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Inside Politics: L.A. mayor says GOP can’t ‘just trot out a brown face’

- - Tuesday, August 28, 2012

TAMPA, Fla. — The Democratic mayor of Los Angeles says Republican efforts to use Latino speakers at the GOP national convention to win over Latino voters won't work.

Antonio Villaraigosa told reporters Tuesday that the GOP "can't just trot out a brown face or a Spanish surname" and expect Latinos to vote Republican. He called that window dressing.

He said a party's policies are more important. He said the GOP platform calls for the self-deportation of 11 million people. The Republican platform supports tougher policies to staunch illegal immigration.

Latinos heavily supported President Obama in the 2008 election. Polls show him leading with that group this year over GOP challenger Mitt Romney.

Mr. Villaraigosa is in Tampa as part of a Democratic effort to highlight their views during the GOP gathering.

TEXAS

Federal court finds new districts discriminatory

SAN ANTONIO — Texas Republican lawmakers discriminated against minority voters while drawing new political boundaries, a federal court ruled Tuesday, rejecting a plan pushed by the state’s GOP leaders in a decision that likely comes too late to affect the November elections but is set to reverberate to 2014.

The long-awaited decision, by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, was hailed as a sweeping victory by minority rights groups that sued the state after the Republican-controlled Legislature pushed through new redistricting maps last year.

The court concluded that the maps didn’t comply with the federal Voting Rights Act. But with just two months until Election Day, the fallout from the ruling is unlikely to be felt until new maps are instituted for 2014.

Voters in Texas this November will use interim political maps drawn last year by a different three-judge panel in San Antonio.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott vowed to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

How Texas redrew its political boundaries was watched particularly closely after the state was awarded four additional U.S. House seats because of its booming population.

ALASKA

Governor plans stockpile for natural emergency

JUNEAU — Alaska is known for pioneering, self-reliant residents who are accustomed to remote locations and harsh weather. Despite that, Gov. Sean Parnell worries a major earthquake or volcanic eruption could leave the state's 720,000 residents stranded and cut off from food and supply lines. His answer: build giant warehouses full of emergency food and supplies, just in case.

For some in the lower 48, it may seem like an extreme step. But Mr. Parnell says this is just Alaska.

In many ways, the state is no different than the rest of America. Most people buy their groceries at stores and rely on a central grid for power and heat. But unlike the rest of the lower 48, help isn't a few miles away. When a fall storm cut off Nome from its final fuel supply last winter, a Russian tanker spent weeks breaking through thick ice to reach the remote town.

Weather isn't the only thing that can wreak havoc in Alaska, where small planes are a preferred mode of transportation and the drive from Seattle to Juneau requires a ferry ride and 38 hours in a car. The state's worst natural disaster was in 1964, when a magnitude-9.2 earthquake and resulting tsunami killed 131 people and disrupted electrical systems, water mains and communication lines in Anchorage and other cities.

NRC

Nuclear agency keeping close eye on hurricane

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says it is monitoring Hurricane Isaac as it moves inland from the Gulf Coast.

Nuclear power plants in the Southeast have taken precautions such as tying down loose equipment, removing debris that could become airborne in winds of 75 mph or more, and topping off water and fuel tanks. A spokeswoman said the agency has sent in additional staff to assist resident inspectors at two nuclear plants in Louisiana and one in Mississippi.

The inspectors will ride out the storm inside the plants alongside the plants' emergency and operations personnel.

The NRC's regional response team, based in Arlington, Texas, is using special software to monitor wind speeds at the three plants and will work with resident inspectors and state and federal officials as the storm develops.

PENNSYLVANIA

GOP candidate compares child out of wedlock to rape

HARRISBURG — The Republican candidate for Senate in Pennsylvania on Monday compared the decision to abort an unwanted pregnancy resulting from premarital sex to one conceived through rape as he defended his opposition to abortion in all cases.

Tom Smith, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr., made the remark after being asked how he would argue to keep the baby if a daughter or granddaughter were to become pregnant as a result of rape. Mr. Smith said that his daughter went through "something similar" to rape: "Having a baby out of wedlock."

In the Senate race in Missouri, Republican candidate W. Todd Akin drew condemnation from Democrats and many Republicans when he referred to "legitimate rape" in discussing his stance against abortion in all cases. The Missouri congressman later apologized for saying that women have a natural biological defense against becoming pregnant because of rape.

Speaking to reporters after an appearance at the Pennsylvania Press Club, Mr. Smith said he did not condone rape but was categorically opposed to abortion under any circumstances, including rape or incest.

"I lived something similar to that with my own family, and she chose the life, and I commend her for that," said Mr. Smith, adding that his daughter was not raped. "She knew my views, but fortunately for me she chose the way I thought."

From wire dispatches and staff reports