affirming care experimental and harmful and said children are not mature enough to make permanent decisions.

However, major medical organizations in the US support this assistance. And opponents of the bans say they infringe on the rights of young people, parents and doctors and pose a significant risk to the mental health of vulnerable segments of the population.

ACLU of Indiana sued April 5, after the Governor signed into law a ban on gender-affirming care; families have south in Florida; and attorneys in other states have indicated their intention to sue. Court orders have temporarily suspended the bans adopted in previous years in Alabama and Arkansas.

Some states will allow teens already on medication for gender dysphoria to continue treatment indefinitely or taper off dose gradually until a set end date. In states that have enacted bans without exception, minors taking puberty blockers or sex hormones will need to move to another state or stop treatment altogether.

All 10 bills passed so far this year allow hormone therapy and genital surgery for non-sex reassignment reasons, such as surgery for children with gender ambiguous characteristics or puberty blockers for those experiencing early puberty. maturation.

Research is ongoing in the United States and Europe on the risks and benefits of caring for young people in a gender-sensitive manner. But American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association urged states not to interfere with or limit care, pointing to evidence showing that giving adolescents access to this care can reduce depression and risk of suicide. Minors also need parental consent in states where they can receive hormone therapy.

Some physicians who have raised concerns about how and when adolescents should receive gender-affirming care have joined in open letter last month against bans.

“There is a consensus in this area and among signatories that gender-affirming health care is important and beneficial for many transgender young people,” the letter says.

The bills passed through GOP-dominated legislatures and were signed into law by Republican governors in nine states in this legislative session. In Kentucky, Republicans overrode a Democratic governor’s veto.

“By signing this bill, I recognize that our society has a role to play in protecting minors from surgeries or treatments that could permanently damage their healthy bodies,” the governor said. Brad Little wrote about signing the Idaho ban last week.

Some of the bans include significant exemptions: Arizona’s ban, passed last year, only bans surgery, which is rare among transgender teens. Georgia law prohibits the use of sex hormones and surgery, but not puberty blockers. And West Virginia’s ban allows care to continue if two providers agree that treatment is necessary to “limit self-harm or the possibility of self-harm.”

The amendment was proposed by Republican State Senate Leader Tom Takubo, who in a speech last month mentioned the significant mental health benefits of gender-affirming health care for some teens with gender dysphoria.

According to the data, about 53,000 transgender teenagers are in states where some or all gender verification services are banned, out of about 300,000 nationwide. estimates from the Williams Institute, or about 1.4 percent of all teenagers.

Many of the major gender clinics in the Midwest and South typically only treat one hundred or two hundred teenagers, and not all of them receive hormone therapy. estimates Reuters suggests that several thousand young transgender people across the country are taking puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones.

Service providers expect the bans and closures to put pressure on states where gender-confirmed care remains legal. According to its director, Angela Goepferd, the gender health program in Children’s Minnesota has a waiting list of about a year. She fears the list will grow as patients from neighboring states seek medical attention.

“Currently, there is a huge gap in access to care for transgender teenagers in the central part of the country and in the south,” she said. “Children who are already commuting for hours within their state for medical care will have to cross state lines.”

For families who can’t afford to travel that much, “their children simply won’t have access to care,” she said.

When the ban was first passed in Alabama last spring, the University of Alabama at Birmingham prepared to send its patients to neighboring states. The court then suspended the part of the law that banned gender-affirming drugs.

“Now some of the neighbors we called last May are calling us because their states are passing laws,” said Hussein Abdul-Lateef, a pediatric endocrinologist with the university hospital system.

Legislators in more than a dozen states are considering banning or limiting gender-affirming care. However, many of these states have at least one Democratic-owned chamber or Democratic governor, severely limiting the bills’ prospects.

Kansas Republicans have introduced a ban on gender-affirming care, but Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly is expected to veto it, and support for the bill does not yet allow for a veto. Wyoming Republican attempts to pass similar legislation died in the legislature this year.

Bans seem more realistic in several other GOP-controlled states, especially Texas and the US. Oklahomawhere the law is passed by at least one house of the Legislative Assembly. last yearState of Texas, has declared that the provision of gender-affirming assistance was child abuse, although the court blocked state from investigating families. Teens in the state may still receive some assistance, but it’s not clear how many service providers have stopped offering services.

In Nebraska, Democrats halted the legislative session in violation of a state-proposed ban, but the law forced progress Last few days.

And bills banning withdrawals in Montana and North Dakota have been sent to the Republican governors of those states.

In South Carolina, this measure has clear support: it has more than helped the State Senate. one imposed bans. And in North Carolina, where Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, the Republicans imposed a ban last week, the same day they received a veto-proof majority.

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European spacecraft en route to Jupiter and its icy moons



WITH so many moons — 95 at last count — astronomers consider Jupiter to be their own mini-solar system, and missions like Juice are long overdue.

“This is a mission that answers the science questions that concern us all,” Josef Aschbacher, director general of the European Space Agency, said after the launch. “Of course, one of those questions is: Is there life there?”

It can’t find life, “but Juice will determine the habitability of these icy moons around Jupiter,” he added.

The spacecraft travels to Jupiter on a long detour, covering 4 billion miles (6.6 billion kilometers).

It will fly within 125 miles (200 km) of Callisto and 250 miles (400 km) of Europa and Ganymede, making 35 orbits around Jupiter. It will then hit the brakes and orbit Ganymede, the main target of the €1.6 billion (nearly $1.8 billion) mission.

Ganymede is not only the largest moon in the solar system – surpasses Mercury – but has its own magnetic field with dazzling auroras at the poles.

Even more enticing is that the underground ocean is thought to contain more water than Earth. The same goes for Europa and its geysers, as well as cratered Callisto, a potential destination for humans given its remoteness from Jupiter’s debilitating radiation belts, according to Carnegie Institution’s Scott Sheppard, who is not involved in the Juice mission.

“Ocean worlds in our solar system are most likely to have possible life, so these large moons of Jupiter are prime candidates for the search,” said Sheppard, a moon hunter who helped discover more than 100 moons in the outer solar system.

A spacecraft the size of a small bus won’t reach Jupiter until 2031, relying on gravitational flybys of Earth and our Moon, as well as Venus.

“These things take time — and they are changing our world,” said Planetary Society Executive Director Bill Nye. The California Space Defense Group hosted a virtual launch party.

King Philippe of Belgium and Prince Gabriel, as well as a pair of astronauts – Thomas Pescet from France and Matthias Maurer from Germany – were among the spectators in French Guiana. Thursday’s launch attempt was thwarted by a lightning threat.

Juice – short for Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer – will spend three years traveling through Callisto, Europa and Ganymede. The spacecraft will attempt to enter orbit around Ganymede in late 2034, orbiting the Moon for nearly a year before flight controllers send it to crash in 2035, later if enough fuel remains.

Europa is especially attractive to scientists looking for signs of life beyond Earth. However, Juice will keep its encounters with Europa to a minimum due to the intense radiation there, so close to Jupiter.

Juice’s sensitive electronics are lead-coated to protect against radiation. The 14,000-pound (6,350 kg) spacecraft is also wrapped in thermal blankets — temperatures near Jupiter hover around minus 380 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 230 degrees Celsius). And its solar panels extend 88 feet (27 meters) from tip to tip to soak up as much sunlight as it does away from the sun.

Late next year, NASA will send an even more heavily protected spacecraft to Jupiter, the long-awaited Europa Clipper, which will outperform Juice to Jupiter by more than a year because it will be launched on a more powerful SpaceX rocket. The two spacecraft will team up to explore Europa like never before.

NASA has dominated Jupiter exploration for a long time, starting with flybys in the 1970s of the twin Pioneers and then Voyagers. Only one spacecraft continues to buzz around Jupiter: NASA Junowhich has just completed its 50th orbit since 2016.

Europe provided nine science instruments to Juice, while NASA delivered only one.

If Juice confirms that subterranean oceans are facilitating past or present life, project scientist Olivier Vitasse said the next step would be to send drills to penetrate the ice crusts and possibly even a submarine.

“We have to be creative,” he said. “We can still think it’s science fiction, but sometimes science fiction can join reality.”

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