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Newsclips - June 20, 2018

State Stories

Dallas Morning News - June 14, 2018

Sconzo: Texas' fast-growing school districts are engines of prosperity worthy of state's investment

Texas has 75 "fast-growth" school districts. These are only 7.3 percent of all school districts statewide, but they enroll 33.4 percent of all Texas students and 80 percent of all new students. The communities these schools serve are where many of the business relocations, expansions and job hires are happening — the heart of Texas' economic engine. For these school districts, that means an ever-growing population of students and a dramatic demand for more facilities, faculty and other workers. It's not difficult to see that these public schools are doing their part to contribute to the Texas Miracle. A recent economic impact study shows this.

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Dallas Morning News - June 16, 2018

DMN: Texas can't let misguided vaccination fears endanger all our kids

Texas parents, we applaud the tens of thousands of you who will make the trek to the doctor this summer to get your kids' vaccinations. You know that getting routine and timely shots has proven to help the U.S. fight off preventable childhood diseases. But here's a public health alert: You should be aware that the chances that your kid is sitting next to a student who hasn't been vaccinated are growing at an alarming rate. That classmates' parents have bought into discredited junk science and opted out of protecting their own kids. And they are endangering yours. Texas is a hot spot for concern, according to a new study by the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Four cities — Austin, Fort Worth, Plano and Houston — anchored metropolitan areas that have among the highest rates of kindergartners in the nation not getting vaccinated for non-medical reasons, the study found. They're among the more than 45,000 unvaccinated kids across the state, compared to the less than 3,000 in 2003.

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Dallas Morning News - June 19, 2018

We asked every Texan in Congress about family separations at the border; here's what those who commented said

The most vocal Texas Republican has been Rep. Will Hurd of San Antonio, whose district contains almost one-third of the U.S.-Mexico border and who recently visited a detention center in Tornillo. “I don’t think separating a kid from their mommy is going to prevent terrorists or drugs from coming into our country,” he said on CNN. ... Rep. Ted Poe of Humble said he’d be among those 300 votes. “Congress should pass legislation to prevent the separation of children from their parents while they are waiting adjudication of their legal status in the US,” the Republican said in a statement. Rep. Pete Olson of Sugar Land also expressed his support for efforts to keep families together, though he cautioned against people, including members of "drug cartels and human traffickers," illegally entering the country with children who are not their family members

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Dallas Morning News - June 19, 2018

Donald Trump Jr. cancels fundraiser for George P. Bush after Jeb's tweet on family separation

Donald Trump Jr. has decided to skip an upcoming fundraiser for George P. Bush over what he sees as attacks on his father from the Bush family, according to several reports. The website for the GOP fundraiser in New York next week appeared to have been taken down after Jeb Bush, father of George P. Bush, called on the president to end "this heartless policy" of separating families at the border. Axios first reported that Trump Jr. was pulling out of the event and considers his one-time pal "collateral damage." George P. Bush is running for re-election as Texas land commissioner against Democrat Miguel Suazo.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 19, 2018

Abbott’s ‘frightened like a feeble squirrel’ of Trump, GOP lawmaker says

In a rare move Tuesday night, a Republican state lawmaker attacked Gov. Greg Abbott for not taking a stand against President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy toward immigrants crossing into the U.S. from Mexico illegally. Under the policy, 2,000 migrant children have been separated from family and placed in shelters, sparking outrage nationwide. “What is happening on the border tonight is an affront to humanity and to all that we as proud Americans hold dear,” state Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, told the American-Statesman in a text message Tuesday. “We are better than this. To watch our own governor remain silent in the face of this atrocity is an affront to all that we as Texans hold dear. As a member of the Texas Legislature, I am ashamed that my ‘so called’ leader is so controlled by his fealty to the president’s myopic vision of America that he is frightened like a feeble squirrel from taking action. It is time to act. NOW. Governor Abbott. Can you hear me?”

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Dallas Morning News - June 18, 2018

Texas lawmakers want Abbott to act to stop separation of families at the southern border

State lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are calling on Gov. Greg Abbott to take an active role to stop the separation of immigrant children from their parents on Texas' southern borer. In a letter on Monday, Rep. Cesar Blanco, D-El Paso asked Abbott to cancel the deployment of the Texas National Guard to the border and other practices until the federal government stops separating immigrant children from their parents while their asylum cases play out in court. "I am respectfully requesting that you halt certain border security practices and cancel the deployment of our Texas National Guard at the border until this abhorrent and immoral policy of separating families is ended," Blanco wrote.

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Dallas Morning News - June 19, 2018

Texas nonprofit has received $1.5 billion in federal money to run shelters for immigrant children

A Texas nonprofit has received nearly half a billion dollars from the U.S. government this year to operate shelters for undocumented immigrant children who have been separated from their parents. That's nearly half the money allocated so far this year for the federal unaccompanied alien children program, which is at the center of a raging debate over the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy for people crossing the border illegally. The Austin-based nonprofit, Southwest Key Inc., has made $1.5 billion from the federal government in the last decade, according to U.S. Health and Human Services data.

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Dallas Morning News - June 19, 2018

Billboard in Texas Panhandle urges 'liberals' to leave the state

Motorists passing through Texas might not find the most welcoming of greetings in the Panhandle, where a billboard with an anti-liberal message is causing a stir. "Liberals," the billboard begins in large type. "Please continue on I-40 until you have left our GREAT STATE OF TEXAS." Perched on a patch of barren land as inhospitable as its message, the billboard sits near Vega in Oldham County, about 30 miles west of Amarillo.

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Dallas Morning News - June 19, 2018

Nonprofits, consulates in Texas aggressively seeking ways to assist separated families

From Facebook's largest single fundraising drive in history to intense diplomatic efforts at the federal level, nonprofits and consulates in Texas are aggressively finding ways to help parents in detention reunite with their children in a shelter. The zero-tolerance policy of the Donald Trump administration has led to the separation of 60 children a day from parents at the border. It has also united those opposed to the practice. Dave and Charlotte Willner, a couple based in Silicon Valley, began a Facebook fundraiser Saturday morning with a goal of $1,500 to help one family with legal fees. By Tuesday, they had raised almost $6 million. Private donors matched the effort with $250,000.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 19, 2018

Herman: The Texas GOP’s platform, by God

Due to a family commitment (and no, wise guy, my family was not trying to have me committed), I skipped last week’s GOP state convention in San Antonio. But thanks to the glorious gift that is the written word, we can peruse and behold in wonderment the document that is the official, by-God platform of the Republican Party of Texas. First, however, please be assured that I will cast a similar eye on the platform to be adopted this week when the once-great Texas Democratic Party gathers in Fort Worth for its biennial Festival of False Optimism, which this year includes a Thursday night event called “Still F*cking Standing.”

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Austin American-Statesman - June 19, 2018

Texas Republicans defend, criticize Trump over family separations

Even as top Texas Republicans in Washington spoke out against immigrant families being separated at the border, most state Republican leaders in Austin have been quiet — with a few notable exceptions. Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, asked President Donald Trump in a letter Tuesday to end his policy of separating immigrant families at the border. “There is no federal law requiring the separation of children from parents at the border,” Straus said in the letter. “None of us wants to imagine the fear that overcomes young children who are forced out of their parents’ arms, which adds to the trauma that they have often faced in their countries of origin.”

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Austin American-Statesman - June 19, 2018

Sid Miller: Trump ‘zero tolerance’ policy is ‘fake news’

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller insisted Tuesday that President Donald Trump does not have a “zero-tolerance” immigration policy at the southern border. “That’s fake news,” Miller said in a phone call with the American-Statesman. “Trump has not issued a zero-tolerance policy. That’s incorrect. Untrue. Fake news.” The Statesman contacted Republican office holders around the state for their opinions on children being separated from parents on the border. Miller’s comments were defiant and the most supportive of Trump. When told that the Justice Department announced a “zero tolerance” policy in April, Miller didn’t seem convinced.

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Dallas Morning News - June 19, 2018

DMN: Texans are raising thousands to test rape kits — now the Legislature needs to do more

The process is straightforward — or as straightforward as anything can be at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Texans renewing or applying for a driver's license have the option to check a box and donate funds to help officials test backlogged rape kits in police departments across the state. Five months in, the crowdfunding law has raised $250,000, with individual donations ranging from $1 to $5,000. While this is clearly a credit to Texans’ good will, the news is also a reminder that the state needs to be leading on this issue. Crowdfunding must not become a pillar of the law enforcement budget. Investigating violent crime is one of the state’s primary responsibilities so it must prioritize long-term funding solutions.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 19, 2018

Caterpillar plant shows stakes of growing trade conflict

SEGUIN — Dozens of half-built engines, more than twice the size of a car engine, stand in a row. They slowly roll ahead on a conveyor belt, stopping periodically as workers run quality checks, install fuel lines and tighten bolts with power wrenches. These engines, ranging in size from nine to 18 liters, are used in generators, oil and gas operations and industrial applications. Nearly three out of four of them are heading out of the country to foreign markets. The Caterpillar plant, its engines and the 2,000 people who work here are reminders of the stakes involved as the trade conflict between the United States, China and other countries escalates with new rounds of tariffs and retaliatory actions. Caterpillar is part of a broader heavy machinery and equipment manufacturing industry in Texas that employs about 90,000 people and shipped more than $40 billion in industrial machinery to international buyers last year, making it the state’s second leading export after petroleum and accounting for 16 percent of all Texas exports.

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Houston Chronicle - June 19, 2018

Zelinski: Abbott, Patrick quiet on ‘zero tolerance policy’

Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick frequently talk tough about illegal immigration, but they refuse to publicly support the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy that’s spurred outrage for ripping thousands of undocumented children out of the arms of their parents. Neither are they criticizing it. Texas’ top Republicans are making a calculated decision to hide from the humanitarian crisis, largely taking place on Texas soil, because they are afraid of upsetting their political base. The governor has tried to say as little as possible about the White House policy, making only one public comment backing Trump’s argument that the children’s and parents’ traumatic experiences can be used as leverage for an immigration overhaul.

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Houston Chronicle - June 19, 2018

Texas assures court it can carry out aging death row inmate's execution

The Lone Star State is confident it can kill Danny Bible. Earlier this month, the aging Houston serial killer filed a last-minute lawsuit arguing that his veins are so bad and his health problems so severe that he can't be put to death - or it'll turn into a painfully botched procedure. But the state of Texas begged to differ, touting its long history of successful executions. "Texas is the most prolific death-penalty state in the nation," the state wrote in a Friday afternoon court filing. "Bible provides no example of a Texas execution, performed under the current protocol, gone horribly awry because of vein failure." The 66-year-old four-time killer, who is set for execution on June 27, pointed to bloody botched procedures in other states. In February, a lethal injection team in Alabama spent hours poking Doyle Hamm before calling off his execution. The year before that, Ohio found itself in a similar place with condemned killer Alva Campbell.

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Texas Tribune - June 19, 2018

Rumenap: Bail reform: A slap in the face to victims and survivors

I go to work each day to protect our nation’s most vulnerable — our children. As president of Stop Child Predators, it’s my job to educate families on sexual assault prevention and to stem the tide of dangerous trends that allow predators to roam our streets and commit such grotesque crimes in the first place. That’s why I am surprised that proponents of bail reform are calling for changes that will make it easier for criminals to get out of jail and recommit crimes in Texas, a state that has historically remained “tough on crime.” Bail reform, while being sold as a solution to help poor people, would significantly undercut public safety by eliminating cash bail and implementing risk assessment tools in its place. The risk assessment tools used to decide who should be jailed are the equivalent of a magic eight ball. These tools often do not consider any history of criminal offenses outside of Texas, and the results are often kept secret from the public.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 19, 2018

Oklahoma subpoena for Austin consultant and wind executive blocked

A longtime Austin-based campaign consultant and the Austin-based head of a wind industry trade group appear unlikely to be forced to testify in an ongoing grand jury investigation into the placement of a tracking device on an Oklahoma state lawmaker’s pickup truck. Earlier this month, Travis County State District Judge David Wahlberg ruled political consultant George Shipley and Wind Coalition president Jeff Clark don’t have to appear in Oklahoma, according to a report in the Oklahoman newspaper. The reasons for the ruling were not made public. Clark and Shipley and an investigator for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation declined to speak to the American-Statesman, citing the closed-door nature of the grand jury proceedings, and the Oklahoman story didn’t cite a source.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 19, 2018

Joe Straus to Trump: separating families isn’t the law; end the policy

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, asked President Donald Trump in a letter Tuesday to end his directives that result in separating immigrant families at the border. “There is no federal law requiring the separation of children from parents at the border,” Straus said in the letter. “None of us wants to imagine the fear that overcomes young children who are forced out of their parents’ arms, which adds to the trauma that they have often faced in their countries of origin.” Straus asked Trump to “listen to the growing number of Americans, faith leaders and elected officials from both parties” who have criticized the policy. “This is not a binary choice between rampant crime and tearing families apart,” he said.

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Dallas Morning News - June 19, 2018

How gay Republicans convinced their party to soften its hard line against homosexuality

Marco Roberts strides across the convention hall floor. Calm and impassive, his face shows no sign he just achieved a goal that's been years in the making. Spotting his partner, Michael Alberts, in the middle of a row of delegates, Roberts stops, his face illuminated by the red glow of the giant Ted Cruz motorhome parked in the middle of the convention center. He takes a short breath and lets it out, a grin gracing his lips, and raises his hands briefly in silent celebration. "Two-and-a-half years of work," Roberts whispers, the convention chairman's voice booming over the speakers. "At this moment, I finally feel like I crossed the finish line."

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Dallas Morning News - June 19, 2018

Lawmakers want answers after Dallas Morning News exposes widespread failure of care

D'ashon Morris, a foster baby who suffocated and ended up brain dead because a private health company refused to provide him enough home nursing, will attend his first legislative hearing Wednesday. He'll be wheeled in by Linda Badawo, the foster mother who had warned state health officials and Superior HealthPlan repeatedly that if he didn't get 24/7 nursing, he could die. As he became an active toddler, D'ashon had developed a dangerous habit of pulling out his tracheostomy tube, which kept his airway open. As his doctors, nurses and others had warned, he tugged it out in October 2016, when no nurse was around to save him. D'ashon's story of being denied crucial services was one of hundreds unearthed in a Dallas Morning News investigation that found widespread problems with the Texas Medicaid system, which pays billions a year to private companies to care for foster children, severely sick kids and disabled and elderly adults.

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County Stories

Associated Press - June 19, 2018

DA fires prosecutor who provided information to FBI

A Central Texas district attorney has fired a prosecutor from his staff who had provided the FBI information on the DA. McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna fired Amanda Dillon on Tuesday and had her escorted from their premises. Dillon was the last of Reyna's original prosecutors in the Twin Peaks biker shooting cases, and Reyna blamed her for the mistrial in the case against Christopher Carrizal. That was the first trial to arise from the May 2015 gunfight.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express-News

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Austin American-Statesman - June 19, 2018

Austin, Travis County fail sexual assault victims, lawsuit claims

Marina Conner was an anthropology major at the University of Texas, a former student council president and high school drill team dancer with “plans to take on the world,” she said. That was before August 2015, when Conner was raped after a night drinking on Sixth Street. She’s never been the same since then, she said. After the attack, Conner said she slept with the lights on, and her post-traumatic stress got so bad she had to drop out of school. Adding to her worries: Her attacker was never brought to justice.

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City Stories

Houston Chronicle - June 19, 2018

Officials approve lowering water levels in lakes Conroe and Houston to battle flooding

State and local officials have agreed on a temporary plan to reduce flooding risks in communities between Lake Conroe and Lake Houston by strategically lowering the levels of the two reservoirs. The plan is intended to help prevent a recurrence of the catastrophic flooding that struck Kingwood, Humble and other northeast Harris County communities after Hurricane Harvey, when billions of gallons of water released from the Lake Conroe dam hurtled toward homes and businesses downstream. Hundreds of owners of flooded property sued the San Jacinto River Authority, which manages Lake Conroe, alleging that the releases were reckless and that affected residents didn’t get adequate notice.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 19, 2018

Donations to S.A. immigrant legal aid group reach millions of dollars

From California to Texas, Colorado to Tennessee and even north to Canada, people reacted to the U.S. policy of separating immigrants from their children by opening their wallets this week — donating millions of dollars online to a San Antonio-based legal defense group. Spearheaded by a California couple whose initial goal was a modest $1,500, a Facebook fundraiser raised about $6.4 million in less than a week for RAICES, a nonprofit agency that provides legal aid to immigrants and refugees and runs a small shelter here. RAICES’ own fundraising efforts, powered by the Action Network, an online mobilization tool, had raised nearly $2.5 million for its immigrant bond fund and had surpassed its initial goal of $819,000 for its fund to represent unaccompanied children from Mexico and Central America.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 19, 2018

Immigration march in El Paso part of growing protests against immigrant family separations

More than 1,000 people marched on an immigrant processing center here Tuesday to demand an end to family separations, part of the growing wave of protests that have roiled the country and sent lawmakers in a frantic search for a solution to overturn the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” approach to illegal border crossers. Protesters here sought the immediate release of children and access to a “tent city” erected last week at the U.S. port of entry in the nearby border town of Tornillo that is housing around 200 immigrant teenage boys. The shelter has 360 beds and could expand to hold more children in the future, said state Rep. Mary González, a Democrat from Clint.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 19, 2018

Second Alamo meeting draws larger, quieter crowd — and more criticism

The second in a series of four meetings on a draft plan for Alamo plaza drew a larger but more sedate crowd, but Tuesday’s participants also critized the proposed street closures, demolitions — and any efforts to move the Cenotaph, which drew opposition from a councilman in attendance. About 200 people filled the Hardberger Park Urban Ecology Center on the North Side — about one-fifth having also attended Monday’s meeting on the far West Side. There are two more meetings on the updated plan set for this week, and a second round is set for July, Assistant City Manager Lori Houston said. “And if we have to do another round, we’ll do it again” before the City Council takes action, possibly in the fall, she added.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 19, 2018

At a border immigration shelter: a room of infants; teen immigrants giving birth

BROWNSVILLE — It was a small room in a shelter, with colorful walls of cartoon animals and the alphabet. There was an 8-month-old, Roger, and a 1-year-old, Leah, giggling with other infants in high chairs. “It was just heartbreaking. They look at you with big eyes,” U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-New Mexico, said Monday afternoon after a congressional roundtable here. “Seeing baby Roger there, it really got me.” The room of infants was in Casa El Presidente, one of two children immigrant shelters that members of Congress from across the country — from Mississippi to New Mexico, Florida to Texas — toured Monday afternoon to get a firsthand look at the separation of immigrant families along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 19, 2018

Austin trustees approve plan to leave some schools without nurses

The Austin school board Monday night approved a $7.1 million student health services plan that will continue to leave some campuses without a school nurse and others with a part-time nurse. The new contract also eliminates school mental health therapists from 16 schools. Seton Healthcare Family, which has provided the district’s student medical services for 22 years, will provide 75 nurses and 48 clinical assistants to the district’s 130 campuses, as well as behavioral health services. The decision comes despite a backlash from parents and medical professionals who lobbied for more nurses in Austin schools and called on the district to increase funding for student health services.

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Dallas Morning News - June 19, 2018

Wilonsky: A Dallas Holocaust survivor sees his reflection in the faces of children separated from their parents

"I had flashbacks," said the 90-year-old man about turning on his television and seeing stories about migrant children being snatched from their parents and imprisoned in cages inside warehouses and box stores along the border. He, too, was separated from his parents — first his mother and little brother, both sent to a place called Majdanek, then his father, taken by boxcar to a slave labor camp. The 90-year-old man, Holocaust survivor Max Glauben, would never again see his family. They died in the camps — his mother and brother gassed, his father shot. This is what Max Glauben thinks about when he turns on the television and sees stories about children separated from their parent — about being left an orphan.

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Houston Chronicle - June 19, 2018

Santa Fe High School received nine threats in months before mass shooting

Santa Fe High School received nine threats in the months leading up to the May 18 shooting that killed 10 people and injured 13, including one threat that surfaced nine days before the massacre, according to police records. Santa Fe ISD Police Chief Walter Braun would not provide details of the threats but said Tuesday that they were not related to the May 18 shooting. He said threats logged by the district do not necessarily mean a threat against the school or student body, or a threat involving a weapon. “There was no connection to any other event our department handled to the May 18 incident,” Braun said. “There was nothing related to May 18.”

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Houston Chronicle - June 19, 2018

Turner says he will not be “an enabler” of plan to put immigrant kids at downtown Houston facility

Saying he will not be an “enabler” of a plan to put immigrant children in a downtown Houston warehouse, Mayor Sylvester Turner called on the property owner Tuesday to reconsider plans to lease the facility to a nonprofit hoping to operate it as a detention center for children separated from their families at the border. The mayor said he is in no rush to issue city permits at the site, and called on the state not to issue a child care license to the 54,000-square-foot facility two blocks north of BBVA Compass Stadium for use by federal contractor Southwest Key Programs. Turner, flanked by numerous nonprofit, religious and political leaders at City Hall, said he wanted to show a unified front to protest the “unjust and immoral policy” the Trump administration began enforcing in April, when a “zero tolerance” approach began driving up the number of children removed from their parents upon crossing the border illegally.

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National Stories

Dallas Morning News - June 18, 2018

How Trump's zero-tolerance policy differs from the ways Bush and Obama treated immigrant families

In 1997, the Clinton administration settled a lawsuit, Flores vs. Reno, that established standards for how immigration authorities should treat children in their custody. The settlement required officials to “place each detained minor in the least restrictive setting appropriate.” In practice, that has meant that the Office of Refugee Settlement tries to reunite children with sponsors within the U.S., ideally relatives or close family friends, said Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst with the nonpartisan think tank Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. She explained that if officials can’t find a sponsor, then the children are placed into temporary foster care or held in facilities. “Nothing about the decision says that the family needs to be separated,” Pierce said. The Trump administration has forced the separations by choosing to prosecute the parents, whose children by law can’t join them in criminal detention, Pierce said. If the parents were instead referred to civil deportation proceedings, then the children could remain with them, she said.

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Dallas Morning News - June 19, 2018

Jaramillo: Where are the undocumented girls in shelters?

Images of shelters filled with undocumented boys are raising questions about where young girls are being placed as a part of the Trump’s administration zero-tolerance policy. Officials from the Department of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services said on Tuesday morning on a call with reporters that they are working on getting “government resources” to get the images released to the public. Officials said that many of the children who are held by the Department of Homeland Security are transferred after 72 hours to Health and Human Services.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 19, 2018

Amid outcry, Ted Cruz pivots on family separation issue

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, made an abrupt about-face on President Donald Trump’s family separation policy late Monday afternoon after immigrant children held in metal cages and crying for their parents dominated the news cycle. Cruz, who had defended Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, said he would introduce emergency legislation to keep children with their parents at the border and double the number of immigration judges to speed the review of asylum cases. By Tuesday, most Texas GOP lawmakers were scrambling for a resolution. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, gave an impassioned floor speech saying he and other senators were working on a solution that would keep families together in immigration facilities.

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Dallas Morning News - June 19, 2018

McKenzie: English not only binds us, but it can ease America’s identity crisis

For those of us who favor a welcoming society, where a regulated legal flow of immigrants helps grow the economy, we need to take seriously the concerns of those in this country who fear America is becoming a land of parallel universes. Otherwise, the pushback against immigration might only intensify, with opponents convinced that no one hears their concerns about America becoming a splintered nation. One of those worries — understandably — is that English will slip away as a unifying force in our country. This anxiety is more than a passing one. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that nearly one in 10 U.S. public school students was learning English as a second language in 2015, and that number is projected to increase. In Texas, about 17 percent of students already qualify as English-language learners. In California, that figure is 21 percent.

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The Hill - June 19, 2018

US pulls out of UN Human Rights Council

Trump administration officials on Tuesday said the U.S. has pulled out of the United Nations Human Rights Council, saying that the international body is "not worthy of its name." U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley announced the withdrawal alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, following multiple news reports that the move was imminent. Haley blasted the council as a "protector of human rights abusers and cesspool of political bias" and accused the body of "politicizing and scapegoating countries with positive human rights records." The withdrawal, which comes as the 47-member body begins a three-week session in Geneva, had been expected as a result of the Trump administration's frequent criticism of the group's treatment of Israel.

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The Hill - June 19, 2018

Judge strikes down Kansas voter ID law, orders Kobach take legal classes

A federal judge on Monday permanently struck down Kansas's proof-of-citizenship voter registration law, handing down a blistering ruling against Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, one of the country's most vocal advocates of voter-ID laws. In the 118-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson wrote that the state’s requirement that voters show proof of citizenship during registration violated both the Constitution and the National Voter Registration Act. Robinson struck down the stringent law, and ordered Kobach to take six additional hours of continuing legal education that “pertain to federal or Kansas civil rules of procedure or evidence.”

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New York Times - June 18, 2018

Krugman: Fall of the American Empire

Think about it. By the end of World War II, we and our British allies had in effect conquered a large part of the world. We could have become permanent occupiers, and/or installed subservient puppet governments, the way the Soviet Union did in Eastern Europe. And yes, we did do that in some developing countries; our history with, say, Iran is not at all pretty. But what we mainly did instead was help defeated enemies get back on their feet, establishing democratic regimes that shared our core values and became allies in protecting those values. The Pax Americana was a sort of empire; certainly America was for a long time very much first among equals. But it was by historical standards a remarkably benign empire, held together by soft power and respect rather than force. ... America isn’t nearly as dominant a power as it was 70 years ago; Trump is delusional if he thinks that other countries will back down in the face of his threats. And if we are heading for a full-blown trade war, which seems increasingly likely, both he and those who voted for him will be shocked at how it goes: Some industries will gain, but millions of workers will be displaced.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 19, 2018

Chasnoff: Policy at border not a surprise

We should be outraged but not surprised. The signs were there from the start. Deceptive. Indifferent. Paranoid. Cruel. These words describe President Donald Trump’s new policy requiring the separation of immigrant children, some of them infants, from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. They’ve described him for years, well before his “zero-tolerance” policy at the border, long before he ever became president. His supporters have either ignored these traits or embraced them, just as those who continue to support Trump must either ignore his abuse of children or, like Sen. Ted Cruz, accept it as “inevitable.”

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Associated Press - June 19, 2018

Weissert: Cruz's flip-flop on family separation shows threat to GOP

Ted Cruz has staged a dramatic about-face on the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policies, laying bare how politically damaging the issue of separating children from parents accused of crossing the border illegally is becoming for Republicans facing voters this fall. The Texas senator, who has become a frequent ally of President Donald Trump, initially blasted criticism of the White House crackdown. "When you see Democrats saying, 'Don't separate kids from their parents,' what they're really saying is don't arrest illegal aliens," he said last week But he's now softened substantially, telling reporters in Washington on Tuesday, "All of us are horrified at the images we're seeing." Cruz also said he talked with the White House about legislation he introduced to stop family separations.

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Dallas Morning News - June 18, 2018

Fact check: There is no law that requires family separation at the border, despite Trump administration's claims

On Monday, [Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen] Nielsen tweeted that she’s just enforcing the law. What law requires family separation? No such law exists. But a combination of laws and court rulings does lead to family separation. Crossing the border outside a port of entry is a crime, as is entering the country without permission. Federal authorities have discretion over when to press charges. The Bush administration increased criminal prosecutions and the Obama administration built family detention facilities, but neither made a policy of separating families. Why did the Trump administration make this policy change? Officials have said separating families could serve as a deterrent to keep migrants from trying to enter the United States.

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Associated Press - June 18, 2018

States' redistricting plans facing challenges in court -- Here's a look at redistricting cases ruled upon recently or still pending in the courts

WISCONSIN Partisan breakdown: State Assembly: 64 Republicans, 35 Democrats. Maryland -- The claim: Partisan gerrymandering. The case: The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday overturned a November 2016 ruling that had struck down Wisconsin's state Assembly districts as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. The lower court had said the map adopted in 2011 by the Republican-led Legislature and Republican governor violated Democratic voters' rights to representation by packing Democrats into some districts and spreading them among others, thus diluting their voting power. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the use of a statewide analysis and said that plaintiffs must prove that their personal voting rights were infringed by the way particular districts were drawn. The ruling sent the case back to a lower federal court for further proceedings.

This article appeared in the San Antonio-Express News

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Politico - June 17, 2018

Robertson: Why the ‘Classical Liberal’ is Making a Comeback

"I really call myself a classical liberal more than a conservative.” Protests like the above have become common as of late from certain quadrants of the self-proclaimed, free-thinking “Intellectual Dark Web,” a loose confederacy of free speech absolutists that includes figures like the atheist writer Sam Harris and Peter Thiel sidekick Eric Weinstein. The “classical liberal” label has until now mostly been the domain of libertarian types and conservatives on the never-Trump end of the spectrum, such as Bill Kristol and much of the National Review staff, who are eager to root themselves in a tradition that connects the Founding Fathers to conservative philosophical icon Edmund Burke. Its recent surge in popularity, however, has come from twin phenomena—those conservatives’ intensifying desire to distance themselves from a Trump-ified Republican Party, and the term’s discovery by that new clique of anti-PC voices placing themselves in opposition to the supposedly illiberal campus left. ... It’s only fitting that conservatives would reach for such a term in greater number given the existential crisis their movement currently faces. During the Bush years it was a clubby signifier of one’s true believer-dom, but with Trump’s (at least rhetorical) retreat from traditional conservatism it’s the password for a fully-fledged sleeper cell within the Republican Party.

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Dallas Morning News - June 13, 2018

EPA's Pruitt under fire — again — after asking staff and Dallas Trump donor to find a job for his wife

Embattled Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt enlisted a staffer to work with key Republican donors — including a top Trump supporter from Dallas — to find a job for his wife, according to a new report. The talks may have led to Marlyn Pruitt landing a temporary role with the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, according to The Washington Post, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter, and have raised new questions about Pruitt’s handling of taxpayer dollars and use of his official role for personal gain. Though the Dallas donor, Doug Deason, cited conflicts of interest for why he wouldn't hire Marlyn Pruitt, on Wednesday he defended the administrator’s inquiry as “reasonable” and played down the former EPA staffer’s role in those talks.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 19, 2018

First Reading: Did Jimmy Kimmel set the shot clock for Ted Cruz to act on family separations at the border?

Until just about five-to-five yesterday, Ted Cruz was the ultimate, tougher-than Trump, immigration hardliner. From Sahil Kapur at Bloomberg in January Senator Ted Cruz blasted the idea of giving young undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, a day after President Donald Trump said he was open to the idea as part of immigration legislation being negotiated in Congress. “I do not believe we should be granting a path to citizenship to anybody here illegally,” the Texas Republican said in the Capitol. “Doing so is inconsistent with the promises we made to the men and women who elected us.”

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McClatchy Newspapers - June 19, 2018

Exclusive: US officials likely lost track of nearly 6,000 unaccompanied migrant kids

The Trump administration has likely lost track of nearly 6,000 unaccompanied migrant children, thousands more than lawmakers were alerted to last month, according to a McClatchy review of federal data. Federal officials acknowledged last month that nearly 1,500 unaccompanied minors arrived on the southern border alone without their parents and were placed with sponsors who did not keep in touch with federal officials, but those numbers were only a snapshot of a three- month period during the last fiscal year. “There is a lot more,” said a field specialist who worked in the Office of Refugee Resettlement until earlier this year and was tasked with reaching out to sponsors and children to check on their well-being. “You can bet that the numbers are higher. It doesn’t really give you a real picture.”

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Charlotte News & Observer - June 19, 2018

Inside the Trump-Kim summit: What it really means

From behind all the flags and drapes, however, some small but intriguing details have seeped out to stoke real hopes, despite the many months of intercontinental Armageddon threats. One of the hopeful signs, largely missed by Westerners, was the fact that North Korea’s ruthless 32-year-old dictator came early to meet the now-72-year-old Trump. Seven minutes early, to be exact. It is a sign of great respect in Asian cultures that younger participants in such encounters arrive on-site before their elders, not to keep them waiting. Kim is a man who has assassinated his half-brother and executed perceived opponents by firing squad — using an artillery cannon. Yet, he chose to demonstrate respect for Trump. Kim Jong-un also brought along family, his little sister, Kim Yo-jung, to meet the famous U.S. leader, hardly the gesture of one seeking deadly confrontation.

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Politico - June 19, 2018

House GOP: Trump's immigration plea may fall short

President Donald Trump told House Republicans to send him an immigration bill dealing with Dreamers and migrant families being separated at the border in a freewheeling closed-door address Tuesday. But Trump's call to action does not appear to be enough to push newly crafted Republican immigration legislation over the finish line, according to multiple senior House Republicans and wary conservatives — at least not yet. And the president said nothing about ending the hugely controversial policy of separating migrant families on the border, an issue that has set off a political firestorm. Republican leaders on Capitol Hill fear that the issue could lead to a backlash at the polls in November.

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Washington Post - June 19, 2018

House GOP plan would cut Medicare, Medicaid to balance budget

House Republicans released a proposal Tuesday that would balance the budget in nine years — but only by making large cuts to entitlement programs, including Medicare, that President Trump vowed not to touch. The House Budget Committee is aiming to pass the blueprint this week, but that may be as far as it goes this midterm election year. It is not clear that GOP leaders will put the document on the House floor for a vote, and even if it were to pass the House, the budget would have little impact on actual spending levels. Nonetheless the budget serves as an expression of Republicans’ priorities at a time of rapidly rising deficits and debt. Although the nation’s growing indebtedness has been exacerbated by the GOP’s own policy decisions — including the new tax law, which most analyses say will add at least $1 trillion to the debt — Republicans on the Budget Committee said they felt a responsibility to put the nation on a sounder fiscal trajectory.

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New York Times - June 19, 2018

Commerce Secretary Shorted Stock as Negative Coverage Loomed Image

Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross Jr. shorted stock in a shipping firm — an investment tactic for profiting if share prices fall — days after learning that reporters were preparing a potentially negative story about his dealings with the Kremlin-linked company. The transaction, valued between $100,000 and $250,000, took place last fall after Mr. Ross became aware that journalists investigating offshore finances were looking at his investments in the shipper Navigator Holdings, whose major clients included a Russian energy company. The New York Times emailed a list of questions about Navigator to Mr. Ross on Oct. 26. Three business days later, Mr. Ross, a wealthy investor, opened a short position in Navigator, according to filings released on Monday by the Office of Government Ethics. The company’s stock price slid about 4 percent before Mr. Ross closed his position on Nov. 16, eleven days after the articles were published by The Times and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists as part of the “Paradise Papers” project.

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Politico - June 19, 2018

Democrats dodge campaign finance law

On June 4, a page of Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill’s website titled “Missourians Need to Know” blasted her Republican opponent, state Attorney General Josh Hawley, as someone who “does what’s best for his donors” and turns “a blind eye to allegations of pay-to-play” against one of them. Within just four days, Senate Majority PAC, Democrats’ top outside group focused on Senate races, parroted the charges almost to the letter in a new ad. The TV spot accused Hawley of “refusing to investigate an allegedly illegal pay-to-play scheme” involving the top donor from his previous run for office. Coordination between campaigns and outside groups is illegal, though both parties’ election lawyers regularly give candidates a green light to evade that ban by sharing information in the public domain — for example, posting long YouTube clips clearly meant for use by friendly super PACs. Now, McCaskill and other Democratic senators are pushing the limits by essentially posting instruction manuals on how they prefer allied groups to attack their opponents, which super PACs have then turned into ads within a matter of days or weeks.

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Politico - June 19, 2018

Koch network raps Trump, won't support House immigration bills

The political network founded by the Koch brothers is taking a stand against both President Donald Trump’s policy toward separating families at the border and two immigration bills due for votes in the House this week, dealing a blow to GOP leaders who are marshaling support for their version. “It’s encouraging that the House will have a debate this week on immigration bills that include protections for the Dreamers," said Daniel Garza, president of the Koch network's LIBRE Initiative, referring to a group of undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. "Unfortunately, in their current form, both [House leadership’s bill and an alternative immigration bill] expected to receive a vote fall short of the solution we need.”

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Politico - June 19, 2018

Embattled agent Peter Strzok escorted from FBI headquarters

An FBI agent who has been pilloried by President Donald Trump and was sharply criticized in a new Justice Department watchdog report was escorted from the FBI building Friday as a disciplinary process plays out, a source familiar with the episode said. Peter Strzok was removed last August from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian contacts with the Trump campaign after Justice's inspector general found stridently anti-Trump text messages Strzok exchanged with an FBI attorney, Lisa Page. And FBI officials confirmed last year that Strzok, a veteran agent who served as deputy assistant director of the bureau's counterintelligence division, was reassigned to a job in the FBI's human resources division. An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment Tuesday on what type of disciplinary action is underway or why Strzok was removed from the building.

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Newsclips - June 19, 2018

Lead Stories

Washington Post - June 18, 2018

Two-thirds of Americans oppose Trump’s family-separation policy

President Trump’s policy of separating children from their parents if the parents are apprehended crossing the border illegally is meant to be unpopular. The goal, as articulated publicly by administration officials, is deterrence: Frightening potential migrants away from entering the country out of fear that they will have their children taken away from them, perhaps permanently. A new poll from Quinnipiac University, though, shows that the policy is also unpopular among Americans — with one big exception. Two-thirds of the country, 66 percent, oppose Trump’s policy, according to the poll. That includes 6 in 10 men and 7 in 10 women. As is often the case, though, there’s a wide split by party. A majority of Republicans approve of the policy, while 6 in 10 independents and 9 in 10 Democrats oppose it.

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Houston Chronicle - June 18, 2018

Texas Attorney General wants Harris County magistrates’ lawsuit over bail practices dismissed

The state attorney general Monday asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit by three Harris County hearing officers who are fighting sanctions by Texas’ judicial ethics commission earlier this year over unfair bail practices. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton also asked that the case brought by three admonished magistrates be transferred from Harris County, where the judges sit, to Travis County, where the State Commission on Judicial Conduct is based. Paxton also asserts that the state watchdog agency has “sovereign immunity” from being sued. The lawsuit, filed in May by three local magistrates, challenges the commission’s finding that they violated the state code of conduct for judges during probable cause hearings for newly arrested defendants. The hearing officers, Eric Hagstette, Jill Wallace and Joseph Licata III, initially challenged the commission’s findings through a more straightforward appeal to the state’s Special Court of Review. However, they later withdrew that appeal and sued the commission to have their records be cleared of the findings of misconduct.

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New York Times - June 18, 2018

Trump Clears Way for Health Plans With Lower Costs and Fewer Benefits

The Trump administration is poised to issue a sweeping rule that makes it easier for small businesses to band together to create health insurance plans that skirt many requirements of the Affordable Care Act, offering lower costs but also fewer benefits. The final rule is to be unveiled Tuesday, administration officials and congressional aides said. President Trump has said millions of people could get cheaper coverage from the new “association health plans.” But consumer groups and many state officials are opposed, saying the new plans will siphon healthy people out of the Affordable Care Act marketplace, driving up costs for those who need comprehensive insurance. The new entities would be exempt from many of the consumer protections mandated by the Affordable Care Act. They may, for example, not have to provide certain “essential health benefits” like mental health care, emergency services, maternity and newborn care and prescription drugs.

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Daily Caller - June 18, 2018

Comey under investigation for handling of classified information

Former FBI director James Comey is under investigation for mishandling classified information, DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz revealed Monday. He is specifically under investigation for his handling of memos he wrote about interactions with President Trump while FBI director. “Comey said he did not expect a report on his handling of classified information because, ‘That’s frivolous.’ I don’t happen to think that it is frivolous,” Sen. Chuck Grassley said during a Senate hearing Monday.

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State Stories

Dallas Morning News - June 18, 2018

Texas lawmaker wants Abbott to cancel National Guard border deployment until feds stop separating families

A state lawmaker has asked Gov. Greg Abbott to cancel the deployment of the Texas National Guard to the border and other practices until the federal government stops separating immigrant children from their parents while their asylum cases play out in court. In a letter Monday, Rep. Cesar Blanco, D-El Paso, told Abbott: "I am respectfully requesting that you halt certain border security practices and cancel the deployment of our Texas National Guard at the border until this abhorrent and immoral policy of separating families is ended." Nearly 2,000 children have been taken from adult migrants in the six weeks since the Trump administration initiated a zero-tolerance policy of pressing criminal charges against anyone caught illegally crossing the border.

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Dallas Morning News - June 18, 2018

Alleging fraud, Texas Democrat files suit to get opponent's Congressional runoff win tossed

After losing last month's Democratic runoff, Arlington civic leader Ruby Faye Woolridge is hoping to win in an Ellis County courtroom. Woolridge, the 2016 Democratic nominee for the Congressional seat long held by Republican Rep. Joe Barton, has filed a lawsuit to get Jana Lynne Sanchez's victory thrown out. The suit primarily alleges, with few details, that Sanchez "knowingly filed petitions with fraudulent signatures" to get on the ballot in the first place. The lawsuit also names Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos, state Democratic Party Executive Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa and county Democratic officials in Navarro, Ellis and Tarrant counties.

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Dallas Morning News - June 18, 2018

Fewer Texas children are uninsured, but some fear the momentum could be lost

The number of uninsured children in Texas dropped 23.1 percent between 2013 and 2016, says a new report that links the decline to a booming state economy and to the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. As more adults gained access to health insurance, either through an employer or on the ACA marketplace, that benefit trickled down to kids, say researchers from the State Health Access Data Assistance Center. The decline means 225,678 Texas children gained coverage during the period. Texas followed California as the state with the second largest number of declines in rates of uninsured children.

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Dallas Morning News - June 18, 2018

Rising sea levels could flood more than 5,500 Texas homes by 2030, new study says

Thousands of coastal Texas residents may find their homes and bank accounts under water as early as 2030 due to as climate change-driven sea level rise according to new estimates released by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a national non-profit advocacy group. More than 5,500 Texas homes will be at risk of chronic flooding from high tides by 2030 assuming aggressive sea level increases, according to the UCS study, which uses Zillow housing data in concert with three different estimates of rising sea levels from the federal agency National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration. This represents $1.2 billion in jeopardized property value and $19 million in property tax revenue put at risk, according to the report, which defines chronic flooding as occurring more than an average of 26 times a year.

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Dallas Morning News - June 18, 2018

New Texas GOP platform calls for abolishing daylight saving, protecting Confederate monuments

The Republican Party of Texas has written its new platform, a long list of policy stances representing the GOP's official views for the next two years. The platform was written this week in San Antonio, where more than 8,000 delegates met for their 2018 state party convention. On Friday, they spent hours debating it before splitting into groups and voting on the platform, as well as five legislative priorities for 2019. The delegates approved all 331 platform "planks," or policy stances, and every legislative priority, Travis County Republican Party Chairman Matt Mackowiak told The Dallas Morning News. The party now supports decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana and opposes the removal of any Confederate monuments from Texas soil.

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Houston Chronicle - June 18, 2018

Warden demoted as Texas prisons announce plan to review policy, ban disciplinary quotas

A Texas prison warden was demoted and transferred this month even as officials announced plans to boost officer training, review disciplinary policies and explicitly ban the sort of quota system that sparked a statewide audit. The move comes weeks after Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials tossed more than 500 disciplinary cases and demoted several ranking officials amid an investigation that revealed quotas in four of the state's facilities, where officers were ordered to write-up inmates or in some cases face disciplinary action themselves. "I'm glad to see something good is coming from what I believe was a reprehensible action," said Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston. ... Now, Warden Virgil McMullen - who oversaw the facility in Rosharon - has been demoted and moved to the Johnston Unit, more than 200 miles away in northeast Texas. He's already been replaced, but prison officials didn't immediately clarify who the unit's new warden is.

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Houston Chronicle - June 19, 2018

Trumpism finds a safe space at conservative women's conference in Dallas

The young women had come from 48 states across the country, yearning for moments of belonging they rarely found at home. Cheyenne Martin, a 19-year-old student at Georgetown University, described being ridiculed by classmates for her desire to lead the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency one day. But this weekend, she was met with a standing ovation. ... Laci Williams, 20, said she felt so isolated as a conservative in Denver that she started a young women’s conservative magazine to connect with like-minded women across the country. But now, for four days at a Dallas airport hotel, Williams felt like she wasn’t the exception but the rule. “We are left out of the national conversation,” Williams said of young conservative women. “And we’re sick and tired of being ignored.” Welcome to Turning Point USA’s Young Women’s Leadership Summit, an annual conference sponsored by the National Rifle Association that began in 2015 and has evolved into an ultra-Trumpian event complete with “lock her up” chants and vulgar T-shirts disparaging Hillary Clinton.

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Houston Chronicle - June 18, 2018

Tropical disturbance moving into Texas, bringing rain

A tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico will finally reach Texas this week, bringing scattered showers and thunderstorms to the Houston area today through Thursday, meteorologists said. Rainfall, which will move inland, will total as high as a projected 10 to 12 inches at Magnolia Bay, according to the National Weather Service. Many Houstonians prepared for the possibility of heavy rains over the weekend, but the weather is now expected to come later than originally forecast.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 18, 2018

Sen. Carlos Uresti to resign days before his sentencing

Texas Sen. Carlos Uresti, the San Antonio Democrat found guilty of 11 fraud-related counts in February, announced Monday that he will resign his seat effective Thursday. Uresti, who is scheduled to be sentenced June 26 in federal court and faces the potential of years in prison and restitution of more than $3 million, said in a letter posted on Twitter and his Facebook page that the legal matter required his full attention. “These recent events have had a significant impact on my life, my family and my constituents. I need to attend to my personal matters and properly care for my family,” he wrote, ending his resistance to calls for his resignation from Democrats and Republicans.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 18, 2018

First Reading: On Hawaiian family vacation, Alex Jones proves he is always Alex Jones

As it happens, Jones, his three children from his marriage to Kelly, his new wife, and their baby, are just back from a family vacation in Hawaii that, based simply on watching Infowars, demonstrates rather conclusively that there is precious little separation between Infowars Alex Jones, and vacationing dad and husband Alex Jones. The vacation begins with the Joneses running into Bernie Sanders during a layover at LAX. ... Yes, of course, why wouldn’t Bernie Sanders want to talk to Alex Jones? Indeed, why wouldn’t any traveler not savor the opportunity to be harassed by an aggressive stranger (because Sanders really doesn’t seem to know who Alex Jones is) thrusting a camera in your face and asking hostile questions? So naturally, Jones had to chase after Sanders.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 18, 2018

Herman: Schumer, leave the Texanisms to Texans

It recently fell upon the esteemed senator to criticize President Donald Trump’s recent escapade in Singapore during which our president met with and heaped praise upon a foreign despot. Odd, indeed, but it happened. So did Schumer’s Senate floor speech happen last Wednesday, a day after Trump’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Like many, Schumer thought Kim got far more out of the meeting than did Trump, though the latter did seem to enjoy the ceremonial hoopla surrounding the session. Schumer thought the pomp exceeded the circumstance. “The summit was much more show than substance,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “What the Texans call ‘all cattle, no hat.’ ” No, senator not from Texas, that is not what the Texans call “all cattle, no hat.” If you’re going to use our overused Texanisms it behooves you to get them right. When intending to insult somebody for being a phony, a proper Texan says that person is “all hat and no cattle.”

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Austin American-Statesman - June 13, 2018

Beck: What ‘equal opportunity’ in education really means

When teachers wave a fond farewell to our students at the end of the school year, a few leave a lasting impression because they have worked so hard to get to a point where academic excellence is even possible. Our institutions have a hard time both measuring that kind of success and valuing it as it deserves. Schools need to do more to create meaningful access to quality higher education for all Texans. This requires all of us to take a hard look at the ways that inequality is built into our colleges and universities. For example, a student of mine once arrived late to an exam, wearing a uniform from one of her three jobs. She was so tired from her work schedule that she fell asleep twice during the 50-minute test. Each time I woke her, she apologized for dozing off and got right back to work.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 18, 2018

Willie Nelson to Donald Trump: ‘Let’s go down to a border detention center together’

When news about United States agents separating Mexican children from their parents at the Texas border under the Trump administration’s new zero-tolerance policy on illegal immigration began to circulate widely last week, Willie Nelson spoke up quickly. “What’s going on at our Southern border is outrageous,” Nelson told Rolling Stone. Now he’s taking it a step further. Addressing Trump directly on Twitter on Monday evening, Nelson suggested the two of them visit one of the border detention centers together: Though the tweet was not posted from Nelson’s own account, his publicist, Elaine Schock, verified that it came from Nelson. His @WillieNelson twitter appears in the post, as well as that of @realDonaldTrump. The post was made from the account of @BioAnnie1, which appears to be the Twitter name of Annie Nelson, Willie’s wife.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 18, 2018

Rally in support of arming teachers planned for Santa Fe this weekend

Nearly a month after a 17-year-old gunman opened fire on Santa Fe High School, killing 10 and wounding 13, most flags around town remain at half-staff. It is difficult to find an electrical pole or large tree without yellow and green ribbon around its base. At Runge Park, located in the heart of this rural Galveston County community, colorful cups pushed into chain-link fencing spell “Santa Fe Strong.” More political messages, however, could start pushing their way into town this weekend. A group of statewide gun advocates plan to hold a rally in favor of arming teachers at Runge Park on Saturday, June 23. The Carry for our Kids assembly was planned days after the shooting, according to the This is Texas Freedom Force, which planned the event.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 18, 2018

At a border immigration shelter: a room of infants; teen immigrants giving birth

It was a small room in a shelter, with colorful walls of cartoon animals and the alphabet. There was an 8-month-old, Roger, and a 1-year-old, Leah, giggling with other infants in high chairs. “It was just heartbreaking. They look at you with big eyes,” U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-New Mexico, said Monday afternoon after a congressional roundtable here. “Seeing baby Roger there, it really got me.” The room of infants was in Casa El Presidente, one of two children immigrant shelters that members of Congress from across the country — from Mississippi to New Mexico, Florida to Texas — toured Monday afternoon to get a firsthand look at the separation of immigrant families along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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Texas Tribune - June 18, 2018

Will Texas pass a “red flag” law to remove guns from people who are deemed dangerous?

It’s become a common refrain after each new mass shooting: “There were red flags.” Before 26 people died in a rural church in Sutherland Springs in November, the shooter had escaped from a mental health facility, received a domestic violence conviction and had a standoff with police. Before the February massacre of 17 students and staff at a high school in Parkland, Florida, there were repeated calls to the police and multiple warnings about a potential school shooting to the FBI. As mass shootings continue, more and more states have adopted “red flag” laws that allow law enforcement, and sometimes family members or other parties, to ask a court to order the seizure or surrender of guns from people who are deemed dangerous by a judge.

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Texas Tribune - June 19, 2018

Lawmakers to address neglect of medically vulnerable Texans following Dallas Morning News report

From paralyzed Texans trapped in bed for hours on end to children denied care vital to keeping them alive, a recent investigation by The Dallas Morning News revealed how the state is failing to provide care for some of its most vulnerable citizens. Lawmakers will meet this month to see what they can do about it. The House Human Services Committee is scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss the state's managed care system, in which Texas hires private companies to coordinate health care for many people on Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program. On June 27, the House General Investigating and Ethics Committee and a subcommittee of House Appropriations will discuss the newspaper's report.

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Politico - June 18, 2018

‘Hopefully, they’ll get you to her’: Texas judge can’t promise migrant families they’ll be reunited

McALLEN, Texas — As a judge began sentencing more than six dozen immigrants for illegal entry on Monday, one woman spoke up to ask: “What’s going to happen to my daughter?” Magistrate Judge J. Scott Hacker, presiding over the hearing in Texas federal court, could tell her only that reunification with her child was out of his hands. “Hopefully, they’ll get you to her,” Hacker told the woman, who was communicating through a translator, before sentencing her to time served in detention and paving the way for her likely deportation. She wasn’t alone. Of an estimated 81 migrants whose cases Hacker handled in a packed courtroom in this Texas border town, 21 informed the court through their public defender that they had been separated from their children after illegally crossing into the United States.

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New York Times - June 18, 2018

In Texas Governor’s Race, Lupe Valdez Faces Resistance From Fellow Democrats

Even in the close-knit circles of Texas liberals, Lupe Valdez, the Democratic nominee for governor, conjures up a disparate set of opinions — far from the united front the candidate wants to evoke. Democratic Party officials often hail Ms. Valdez as a progressive godsend bound to inspire Latino voters: a former Dallas County sheriff who became the first Latina and open lesbian to top the party’s ticket in Texas, at a time of controversy over the Trump administration’s family separation practice for undocumented immigrants. “She doesn’t need a GPS to know where the grass roots are,” said Jim Hightower, an Austin progressive who introduced Ms. Valdez, a spirited populist, at a recent party fund-raiser. “She has lived the issues.”

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KSAT - June 16, 2018

San Antonio close to exceeding federal air quality standards, which could rock local economy

Air quality affects all of us, and according to the Texas Department of Transportation, San Antonio is on the verge of breaking the Texas Clean Air Act. Houston/Galveston, Dallas/Ft. Worth and El Paso have already exceeded the allowed level of air pollutants and are in "non-attainment" status, which means exceeding federal air quality standards. San Antonio, Austin and Beaumont are all close to non-attainment. Non-attainment could deplete San Antonio's economy. Last year, the Alamo Area Council of Governments hired a firm to conduct a study.

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City Stories

Austin Chronicle - June 15, 2018

Point Austin: The Struggle Continues

That was one refrain sung by several dozen demonstrators Monday afternoon in front of the Capitol gates, the latest in a series of nationally linked public actions organized by the Poor People's Campaign, reinvigorated by the Rev. William Barber from North Caro­lina. ... Some of the national demonstrations have been marked by civil disobedience – Barber was among nearly 150 people arrested in D.C. last month for blocking the Capitol. Monday's demo held no such plans, but during the previous week's protest at the Railroad Commission offices, activists blocked doors and seven people were arrested. One was PPC organizer Sema Hernan­dez, who said that under the themes of "ecological devastation" and health care, demonstrators were making the connection between the RRC's permitting of pollution and the consequent effects on public health.

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The Eagle - June 18, 2018

Texas A&M swimmer files Title IX lawsuit against university

Texas A&M junior swimmer Austin Van Overdam has filed a Title IX lawsuit in Houston against the university, saying A&M showed gender bias in siding with Hannah Shaw during a sexual abuse student disciplinary hearing in 2016, according to a statement from his attorney, Gaines West. In the statement, West said A&M, “feeling the pressure from the Department of Education, and fearing the loss of federal funding, caved in and sided with Shaw.” It is the policy of The Eagle not to name victims in sexual assault cases, but Shaw granted permission to use her name. West also said in the press release that Shaw is, "not the innocent victim she portrays" and that she has "repeatedly lied." "Hannah Shaw was not raped," West said in the press release.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 18, 2018

Austin nonprofit under fire for housing thousands of migrant children

Even as it’s being criticized for taking in children separated from their parents crossing without legal permission at the southern border, an Austin-based nonprofit that runs 16 shelters in Texas is asking state regulators for permission to house more children. Southwest Key Programs perhaps is best known locally for its education programs, including East Austin College Prep, a public charter school in East Austin. But the nonprofit also runs youth justice and wellness programs, along with 27 immigrant children shelters in Texas, Arizona and California. Since 1997, the nonprofit has taken in thousands of children who arrived in the country alone. After U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in April a “zero-tolerance” immigration policy and promised to prosecute anyone who enters the U.S. illegally, which meant removing children from adults, shelter operators contracting with the federal government including Southwest Key saw an influx of children separated from their parents.

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Dallas Morning News - June 18, 2018

Immigrants share their stories and love for America during awards dinner in Dallas

Their journeys were not easy. Many overcame poverty, bullying and discrimination. Yet they never gave up, overcame long odds and became successful immigrants. Ann Badmus of Scheef & Stone shares their inspirational stories every year at the Immigrant Journey Awards Dinner. She founded the event seven years ago and hosts it each June — Immigrant Heritage Month. This year's dinner was held Friday at The Clubs of Prestonwood in Dallas. Friday's keynote speaker, Gauthami Vemula, is founder of Color Me Safe, a family crisis management firm. She talked about her journey from India to New York to Hobbs, N.M., where her Indian family stood out. Despite the challenges she faced, she feels "so lucky to be part of this nation" and urged guests to "look at what unites us."

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National Stories

Houston Chronicle - June 18, 2018

Ex-CIA employee charged in major leak of agency hacking tools

Federal prosecutors on Monday charged a former CIA employee with violations of the Espionage Act and related crimes in connection with the leak last year of a collection of hacking tools that the agency used for spy operations overseas. Joshua Adam Schulte, who worked for a CIA group that designs computer code to spy on foreign adversaries, was charged in a 13-count superseding indictment with illegally gathering and transmitting national defense information and other related counts in connection with what is considered to be one of the most significant leaks in CIA history. The indictment accused Schulte of causing sensitive information to be transmitted to an organization, which is not named in the indictment but is thought to be WikiLeaks.

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Politico - June 19, 2018

Generation Pickleball: Welcome to Florida’s Political Tomorrowland

The Villages is America’s largest retirement community, a carefully planned, meticulously groomed dreamscape of gated subdivisions, wall-to-wall golf courses, adult-only pools and old-fashioned town squares. It’s advertised as “Florida’s friendliest hometown,” and it’s supposed to evoke a bygone era of traditional values when Americans knew their neighbors, respected their elders and followed the rules. It has the highest concentration of military veterans of any metropolitan area without a military base. It has strict regulations enforcing the uniformity of homes (no second stories, no bright colors, no modern flourishes) as well as the people living in them (no families with children, except to visit). And it is Trump country, a reliably Republican, vocally patriotic, almost entirely white enclave that gave the president nearly 70 percent of the vote. Older voters are America’s most reliable voters, which is why baby-boomer boomtowns like The Villages represent the most significant threat to a potential Democratic wave in Florida in 2018—and the most significant source of Republican optimism for many years to come. Because while the Villages may look like the past, with its retro architecture and gray-haired demographics, it sells like the future. This master-planned paradise an hour northwest of Disney World has been the fastest-growing metro area in the United States in four of the past five years. And as the baby boom generation continues to retire, The Villages is continuing to expand into nearby cattle pastures, luring more pensioners to this fantasyland in the sunshine, gradually swinging America’s largest swing state to the right.

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Dallas Morning News - June 15, 2018

Donald Trump or Nancy Pelosi? Dallas Rep. Pete Sessions says 2018 elections boil down to those choices

Pete Sessions, acknowledging that his re-election bid would be hard-fought, said Saturday that his race and others would hinge on whether voters preferred the policies of President Donald Trump or House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. "We're going to be given the opportunity to go one direction or another," Sessions said in an interview. "The direction we can go is about making sure Nancy Pelosi is speaker, single-payer system, making sure we raise taxes and spending, and get more government." Sessions, R-Dallas, said he represented the better approach. "We can follow Donald Trump and the Republican model that we understand. That is full employment. We want to solve the immigration problem, we want to solve the health care problem, and we want every single American to have a job and career," Sessions said. "We want to make America great again."

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Houston Chronicle - June 18, 2018

Ted Cruz introducing legislation to keep migrant families together

Senator Ted Cruz said he is planning on introducing legislation this week to keep migrant families together. "All Americans are rightly horrified by the images we are seeing on the news, children in tears pulled away from their mothers and fathers," Cruz said in a statement. "This must stop. Now. We can end this crisis by passing the legislation I am introducing this week." The senator said he will introduce the "Protect Kids and Parents Act," which will double the number of federal immigration judges, create new temporary "shelters," review asylum cases within 14 days, and "mandate that illegal immigrant families must be kept together."

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Washington Post - June 18, 2018

As Republicans flee Trump border policy, Democrats see a November benefit

A backlash over the Trump administration’s decision to separate children from their parents at the southern border has left Republican candidates scrambling to distance themselves from a policy the president sees as central to accomplishing his political goals. A shift in the dynamics of immigration politics, which President Trump has long used to his advantage and some Democrats have seen as a liability, was evident Monday as the face of the debate changed from violent Central American street gang members to young and bewildered children isolated by federal agents behind chain-link fences. The reaction was a reminder that, for all the effort Trump is putting into maintaining the loyalty of his base, the voters who elected him are not the same ones many vulnerable Republicans will need to win over this fall.

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Associated Press - June 18, 2018

Recording of crying children at border adds to outrage

An audio recording that appears to capture the heartbreaking voices of small Spanish-speaking children crying out for their parents at a U.S. immigration facility took center stage Monday in the growing uproar over the Trump administration's policy of separating immigrant children from their parents. "Papa! Papa!" one child is heard weeping in the audio file that was first reported by the nonprofit ProPublica and later provided to The Associated Press. Human rights attorney Jennifer Harbury said she received the tape from a whistleblower and told ProPublica it was recorded in the last week. She did not provide details about where exactly it was recorded.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express-News

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Washington Post - June 18, 2018

‘This heartless policy’: Echoing his sister-in-law, Jeb Bush speaks out against forced migrant family separations

Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and onetime Republican presidential hopeful, on Monday chided President Trump for pursuing a “heartless policy” of forced separation of migrant children from their families at the southern U.S. border. Taking to Twitter, Bush also accused Trump of trying to use the plight of the migrant children as “a negotiating tool” to advance his own priorities on immigration with Congress, echoing a criticism leveled by many Democrats in recent days. With his tweet, the former governor became the second member of the Bush clan to knock the Trump administration for family separations in as many days.

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Daily Beast - June 14, 2018

Defense Contractors Cashing In On Immigrant Kids’ Detention

Separating refugee and immigrant children from their parents isn’t just an emotionally wrenching policy. It’s an enterprise that is benefitting intelligence and defense contractors. Those contractors—including one with a history of scandals—have advertised a flurry of jobs in recent weeks to support the infrastructure surrounding undocumented children whom the Trump administration has taken from their families. One of them, from Virginia-based MVM Inc., seeks a compliance coordinator to help in San Antonio with the “rapid deployment of an Emergency Influx Shelter for unaccompanied children.” As billed, the coordinator would ensure the children’s shelter met “policies and procedures” set by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement. MVM posted the job on its website this week.

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Yahoo! News - June 18, 2018

Americans grapple with recognizing facts in news stories: Pew survey

Only a quarter of U.S. adults in a recent survey could fully identify factual statements - as opposed to opinion - in news stories, the Pew Research Center found in a study released on Monday. The survey comes amid growing concerns about so-called fake news spread on the internet and social media. The term generally refers to fabricated news that has no basis in fact but is presented as being factually accurate. Facebook Inc , Alphabet Inc's Google and other tech companies have recently come under scrutiny for failing to promptly tackle the problem of fake news as more Americans consume news on social media platforms.

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Politico - June 18, 2018

Justice Department asks SCOTUS to lift nationwide block on anti-sanctuary-city policy

The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to lift the bulk of an order preventing the Justice Department from implementing a policy to limit federal grants to cities, counties and states that don't cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. The Justice Department filed an emergency application with the high court Monday, asking it to stay a nationwide injunction that a federal judge in Chicago issued in September blocking the new policy. In the application, DOJ asks Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan to limit the effect of the injunction to the city of Chicago, which filed the lawsuit. A single justice receiving such a request in a significant case typically refers the matter to the full court.

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The Hill - June 18, 2018

Supreme Court sidesteps partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin, Maryland cases

The Supreme Court on Monday sidestepped the issue of partisan gerrymandering, finding procedural grounds to rule against Democratic voters in Wisconsin and Republican voters in Maryland challenging their state maps. The justices ruled narrowly against a group of Democratic voters in Wisconsin who challenged the state's 2011 redistricting plan as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander in a case known as Gill v. Whitford. The court said the voters lacked standing to challenge the state’s entire map and remanded the case back down to the lower court to give them an opportunity to prove how they were injured.

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Washington Post - June 18, 2018

Phillips: The Supreme Court just gave Republicans a big break on gerrymandering

Let's get one thing straight: When given the chance, both parties have drawn congressional and state legislative districts in a way that lets their side hold power. ... Republicans controlled the pens in a majority of states where legislatures got to draw the districts after the 2010 Census. So Republicans would have been most vulnerable to such a game-changing decision by the Supreme Court about how districts can be drawn. Democrats were hoping to use the Wisconsin and Maryland models to sue Republicans in states like Ohio and Florida. Democrats need to win back as many state legislatures as they can by 2020 to control the map-drawing process in more states. The 2020 Census release is the next time electoral maps will be redrawn to match current populations. Democrats are in such a hole in state legislatures that there is a real chance they will be locked out of the map-drawing process — and thus locked out of power in Congress and a number of states — for another decade.

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The Hill - June 15, 2018

‘Three Californias’ plan would give Dems more seats

A proposal to split the nation’s most populous state into three smaller states would give Democrats a huge boost in the perpetual battle for control of the United States Senate — likely dooming the plan even before voters have a chance to weigh in. California voters will vote this November on the ballot measure, backed by tech billionaire and venture capitalist Tim Draper. If the measure passes, Congress would have a year to allow the state to split up into three separate states — one centered around Los Angeles, another in Northern California that includes the Bay Area and Sacramento, and a third in Southern California that would include the Central Valley and San Diego. Democrats have easily won California’s electoral votes in recent years. George H.W. Bush was the last Republican to win the state at the presidential level, and Republicans haven’t won a Senate seat in California since Pete Wilson won reelection in 1988.

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Wall St. Journal - June 18, 2018

Mergers Would Make AT&T, Comcast World’s Most Indebted Companies

A wave of expected big media mergers would transform AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp. into the two most indebted companies in the world, a standing that carries uncharted risks for investors in the firms’ bonds. AT&T has bought Time Warner Inc., and Comcast hopes to purchase most of 21st Century Fox Inc. The companies would carry a combined $350 billion of bonds and loans, according to data from Dealogic and Moody’s Investors Service. The purchases are meant to provide additional income to help the acquirers weather turmoil sweeping their industries. But if the mergers falter, the record debt loads will give AT&T and Comcast little margin for error, fund managers and credit ratings analysts say.

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Newsclips - June 18, 2018

Lead Stories

The Hill - June 17, 2018

Supreme Court faces major decision on partisan gerrymandering

The Supreme Court has a big decision left to make as it heads into its final weeks of the term: whether to strike down a voter map for the first time as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. Experts agree it would be a game changer if the court is able to find a workable test to assess when legislators have gone too far in drawing congressional maps that give their party an edge. The court has longed shied away from policing congressional maps without a clear way to measure how much political bias in redistricting is too much.

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Washington Post - June 17, 2018

GOP, Democrats are outraged but at odds over ending family separation at border

Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike on Sunday called for Congress to pass a law ending the Trump administration’s practice of separating and detaining families trying to cross the border into the United States, but the two sides remain sharply divided on what that bill should look like. The idea of such a legislative solution earned the endorsement even of President Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, who said Sunday on CBS News’s “Face the Nation” that he thought Attorney General Jeff Sessions was “not giving the president the best advice” on how to handle the situation. Sessions and officials from the Department of Homeland Security have defended the practice of separately detaining children and parents trying to cross the border, which has led to about 2,000 children being separated from their parents in the past 45 days.

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New York Times - June 17, 2018

Leonhardt: The Charts That Show How Big Business Is Winning

The next round of media consolidation has arrived. AT&T has bought Time Warner, thanks to a federal judge’s ruling last week. Comcast and Disney are fighting with each other to buy 21st Century Fox. CBS, Verizon and Viacom, among others, may also get involved in a merger. “The floodgates will open,” the media analyst Jessica Reif told The Wall Street Journal after the judge’s AT&T ruling. All of these companies have decided that their best strategy for raising profits involves getting bigger. Larger companies simply have more power — to compete with other giants, to restrain workers’ pay, to influence government policy and, in the long run, to increase prices. It’s true beyond the media industry, too. Airlines, banks and oil companies have merged in recent decades. So have retailers, hospitals, hotels, manufacturers, drug companies and law firms. The resulting behemoths have then taken advantage of their newfound scale, as well as globalization and digital technology, to grow further.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 16, 2018

Austin school board on path to deplete district reserves in 3 years

As Austin school board members on Monday weigh a $775.2 million operating budget, their spending plan for the 2018-19 school year is overshadowed by future budget forecasts that threaten the school system’s solvency. For the second consecutive year, the district will pass a budget with a deficit – this year $29 million — and pull from its reserves to cover the expenses. If the district continues to rely on its reserves to balance its books, in three years, without other changes, the district’s fund balance will be depleted, putting the district at risk of state sanctions and poor reputation among bond rating agencies. The district’s own school board policy requires keeping a minimum of 20 percent of the operating budget in reserves, but by next year, the fund balance will dip to 18 percent.

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State Stories

Dallas Morning News - June 15, 2018

Jeffers: In response to Pain & Profit series, Abbott says Texas committed to health care, not profits for providers

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday rejected findings by The Dallas Morning News that health care officials are protecting the profits of a multibillion-dollar industry while thousands of patients are denied critical medical services. "The emphasis has always been on health care," Abbott said during a recording of Lone Star Politics, the political show produced by KXAS-TV (NBC5) and The News. "The reality is there's just so much that has to be done and there is an inadequate number of employees to be able to respond to it." Abbott is a vocal defender of managed care whose top advisers have connections to health care companies. Friday's interview was the first time Abbott has commented on findings by The News.

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Dallas Morning News - June 17, 2018

'Holding their breath': Trump's trade

A trade war between the U.S. and its closest allies may scotch Robert Likarish’s growing whiskey business. The co-owner of Ironroot Republic Distilling in Denison fears the loss of a vital export deal after the European Union, just like Mexico and Canada, included American whiskey on its long list of tariffs announced in response to President Donald Trump’s metal levies. If that business dries up, it would wipe out the savings the distillery received from the sweeping tax overhaul signed into law last year by Trump — and with it, Likarish’s ability to open a second location and hire more staff. “Everybody is kind of holding their breath,” he said.

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Dallas Morning News - June 15, 2018

DMN: Texas must eliminate this troubling loophole in its child marriage law

Dr. Trevicia Williams is a Texas child bride survivor. Her mom picked her up from ninth grade and carried her to a justice of the peace, where she was told she would marry a 26-year-old ex-convict. When Williams tells that story, people snap to attention: "People are shocked that this type of thing is happening in America." But Williams' marriage was entirely legal in Houston in 1983; things only changed last year. In June 2017, Texas joined other states in massive reforms that prompted headlines proclaiming "Texas Just Banned Child Marriage." But we didn't. While young people under 18 can no longer be forcefully married as a result of a parent's whim or if they were pregnant, 16- and 17-year-old emancipated minors can still wed.

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Dallas Morning News - June 14, 2018

Watchdog: The global recycling market is crashing. This is what it means for you

Most of our nation's recyclables have been shipped to China. They send us shipping containers filled with electronics and clothing. We fill the containers with recyclables and ship them back to China. But not so much anymore. ... Then, last month, China further surprised global recycling markets when it banned all incoming recyclables for 30 days. Because China has been the largest recipient of recyclables, and the U.S. is among the biggest senders of materials, the market price for used materials has dropped. ... In some parts of the U.S., recyclables are going to landfills. There's no proof that it's happening in North Texas. But the prices we're getting have plunged. The Wall Street Journal reports that the selling price for mixed paper prices dropped from $150 a ton to $5 a ton. "We've had to slow down our operations," says Greta Calvery, spokeswoman for Houston-based Waste Management. "One out of every four items that we get in our carts are not recyclable. If people don't know whether they're recyclable, they put it in the bin anyway. It shuts our equipment down."

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Dallas Morning News - June 15, 2018

'I'll ... embarrass the hell out of myself:' Fort Worth man's flag onesie stands out at Texas GOP Convention

Amid the staid suits and pressed khakis, Raz Shafer's American flag onesie stands out. And that's just how he wants it. The onesie is adult-sized — kind of. Shafer's muscular legs stick out of the bottom of the short pants, ending in a pair of bullhide Justin boots. He pairs the onesie with a smile and a Jack and Diet Coke. Shafer, a 31-year-old political fundraiser from Fort Worth, got the onesie from his wife, Jennie, as an early Father's Day gift. Almost immediately, he was dared to wear it in public. And not just anywhere, but in front of the thousands of Republicans in San Antonio this week for their biennial party convention.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 16, 2018

First Reading: Asche is to ashes, but is James Dickey a man the Texas GOP can trust?

About two hours into yesterday’s afternoon session of the Texas Republican Convention, in the lead-up to the vote for chairman, the battle between James Dickey, the current chairman, and Cindy Asche, his rival, was truly joined. The outcome, based on Senate caucus votes in the morning, was already clear. Dickey would prevail by a large margin but the Asche camp was persisting with some tactical maneuvers, though it was unclear to what end. At which point, Amy Clark, the outgoing vice chair of the party, who was presiding over the session, recognized Toni Ann Dashiell, the state’s national committeewoman and a leader of the Asche forces, to speak.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 15, 2018

Why Texas officials decided not to levy penalties after pipeline leak

A buried pipeline running across a Fayette County ranch was leaking, and at least 42 barrels, or 1,700 gallons, of liquid gas containing a known carcinogen were seeping into the ground and possibly making their way into the Central Texas water table. The landowner told the company that owned the pipeline of an unusual odor and dying mesquite trees. Officials with the pipeline giant, Denver-based DCP Midstream, said they would alert state regulatory authorities. But they didn’t do so until at least 3½ months after the spill, according to county and state officials.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 15, 2018

AAS: Families seeking asylum deserve compassion and due process

As we honor the love and contributions of our fathers this weekend, we cannot forget the horrific scenes at our nation’s borders, where infants and children are being taken from their parents’ arms by U.S. government agents. President Trump’s assertions to the contrary, there is no law mandating separation of families. We urge the Department of Homeland Security to immediately cease this inhumane practice. Even as it raises questions about legality and morality, the practice is occurring daily in places like McAllen and along the Texas border as part of the administration’s new zero-tolerance policy to refer anyone caught crossing the border illegally for federal prosecution. Most are charged with misdemeanors.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 16, 2018

PolitiFact: Lupe Valdez says Republicans cut family planning clinics

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Lupe Valdez tied spending cuts on Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s watch to a plummet in women’s health services. In May, Valdez said, "After Texas cut their two-year family planning budget by $73 million, 1 in 4 clinics closed their doors." ... A 2015 study supports this finding, though Valdez’s statement doesn’t acknowledge a subsequent burst in state family planning aid, reorganization of programs and rebound in clinics. We rate Valdez’s claim Mostly True.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 15, 2018

May marks 23 consecutive months of Texas job growth

Texas employers took on 34,700 additional workers in May, marking 23 consecutive months of job growth and putting Texas in the lead for job creation over the past 12 months. The statewide unemployment rate held steady at 4.1 percent. The strongest sector for the month was education and health services, which added 8,100 positions over the month. Other strong sectors included professional and business services, with 4,300 added jobs, and leisure and hospital, which added 3,500 workers to the payroll. Job growth continued to be robust in construction, which added 5,800 jobs. The rebound in the state’s oil and gas industry showed in the mining and logging sector, which had 4,100 more jobs.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 17, 2018

Deportations that come after “routine” DPS traffic stops spreading fear in Rio Grande Valley

BROWNSVILLE — One night last December, Adrian Alvarez Buenrostro left his house on a late errand for work. The catering business where he worked was expecting him. He never arrived. A Texas Department of Public Safety trooper had stopped the 39-year-old unauthorized immigrant because the rear lights on his vehicle were too dim. As the trooper neared, Alvarez felt his pulse spike. The car was insured and he had a Mexican driver’s license, but the officer identified only as Garcia wanted to see a Texas license. Alvarez didn’t have one. Garcia returned to his patrol unit. “Next I saw a Border Patrol agent,” Alvarez recalled. “He told me not to run, that if he didn’t catch me his partner would.” A few hours later Alvarez, a five-year resident of Brownsville, was in immigrant detention, facing deportation, one of 643 immigrants the DPS turned over to immigration authorities in at least 250 statewide traffic stops since October 2016. In recent months, the agency’s referrals to the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have targeted Cameron County, and to a lesser extent Webb County.

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Houston Chronicle - June 15, 2018

Ramirez: Minimum wage can't afford you a zero-bedroom home in Texas

Texas politicians often boast about the state's cheap real estate, but not much thought is given as to who can actually afford it. On Wednesday, the National Low Income Housing Coalition released new figures on the gap between renters' wages and the cost of rental housing in the U.S. In Texas, renters need to make roughly $19 an hour to afford a two-bedroom rental home, or an annual income slightly more than $40,000 [without sending more than 30% of income for rent]. If they were making minimum wage, or $7.25 in Texas, they would need to work 107 hours a week to afford the same home. In fact, even with the cheapest available option of a zero-bedroom home, Texans would need to make $13.52 an hour. Likewise, a one-bedroom home would require $15.62 an hour in wages. In short, workers making minimum wage in Texas cannot afford to rent a home without holding a second job or somehow having access to additional income, say federal or state assistance.

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Houston Chronicle - June 16, 2018

Diaz: Texas mothers want action on gun violence. Will their senators listen?

Less than a month after the shooting at Santa Fe High School, the Senate Select Committee on Violence in Schools and School Security met for two days of testimony and discussion in Austin. The committee, created by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, was charged to "examine the root cause of mass murder in schools." Nine Texas senators would go on to investigate factors in school shootings like "mental health, substance use disorders, anger management, social isolation, the impact of high intensity media coverage — the so-called 'glorification' of school shooters — to determine the effect on copycat shootings and the desensitization to violence resulting from video games, music, film, and social media" — a long list of risk factors which does not explicitly include guns.

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Houston Chronicle - June 15, 2018

Energy companies regain top Chronicle 100 spots

After years in the financial doldrums, Houston’s energy companies re-emerged last year, climbing at last out of the oil crash that had weighed on their finances since 2014. With crude prices rebounding and consistent growth across the chemical and refining sectors, this year’s Chronicle 100 ranking of the city’s top-performing companies is beginning to look like the days of old. Nine of the 10 top-performing companies in the ranking came from the energy sector, with exploration and production companies — entirely absent from last year’s rankings — taking three of those spots. Coming in at No. 1 is Westlake Chemical Corp., the chemical and plastics manufacturer, which gave its shareholders a more than 90 percent return in 2017. And rounding out the rest of the list were energy companies such as refiners CVR Energy and Phillips 66, exploration and production company EOG Resources and liquefied natural gas exporter Cheniere Energy.

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Ft. Worth Star-Telegram - June 16, 2018

Texas is new target for constitutional carry — the unlicensed carry of handguns — in 2019

Some gun rights advocates have set their sights on Texas. That has made the Lone Star State the next battleground for constitutional carry, which would let Texans carry their weapons — openly or concealed — without first getting a permit. "People talk about taking your guns away to protect you from yourself or others," Tim Macy, chairman of Gun Owners of America, told a group gathered at the Republican Party of Texas state convention Friday in San Antonio. "If these are good ideas, to take your guns away in any manner, why is it OK for (officials such as congressional leaders) to be so protected?" State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, proposed constitutional carry in Texas last year but was unable to pass it through the Legislature.

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Associated Press - June 16, 2018

Congressman: Youth shelter reflects flawed immigration plan

A Republican congressman from Texas who toured a tent-like shelter for hundreds of minors who entered the country illegally said Saturday the facility is a byproduct of a flawed immigration strategy. U.S. Rep. Will Hurd said the shelter near the Tornillo port of entry in far West Texas will house about 360 boys who are 16 and 17. The teens began arriving Friday, the same day Hurd toured the shelter, he said, noting that they're being moved from other shelters to make way for younger immigrant children taken into custody at the border. Federal authorities are separating children from their parents as families arrive at the border.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express-News

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Politico - June 17, 2018

O’Rourke on separation of families at border: ‘It is on all of us’

When it comes down to it, the separation of families at the border is “on all of us, not just the Trump administration,” Rep. Beto O’Rourke told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” Sunday morning. “At the moment that [these children] finally thought they had reached safety, refuge, were going to petition for asylum, they were taken from their parents, and are now in Tornillo with no idea of when or if they will see their mothers or their fathers on this Father’s Day again,” the Texas Democratic congressman said. ... “Things have to be really bad for you to leave Honduras, travel 2,0000 miles, if you’re lucky, on top of — not inside of — a train known as The Beast, or La Bestia, with your child,” O’Rourke commented. “To literally take your and your child’s life into your hands and hope that you will make it here. Once you get here to try to request asylum, only to find that your child will be taken from you.”

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Washington Post - June 17, 2018

‘Zero-tolerance policy means zero humanity:’ Democrats decry Trump immigration policy after tour of detention center

MCALLEN, Tex. — They divided the young children who had been separated from their parents, placing 20 or more in a concrete-floor cage and providing foil blankets, thin mattress pads, bottled water and food. The migrant children, some confused or expressionless, watched as uniformed officials led reporters on a brief tour Sunday of a processing center and temporary detention facility here. Some 1,100 undocumented individuals were being held, including nearly 200 unaccompanied minors, according to estimates. Several Democratic lawmakers also got a firsthand look at the impact of President Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy of separately detaining children and parents trying to cross the border, which has led to about 2,000 children being separated from their parents in the past 45 days. The lawmakers chose Father’s Day for a trip to the southern Texas border to draw attention to the plight of divided families and demand that Trump end the policy. One lawmaker estimated that there were 100 children under the age of 6 at the facility.

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Associated Press - June 17, 2018

Hundreds of children wait in Border Patrol facility in Texas

Inside an old warehouse in South Texas, hundreds of children wait in a series of cages created by metal fencing. One cage had 20 children inside. Scattered about are bottles of water, bags of chips and large foil sheets intended to serve as blankets. One teenager told an advocate who visited that she was helping care for a young child she didn't know because the child's aunt was somewhere else in the facility. She said she had to show others in her cell how to change the girl's diaper. The U.S. Border Patrol on Sunday allowed reporters to briefly visit the facility where it holds families arrested at the southern U.S. border, responding to new criticism and protests over the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy and resulting separation of families.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express-News

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County Stories

Austin American-Statesman - June 17, 2018

Wear: Looking at what’s a go or a no-go from Bastrop to I-35 to MoPac

Just a few weeks ago, I told you about the traffic light situation on Texas 71 between Austin and Bastrop, how the Texas Department of Transportation was planning to spend $135 million to eliminate the five remaining signals on a key highway to Interstate 10 and Houston by building overpasses. With those lights gone within a few years, I wrote, people would be able to travel between the state capital and Texas’ largest city without the chance of hitting a red light. Unless, I noted (jauntily, but with some trepidation), TxDOT were to add another traffic light in the meantime. So I was startled to hear from reader Joe Gambino, who told me crews were at work adding a stoplight at Wolf Lane just west of the Travis-Bastrop county line. Uh-oh.

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City Stories

Dallas Morning News - June 17, 2018

Protesters led by Beto O'Rourke gather outside tents holding immigrant children separated from parents

TORNILLO — Outraged over the Trump administration's policy of splitting up families entering the country illegally, protesters marched Sunday to a shelter where children are being held outside this tiny farming community in West Texas. "This is my first Father's Day, and I felt the need to come here," said Jeremy Slack, assistant professor of geography at the Univertsity of Texas at El Paso, who was carrying his 9-month-old son Oliver, alongside his wife, Carla. "There is nothing more important right now than bringing light to this issue because it really is the height of cruelty." Nearly 2,000 children have been taken from their parents since Homeland Security officials began referring all cases of unauthorized entry for prosecution. The hundreds of protesters had responded to a call to action from Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso, less than 24 hours earlier.

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Houston Chronicle - June 17, 2018

Vigil becomes protest as outrage grows over separation of families at U.S. border

They marched through ankle-deep puddles, holding signs that half-disintegrated in a Houston downpour: “Families Belong Together / Familias Unidas No Dividas.” About 200 people gathered east of downtown Sunday for a “vigil for separated families” organized by state Sen. Sylvia Garcia, a Houston Democrat, and the immigration advocacy group FIEL Houston. As rain snuffed out prayer candles, the vigil became a protest outside a vacant warehouse slated to house more than 240 children, many who may have been separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. Outrage over the separation of immigrant families at the border mounted this weekend, with some of it - including Sunday’s protest - focused on the plans to turn this former-warehouse-turned-homeless-shelter into a residential facility housing small children.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 15, 2018

Over 200 rally at Capitol against family separations at border

University of Texas student Daniela Rojas, who moved to the United States from Colombia 11 years ago, stood in tears on the south steps of the Capitol. She looked into the crowd of more than 200 people, including parents and their children, who had gathered in front of the Capitol on Thursday night to condemn a federal policy that allows the separation of immigrant and asylum-seeking families on the U.S.-Mexico border. “I want you to take a moment to think about your parents,” Rojas said. “Now imagine it all being physically ripped away. Imagine that pain. Because it doesn’t matter what color you are. It doesn’t matter if you’re a citizen or a fifth-generation Latino or an undocumented immigrant. We all know what it’s like to love a parent or a child. That is the pain these families at the border are having to deal with.”

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Houston Chronicle - June 15, 2018

Varnett charter school founders sentenced to prison, ordered to pay $4.4M restitution

Comparing them to villains from a Charles Dickens novel who steal from the poor, a federal judge on Friday sentenced Varnett charter school founders Marian Annette Cluff and Alsie Cluff Jr. to 10 years and 3 years in prison, respectively, for running an embezzlement and tax scheme that bilked low-income parents. Following a nearly-five-hour hearing, during which victims lamented their financial losses and the Cluffs pleaded for mercy, U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon sentenced the married couple to the maximum sentences outlined in their plea agreements and ordered $4.4 million in restitution. The Cluffs have admitted siphoning $2.6 million from the Houston charter network — nearly half of which came from parents — over several years, using the money to furnish their 7,000-square-foot south central Houston mansion, travel the world in a private jet and purchase high-end clothing and jewelry.

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National Stories

Houston Chronicle - June 15, 2018

Osborne: Inside Exxon Mobil’s fight to stop climate change litigation in its tracks

Imagine this storyline: One of the largest oil companies in the world becomes the victim of a left-wing conspiracy, funded by wealthy liberals who convince Democratic attorneys general across the nation to sue the company to stop it from offering different views about climate change. What sounds like the stuff of a bad Hollywood thriller is in fact the narrative Exxon Mobil’s attorneys are telling as they seek to defend the company from mryiad lawsuits and investigations into what oil companies knew about climate change and when they knew it. With a surprising procedural victory in a Texas court recently, Exxon is attempting to gain greater latitude in what it and other oil companies can say — or not say — about climate change and the impact on their businesses, seeking to build on legal rulings that have expanded corporations’ rights of free speech in recent years, legal scholars say.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 17, 2018

Flurry of bills to fight opioid crisis fall short, Texas lawmaker says

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, on the House floor this week compared a slate of bills targeting the opioid epidemic to the equivalent of using a garden hose to fight a wildfire. Congress is considering more than 30 bills to address what health experts have characterized as an ongoing crisis. More than 42,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2016, the deadliest year on record, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Travis County between 2006 and 2016, opioid overdoses nearly doubled, contributing to the deaths of 590 people, health data show.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 17, 2018

Estrada: An economic argument for Mexican-American studies

Our nation is undergoing a cultural evolution as a result of a non-European white, ethnic population explosion. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2017 Hispanics, Latinos, and mestizos had grown to over 55 million — larger than Canada’s estimated 35 million total popilation — and are projected to reach 119 million by 2060. Much of this growth will continue to come from natural childbirths among U.S. citizens, not from immigration, as many in the U.S. have been led to believe. But what else do we not know about our nation’s largest and fastest-growing ethnic neighbors? We have a substantial information gap in the educational curricula regarding our nation’s largest ethnic minority population. Insights into their history and contributions to our nation can lead to a better understanding of the influence of these fast-growing consumers, K-12 students, voters, workforce participants, and taxpayers. Addressing the gaps also represents economic, social and political opportunities.

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Ft. Worth Star-Telegram - June 16, 2018

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz warns: Democrats 'hate the president and they're coming for Texas'

Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is warning Texas Republicans that they need to work together in November. Or they'll face the consequences. "The hard left is angry," Cruz told thousands of Republicans gathered Saturday for their biennial state convention. "They're energized. They hate the president and they're coming for Texas." And if Democrats are successful in claiming new congressional seats this year, change will be swift in Washington, D.C., Cruz predicted.

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Houston Chronicle - June 17, 2018

Reynolds: Dubious numbers abound in poll land.

Now that the somewhat-silly season of primaries and runoffs — which somehow lasts longer than the NBA Playoffs — has ended, there’s one sure thing leading up to the November general election: A surge in the number of polls proffering a look inside voters’ minds. Like any good politician or Volkswagen executive, though, most of us only believe studies that support our already held positions and beliefs. Therefore, it wasn’t exactly a sigh of relief for Dems when an end-of-May Quinnipiac poll showed Republican Sen. Ted Cruz with an 11-point lead over upstart Democratic fatted calf Beto O’Rourke, deflating an April poll that called the race “too close to call.” More of an “I told you so.”

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Politico - June 17, 2018

Republicans give up on Medicare overhaul

Republicans on Capitol Hill are giving up on what might be their last best chance to overhaul Medicare, just as they’re losing their leading champion on the issue, House Speaker Paul Ryan. The quiet surrender on a subject that’s energized GOP fiscal hawks for the better part of a decade comes as new projections show Medicare’s trust fund in its worst shape since the recession, partly because of Republicans’ other chief obsession: their sweeping tax cuts. That’s left conservatives unsure how to agitate for a politically unpopular Medicare overhaul — one that President Donald Trump detests — and raises new questions about who will take up the entitlement reform mantle as Ryan heads for the exits.

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Houston Chronicle - June 17, 2018

Giuliani suggests Trump may pardon Manafort after Mueller's probe

White House lawyer Rudy Giuliani suggested Sunday that President Donald Trump might pardon his former campaign manager Paul Manafort if he is convicted - but only after special counsel Robert Mueller III has completed his investigation. "When it's over, hey, he's the president of the United States, he retains his pardon power, nobody's taking that away from him," Giuliani said on CNN's "State of the Union" when asked whether Trump would pardon Manafort should he be convicted. "I couldn't and I don't want to take any prerogatives away from him." But Giuliani stressed that Trump has not issued, would not issue and should not issue any pardons related to the Mueller probe while it is still ongoing, so as not to give the appearance that he has anything to hide.

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Dallas Morning News - June 15, 2018

DMN: African Americans are better off in many ways but still face wage and employment inequality

We believe in hyperbole as much as anyone, but the other day we came across a claim that stuck out to us. In boasting about the economy, a commentator wrote that it's "hard to find a single indicator that isn't pointed in a bullish direction." Now, it's true that the bulls are running. In May, the unemployment rate hit an 18-year low at 3.8 percent. Economists call this full employment, and it's little wonder when some estimate that there are more open jobs in America than job seekers. But amid this good news, there is a streak running through the data that should give us more than a little pause. African Americans continue to lag whites in terms of employment, and, although that gap has narrowed in recent years, the gap in wages between whites and blacks has actually increased over the past two decades.

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Washington Post - June 17, 2018

FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says he’s willing to testify before Congress

The FBI agent who was removed from the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign for sending anti-Trump texts intends to testify before the House Judiciary Committee and any other congressional committee that asks, his attorney said in a letter made public Sunday. Peter Strzok, who was singled out in a recent Justice Department inspector general report for the politically charged messages, would be willing to testify without immunity, and he would not invoke his Fifth Amendment rights in response to any question, his attorney, Aitan Goelman, said in an interview Sunday. Strzok has become a special target of President Trump, who has used the texts to question the Russia investigation. Goelman said Strzok “wants the chance to clear his name and tell his story.” “He thinks that his position, character and actions have all been misrepresented and caricatured, and he wants an opportunity to remedy that,” the lawyer said.

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Dallas Morning News - June 15, 2018

U.S. builders say Trump's tariffs are adding $9,000 to new home prices, and that's not all

Higher lumber costs, labor shortages and growing regulations are holding U.S. builders back as they try to ramp up construction to meet the huge demand for housing. After starting about 850,000 single-family homes nationwide last year, builders around the country are forecasted to construct almost 910,000 houses this year and increase production to 1 million homes by 2020, says Robert Dietz, chief economist of the National Association of Home Builders. The rise in construction still won't be enough, Dietz said at a meeting of the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

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The Hill - June 17, 2018

White House faces growing outcry over migrant family policies

The Trump administration appears poised for a fight over its practice of separating migrant families who cross the border illegally as a growing number of lawmakers voice concerns over it. Democrats and some Republicans have in recent days visited facilities used to house separated family members, leading to new questions about the process and growing calls for the so-called zero tolerance immigration enforcement policy to end. GOP Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Susan Collins (Maine) wrote to the Homeland Security Department (DHS) and Health and Human Services (HHS) Department on Saturday asking for clarity on the administration's practice of separating migrant families.

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Dallas Morning News - June 17, 2018

Bush: 'It is immoral'; Laura Bush condemns separation of immigrant children from their parents at the border

On Sunday, a day we as a nation set aside to honor fathers and the bonds of family, I was among the millions of Americans who watched images of children who have been torn from their parents. In the six weeks between April 19 and May 31, the Department of Homeland Security has sent nearly 2,000 children to mass detention centers or foster care. More than 100 of these children are younger than 4 years old. The reason for these separations is a zero-tolerance policy for their parents, who are accused of illegally crossing our borders. I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.

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Politico - June 17, 2018

Congress may snub Trump on wall, risking shutdown

The first clues over whether President Donald Trump will risk a shutdown fight this fall over his border wall will come Monday in a private meeting with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito. Trump is increasingly frustrated with Congress’ failure to fund the wall — his No. 1 campaign promise — and has threatened a shutdown in September if he doesn’t get his way.But the West Virginia Republican, who chairs the Homeland Security spending panel, has a tough task ahead of her. Though Trump wants as much wall money he can squeeze out of Congress, Capito needs to get 60 votes in the Senate, and there’s no way Democrats will go along with a major budget boost. She‘s also got to cut a deal with Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), the ranking member of the panel whom Trump loathes for helping to derail Ronny Jackson’s nomination to be secretary of veterans affairs.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 17, 2018

Ayala: A border crisis that doesn’t exist, and deterrence that won’t work

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ zero-tolerance policy at the border, which has resulted in a humanitarian crisis that’s tearing families apart, has one goal: deterrence. Make the border harsher, is the thinking, and they will not come. But Doris Meissner, senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, says deterrence isn’t likely to be successful, at least with the people who arriving on the southern border these days. The former head of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service during the Clinton administration says deterrence only works as part of an overall strategy and with other factors in play.

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Washington Post - June 18, 2018

Two-thirds of Americans oppose Trump’s family-separation policy

President Trump’s policy of separating children from their parents if the parents are apprehended crossing the border illegally is meant to be unpopular. The goal, as articulated publicly by administration officials, is deterrence: Frightening potential migrants away from entering the country out of fear that they will have their children taken away from them, perhaps permanently. A new poll from Quinnipiac University, though, shows that the policy is also unpopular among Americans — with one big exception. Two-thirds of the country, 66 percent, oppose Trump’s policy, according to the poll. That includes 6 in 10 men and 7 in 10 women. As is often the case, though, there’s a wide split by party. A majority of Republicans approve of the policy, while 6 in 10 independents and 9 in 10 Democrats oppose it.

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Newsclips - June 17, 2018

Lead Stories

Dallas Morning News - June 16, 2018

Trump casts big shadow over Texas Republicans, for now

Amid the patriotic regalia at the Texas Republican convention, Lisa Dickison stood out. Instead of red, white and blue, or even the popular red “Make America Great Again” hats, the computer analyst from Waco wore a black “Very Stable Genius” shirt — a phrase Donald Trump ginned up to defend himself against a scathing book published in January. “It’s not often that I pay $40 for a T-shirt,” said Dickison, 49, but “I am on the Trump train.” It wasn’t always that way. She supported Sen. Ted Cruz in the 2016 primaries and couldn’t bring herself to support Trump until two months after he won the nomination.

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The Hill - June 14, 2018

Dems say Obama return from sidelines is overdue

When former President Obama left the White House, he pledged to take a back seat to make room for other Democrats in the party to shine. Nearly 17 months later, that’s proving to be an impossible task. Obama drew headlines this week after a Politico report revealed that he is consulting a long line of would-be 2020 candidates and offering advice to party leadership. And he drew another round of headlines when it was announced that his political committee, Organizing for Action, is revving up to help Democrats in the midterm elections. Democrats have turned to the party patriarch as fatigue with the Clintons has set in, a factor exacerbated in recent days by former President Clinton’s tone-deaf comments on Monica Lewinsky and the “Me Too” movement. The desire among Democrats for Obama to take a more leading role in the midterm fight and party building in general is just getting stronger, particularly with the lack of alternatives. “There’s f---ing no one else,” one frustrated Democratic strategist said. “Bill Clinton is toxic, [former President] Carter is too old, and there’s no one else around for miles.”

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Austin American-Statesman - June 16, 2018

Texas Republicans pen staunchly conservative platform, call for unity

The Texas Republican Convention on Saturday made the abolition of abortion, property taxes, mandatory licensing of handguns and all forms of taxpayer-funded lobbying the party’s top legislative priorities for next year. The convention also approved a fifth priority, calling for “religious freedom and privacy legislation,” such as limits on transgender bathroom use that didn’t pass during two legislative sessions last year. But Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who led the crusade for that legislation, declared in his speech to the convention Friday that schools and local governments in Texas were now complying with what those who waged that battle were seeking. “We won the war,” he said.

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Washington Post - June 16, 2018

‘Prepared for war’: As Mueller moves to finalize obstruction report, Trump’s allies ready for political battle

President Trump’s lawyers and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III are hurtling toward a showdown over a year-long investigation into the president’s conduct, with Mueller pushing to write up his findings by summer’s end and Trump’s lawyers strategizing how to rebut a report that could spur impeachment hearings. The confrontation is coming to a head as Trump and his allies ratchet up their attacks on the special counsel probe, seizing on a report released Thursday by the Justice Department’s inspector general that castigated FBI officials for their conduct during the 2016 Hillary Clinton email investigation. Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, said that he planned to use the inspector general’s conclusions to undermine Mueller, suggesting he may ask Attorney General Jeff Sessions to appoint a second special counsel to examine the current probe.

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State Stories

Austin American-Statesman - June 15, 2018

Texas AG race: 2 candidates, 2 views on partisan gerrymandering

Before they became election foes, Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Democratic challenger Justin Nelson landed on opposite sides of a U.S. Supreme Court fight over the ability of politicians to gerrymander political districts to give one party a distinct advantage in future elections. In one of this term’s most eagerly awaited cases at the high court, Paxton came down on the side of Wisconsin Republicans who are defending state Assembly districts that were ruled unconstitutional for giving the GOP a disproportionate advantage at the polls. Because redrawing political districts after each census is an inherently partisan task, Paxton told the Supreme Court in an August brief joined by 15 other Republican-led states, there is nothing “invidious or irrational” about having a partisan political purpose in preparing new maps.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 15, 2018

Time may be running out for Texas ‘revenge porn’ law

Sharing naked or sexually explicit photos and videos online and without consent has been a crime in Texas since 2015, but time may be running out for the state’s “revenge porn” law. The first of four appeals seeking to overturn the law, all filed by men charged under the anti-harassment statute, has arrived at the state’s highest criminal court, which has been asked to determine whether criminal penalties for revenge porn violate the U.S Constitution. It’s a fight over where to draw the line between the right to privacy and the right to free expression — and opponents of the law have already won one round. In April, the Tyler-based 12th Court of Appeals struck down the law for violating the First Amendment by requiring the government to examine what was depicted in photos or videos to determine whether the law was broken. That’s known as a “content-based” restriction, the court said, and under U.S. Supreme Court rulings, it is almost impossible to justify government limits based on the subject matter of photos, speeches and other forms of expression.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 15, 2018

Herman: Gov. Greg Abbott really, really needs your money

Gov. Greg Abbott’s back in our mailboxes with another attempt to get into our wallets. There’s no such thing as enough or too much when it comes to political money, even for an overwhelming, overfunded overdog who has lots more money than the underwhelming, underfunded underdog. The most fascinating part of Abbott’s latest direct-mail fundraising appeal is the envelope that contains it. When it comes to money and hyperbole, this guv is shameless. Politicians long ago realized that many recipients of political mail — even carefully targeted recipients — move swiftly to deposit said mail in the same receptacle into which catalogs, aluminum siding pitches and hey-do-you-want-to-sell-your-house mail goes. So the goal is to lure political mail recipients into opening the envelope.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 15, 2018

First Reading: Texas GOP: Abolish abortion, property taxes, taxpayer-funded lobbying and gun licensing requirements

The Texas Republican Convention’s Platform and Resolutions Committee and the Legislative Priorities Committee finished their work late last night with some drama. The submission of the platform was accompanied by the submission of a far shorter minority report, signed by nine members of the committee and intended to be something the public beyond the 10,000 hard-core Republicans in attendance at the biennial convention San Antonio are likely to read. The Legislative Priorities Committee, led by Amy Clark, the vice chair of the state party, is a new innovation this convention. Here, in no particular order, are the five issues it recommends that the full convention identify as the five top issues the party should set as its goals for the next session of the Texas Legislature.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 15, 2018

Dickey beats Asche, who says he can’t be trusted, for Texas GOP chair

As expected, James Dickey won a bitter race for Texas Republican Party chairman Friday over Cindy Asche. What was not expected was just how stunningly personal the campaign was to its very bitter end, with Asche, to catcalls and boos, telling the thousands of assembled Republicans at the state GOP convention that Dickey cannot be trusted with their money. The final vote was 5,680 votes, or 65.4 percent for Dickey, a former Travis County Republican Party chairman, and 3,009 votes, or 34.6 percent for Asche, a nurse from Frisco who serves as chaplain of the Texas Federation of Republican Women and whose father, Bill Crocker, is an Austin attorney who formerly served as the Republican national committeeman from Texas and general counsel of the Republican National Committee.

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Houston Chronicle - June 17, 2018

Houston submits official bid to host Democratic National Convention

The city of Houston has officially thrown its hat into the ring to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention. The 600-page bid document details how Houston is the perfect venue to host the presidential nominating convention. The city has made it a point to show that hosting events is its specialty, even in the aftermath of the Harvey flooding. Houston has hosted the 2017 Super Bowl, the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament finals, the annual Offshore Technology Conference, the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo and Comicpalooza.

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Houston Chronicle - June 15, 2018

Media outlets fight to keep lethal injection court hearing open to public

The Houston Chronicle and three other media outlets on Friday filed a motion to intervene in an ongoing lethal injection lawsuit, asking the court to keep the case open to the public as the Texas prison system resumes talks with the FDA over confiscated drugs imported from India. The filing comes ahead of a scheduled status conference in a Texas federal court, which the government is aiming to make secret - even though they haven't yet provided sufficient justification for doing so. The Texas Tribune, the Dallas Morning News and BuzzFeed joined with the Chronicle in filing the motion. The legal clash stems from the state's attempt to get a different execution drug back in 2015. Currently, the state uses compounded pentobarbital for executions, as has been the protocol since 2011. But three years ago, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice tried getting 1,000 vials of the barbiturate sodium thiopental from overseas.

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Houston Chronicle - June 16, 2018

Grieder: Texas Republicans ‘invigorated’ at San Antonio convention

I’ve attended a number of political conventions over the years, none of which was as weird as the Republican Party of Texas’ convention in 2016. That year delegates gathered in Dallas in May, about a week after Donald Trump became their party’s presumptive presidential nominee. That wasn’t surprising, exactly. Trump, who announced his bid for the nomination in June 2015, had been the front-runner for the nomination all along, according to polls. And although U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz had made a valiant effort to keep Trump from racking up the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination, his chances of doing so were slim even before Trump trounced him in the May 3 Indiana primary. Still, Cruz’s decision to suspend his campaign, in the wake of that defeat, effectively confronted Republicans with a scenario that struck them as both surreal and suboptimal. Many of the Texas Republicans who convened in Dallas days later were still reeling.

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Houston Chronicle - June 16, 2018

Immigration detention deaths reach the highest total since 2009

A Mexican immigrant's death near Houston after he was evacuated from the path of Hurricane Irma in September marked the end of the deadliest year for immigrants held in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody in nearly a decade. Felipe Almazan-Ruiz, 51, was taken to a hospital days after being booked into an immigration contract detention facility in Livingston, according to ICE. Almazan-Ruiz had initially been arrested by ICE in Miami in July, but ended up in Texas after hurricanes struck both states. He died Sept. 17 from cardiac arrest. Around the country, 12 immigrants died in detention in the 2017 fiscal year, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the most since fiscal year 2009. Ten immigration detainees perished in government custody the year before. Nationwide, more than 30,000 immigrants are held at any one time in ICE detention facilities.

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Houston Chronicle - June 16, 2018

Davidson: Texas Republicans wage their civil war at the Alamo

San Antonio is celebrating its 300th anniversary this year, so it’s altogether fitting that the city and the nonprofit Alamo Endowment and General Land Office released plans last week for a long overdue $450 million renovation and redesign of the Alamo. A redesign is long overdue. Anyone who’s visited the Alamo in recent years knows that the site is a disgrace. This is supposed to be the most hallowed ground in Texas, a sacred shrine to honor the Texas Revolution and those who heroically died for it. And yet Alamo Plaza, where much of the original 1836 compound once stood, is surrounded by noisy downtown traffic. Garish tourist dives like Tomb Rider 3D and Ripley’s Haunted Adventure line the west side of the plaza, and political protests and unrelated events are often staged right in front of the chapel, on what should be hallowed ground.

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Dallas Morning News - June 15, 2018

'We’re going to freeze all taxes for people over 65:' Dan Patrick unveils agenda at Texas GOP convention

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says school safety will be his top focus when lawmakers come back to Austin for the 2019 session in January. "School security will be our No. 1 issue," Patrick told thousands of delegates who gathered this week for the 2018 Republican Party of Texas Convention. "It's our culture. We kicked God out of school." Patrick, who heads the Senate, also said teacher pay and lowering taxes would also be back on the agenda next year (both issues were on Patrick's 2017 list of legislative priorities) and made a special promise for older Texans. "We're going to freeze all taxes for people over 65," Patrick said, to loud applause from the crowd.

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Dallas Morning News - June 16, 2018

'Does your husband beat you?' Muslim couple invites Texas Republicans to ask them anything — and they do

Aicha's small frame, swaddled in a black hijab, bobs through the haze of red, white and blue, the sequined cowboys hats and American flag T-shirts. Rushing through the crowd, she and her husband, Clay Smith, weave through the packed convention hall. They pass delegates taking selfies with ceramic elephants and political consultants chatting with their clients en route to a congressional lunch headlined by Ted Cruz and Pete Sessions. Aicha and Clay have never attended a political convention. This year, they went all in. Not only are they delegates to the 2018 Republican Party of Texas Convention, but they also have their own booth, nestled between the Patriot Academy and the campaign for an appeals court hopeful. A sign hangs over their booth, imploring fellow Republicans to, "ASK A MUSLIM COUPLE ANYTHING." And boy, did they.

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Dallas Morning News - June 15, 2018

Jeffers: Greg Abbott boasts that Texas is 'better than four years ago' in convention speech

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday said that four years of his leadership has made the state the envy of the nation. In his speech at the Republican Party of Texas convention, he touted the state's growing economy, as well as his his moves to secure the border. "At this convention four years ago, I talked about those values. I laid out a vision for an even better Texas. A vision, I might add, that led to a 20-point victory in the last election," Abbott said. "Since then, we have fulfilled that vision and we kept Texas on the path of prosperity. And I'm proud to tell you as we gather today, Texas is better today than we were four years ago."

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Dallas Morning News - June 15, 2018

George P. Bush greeted by boos and cries of 'Remember the Alamo!' at Texas GOP convention

Land Commissioner George P. Bush was met with cheers — and jeers — Friday at the 2018 convention of the Republican Party of Texas. Taking the stage at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, just steps from the Alamo, Bush was hissed at and booed. Dozens shouted "Remember the Alamo!" The Bush scion paused at one point in his speech, telling the delegates not to believe what they'd read about him. "Despite the 'fake news' you may have been reading in the liberal media, we've been busy saving and strengthening the Alamo for generations to come," Bush said.

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Dallas Morning News - June 15, 2018

Dallas Rep. Pete Sessions’ race rated ‘toss-up’ as Allred closes in on U.S. House seat

A leading congressional political analyst has put Dallas Rep. Pete Sessions on the endangered list, shifting the ranking of his Dallas district from “lean Republican” to “toss-up.” The nonpartisan Cook Political Report reclassified the 32nd Congressional District on Friday, citing GOP analysts who called Sessions “the most vulnerable incumbent in the Lone Star State.” But one Texas political analyst said he’s not sure about that ranking or whether Democrat Colin Allred has a shot against the longtime GOP congressman. “I think the Cook Report knows about as much about Texas politics as they know about barbecue, breakfast tacos and the Bible, which is not much,” said Mark Jones, a political scientist at Rice University’s Baker Institute.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 16, 2018

Republicans in Texas scoff at ‘blue wave’ even as they brace for it

Some of the biggest names in Texas Republican politics used the statewide party convention here to publicly scoff at the idea that a “blue wave” is forming that could sweep Democrats into office in a state that has been solidly red for more than two decades. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn quipped that Republicans have a “giant red seawall” to protect the state, while Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick suggested the party need only build a “bigger surfboard.” But beyond the playful banter at the Republican Party of Texas weeklong convention, in mostly closed-door events and even in speeches from some of those same leaders, it is clear that Republicans are bracing for a tougher election cycle. They recognize a future in which they are more on defense as the state’s demographics continue to change, and Democrats make gains particularly in the state’s largest cities.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 16, 2018

Straus’ presence felt at convention despite his absence

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made it through about 12 minutes of his speech at the Texas Republican Convention without mentioning House Speaker Joe Straus. Then, on the topic of Senate-supported property tax and school choice bills that Straus halted in the House, he did not mince words. “There were many House members who couldn’t wait to vote on them, but they never got to the floor,” Patrick told thousands of Republican delegates Friday. “And look, I wish him well in retirement and I thank him for his public service. But the winds of change are coming to the House, I believe.”

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San Antonio Express-News - June 10, 2018

Ayala: Mexican work ethic shows itself in midst of warring with neighbors, allies

Along the Pacific coastline of Puerto Vallarta, tourists from as far away as Australia were soaking in the sun, sipping drinks and listening to the rhythmic crash of waves, in respites from demanding schedules miles away. Everywhere tourists went, they were surrounded by Mexicans so unlike those described by President Donald Trump and some of his supporters who, for two years now, have spit out their nationality like it was an obscenity. Along the shore, entrepreneurs sold everything from raw oysters to sunglasses, tablecloths and blankets. Huichol beaders in upscale galleries and small tables along cobblestone streets added tiny bead after tiny bead to make jewelry and art objects.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 16, 2018

Garcia: SBOE debate highlights the cynical stigma of the hyphen

In September 1915, former President Theodore Roosevelt wrote a piece for Metropolitan magazine decrying what he referred to as “hyphenated Americans.” War was raging in Europe. Only four months earlier, a German submarine had torpedoed a British ocean liner, the Lusitania, killing nearly 1,200 passengers, including 128 Americans. Roosevelt wanted the United States to jump into the conflict and he regarded German Americans as a major obstacle. He defined the “hyphenated American” as a “sinister” individual who is “loyal only to that part of his title which precedes the hyphen. He is thoroughly disloyal to the ‘American’ part of his cognomen.”

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Texas Tribune - June 15, 2018

Ogg: A Father’s Day tribute to Jack Ogg

Growing up with a father in Texas politics made for a unique childhood — from asking neighbors as a 7-year-old to “vote for my Dad” to hanging out at the Capitol during my college afternoons. I got an up-close view of the American democratic experience. In the process, I learned that Sen. Jack Ogg was not just a good public servant, he was a great parent. During his entire career, Dad never missed one of my brother’s baseball games nor one of my horseshow competitions. Not one. My Dad passed away this spring. The song says “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,” and it’s so true. While you can prepare for the end of life, you cannot prepare for the loss. To Texans, he was a prolific former public servant who served in the Texas Legislature for 16 years, drafting and passing laws ranging from providing for bilingual education to the creation of the Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority to prohibition of smoking in government buildings.

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Ft. Worth Star-Telegram - June 16, 2018

Kennedy: Prayers, 'thunder' at Texas Republican faith rally. But not for poor children in tents?

Texas Republicans had plenty to pray for Saturday: sinners, the President and for divine healing of their ruptured state party, preferably by Nov. 5. There were prayers not only on abortion, morality and decency, but also on greed and corruption. Yet not once did anyone mention those children already born but now sent by the hundreds to live in air-conditioned tents like in Tornillo, where the temperature this week will reach 103 degrees. "It just shows we have a broken immigration system," Dallas-area Pastor Mark Gonzales said sadly after the Faith & Fellowship prayer gathering at the state party convention.

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Ft. Worth Star-Telegram - June 16, 2018

FWST: Texas Republicans: Support family values for migrant children

Republican leaders, energizing the troops at their state convention this weekend, wildly applauded key issues they always embrace: preserving Second Amendment gun rights; anti-abortion efforts; lowering taxes; and publicly-funded school choice. But they were shamefully silent as they tip-toed around the elephant in this elephant’s gathering which is threatening to bring media and child advocates from across the nation to Texas. We’re talking about the Trump administration’s new policy of criminally charging immigrants who come across our southern border without authorization, then using that charge to justify separating the parents from their children.

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Corpus Christi Caller-Times - June 16, 2018

Moritz: A candidate's conundrum: How to solve a problem no one knows about

The political equivalent to "if a tree falls in the forest and there's no one around to hear it, does it make a sound?" might be "if a candidate offers a solution to a problem few voters know exists, does it make any difference?" Unlike the tree-forest question, the solution-problem matter is more than just a philosophical conundrum. Mike Collier, the underdog Democrat challenging Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in November, spent a fair amount of time in recent days trying to gain a little traction with his fairly ambitious plan to get more Texans covered by health insurance and to draw billions or more dollars from the federal government by expanding Medicaid.

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Associated Press - June 15, 2018

More than 200 Texas districts let school staff carry guns

There are now more than 200 school districts in Texas that have adopted policies allowing staff to carry firearms, a number that spiked in the weeks following a deadly high school shooting in Florida. Dax González with the Texas Association of School Boards tells the Corpus Christi Caller-Times that as of last month there were 217 districts allowing staff to carry weapons. That number stood at 172 districts in February, the same month a gunman killed 17 people at a school in Parkland, Florida.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express-News

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County Stories

Dallas Morning News - June 15, 2018

Tents are going up near El Paso for children being separated from immigrant parents

With the number of immigrant children separated from their parents reaching nearly 2,000, this small town in far west Texas is preparing for young Central Americans who will be housed in a temporary shelter on the border with Mexico. White tents are visible at the Tornillo-Marcelino Serna Port of Entry, about a 30-minute drive southeast from El Paso. An initial 360 are expected immediately, with a capacity for hundreds more. By Saturday, dozens of unaccompanied minors were already inside the white tents, confirmed Texas state Democrat Rep. Mary González, whose district includes the Tornillo area. The shelter was last used in 2016 when a surge of Central Americans — migrant children and families — were housed here.

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Dallas Morning News - June 15, 2018

Dallas County offers to house immigrant children separated from parents at border

Dallas County has offered to house immigrant children who have been separated from their parents who entered the country illegally. Dallas County has both the "heart" and the resources to temporarily host the children while the federal government searches for relatives or a foster home as the parents await immigration hearings, County Judge Clay Jenkins said Friday. "Knowing the situation and knowing the heart of Dallas County, I knew that we could provide better, appropriate settings than being in a windowless setting and only allowed outside for two hours a day or living in tents," he said.

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City Stories

San Antonio Express-News - June 15, 2018

Online crashes invalidate thousands of San Antonio STAAR tests

Online connection issues during state standardized testing this spring impacted thousands of local students, school districts in Bexar County reported, part of a statewide tally that climbed above 100,000. Local administrators expressed irritation and disappointment regarding the latest round of problems, the second such incident in three years. “While we see many benefits to online testing, our confidence in the state's ability to effectively implement online testing has been shaken,” said Carin Adermann, director of testing and evaluation for the Northside Independent School District, in an email. “We sincerely appreciate the valiant effort of our teachers and campus administrators who helped students through the online frustrations this spring.”

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San Antonio Express-News - June 16, 2018

Four proposed changes to Alamo Plaza likely to stir most debate

Proposed changes to Alamo Plaza — a topic that draws excitement, objections and strong passions — are the subject of four local meetings this week to gather input before the City Council decides on a plan for the historic mission and battle site. Councilman Roberto Treviño, who serves on two committees guiding development of a long-range Alamo master plan, said the meetings are among many to be held before the council likely will take action in the fall. People at the meetings will see a presentation on a draft site plan for the plaza and surrounding area, and will have a chance to ask questions or provide comments with note cards or texting technology. Ultimately, the goal is to improve the plan and its many facets, said Treviño, an architect.

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Houston Chronicle - June 15, 2018

Immigrant children’s shelter considered for downtown Houston

The large vacant warehouse in downtown Houston has housed women and families who were once homeless and adults displaced by Hurricane Harvey. Until now, however, it has never sheltered small children who are on their own in a strange country, many of them separated from their parents who were jailed after illegally crossing the southern border. Southwest Key Programs, a Texas nonprofit that has a lucrative contract with the federal government to care for thousands of unaccompanied immigrant children, confirmed Friday it has signed a lease with the owner of the warehouse at 419 Emancipation Ave.

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National Stories

Politico - June 16, 2018

White House, in reversal, embraces Dreamer legislation

The White House on Friday evening walked back Donald Trump’s criticism of a House GOP bill shielding Dreamers from deportation, saying in a statement that the president would sign the legislation. After a daylong, dizzying back-and-forth over Trump’s position, White House spokesman Raj Shah said Trump misunderstood a question on “Fox & Friends” Friday morning when he argued he would not sign a “moderate” immigration proposal scheduled for a vote next week. Many on Capitol Hill — and even in the White House — believed Trump was referring to immigration legislation released Thursday, the product of weeks of negotiations between centrist Republicans, conservatives and GOP leaders. But Shah argued that Trump was instead knocking a proposal backed by moderates and Democrats that would codify the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program without any significant immigration crackdown.

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Politico - June 15, 2018

‘This Is a Place That Just Sucks Your Soul’

It was the opening week of the 112th Congress, in January 2011, when Raúl Labrador, then a rookie congressman representing Idaho’s 1st District, joined 86 other Republican freshmen for a series of talks with Speaker John Boehner and his leadership team. Disruption was in the air. It was this group—the rollicking, swaggering, overflowing class of 2010—that allowed Republicans to reclaim the majority in the House of Representatives. They had done so not merely by vowing to check President Barack Obama after two years of unified Democratic rule, but by declaring war on a flaccid GOP establishment that, in their estimation, had fallen out of touch with the American people. Few incoming members were more bellicose than Labrador, a Puerto Rico-born immigration attorney who had distinguished himself as a conservative firebrand during two terms in the Idaho statehouse. Armed with what they felt were clear mandates from their voters, Labrador and his fellow Tea Party freshmen came to transform Congress itself—to stop Washington’s spending binge and to return the Republican Party to its small-government foundations.

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Wall St. Journal - June 16, 2018

Pope Francis Likens Abortion to Nazi Eugenics

Pope Francis likened abortion to Nazi eugenics practiced “with white gloves,” and said the only real families are those based on marriage between a man and a woman, using uncharacteristically blunt language on two controversial moral issues. Addressing an Italian family association on Saturday, the pope equated the contemporary termination of pregnancies in response to fetal maladies or defects discovered through prenatal testing to the policies of Hitler’s Germany. “Children should be welcomed the way they come, the way God sends them to us, the way God allows, even if sometimes they are ill. I’ve heard that it’s fashionable—or at least habitual—to perform certain exams in the early months of pregnancy, to see if the baby is unwell or comes with a certain problem,” the pope said. “And to have an easy life, one does away with an innocent,” he added.

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Dallas Morning News - June 16, 2018

Ted Cruz again defends family separation, as Beto O'Rourke plans vigil at Tornillo tent camp

Sen. Ted Cruz again defended the Trump administration's controversial new policy of separating children from parents at the border, blaming migrants for putting their offspring in jeopardy and insisting that such tragedies also occurred in the Obama era. "There's no doubt that the images that we've seen of children, and children being separated from their parents, are heartbreaking. They were heartbreaking when Obama was president," Cruz told reporters Saturday after speaking at the Texas Republican convention. "I visited the Obama camps that he set up to detain little boys and little girls who crossed the border illegally. Illegal immigration produces human tragedies that are wrong."

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New York Times - June 16, 2018

Douthat: The Lesser Cruelty on Immigration

Some harshness, some deterrence, really is unavoidable in any immigration system that doesn’t simply dissolve borders. So policymakers are therefore obliged to choose tolerable cruelties over the intolerable one that we’re witnessing in action right now. This dilemma was apparent (or should have been) in the Obama years, when a far more pro-immigration administration pursued sweeping amnesties, eventually by executive fiat. Liberals hailed those amnesties while paying less attention to the consequences of the Dreamer amnesty in particular: It created the impression that kids brought to the United States illegally would soon gain legal status, which in turn helped drive a surge in children being sent north without their parents, overwhelming the Border Patrol and saddling the Obama White House with a problem that it ultimately passed along to President Trump. Now because Trump is hated and because he’s added extra cruelties, the persistence of that problem — the kids living in converted Walmarts or passed off to relatives or foster families and unaccounted for thereafter — has suddenly become a source of outrage for liberals. So have the internal roundups carried out by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which have likewise been dialed up under Trump, but which predated him and earned far less media attention.

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Washington Post - June 16, 2018

Bump: Would Trump object to Mexico seizing Hidalgo County, Texas?

After publicly calling for Russia to rejoin the G-7 group of nations, President Trump reportedly came to the country’s defense behind closed doors as well. According to BuzzFeed News, he dismissed the central reason for Russia’s ouster from the group-formerly-known-as-the-G-8 during the group’s meeting in Quebec last weekend. Russia’s seizure of Crimea was warranted, he reportedly implied, because residents of Crimea spoke Russian anyway. It is true that most Crimeans speak Russian, as indicated in a survey published by The Washington Post shortly before the invasion. In fact, that bit of data was cited by Russian President Vladimir Putin during a speech in March 2014 addressing the move. Trump’s reported argument is not a new one. But it does bring up an interesting point, as illustrated in this tweet from Texas-based writer Chris Hooks.

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New York Times - June 16, 2018

Camosy: You Can’t Be Pro-Life and Against Immigrant Children

What does “pro-life, pro-family” really mean? The idea behind that phrase has long been an important organizing principle for pro-life groups like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. For many who work for these organizations — or who vote for candidates endorsed by them — being “pro-life, pro-family” is not a euphemism for opposing abortion and same-sex marriage. It acknowledges that protecting children, including ones not yet born, often requires protecting and supporting their mothers and families too.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 15, 2018

Cruz says 2018 election is about preserving Trump victories

SAN ANTONIO - U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told the Republican State Convention Saturday that the 2018 midterm election, his re-election campaign very much included, is all about preserving what he described as a remarkable record of achievement in the first year-and-a-half of the Trump presidency. “This election is a battle about the future of this country,” Cruz said. “If Democrats take control,” Cruz said, their agenda will be to roll back President Trump’s signal achievements and “paralyze this administration for the next two years.” “The day Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi is sworn in, is the day impeachment proceedings begin,” Cruz said. Cruz said his rival, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, is the only Democratic Senate candidate to “categorically state that he would vote for impeachment.”

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National Review - June 12, 2018

Poole: It’s Time to Rethink America’s Failing Highways

In my new book, Rethinking America’s Highways, I make the case that because highways really are utilities, they need to be financed and operated as utilities, rather than as politicized, state-owned enterprises. That means each highway needs an owner. Highway customers should pay their highway bills directly to that owner, based on how much they use the roads and how damaging their vehicle is to the pavement. The owner should assess the need for new links or more lanes, and finance the construction by issuing long-term revenue bonds. Of course, as with any other major construction projects, they should have to comply with existing planning and environmental regulations. This might sound like a libertarian fantasy, but it’s a model with a long history that stretches into the present day. Private turnpikes were the main inter-city roadways in 18th and 19th century Britain — and 19th century America. After WWII devastated Europe, three countries — France, Italy, and Spain — developed their major highway networks as investor-owned toll roads.

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Washington Examiner - June 15, 2018

GOP wants Trump in 2020, more popular than Obama, JFK, Reagan

Republican voters are demanding that President Trump run for re-election in 2020, the latest evidence that support among his backers is stronger than it was for nearly every recent president. According to the latest Economist/YouGov poll, 68 percent of Republicans want Trump to run for re-election. And Democratic pollster John Zogby said this week that only former President George W. Bush was more popular than Trump among his base going into his first mid-term election, and he had just launched a war against America’s 9/11 attackers.

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Washington Post - June 16, 2018

Most Americans say it’s too early to judge Singapore summit’s success; poll shows big partisan differences

In the aftermath of his meeting with Kim Jong Un, President Trump declared that North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat. Americans have a more measured view, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. But their impressions of what happened in Singapore are nonetheless more positive than pre-summit attitudes earlier in the spring. The president and the North Korean dictator signed a statement that commits to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which is the goal of the United States in negotiations that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week he hopes will be concluded before the end of Trump’s first term in the White House.

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Dallas Morning News - June 16, 2018

Jimmy Kimmel, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz face off in the 'worst basketball game ever'

Jimmy Kimmel predicted it would be "the worst basketball game ever." He may have been right. Hundreds of fans watched what can only be described as some really bad basketball Saturday at Texas Southern University as late-night host Kimmel faced Sen. Ted Cruz in the Blobfish Basketball Classic. After about 80 minutes, Cruz finally won 11-9. They were supposed to play to to 15, but after 40 minutes, Kimmel and Cruz agreed to make it a little easier. "In the spirit of bipartisanship, we're going to shorten the game to 11 [points]," Kimmel told the cheering crowd.

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Houston Chronicle - June 16, 2018

Texas senators Cornyn and Cruz split on rolling back pre-existing condition protections

Republicans in Congress have been trying to distance themselves from the Trump administration’s surprise decision to challenge insurance protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Congressional Democrats are using Trump’s decision in digital ads going after Republicans they see as vulnerable, including GOP incumbents John Culberson in Houston and Will Hurd in San Antonio. Texas’ two Republican senators have charted very different courses on the president’s support for gutting one of the more popular features of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

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Newsclips - June 15, 2018

Lead Stories

Dallas Morning News - June 14, 2018

Texas GOP Convention floats idea of putting bathroom bill back in legislative pipeline

For those who thought the so-called bathroom bill was flushed long ago, think again. Every year, delegates to Republican Party of Texas convention hand state lawmakers five priorities. On Wednesday, they suggested putting the bathroom bill on this list. The report reads: "Pass legislation priority, to pass legislation that protects the privacy and safety of women and children in multi-use facilities such as bathrooms, locker rooms and showers in all Texas schools and government buildings and oppose legislation that would undermine these privacy and safety protections."

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Austin American-Statesman - June 14, 2018

Poll: Majority of Texans support expanding Medicaid

More than two thirds of Texans want state leaders to expand Medicaid coverage, a move that Republican officials have been reluctant to pursue over the years, according to results of a poll released Thursday. The poll conducted by Kaiser Family Foundation and Houston-based Episcopal Health Foundation also found that rising costs is the biggest health care concern among Texans and that 64 percent of Texans feel like the state isn’t doing enough to address the health care needs of low-income adults. “Policymakers ought to look at this and say people like Medicaid, people think the state needs to take a larger role in access to affordable care, Medicaid is a good program. If you know all of that, why wouldn’t you use all available tools via straight Medicaid expansion or waiver Medicaid expansion?” said Elena Marks, chief executive officer of Episcopal Health Foundation.

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New York Times - June 14, 2018

Upshot: Did Comey Cost Clinton the Election? Why We’ll Never Know

Mrs. Clinton’s support was probably already in decline before the Comey letter. This decline makes it harder to claim definitively that Mr. Comey’s letter was responsible for any subsequent decline. The trends leading to Mrs. Clinton’s defeat — in particular, Mr. Trump’s consolidation of hesitant Republican support — may have already been underway. The ABC/Washington Post tracking poll, for instance, showed Mrs. Clinton’s lead dwindling to just two points in its last poll before the letter, down from a double-digit lead after the third debate. One of our own polls — a collaboration with Siena College — showed Mr. Trump leading in Florida in the days before the letter. No live interview poll had shown Mr. Trump with such a large lead in Florida since early July.

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Associated Press - June 14, 2018

Supreme Court addresses question of foreign law in US courts

Nyet. Non. Nein. No. That's the answer the Supreme Court gave Thursday to the question of whether federal courts in the United States must accept statements from foreign governments about their own laws as binding. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for a unanimous court that a "federal court should accord respectful consideration to a foreign government's submission," but is not required to treat it as conclusive. Given "the world's many and diverse legal systems and the range of circumstances in which a foreign government's views may be presented," there is no single formula on how to treat the information a foreign government provides, Ginsburg wrote.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express News

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State Stories

Austin American-Statesman - June 14, 2018

Election apparel ban struck down, similar Texas law still in force

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a Minnesota law that bans T-shirts, buttons and wearable political messages in polling places, but Texas officials believe the ruling will have no immediate impact on a similar Texas law. The 7-2 ruling said the Minnesota law improperly infringed on the free speech rights of voters because it was too vague, banning undefined “political” messages that left too much to the interpretation of election officials at each polling place. “A rule whose fair enforcement requires an election judge to maintain a mental index of the platforms and positions of every candidate and party on the ballot is not reasonable,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 14, 2018

Getting interesting late: GOP Platform Committee restores Cook censure, doubles down against homosexuality

A little before 9 last night, I left my dual posting at the side-by-side ballrooms where the Texas GOP Convention Platform/Resolutions and the Legislative Priorities committees were meeting until they were kicked out of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center at midnight, in order to walk down the hall a ways to cadge some coffee from the urn in the back of the room where the Rules Committee was meeting. I had written a story a few hours before about how the Platform and Resolutions Committee had, on a voice vote, dismissed resolutions to censure U.S. Sen John Cornyn and three North Texas members of Congress, mostly for some budget votes, and also, by the narrowest margin, rejected a resolution to censure state Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana. Another censure resolution, directed at state Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, failed by a single vote Wednesday. Cook is a top Straus lieutenant who, as chairman of the State Affairs Committee, enforced their shared priorities. Like Straus, he is retiring from the House.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 14, 2018

Sweeping lawsuit seeks to overturn long list of Texas abortion laws

Abortion providers and advocacy groups filed a federal lawsuit Thursday that seeks to overturn more than two dozen Texas abortion laws and regulations, including several that are decades old, arguing that the restrictions are part of a long-term effort designed to limit access to abortion. Filed in Austin federal court, the lawsuit says the Texas restrictions have no medical benefit but were instead intended to harass, demean and discourage women seeking an abortion while making it more difficult for clinics to offer the procedure. “Pursuing an incremental strategy designed to chip away at abortion access, the state has layered restrictions on top of restrictions, steadily increasing the burdens faced by people seeking to end their pregnancies,” the lawsuit says. “Abortion patients and providers now face a dizzying array of medically unnecessary requirements that are difficult, time-consuming and costly to navigate — sometimes prohibitively so.”

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Austin American-Statesman - June 14, 2018

Is Austin the best U.S. city to live in? Not according to this list

Despite Austin being named the best city to live in two years in a row, a new city ranking begs to differ. According to the “Best Cities” list compiled by the consulting firm Resonance, Austin ranked No. 14 on the list of “America’s Best Large Cities” behind fellow Texas cities Houston (No. 7) and Dallas (No. 12). The ranking took six categories into account including place, people, prosperity, product, programming and promotion. Best Cities spotlighted Austin’s nightlife, ranked No. 12, including Sixth and Rainey Street’s entertainment districts. Other noteworthy mentions include Austin’s food scene, ranked No. 14 according to the list, and local establishments like Red Ash Italia, NLand Surf Park and South by Southwest.

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Houston Chronicle - June 14, 2018

HC: Needless quotas in prison system

Every now and then police departments will get in trouble after being caught enforcing ticket quotas for traffic patrols. Unfortunately, this type of misguided management isn’t limited to speeding tickets and changing lanes without signaling. Apparently some of our jails have suffered under a similar mandatory enforcement mechanism. Some law enforcement officers have been ordered to find a certain number of disciplinary infractions within the Texas criminal justice system — or else — as Chronicle reporter Keri Blakinger recently reported. This perversion of justice came to light in mid-May after Blakinger obtained copies of a leaked email from the TDCJ’s Ramsey Unit in Brazoria County that required officers to write up prisoners or face disciplinary consequences themselves.

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Houston Chronicle - June 14, 2018

Movement to call migrant detention centers 'concentration camps' swells online

Critics aren't doing their due diligence by labeling prisons for migrants "detention centers," a growing number of activists and critics argue. The effort to relabel the detention centers picked up steam on Tuesday after McClatchy reported that the Trump administration was looking to build "tent cities" around Texas in order to house migrant children separated from their parents. "Correction: America is planning on bringing back Concentration Camps for people of color," wrote civil rights advocate Qasim Rashid on Twitter. "Call it what it really is," read another widely shared post. "Concentration camps."

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Houston Chronicle - June 14, 2018

Trump reigns supreme at Texas Republican Convention

At a state convention where two years ago hardly anyone wanted to talk about the "T-word," and most Texas Republicans were behind arch-conservative Ted Cruz for president, conventioneers this year seem mostly enamored with The Donald. "When Trump was first elected, I was scared about what might be next for the Republican Party," said Gina Munoz, 44, a San Antonio resident who supported Cruz. "Donald Trump was an absolute unknown. He talked a good game and said he was a Republican, but he was friendly with the Clintons and Democrats, so what's that all about?" Now that Trump's been in office more than a year, she said, "I've started breathing normally again. He's surprised me and done a good job for us conservatives."

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Houston Chronicle - June 14, 2018

Zaretsky: Why are Texas churches staying silent about immigrant detention centers?

"We cannot remain silent in the face of the suffering of thousands of human beings seeking asylum in our country. The Gospel commands us to consider all men and women as our brethren." If you guessed that leading Christian representatives made this statement of faith in the wake of the government's roundup of immigrants — arrests that frequently led to the forced separation of parents and children — you are right. You are also right if you guessed that these words were followed by deeds, with clerics and congregations mobilizing on behalf of the victims of police actions. But guess again if you assumed these words and deeds were the work of Christian churches in Texas, dismayed by our government's newly instituted policy in regard to asylum seekers on our southern border.

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Houston Chronicle - June 14, 2018

Lt. Gov. Patrick says ‘we won’ on bathroom bill, considers issue ‘settled’

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says the battle over the so-called bathroom bill is over, even though the legislation never became law in Texas. “We won,” Patrick told reporters Thursday at the Republican Party of Texas’ annual convention. “This issue is settled.” Patrick’s reasoning is that in the Republican Primary elections, 1.5 million people voted and about 90 percent of them supported a ballot question that asked whether they supported protecting the privacy of women and children when they go to the bathroom. There were dozens of non-binding questions on the Republican ballot.

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Houston Chronicle - June 14, 2018

Grieder: Texas Lt. Governor candidate Mike Collier is a problem-solver with a plan

Readers might find this hard to believe, but I am a nerd. The same was true of David Dewhurst, who served three terms as lieutenant governor before being unseated in 2014 after losing the Republican primary runoff to state Sen. Dan Patrick, who cruised to victory in that year’s general election. The office at hand is arguably the most powerful one in state government, because the lieutenant governor presides over the Texas Senate. When Dewhurst was lieutenant governor, the Texas Senate sometimes had serious, substantive policy debates. After he left, things changed. In 2015, when Patrick’s plan to give property tax relief to Texas homeowners bumped up against the state’s constitutional spending cap, he decreed that property tax relief should not be counted as state spending. Problem solved.

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Dallas Morning News - June 14, 2018

NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch tells young conservative women: 'Never bend a knee' to the Left

Conservative commentator Dana Loesch asked a crowd of more than 1,000 young women Thursday night if they’ve ever faced insults over their conservative beliefs. Nearly every hand shot straight into the air. “Wow. This just hurts me in my heart to see,” she said to the crowd of teens and young women at the Hyatt Regency Hotel at the DFW International Airport. “Look at this, I know it feels like ‘Mean Girls’ for a moment, but that is amazing. The Southlake resident was one of several young well-known conservative figures to speak Thursday night at the fourth-annual Young Women's Leadership Summit, a four-day conference that offers leadership training and networking opportunities to young conservative women. Loesch is also spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association, one of the summit's hosts.

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Dallas Morning News - June 14, 2018

Texas GOP convention hotel bans open carry, and some gun-packing delegates grumble

It's a safe bet that the Second Amendment is the most popular amendment at the Texas Republican convention. Candidates for state office and party leadership posts fail to pay homage at their peril. So some of the 7,000 or so delegates were miffed to arrive in San Antonio and find that the headquarters hotel, the Grand Hyatt — like many hotels — bans open carry of firearms, and the use of licenses that allow gun owners to carry concealed handguns. "It's their right, and it's our right to take our business elsewhere," said Kenneth Grant, an HVAC repairman from Gatesville manning the Open Carry Texas booth in the exhibition hall.

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Dallas Morning News - June 14, 2018

Is Texas ready to decriminalize marijuana? The answer might be found at the Republican convention

To hear Michelle Walker tell it, she had two options: leave Texas or go to prison. The 32-year-old mother and self-described conservative once struggled to care for her young son Vincent, who has severe autism and experiences dozens of seizures a day. He was aggressive one minute, kicking and punching her; the next, he'd say "I love you" and save her his last bite of lunch. Vincent was on nine medications. He was taking the maximum amount of seizure medications recommended by the Food and Drug Administration. But he wasn't getting better. The one thing Walker said made a difference — a high dose of medical cannabis — is illegal in Texas. So faced with jail time, the family moved to Colorado. "Medical refugees," they're called.

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Dallas Morning News - June 14, 2018

Jeffers: 'In command and enjoying the moment': Greg Abbott heads to convention to unite Texas GOP

Greg Abbott has everything going his way. On Friday, the Texas governor will enter the state Republican convention in the best political position of his long career. Two years ago, at the same convention, his young term as Texas' top executive was nagged by rumors that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, or someone else, would challenge him for re-election in the 2018 GOP primary. That year, Republicans were caught up in a presidential election that featured the emergence of New York businessman Donald Trump, who seized the party's presidential primary against Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and then beat Hillary Clinton for the White House. During that time, it was Patrick who was center stage, taking a major role in Trump's campaign and leading the Texas delegation to the national GOP convention in Cleveland after Abbott suffered burns in an accident.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 14, 2018

Board reversal on naming ‘Mexican American Studies’ cheered

Advocates for a Mexican-American studies course for Texas public schools are celebrating the State Board of Education’s decision to change — for the second time — its name. In a unanimous vote Wednesday, board members gave preliminary approval to the course, changing its name from “Ethnic Studies: An Overview of Americans of Mexican Descent” to “Ethnic Studies: Mexican American Studies.” “This is a tremendous, historic victory for Mexican-American studies and all ethnic studies,” said Juan Tejeda, a retired professor who taught that field at Palo Alto College and has long promoted its teaching in high schools. The longer formulation had angered advocates for the social studies course ever since April, when the Republican-majority board approved state standards for it but changed its name from “Mexican American Studies.” Board member David Bradley, R-Beaumont, offered as a reason that “hyphenated Americanism” is divisive.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 14, 2018

Chasnoff: Republican activists striving for more

Considering the steady rightward drift of the Legislature, one might expect the hard core conservatives currently massing at the Texas GOP convention here to be somewhat content. That’s not the case. Many setting up booths Wednesday at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center came to strive for state laws that would make even Sen. Ted Cruz blush, including the outright flouting of the Supreme Court’s ruling on abortion and the elimination of gun-free zones, not only in schools but anywhere else, including bars and government buildings. How much sway will the wildest desires of grassroots conservatives hold over Texas legislators in the next regular session? The answer, likely, is “some,” especially now that House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, has announced his retirement. Along with his lieutenants, Straus proved an insurmountable obstacle for many of last year’s most egregious right-wing wishes.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 14, 2018

Congressmen from near and far to visit Brownsville migrant children shelters

At least five congressmen from across the country are planning to visit two unaccompanied minor shelters run by Southwest Key Programs in Brownsville on Monday. The trip was organized by U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, and he said it was in the works before Sen. Jeff Merkley was barred entry into the Casa Padre facility on June 3 — which was filmed on Facebook Live and went viral in the days that followed. “I hope to learn a whole lot more about what Southwest Key Programs is seeing, and what they’re doing,” Vela said, adding he also hopes to “actually see for ourselves everything we’re reading.” The lawmakers’ trip includes an hourlong interview with Southwest Key leaders, and a tour of both the Casa Padre and Casa El Presidente shelters for unaccompanied minors, each lasting 30 to 45 minutes.

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Texas Tribune - June 14, 2018

Inside a former Walmart in Brownsville that holds nearly 1,500 immigrant boys

BROWNSVILLE — For more than a year, the old Walmart along the Mexican border here has been a mystery to those driving by on the highway. In place of the supercenter’s trademark logo hangs a curious sign: “Casa Padre.” But behind the sliding doors is a bustling city unto itself, equipped with classrooms, recreation centers and medical examination rooms. Casa Padre now houses more than 1,400 immigrant boys, dozens of them forcibly separated from their parents at the border by a new Trump administration “zero-tolerance” policy. On Wednesday, for the first time since that policy was announced, and amid intense national interest after a U.S. senator was turned away, federal authorities allowed a small group of reporters to tour the secretive shelter, the largest of its kind in the nation.

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Texas Tribune - June 14, 2018

With the Texas GOP convention underway, a contentious chair race reaches its end

The Texas GOP convention got underway here Thursday morning with dueling speeches by the two candidates for party chairman, the culmination of a contentious months-long race to lead the biggest Republican Party in the country. On Friday, the nearly 9,000 delegates and alternates who've descended on the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center will pick whether they want to keep James Dickey as chairman or dispense with him for challenger Cindy Asche, a veteran activist from Frisco. It has been a battle highlighted by pitched disputes over the party's finances, its censure of GOP House Speaker Joe Straus and even a 2004 securities fraud case involving Dickey.

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Ft. Worth Star-Telegram - June 14, 2018

Is it time to change gun laws to include constitutional carry in Texas?

This year, guns — in the wake of deadly school shootings and concerns about attacks on gun rights as school safety plans are proposed — are expected to be a big topic. Licensed Texans already may openly carry their weapons, or carry them concealed. They also may carry them on some college campuses. But some want more and are calling for so-called constitutional carry, which would let Texans carry their weapons without first getting a permit. That issue already is in the Republican Party's platform, an outline of party beliefs that candidates do not always follow and are not bound by.

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Associated Press - June 14, 2018

US to open temporary shelter in Texas for immigrant children

The U.S. government will open a temporary shelter for unaccompanied immigrant children in far west Texas, as existing facilities for children reach capacity under the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy on migrants and the resulting separation of families. A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday that the department selected the Tornillo port of entry as a temporary shelter location. The port is located about 40 miles (64 kilometers) southeast of El Paso, in an area that's mostly desert and where temperatures routinely approach 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius).

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express-News

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County Stories

Austin American-Statesman - June 14, 2018

Report: Travis County has among highest vaccination opt-out rates

Austin ranks among the top 15 “hotspots” nationally for vaccine exemptions, making children not vaccinated vulnerable to contagious diseases, according to a new public health study. The study found Austin — along with Houston, Fort Worth, and Plano — was among the nation’s cities with the highest number of kindergartners not getting vaccinated for nonmedical reasons. The new information illuminates an ongoing battle involving political ideology, science, public safety and parental rights that has been waged in Texas for more than a decade.

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City Stories

Austin American-Statesman - June 14, 2018

Hundreds rally at Texas Capitol Thursday night to protest family separations at the border

Hundreds of people, including parents and their children, gathered in front of the Texas Capitol Thursday night to oppose new a federal policy that allows for the separation of immigrant and asylum seeking families at the U.S.-Mexico border. The policy, announced by the U.S. Justice Department last month, promises “zero tolerance” for people entering the country illegally. In an impassioned speech on the south steps of the Capitol, Daniela Rojas, a student at the University of Texas who moved to the U.S. from Colombia 11 years ago, called the new policy an “attack.”

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Ft. Worth Star-Telegram - June 14, 2018

Weatherford School Board approves concealed carry for personnel

Add the Weatherford school to the list of school districts throughout Texas that allow concealed carry of firearms by employees. The school board, at its Monday (June 11) meeting, voted to implement a "Defender Program," joining over 170 districts across the state in having a concealed carry protection program. The exact date of implementation has yet to be determined as several things have to be decided, such as who qualifies for the program, and when and where training will take place. The Defender Program, already in place in several other area schools, including other Weatherford-area districts such as Brock,Millsap and Peaster, allows selected school district staff members to carry firearms in order to protect students and staff in the event of an active shooter incident on school property.

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National Stories

Washington Post - June 14, 2018

Inspector general blasts Comey and also says others at FBI showed ‘willingness to take official action’ to hurt Trump

The Justice Department inspector general on Thursday castigated former FBI director James B. Comey for his actions during the Hillary Clinton email investigation and found that other senior bureau officials showed a “willingness to take official action” to prevent Donald Trump from becoming president. The 500-page report, documenting major missteps in one of the most politically charged cases in the FBI’s history, provides the most exhaustive account to date of bureau and Justice Department decision-making throughout the investigation of Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, particularly in the months just before she would lose the presidential election to Trump. The inspector general did not find evidence supporting assertions made by the president and his allies that political bias inside the FBI had rigged the case to clear Clinton, but the report cited numerous instances of unprofessionalism, bias and misjudgment that hurt the bureau’s credibility. In particular, the report singled out lead agent Peter Strzok as showing anti-Trump bias that could have affected his thinking on the case during the immediate run-up to the 2016 election.

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Politico - June 14, 2018

DOJ watchdog slams Comey for claiming Clinton’s server could have been hacked

Former FBI Director James Comey should not have suggested that hackers could have compromised Hillary Clinton’s private email server, the Justice Department’s inspector general said in a report published today. In his July 5, 2016, statement on the FBI’s investigation into the server that Clinton used while secretary of state, Comey said it was “possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail account.” The DOJ IG report blasted Comey for this statement, saying he “insinuated that hostile foreign actors may have in fact gained access to former Secretary Clinton’s private email account, based almost entirely on speculation and without any evidence from the … investigation to support his claim.”

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Washington Post - June 14, 2018

Trump allies seize on DOJ report as they seek to undercut Mueller probe

Thursday’s report from the Justice Department’s inspector general gave new and potent ammunition to President Trump and his allies in their ongoing efforts to undermine special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference during the 2016 presidential campaign. Even as Trump faces his own legal complications, Republicans quickly seized on the report as a meaningful development that they believe will further bruise Mueller’s credibility with the public and bolster the president, whose administration has long been gripped by the probe. The clamor over the watchdog’s findings was the latest turn in the GOP’s increasingly hostile and preemptive offensive against Mueller’s expected report on the president’s conduct. And the furor is almost tailor-made for Trump, who throughout his career has clutched onto small details and controversy as weapons he uses to define his enemies and erode trust in institutions.

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Politico - June 14, 2018

Trump Ordered Troops to the Border, But They’re Doing Busywork

In April, President Donald Trump announced he was ordering National Guard troops to the U.S. border with Mexico. “We’re going to do some things militarily,” Trump said. “Until we can have a wall and proper security, we’re going to be guarding our border with the military.” Here, in this dilapidated former mining town on the Mexican border, that vague directive has been translated — at least officially — to orders to help quell the smuggling operations in Agua Prieta across the fortified fence and in what is still regarded as one of America’s most corrupt locales. They have been carrying out a variety of tasks assisting the U.S. Border Patrol in the months since their initial deployment, but all with one thing in common: They’re as far away from the border as possible. In reality, the hundreds of troops deployed in southern Arizona are keeping up the rear, so to speak; in one assignment, soldiers are actually feeding and shoveling out manure from the stalls of the Border Patrol’s horses.

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Dallas Morning News - June 14, 2018

Jimmy Kimmel is the underdog heading into Saturday's charity game against Ted Cruz, betting site says

If you're the betting type, you might want to throw down a few bucks on Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to win this weekend's charity basketball game against late-night host Jimmy Kimmel. The Republican is the odds-on favorite at 5-11, while the late-night host is listed at 8-5, according to Bovada, an online betting site. The matchup — dubbed the "2018 Blobfish Basketball Classic," referring to a comment by Kimmel on Cruz's appearance — is scheduled for Saturday at 5 p.m. at Texas Southern University in Houston. The men will play to 15 points, with each basket counting as one point. The loser must donate $5,000 to the winner's non-political charity of choice: Texas Children's Hospital or Generation One, a Houston-based education nonprofit. Tickets are free if you register in advance, using the promo codes #TeamKimmel or #TeamCruz, and supporters are encouraged to donate to either charity.

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Dallas Morning News - June 14, 2018

Laycock, Berg: Here's what you missed in the Supreme Court ruling in same-sex wedding cake case

As legal scholars on this issue, we approach Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission from the perspective of supporting same-sex marriage and supporting religious liberty. For us, it is possible to reconcile those two positions when talking about disputes in commercial settings by recognizing a narrow religious exemption for small, personalized businesses whose owners conscientiously object to providing goods and services directly to a marriage (primarily through weddings). To that end, the Masterpiece case is simultaneously a huge win and a narrow win for such objectors. It is huge because refusing to give them an exemption on even these facts would have made further federal litigation essentially impossible. Refusing such an exemption would have undercut claims under state constitutions and state religious freedom restoration acts as well as efforts to enact statutory exemptions.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 14, 2018

Sessions cites Bible to defend separating immigrant families

Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited the Bible on Thursday in his defense of his border policy that is resulting in hundreds of immigrant children being separated from their parents after they enter the U.S. illegally. Sessions, speaking in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on immigration, pushed back against criticism he had received over the policy. On Wednesday, a cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church said that separating mothers from their babies was "immoral." Sessions said many of the recent criticisms were not "fair or logical and some are contrary to law." "I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order," he said. "Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful."

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Washington Post - June 14, 2018

Half of Americans think the North Korea summit will help decrease the nuclear threat

After his historic meeting with Kim Jong Un, President Trump assured the American people that his summit would help decrease the nuclear threat posed by North Korea. "Sleep well tonight!” he tweeted. Americans are divided on their confidence in that statement. Just over half (51 percent) of Americans said it was likely the summit will help decrease the nuclear threat posed by North Korea, according to a Monmouth poll released Thursday. While not an overwhelming majority, the fact that at least half of Americans feel confident that things are headed in the right direction with North Korea, a country that has long been considered one of America's biggest adversaries, is a move in the right direction for Trump.

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New York Times - June 14, 2018

New York Attorney General Sues Trump Foundation After 2-Year Investigation

The New York State attorney general’s office filed a scathingly worded lawsuit on Thursday taking aim at the Donald J. Trump Foundation, accusing the charity and the Trump family of sweeping violations of campaign finance laws, self-dealing and illegal coordination with the presidential campaign. The lawsuit, which seeks to dissolve the foundation and bar President Trump and three of his children from serving on nonprofit organizations, was an extraordinary rebuke of a sitting president. The attorney general also sent referral letters to the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Election Commission for possible further action, adding to Mr. Trump’s extensive legal challenges.

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Houston Chronicle - June 14, 2018

Moderate Republicans fail in bid to protect Dreamers

Immigration activists and Hispanic lawmakers went on the attack Wednesday as a bipartisan push led by moderate Republicans to pass legislation protecting Dreamers appeared to collapse amid opposing GOP factions. Just two signatures short of the 218 needed to force votes on several immigration measures, the moderates - including San Antonio Republican Will Hurd - were forced to regroup, ceding the initiative to GOP leaders trying to negotiate a more conservative approach to the long-standing political impasse. “We had 216 Republicans and Democrats, with only two signatures away, from bringing meaningful, bipartisan legislation to the House floor that would finally give our nation’s Dreamers clarity on their future,” said Texas U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from San Antonio.

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New York Times - June 14, 2018

NYT: Seizing Children From Parents at the Border Is Immoral. Here’s What We Can Do About It.

It may be hard to believe that this is happening in the United States in 2018, that hundreds of children are being snatched from their parents, frequently under false pretenses, often screaming, and placed in vast warehouselike centers like the former Walmart in Brownsville, Tex., where nearly 1,500 boys now spend their days. The parents often don’t know where their children are, or when they will see them again. In 2014 the Obama administration detained hundreds of families and unaccompanied minors crossing the border, a practice that the federal courts quickly curtailed. But separating families as a matter of unofficial policy is something new and malicious, a function of President Trump’s obsession with undocumented immigrants. This spring, the administration ordered that everyone caught crossing illegally into the United States be prosecuted. And since children cannot accompany grown-ups to jail, people who had crossed illegally with children had their children taken away. Hundreds upon hundreds of children, of all ages, creating a new industry in mass shelters.

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Texas Tribune - June 14, 2018

Ryan opposes Trump policy of separating immigrant children from parents

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Thursday he opposes the new Trump administration “zero-tolerance” policy of forcibly separating immigrant children from their parents at the border. Ryan said Congress should address the issue with legislation, and a draft of a compromise immigration bill that circulated on Capitol Hill late Thursday would end the practice of dividing families detained at the border. But Ryan offered no guarantees that the House will pass a bill that ends a policy that has drawn widespread criticism from lawmakers, human rights groups and U.S. Catholic bishops. “We don’t want kids to be separated from their parents,” Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters.

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Dallas Morning News - June 14, 2018

Woolley: AT&T eats Time Warner as media competition fades

The race is on. Now that federal Judge Richard Leon — one guy — has used his powers to completely change the media landscape, all the other ginormous media companies will be looking to get bigger. We may eventually be down to as few as six companies controlling television, cable, movies, cellphones and comics. The result is that your choices are fast fading. The old "bundling" that we're used to being pitched is going to change, and costs to consumers will go up. After all, the American system of free enterprise is based on competition. Mergers are made not for the consumer, but for big companies like AT&T, a monolith that has already acquired DirecTV. So now it has transmission capabilities (AT&T) and a delivery system (DirecTV). The missing link was content — TV shows, movies and properties such as superheroes on which to base franchises like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.

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Dallas Morning News - June 14, 2018

Trump salutes North Korean general: propaganda win for Kim, headache for Trump and other Obama critics

Which is worse for a U.S. president: bowing to a Saudi king, or returning a salute from one of the North Korean dictator's generals? President Donald Trump criticized the first and did the second. North Korea state media broadcast footage Thursday from this week's Singapore summit that showed Trump salute one of Kim Jong-Un's generals, Minister of the People's Armed Forces No Kwang Chol. Trump held out his hand for a handshake. The general snapped a salute. Trump, a bit awkwardly, responded in kind and they then shook hands. Uproar ensued, with cries of hypocrisy competing with shrugs at an apparent reflex by a commander in chief.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 13, 2018

Castro and other congressmen urge end to citizenship checks on Greyhound buses

After years of complaints about immigration agents stopping Greyhound buses near the border to search for unauthorized immigrants, a group of congressmen led by San Antonio Democrat Joaquin Castro has asked the bus line to stop allowing “warrantless searches.” U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents are granted more search and seizure leeway within the 100-mile zone of an international border. But the congressmen argue that CBP must still have either probable cause or Greyhound’s consent to board a bus. “We contend that, by granting consent to CBP agents to board buses to inquire about immigration status, Greyhound exposes its passengers to frequent violations of their constitutional rights to be free from warrantless searches and seizures, racial profiling, and harassment,” the letter reads.

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Dallas Morning News - June 14, 2018

One year after baseball shooting, Steve Scalise retakes field in annual charity game

They say there’s no crying in baseball. But that was before a member of Congress — House Majority Whip Steve Scalise — was gravely wounded in a shooting during practice for a charity game, spent a year in painstaking recovery, and returned to the diamond for the annual contest just one year later. On the game’s first pitch, he fielded a grounder and, from his knees, threw out California Democrat Raul Ruiz. The crowd erupted as lawmakers, even Ruiz, huddled with him in celebration. And with that, the 2018 Congressional Baseball Game was underway — though the Republican excitement would soon fade as the Democrats continued their winning streak with a blowout 21-5 victory.

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Newsclips - June 14, 2018

Lead Stories

Dallas Morning News - June 13, 2018

What will a Texas Republican Convention look like in the Trump era? We're about to find out

Texas Republicans holding their first convention since Donald Trump’s election are moving past the division that marked 2016 — and looking forward to this year’s midterms. Abortion, guns and immigration are likely to take center stage as Texas conservatives meet in San Antonio this week. But the party’s stances on these and other core issues are unlikely to change, and despite some wrangling over the position of party chairman, delegates say this year they’re feeling united and energized. “This is the first Republican convention we’ve had in, what, 10 years where we’ve had a Republican president,” said political consultant Luke Macias. “That just naturally sets a different tone.”

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New York Post - June 12, 2018

Politicians fear for safety as threats against Congress skyrocket

In 2016, there were 902 threatening incidents and communications against members of Congress. By 2017, the reports had more than doubled to about 2,000, according to the House Sergeant at Arms office. In response, the House Administration Committee allocated $25,000 to each member in 2017 and again in 2018 to beef up their personal and office security, prompting members to hire bodyguards for events and equip offices with panic buttons and shatter-resistant glass. The House Sergeant at Arms got an additional $5 million to improve office security for district offices. Congress also increased funding for Capitol Police by $29.2 million in 2017, and another $29.9 million in 2018.

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Houston Chronicle - June 13, 2018

Texans want state leaders to do more to solve state’s health care crisis

About two-thirds of Texans think state lawmakers are not doing enough to help low-income adults get the health care they need, including tackling skyrocketing costs, reducing the number of maternal deaths and boosting access to health insurance, a new national survey found. And by the exact same percentage, Texans think the solution is expanding Medicaid — a position current state leaders and conservative forces have steadfastly opposed. The findings, released Thursday, come from a survey commissioned by the Houston-based Episcopal Health Foundation working in partnership with the national Kaiser Health Foundation to measure the attitudes in a state that leads the nation in the number of uninsured and has long struggled with access to care among its poor and near poor. Between March and May, 1,367 adults in the state were interviewed by land lines and cell phones, in both Spanish and English, about who they hold accountable.

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Washington Post - June 13, 2018

Bump: More than 6 in 10 American children were enrolled in CHIP or Medicaid in 2017

Data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Tuesday reveals the scale of Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program enrollment in the United States. In 2017, 46.3 million children in the United States were enrolled at one point in one of the two programs, a number that totals more than 60 percent of the more than 74 million children in the United States. As might be expected, enrollment varies from state to state. The most recent data for which state-by-state age population data are available is 2016. Comparing the number of children enrolled in CHIP or Medicaid with the estimates of the number of children in each state that year reveals those differences.

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State Stories

Dallas Morning News - June 13, 2018

Mike Pence spoke to the Southern Baptist Convention, and some Baptists weren't pleased

Vice President Mike Pence had a faith-friendly message for the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Dallas on Wednesday, but not all of the audience was receptive to the messenger. "It was a very encouraging convention," said Evan Musgraves of Birmingham, Ala., "until Pence spoke this morning." Before a crowd of nearly 10,000 delegates, also called messengers, Pence highlighted some of the Trump administration's successes, while keeping a focus on the "essential and irreplaceable role" of Southern Baptists and other religious groups in American life.

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Dallas Morning News - June 13, 2018

Airbnb collected $15.3 million in hotel taxes from Texas guests

Just over a year after home-sharing service Airbnb began to collect hotel- occupancy taxes from guests who booked in Texas, the company says it has delivered $15.3 million in tax revenue to the state. The amount is double the $8 million originally projected, the California-based company said in an announcement Wednesday. “Statewide data indicates that the short-term rental community is complementing — rather than competing with — the Texas hotel industry,” the announcement said. In a tax agreement forged with the Texas Comptroller’s Office in April 2017, the home-sharing platform was authorized to automatically collect a 6 percent tax from people who booked in Texas and remit the revenue directly to the state.

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Dallas Morning News - June 13, 2018

STAAR woes continue as Texas tosses more tests and districts scrutinize scores

On Wednesday, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath announced that the number of students affected by computer glitches during standardized testing this year was much higher than previously reported: up to about 100,445 students across the state. Some kids were kicked out of online testing for up to three hours because of server issues while taking the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness tests. Others had to log in multiple times because of problems with the system. The latest reports are emerging even as local school administrators are becoming increasingly concerned about the whole testing program. Garland ISD reported that its tests were delivered to the wrong district — in Houston. And several districts say they had a suspiciously high number of students score zeros on high school essay portions of the tests.

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Dallas Morning News - June 13, 2018

Guns and knives are legal in Texas, but carrying this plastic key chain could land you in jail

Last year, Texas lawmakers eliminated a 145-year-old ban on carrying knives in public. And two years before that, they passed a law allowing licensed firearms owners to openly carry handguns. But carrying around a plastic self-defense key chain is still illegal under a Texas law that bans brass knuckles. The key chains — usually shaped like cats or other animals with pointed ears — are becoming more popular with women. They usually cost less than $10 and are readily available online. But getting caught with one in Texas can mean being hit with up to a $4,000 fine and a year in jail. Shannon Edmonds, a staff attorney with the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, said he's heard people have been arrested for carrying these personal self-defense devices. Usually people get charged for carrying the plastic "knuckles" after they've been stopped by police for another offense, like driving while intoxicated.

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Dallas Morning News - June 13, 2018

Mother says baby taken from her while breast-feeding at Texas immigration detention center

A breast-feeding baby was taken from her mother's arms at a Texas detention center and the mother was handcuffed for resisting, the woman's attorney says. The attorney, Natalia Cornelio, told CNN the woman from Honduras sobbed Tuesday as she recounted how her daughter was taken from her. The mother is awaiting prosecution for entering the United States illegally. "The government is essentially torturing people by doing this," said Cornelio, who is with the Texas Civil Rights Project.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 14, 2018

Texas panel tentatively OKs using ‘Mexican American’ in course title

Heeding the calls of scholars and activists who said a proposed name for a Mexican-American studies course was insulting, the State Board of Education tentatively approved changing the name Wednesday. Instead of “Ethnic Studies: An Overview of Americans of Mexican Descent,” the high school social studies elective course will be called “Ethnic Studies: Mexican American Studies” if given final approval by the board. Although leaving “Ethnic Studies” in the title was proposed by board member Georgina Cecilia Pérez, a Democrat from El Paso, fellow Democrats took issue with it. They wanted the name of the course simply to be “Mexican American Studies,” but ultimately joined Republicans in the unanimous vote.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 13, 2018

Homelessness, limited access to medical care among top issues affecting LGBTQ communities in Texas, study finds

A recent statewide study identified homelessness and limited access to clinically competent medical care as some of the main issues affecting members of the LGBTQ community in Texas. Texas Pride Impact Funds funded the statewide study on the broad scope of needs for members of LGBTQ communities. The foundation held a town hall to discuss the findings Wednesday evening. Foundation members said the 2017 IMPACT! Texas Needs Assessment study is the first-ever statewide effort to assess the needs of Texas LGBTQ communities.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 13, 2018

Texas A&M rocked by flurry of sex misconduct allegations

Texas A&M University is being rocked this week by a flurry of accusations by women who said they suffered sexual assault and misconduct while students at the school, and that what they described as the administration’s weak response toward their assailants left them feeling alone and traumatized. The outpouring of complaints began when a student, Hannah Shaw, posted an account last week of her interaction with the school administration after she learned that a member of the school’s swim team, who she said assaulted her three years ago, rejoined the team. After being suspended for a semester, the man was permitted to return to campus, she wrote. “I only wish this wasn’t something I share in common with so many other students,” she added.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 14, 2018

GOP Platform Committee kills bid to censure Cornyn at state convention

On a voice vote, the Texas Republican Convention’s Platform and Resolutions Committee extricated the party from a potentially embarrassing situation by killing a resolution that could have left U.S. Sen. John Cornyn facing a censure vote on Saturday for backing spending bills. Only Ray Myers, a Kaufman County tea party leader, emitted a quiet “aye” Wednesday on a resolution to censure Cornyn and three North Texas members of the state’s GOP delegation — U.S. Reps. Kay Granger of Fort Worth, Kenny Marchant of Coppell and Michael Burgess of Lewisville. The resolution came from the Tarrant County Senate District 9 Republican Convention in March. The overwhelming sentiment laid to rest any possibility that the biennial Texas Republican Convention would make headlines by censuring Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, who will address the convention Friday.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 13, 2018

First Reading: Texas GOP to choose between abolishing abortion and `prudent pro-life incrementalism’

I am in San Antonio for the Texas Republican Convention. The general sessions don’t begin until Thursday, but, since Monday, the Platform, Rules and Legislative Priorities committees have been meeting at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center. Two years ago, the Republican convention set five legislative priorities. We, the delegates of the 2016 Republican Party of Texas State Convention, call upon the 85th Texas Legislature to: 1. Pass constitutional carry while maintaining licensing as optional for reciprocity purposes. 2. Abolish abortion by enacting legislation to stop the murder of unborn children; and to ignore and refuse to enforce any and all federal statutes, regulations, executive orders, and court rulings, which would deprive an unborn child of the right to life. 3. Prioritize the allocation of funds to effectively secure the border thr

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Houston Chronicle - June 13, 2018

Texas No. 1 'hotspot' for vaccine exemptions

Four Texas cities, including Houston, rank among the 15 metropolitan "hotspots" of vaccine exemptions, more than any other state, according to a new study. The study found Austin, Fort Worth and Plano also are among the nation's cities with the highest number of kindergartners not getting vaccinated for non-medical reasons. Since 2009, the proportion of children opting out of such recommended vaccines increased in Texas and 11 other states, the study showed. ... The anti-vaxxer movement claims that vaccines are dangerous to developing bodies. In particular, many believe that trace amounts of mercury in vaccines causes autism.

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Houston Chronicle - June 13, 2018

GOP nominee says 'we are the party of Trump.' A Texas Republican disagrees.

After a recently elected GOP nominee declared Republicans "the party of President Donald J. Trump," one Texas congressman took to Twitter to rebuke the notion. "I respectfully disagree w/ the future congresswoman," wrote Rep. Matt Krause, a Fort Worth-area Republican. "We should be a party of principles, not personalities." "What made GOP the party of Lincoln & Reagan was their practical fulfillment of deeply held principles," he continued. "If Trump does the same, so be it. If not, we should voice opposition."

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San Antonio Express-News - June 13, 2018

Rights group: Texas racial profiling by sharing with ICE

Texas law enforcement officers providing immigration authorities with details of motorists who have been cited and are suspected of being in the country illegally could be engaging in racial profiling, according to civil rights advocates. The Department of Public Safety has shared the names of hundreds of people with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement over the past two years, the San Antonio Express-News reported . Adriana Piñon, of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, said she's concerned that state troopers are participating in federal immigration enforcement even though they are trained to enforce state law. "This lack of training then raises the question of when they are on the street, how do they know when and whether to stop a person?" Piñon said. "The big concern for us is racial profiling."

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San Antonio Express-News - June 13, 2018

As factions fight for control of Texas Republican Party, battle already decided in Bexar County

Texas Republicans are settling debates over censures and the party chairmanship at their state convention in San Antonio, a flashpoint in the ongoing battle over which brand of conservatism will define the state party. The effort to unify is taking place on the turf of the Bexar County Republican Party, where the uncompromising social conservative coterie has already won out over the business-friendly moderates. Since former chair Robert Stovall resigned in November to run for Congress, the party has censured House Speaker Joe Straus — prompting the state executive committee’s own rebuke — and elected a tea party-aligned chair, Cynthia Brehm. She was sworn in Monday. The local party’s shift to the right partially conflicts with the ideology of Bexar County’s Republican elected officials, most of whom fall into what is considered the moderate camp in today’s Texas GOP.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 13, 2018

Garcia: Wolff calls on legislators to reform campaign finance laws

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff has called on the state Legislature to reform Texas campaign finance laws during the 2019 legislative session. In a Tuesday letter to House Speaker Joe Straus and the rest of the San Antonio legislative delegation, Wolff pointed to the fact that both the state and the counties of Texas (which operate under the jurisdiction of the state) have no limits on individual campaign contributions. Citing a suggestion from state Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, Wolff said $2,500 would be a suitable cap for campaign donations. He also urged lawmakers to “prohibit loans to campaigns” and “limit spending by political action committees and individuals acting on their own, including statewide office holders.”

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Texas Tribune - June 14, 2018

Advocates say arming Texas school employees won’t cost that much. But many districts don’t want to do it.

Flanked by several Dallas-area lawmakers on May 30, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott laid out a 40-page school safety plan in response to a southeast Texas school shooting that left 10 people dead. At the heart of his proposal: “hardening” Texas schools, in part by providing money to districts that join existing state programs for arming school staff. The idea received immediate pushback from many educators, who don’t like the idea of guns in schools and worry that programs that arm teachers would be too expensive in a state that’s already struggling to fund education.

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Texas Tribune - June 13, 2018

Kunkel: What Republicans can learn from O’Rourke

Beto O’Rourke probably won’t win the 2018 senate election in Texas. His likely defeat isn’t a surprise — Texas is a red state — but Republicans should take notice of his high poll numbers and learn a few lessons from his remarkable campaign. A recent Quinnipiac University poll showed O’Rourke close behind incumbent U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in the 2018 senate race — 44 percent to 47. O’Rourke has also out-fundraised the incumbent senator in the first quarter of 2018 and has a comparable amount of cash on hand. This is even more striking given that O’Rourke has maintained his pledge to avoid superPACs. The odds should be stacked against Beto. While it is true that the demographics of Texas are changing and the recent waves of Hispanic and Latino immigration may someday alter the patterns of voting, that hasn’t yet happened. Donald Trump won Texas by a 9-point margin, despite being dogged by multiple allegations of misconduct. Even less promising for O’Rourke, this race takes place in an off-year election cycle, and mid-term contests regularly feature depressed minority turnout and public apathy. They usually aren't the time for wild-card upset campaigns.

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Ft. Worth Star-Telegram - June 13, 2018

Granger: Tax reform is working for Texas

Six months ago, Congress passed the most sweeping, pro-growth tax reform since the 1980s. It’s already producing results: higher salaries, more job opportunities, and faster economic growth. Thanks to the new tax law, the economy is looking brighter. In the months since tax reform became a reality, the economy has added more than 600,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate currently sits at a 17-year low. Nine out of ten Americans are now taking home more money in their paychecks because of reduced taxes. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office credits the increase in economic activity to tax reform, since the law “generates more demand for labor and consequently higher wages.”

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Texas Observer - June 13, 2018

Wage Wars - In Texas, the state doesn't stop wage theft -- and cities can't seem to either

Texas has a wage theft problem. In 2017, analyzing just one form of wage theft, the Economic Policy Institute found that around 11 percent of low-income Texans are effectively paid less than minimum wage — a collective theft of almost $1.2 billion a year. Texas is also unique among the country’s five most populous states in requiring employers to pay only the federal minimum of $7.25, so when the Lone Star State’s poorest workers are robbed, it hurts them more than a poor Californian or New Yorker. One problem: The Texas Workforce Commission has few resources for combating wage theft. Out of a $1.7 billion budget for 2018, only about $4 million is dedicated to “labor law enforcement.” That leaves the commission outmatched by employers who have myriad ways to dodge accountability. They can intimidate workers into dropping allegations, bog down claims in endless appeals, declare bankruptcy, and lobby against any legislative crackdowns.

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Associated Press - June 12, 2018

Money to 'harden' schools draws backlash after shootings

An alliance of U.S. education groups expressed shock Tuesday that the Trump administration would let schools purchase metal detectors and police patrols through a $1.1 billion program that the White House and Congress have used to defend their response to an epidemic of school shootings. The concern comes nearly a month after a gunman killed 10 people at a high school near Houston, which prompted Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to urge schools to use federal education dollars to "harden" campuses through more armed guards or altering buildings. On Tuesday, dozens of gun-control activists packed the end of a two-day hearing at the Texas Capitol on school shootings. The hearings opened this week with school police chiefs endorsing some physical safeguards but waving off metal detectors as ineffective.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express-News

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City Stories

San Antonio Express-News - June 13, 2018

Neighbors describe chaotic scene after more than 50 immigrants found in truck

Joe Rust Jr. was swimming with his family in his North Side pool Tuesday night when he heard people running down the alleyway behind his house, followed quickly by two police helicopters flying low. Alarmed by the scene, he quickly ushered all of his relatives from the pool into his home. The discovery of more than 50 undocumented immigrants in an air-conditioned tractor trailer parked in that alleyway transformed the normally quiet Leland Terrace subdivision into a display of chaos. People ran from the truck in an attempt to elude officers, jumping over fences and climbing on the roofs of houses, several breaking bones. Squad cars prowled the neighborhood. Officers shone flashlights into residents’ darkened yards. Helicopters continued circling overhead for several hours.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 13, 2018

Immigrant children’s shelter opens doors after protests

BROWNSVILLE — Following a week of speculation about the treatment of migrant children kept behind at the windowless walls of the largest shelter for minors in the nation, the nonprofit that operates the facility pulled back the curtain Wednesday, hoping to dispel the rumors. “We take great care of kids,” said Juan Sanchez, the president and CEO of Southwest Key. “Our goal is to reunify these children with their families.” Nearly 1,500 kids spread across the sprawling floor-plan of a remodeled Walmart dined on chicken, mashed potatoes, fruit and vegetables, even as a movie theater at the opposite end of the building showed the Walt Disney film “Moana” in Spanish. A recent uptick in unaccompanied children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border — 6,405 in May alone — has pushed shelter occupancy to 1,469, just a few shy of its maximum capacity of 1,497.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 13, 2018

Austin Council Member Ora Houston won’t run again, Dem party chair will

A wide-open City Council election awaits East Austinites as four candidates with civic experience line up to replace outgoing Council Member Ora Houston. Houston said Wednesday that she will not seek a second term in the fall, surprising several colleagues. Only hours after her announcement, Vincent Harding, outgoing chairman of the Travis County Democratic Party, said he would join three others in running for the seat. First elected to the council in 2014, Houston said she made the decision to leave after “months of personal discernment and conversations with confidants.”

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National Stories

Dallas Morning News - June 13, 2018

John Cornyn mocked on Senate floor by Corker for not standing up to Trump

A top Senate Republican has mocked Texas Sen. John Cornyn for not taking more concrete steps to push back on President Donald Trump's aggressive trade agenda. Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker on Tuesday ripped into his fellow Republican on the Senate floor over general frustration that GOP leadership blocked a vote on legislation that would give Congress the ability to veto certain tariffs imposed by the president. "I heard ... the senior senator from Texas saying the other day, 'Well, gosh, we might upset the president. We might upset the president of the United States before the midterms. So gosh, we can't vote on the Corker amendment,'" he said.

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The Hill - June 13, 2018

Corker: GOP becoming 'cult-like' on Trump

GOP Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.) warned on Wednesday that members of his party are becoming "cult-like" in their support of President Trump, pointing to leadership's unwillingness to challenge the White House on tariffs. "We are in a strange place. I mean, it’s almost, it’s becoming a cultish thing, isn’t it? And it’s not a good place for any party to end up with a cult-like situation as it relates to a president that happens to be of — purportedly, of the same party," Corker told reporters. Pressed on whether he feels Republicans are currently in a "cult-like situation," Corker acknowledged that there are some GOP lawmakers who stand up to Trump and it would be "unfair to try to say" that "about every member."

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CNBC - June 13, 2018

Fed raises 2018 outlook for US economy

The Federal Reserve raised its outlook on U.S. economic growth on Wednesday. The median real GDP forecast rose to 2.8 percent, up from 2.7 percent, for this year. There were no changes for 2019 and 2020, and the longer run median forecast remained 1.8 percent. Economic activity has been rising at a "solid" rate, the Fed's statement said, marking an upgrade from "moderate" in the previous statement. The central bank raised its benchmark short-term interest rate a quarter of a percentage point on Wednesday and indicated two more hikes will likely come this year. Policymakers also lowered their expectations for the unemployment rate.

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Politico - June 13, 2018

DNC plows ahead with plan to dilute superdelegates

The Democratic National Committee is moving ahead with its controversial plan to rein in the role of “superdelegates” at the 2020 Democratic convention, despite a lobbying effort by Democratic lawmakers to scale back the proposal. The dispute has pitted members of Congress and elected officials versus labor leaders and grass-roots activists, with the party base looking like it will win this fight handily. A group of four House Democrats — Reps. David Price (N.C.), Grace Meng (N.Y.), Gregory Meeks (N.Y.) and Rosa DeLauro (Conn.) — met privately with DNC Chairman Tom Perez on Wednesday to discuss the matter. During the session, Perez again pushed his plan to drastically reduce the influence of superdelegates — also known as “unplededged delegates” — in picking a presidential nominee, a hot issue for Democratic activists following the 2016 campaign.

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The Hill - June 13, 2018

Anticipation builds for report on FBI’s Clinton probe

Conservatives on Capitol Hill are anxiously awaiting the imminent release of a report from the Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general scrutinizing the law enforcement agency’s handling of its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server. A spate of recent press reports suggesting that the document will be critical of top DOJ brass has raised expectations among some of President Trump’s most ardent defenders that it will provide fuel for an ongoing broadside against the department. Congress will likely not see the document until shortly before it is made public on Thursday, with its official conclusions remaining the subject of intense speculation until then.

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Associated Press - June 13, 2018

Worker protections seen at risk in Trump health care shift

The Trump administration's latest move against "Obamacare" could jeopardize legal protections on pre-existing medical conditions for millions of people with employer coverage, particularly workers in small businesses, say law and insurance experts. At issue is Attorney General Jeff Sessions' recent decision that the Justice Department will no longer defend key parts of the Obama-era Affordable Care Act in court. That includes the law's unpopular requirement to carry health insurance, but also widely supported provisions that protect people with pre-existing medical conditions and limit what insurers can charge older, sicker customers.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express-News

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Dallas Morning News - June 13, 2018

Brooks: G-7 summit is another reminder that Trump is not playing by your rules

What Trump did to the G-7 is essentially the same thing he did to the GOP. He simply refused to play by everybody else's rules and he effectively changed the game. All of this illustrates that the core divide in our politics is no longer the conventional left-right divide. The core issue in our politics is over how we establish relationship. You can either organize relationship at a high level — based on friendship, shared values, loyalty and affection — or you can organize relationship at a low level, based on mutual selfish interest and a brutal, ends-justify-the-means mentality. The grand project for those of us who believe in a high-level, civilized world order is to find ways to restore social trust. It is to find ways to restructure power — at all levels — in order to re-inspire faith in the system. It is to find common projects — locally, globally and internationally — that diverse people can do together.

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Washington Post - June 13, 2018

Scanning immigrants’ old fingerprints, U.S. threatens to strip thousands of citizenship

The Trump administration is analyzing decades-old fingerprints in an unprecedented effort to rescind American citizenship from immigrants who may have lied or falsified information on their naturalization forms. Revoking citizenship, a process known as denaturalization, has long been treated as a rare and relatively drastic measure by immigration authorities, reserved for foreigners who commit egregious crimes or acts of fraud, or pose a threat to national security. But under a new policy memo issued by L. Francis Cissna, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency is investigating thousands of old fingerprint records and files to determine whether foreigners made false or fraudulent statements in their attempts to obtain legal residency in the United States.

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Politico - June 13, 2018

'The Baton Got Dropped’: Obama Alums Run to Finish What He Started

So many Obama administration alumni are running for office this year that the former president’s staff has lost count, but it is keeping close tabs on whether they’re winning their primaries—and nearly all are, everywhere around the country. That’s a big change from the years when Barack Obama was in the White House, when almost no one who’d worked for him stayed involved in politics and—with the exception of a few, like Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Massachusetts state Sen. Eric Lesser—was interested in running themselves. They were done. They loved the president and couldn’t imagine anyone or any campaign would live up. They cashed out. They marketed themselves on the strength of Obama’s strategy and cachet. Some took corporate jobs. They assumed Hillary Clinton would win the presidency in 2016 and that they could settle down to watch their guy be hailed as the man who led the country into a new progressive era.

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Wall St. Journal - June 13, 2018

Comcast Tops Disney With $65 Billion Bid for Fox Assets

Comcast Corp. CMCSA -0.19% made an unsolicited offer to buy most of 21st Century Fox Inc. FOX 7.48% for roughly $65 billion, kicking off a bidding war with Walt Disney Co. DIS 1.90% as the two media titans jockey for position in a business undergoing tumultuous change. Comcast on Wednesday bid $35 a share in cash for the assets, which range from a storied Hollywood studio and international pay-TV distribution to cable networks and a stake in streaming company Hulu. That is a premium of nearly 20% to Disney’s all-stock offer for the same set of assets. Neither bid includes Fox News, Fox Sports 1 or the Fox broadcast network and its TV stations, which will be spun off into a new company.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 13, 2018

Congressional Republicans return to the field a year after shooting

The baseball coach with a shock of gray hair and Atlanta Braves’ cap calls his players around after an early morning practice for one last pep talk: hit hard, field those balls and, most of all, win. They all laugh, join in a team hand-stack, cheer and soon go off to their day jobs — as members of the U.S. Congress. It is, in many ways, a remarkable scene. A year after a gunman shot members of the Republican baseball team, the lawmakers are back on the field, coached by U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, was injured diving into the dugout to avoid the gunfire at the practice field in Alexandria, Va.

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New York Times - June 13, 2018

Paul Ryan Says Trump Is All In on Next Week’s Immigration Votes

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, seeking to unite his fractious conference around a compromise immigration bill, assured Republican lawmakers during a closed-door session on Wednesday that President Trump is backing the effort, though passage of the measure next week remains very much in doubt. Wednesday’s gathering came less than 12 hours after Mr. Ryan’s office announced that the House would consider immigration next week — but not bipartisan bills prompted by a desire to protect young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. Instead, lawmakers will consider a hard-line measure that emphasizes border security and the somewhat more moderate compromise measure, yet to be finalized, that still meets Mr. Trump’s standards.

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Dallas Morning News - June 13, 2018

Leubsdorf: Trump and Carter: Two inexperienced, outsider presidents bad at taking advice

Stuart Eizenstat, a key policy adviser in Jimmy Carter's White House, spent a quarter-century producing a massive account of the Carter years designed to show the 39th president deserves more credit than he has received for making a lasting impact. Carter's leadership in crafting the Camp David agreement and the resulting Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty has been widely recognized, as have the Panama Canal Treaty and his emphasis on human rights in U.S. foreign policy. Eizenstat bolsters his argument by citing Carter's role in expanding environmental protection, enacting the first comprehensive energy policy and starting the post-Vietnam defense buildup. But his newly published, 902-page volume, "President Carter," is so painstakingly honest, it also shows in excruciating detail how the former Georgia governor's unpreparedness, rigid personality and disdain for politics in decision-making had a negative effect on his presidency.

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Dallas Morning News - June 12, 2018

Schnurman: AT&T CEO Stephenson got his dream deal with Time Warner. Will it pay off?

AT&T may need Time Warner more than ever, but so does CEO Randall Stephenson. On Tuesday, the Dallas telecom giant and its top executive got what they’d been working for since the fall of 2016 — the green light to move ahead on a merger with Time Warner Inc. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled in favor of AT&T, rejecting the Justice Department’s effort to block the $108.7 billion deal. If the decision stands — and Leon advised the government to not try to stop it again — the benefits could spread far and wide.

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Newsclips - June 13, 2018

Lead Stories

Washington Post - June 12, 2018

House to vote next week on two competing immigration bills after Republican negotiations on a compromise fall short

The House will vote next week on competing immigration bills that deal with the fate of young undocumented immigrants with no guarantee that either will pass and resolve the divisive issue. A spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) made the announcement late Tuesday after a group of renegade Republican moderates failed to gather enough support to force votes on far-reaching protections for “dreamers” — including on bipartisan bills that could easily pass. “Members across the Republican Conference have negotiated directly and in good faith with each other for several weeks, and as a result, the House will consider two bills next week,” said AshLee Strong, an aide to Ryan.

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Politico - June 12, 2018

Republicans demand vote on any North Korea deal

Congress is determined to have the final say over any deal President Donald Trump strikes with North Korea. As Trump signed a joint statement with Kim Jong Un that offered few details on how the North Korean leader would make good on his vow to denuclearize, Republicans on Capitol Hill said Tuesday that they want and expect the White House to submit any final agreement for their approval. And that means the president and his team will have to work overtime to sell it. What's at stake is more than just the terms of a deal with a dictator who Trump praised as "talented" and "a very good negotiator." It’s whether any agreement will outlast the current administration.

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Investor's Business Daily - June 11, 2018

Weekley : Climate Change: A Plea For Legislation, Not Litigation

They've partnered with mayors, environmental activists and states' attorneys general to wage a legally dubious crusade against our nation's oil and gas producers — all on contingency fee contracts for the lawyers, of course. The legal system has been weaponized for a full-scale attack on a critical player in America's economy. But this public policy debate is better suited for the halls of Congress and our state capitols, not the halls of justice.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 12, 2018

Idea of arming teachers draws sharp response at Capitol hearing

The prospect of arming teachers and administrators to counter school shooters drew a sharp response Tuesday as a special committee of the Texas Senate held its second hearing in two days on school safety. Opponents said the practice has not been shown to improve safety, places a massive responsibility on already overwhelmed teachers and fosters a siege mentality that damages the learning environment. Supporters said having an armed adult on site, trained in how to respond to emergency situations, could save lives, saying that the average police response time is three minutes.

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State Stories

Austin American-Statesman - June 12, 2018

Texas Republicans offer guarded praise of the U.S.-North Korea summit

“I remain cautiously optimistic that these talks maintain the potential for a monumental diplomatic breakthrough. But, we cannot lose sight of the Kim dynasty’s history of negotiating in bad faith with the three previous administrations. A deal that does not detail the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea will be unacceptable. In the meantime, we need to uphold our campaign of maximum pressure to ensure we hold Kim and his regime accountable for flouting international norms and law.” — U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin. “So far, Trump appears to have actually accomplished little more than the global attention he craves. What’s missing is even one of the essential steps to ensure verified North Korean denuclearization—no declarations of nuclear materials, sites, commitment to remove materials, no plan for inspections or even a promise of inspections. Meanwhile, North Korea displayed to the world its flag beside ours and its cruel leader as an equal on the international stage, while achieving a reduction in U.S. military exercises and an effective easing of economic sanctions.” — U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin.

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Dallas Morning News - June 12, 2018

Why a cool reception was just what Beto O'Rourke wanted on his U.S. Senate campaign trail

On a steamy Saturday morning, Beto O'Rourke walked the streets of South Dallas looking for votes. He got three Popsicles. "I've been block walking since 2005, when I first ran for El Paso City Council, and this is the first time I've been offered a Popsicle," a giddy O'Rourke said. "I'm so excited ... I love purple." O'Rourke, now a congressman from El Paso, is waging a spirited but uphill campaign to unseat incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz. His strategy involves reaching as many Texas voters as possible, including Republicans looking for alternatives in the era of President Donald Trump.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 12, 2018

Will Republican-led Texas panel put ‘Mexican-American’ in course name?

Dozens of scholars and activists called Tuesday on the State Board of Education to change the name of a new statewide Mexican-American studies course to include the term “Mexican-American.” The Republican-led board voted in April to start developing the curriculum for a high school social studies elective course called “Ethnic Studies: An Overview of Americans of Mexican Descent.” Mexican-American activists applauded the development of the course, but they decried the name, saying it did not accurately represent Mexican-American identity and does not reflect an established area of study. The proposed name is “going to be received as an indignity … because it implies that somehow being Mexican-American is a threat to the notion of being American. An ethnic identity should not be a test of what it means to be American,” Houston school district educator Douglas Torres-Edwards told the board.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 12, 2018

Texas lags in vaccination rates for human papillomavirus

Hoping to increase vaccination rates in Texas for the human papillomavirus, or HPV, a group of health professionals on Tuesday announced the launch of a new education effort. Ninety percent of HPV cases go away on their own within two years, according the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but some forms of HPV can cause cervical and other types of cancer. Experts say getting the vaccine is a way to tamp down chances of getting one of those cancers. Each year, about 31,500 men and women in the U.S. are diagnosed with a cancer caused by HPV. There is no treatment for HPV infection, but vaccination and screening can prevent most HPV-related cancers. But in Texas, where battles over vaccination have been politically charged, only 33 percent of children aged 13 to 17 have been vaccinated for HPV — leaving the state ranked 47th among states for HPV vaccination rates.

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Austin American-Statesman - June 12, 2018

That big news out of the Governor’s Mansion? It’s a puppy

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott promised “big news” on Twitter Tuesday afternoon. But he didn’t mention it was fluffy, too. You might be familiar with Abbott’s “first puppy of Texas,” Pancake. Abbott announced that Pancake will be joined by a “new first puppy of Texas,” whose name is yet to be decided. The governor shared a picture of himself with the two dogs and his wife, Cecilia, on Twitter:

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Houston Chronicle - June 12, 2018

Harris County places $2.5B flood bond on August ballot

Harris County Commissioners Court on Tuesday unanimously agreed to place a $2.5 billion flood infrastructure bond before voters on Aug. 25, the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey. If passed, the bond would be the largest local investment in flood mitigation since the storm flooded 154,000 homes across the county. "I think the whole nation is going to be watching us," County Judge Ed Emmett said of the region's approach to flooding post-Harvey. "Everyone is saying Houston, Harris County, the whole region — we have the chance to do it right." FOX 26 News Media: Fox 26 Houston The decision comes after county officials have held just two of around two dozen community meetings to seek suggestions from residents about flood control projects, limiting the county's ability to make major changes to its plans for the funds.

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Houston Chronicle - June 13, 2018

Beto O’Rourke visits immigrant detention center: 'I can only imagine the terror they felt'

El Paso congressman and Senate hopeful Beto O'Rourke traveled to Texas' border on Tuesday to witness firsthand the separation of families under the Trump administration. In a video detailing his day in McAllen, O'Rourke said he met with a mother and her 7-year-old daughter in custody at one of the nation's busiest border patrol stations. "Within the next, perhaps, 24 hours they were going to be separated and I don't know that [the] mother and her child knew that at the time," O'Rourke said. According to O'Rourke, the duo traveled 2,000 miles from Honduras before turning themselves in to a border patrol agent. During their meeting, O'Rourke said the image that stuck in his mind the most was the young girl gripping her mother's hand as tightly as possible.

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Houston Chronicle - June 12, 2018

Texas Dems with little money banking on face-to-face turnout

As the statewide slate of Democrats joined hands in a unity salute recently at the venerable Scholz Garten pub near the State Capitol, Jack Greiner, a self-identified “Blue Dog Democrat,” applauded mildly and shook his head. “Never really heard of any of them,” said the 66-year-old, retired state employee, who has recently been block-walking and canvassing for a state House candidate, hoping to unseat a Republican. “Other than some House and congressional seats, I’m not sure what it would take to win statewide. It’s been a long, long time.” Twenty-four years, to be exact. As Texas’ two major political parties prepare for their state conventions — the Republicans meet in San Antonio this week, the Democrats next week in Fort Worth — their paths to victory for statewide races in the November mid-term elections appear as far apart as the parties themselves.

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Dallas Morning News - June 12, 2018

Should Texas teachers carry guns? Lawmakers, witnesses debate merits of school marshal program

Mothers, students and educators packed a room at the Texas Capitol on Tuesday to voice their opposition to arming teachers and school personnel, while experts invited to testify touted the state's school marshal program. The second day of hearings for a Senate select committee on school safety addressed the marshal plan the Legislature passed in 2013, which allows licensed school employees to carry firearms after taking an 80-hour course run by law enforcement. The Texas Association of School Boards reports that 217 districts have adopted some form of a program to allow school employees to carry firearms. Kim Vickers, executive director of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, told the committee that other states are asking for his assistance to establish marshal programs. Right now, he's working closely with Arkansas.

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Dallas Morning News - June 12, 2018

Rooney, Clark: New Bush-SMU institute hopes to become globally recognized source of economic policy ideas

North Texas has one of the most successful regional economies in the U.S. Over the past three decades, Dallas has grown faster, exported more and added more jobs than nearly any other part of the country. It has attracted people from all over the world to live, work and invest here. But Dallas has not generally been a place where national or international economic policy is made. Until now. The George W. Bush Institute and Southern Methodist University recently launched the Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative. This partnership is not unique — a number of the most influential and effective policy centers in the U.S. are closely linked to great universities.

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Dallas Morning News - June 12, 2018

Borel: Texas Legislature cries foul over Medicaid tragedies but fails to admit its own role

Major credit to David McSwane, Andrew Chavez and The Dallas Morning News for the Pain & Profit series of articles, which bring to light problems in the policies and operations of the Texas Medicaid program. As the executive director of the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, I've had a Medicaid ringside seat for 18 years. The problems reported by McSwane and Chavez are real, and managed care organizations must be held accountable when they do wrong. The Texas Legislature, the very group now urgently calling for hearings and solutions, must acknowledge its own complicity in the root causes of the problems.

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Dallas Morning News - June 12, 2018

Pence's speech approved by Southern Baptists, but not without dissent

Divisions arose over the announcement that Vice President Mike Pence will speak to messengers on Wednesday morning. “It’s an honor to welcome Vice President Pence,” said Grant Ethridge, chairman of the convention’s Committee on Order of Business. “While the Southern Baptist Convention aligns itself with no political party, our program recognizes and honors local, state and national leaders.” But not all Baptists were thrilled about the announcement, and some took to Twitter to voice disappointment. A vocal minority of Baptists say Pence’s politics sow discord among the already tense group.

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Dallas Morning News - June 12, 2018

DMN: Why Texas' new effort to fight maternal mortality with checklists is a smart idea

Too often in Texas, small medical missteps and overlooked warning signs cause a celebration to turn to horror. Treatable complications are driving our state’s maternal mortality rates, killing women before they ever have the chance to become mothers. State maternal mortality rates have understandably set off alarm bells the last few years. Now we are finally seeing evidence-based interventions that will help to save lives that never should have been at risk in the first place. The Texas Department of State Health Services and TexasAIM (Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health) announced last week that they are working with hospitals to ensure that they follow new standardized guidelines for treating women at risk of complications during and after birth. So far, 168 of Texas’ 242 hospitals have joined the initiative.

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San Antonio Express-News - June 12, 2018

Texas prisons: More than 500 inmate disciplinary cases tossed after quotas investigation

Texas prison officials have tossed more than 500 inmate disciplinary cases and fired a fifth official in the wake of revelations about short-lived guard quota systems at multiple units across the state. The development Monday comes less than two weeks after four officials were fired and a fifth quit under investigation in connection with allegations that officers planted a screwdriver in a prisoner's cell at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's Ramsey Unit in Brazoria County. "Violations of TDCJ policy will not be tolerated and swift action will be taken if any are found," said prison spokesman Jeremy Desel.

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Texas Tribune - June 12, 2018

During school safety hearing, Texas lawmakers express support for arming faculty and staff — maybe even with rifles

Wylie Independent School District prepares for armed intruders in a variety of ways, from active shooter drills to safety-themed coloring books. Some school staff are trained to be armed marshals and are ready to shoot if there's a threat. Members of the Senate Select Committee on Violence in Schools and School Security disputed among themselves Tuesday whether that model is appropriate statewide, but they arrived at no concrete legislative proposals. It was the second meeting of the committee, which Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick created to address gun violence in schools. Possible solutions members pondered included allowing faculty to carry guns. One state senator raised the idea of giving faculty rifles.

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Texas Tribune - June 13, 2018

A new company that calls itself the "Indie Party" is trying to crash Texas' U.S. Senate race

It’s got a high-tech evangelist for a founder, $6 million in private equity investments, even its own crypto-currency. No, it’s not a driverless car start-up or some new, life-changing app. It’s the Indie Party — billed as a “movement” to end the “two-party duopoly” in the United States but built more like a political consulting and technology firm with profit in mind. Its first target — and at this point its only target — is the high-stakes U.S. Senate race featuring Republican Ted Cruz and Democrat Beto O’Rourke. Its candidate and founder is a self-described “successful tech entrepreneur” and fluent Mandarin speaker named Jonathan Jenkins. The Euless native has been busily gathering the 47,000 or so signatures he needs to qualify for a spot as an independent on the November ballot alongside Cruz and O’Rourke.

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Texas Tribune - June 13, 2018

Ramsey: Are Texas political conventions necessary?

When Texas Libertarians get together every two years, their relatively low-key conventions have a genuine consequence — conventions are where that party nominates its candidates for the general election. Texas Republicans don’t do that. Texas Democrats don’t do that. And while we’re here, can you name the Libertarian candidates for U.S. Senate and governor? (Answers at the end.) The two major parties convene every two years in big, splashy gatherings to hear speeches, to network, to write party platforms that are almost uniformly ignored by their respective candidates, to spend money at hotels, restaurants and other tourist-oriented businesses in their host cities, and then to pack up the buttons and bumper stickers and funny clothes and go home.

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Ft. Worth Star-Telegram - June 12, 2018

Do politics belong in Southern Baptist Convention? Some say vice president's visit too divisive

The topics on the first official day of the Southern Baptists’ annual meeting Tuesday spanned from the fate of a seminary's trustee board to whether to withdraw an invitation to Vice President Mike Pence. The meeting is the best reminder that the Southern Baptist Convention is a voluntary affiliation of local churches without a strong top-down hierarchy, with opinions that vary considerably for a denomination considered strictly conservative. The SBC is the largest Protestant denomination in the United States. The convention elected a new president, and it wasn’t close: J.D. Greear, pastor of the Summit Church in North Carolina, beat Ken Hemphill of South Carolina with 68 percent percent of the vote.

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McClatchy Newspapers - June 12, 2018

Exclusive: Trump looking to erect tent cities to house unaccompanied children

The Trump administration is looking to build tent cities at military posts around Texas to shelter the increasing number of unaccompanied migrant children being held in detention. The Department of Health and Human Services will visit Fort Bliss, a sprawling Army base near El Paso in the coming weeks to look at a parcel of land where the administration is considering building a tent city to hold between 1,000 and 5,000 children, according to U.S. officials and other sources familiar with the plans. HHS officials confirmed that they’re looking at the Fort Bliss site along with Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene and Goodfellow AFB in San Angelo for potential use as temporary shelters. “HHS will make the determination if any of the three sites assessed are suitable," said an HHS official.

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Reuters - June 12, 2018

Overlooked U.S. border shantytowns face threat of gathering storms

When it rains in South Texas, Norma Aldape worries that dirty water will overwhelm the shantytowns - known as colonias - where she lives tight against the U.S.-Mexico border. With the prospect of climate change bringing more powerful storms more often, flooding is the latest ordeal for 500,000 people in Texas living with little or no drainage in colonias that are largely unheard of further from the border. Residents like Aldape already have had to fight for decades to get basic services such as sanitation and electricity, and tens of thousands still get by without clean water, street lights, paved roads or public transport. But sitting on low-lying floodplains once fields and orchards along the meandering waterway of the Rio Grande, the colonias now face an even greater danger - climate disasters.

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Midland Reporter-Telegram - June 11, 2018

Long-term care facilities face staffing crisis

Those in the Texas health care industry are ringing alarm bells about a growing crisis affecting nursing homes throughout the Lone Star State. The Texas Health Care Association reports the 97 percent turnover rate for certified nurse aides and the 90 percent turnover rate for registered nurses and licensed vocational nurses are affecting nursing homes statewide, including the 22 operating in Andrews, Brewster, Crane, Ector, Ector, Glasscock, Howard, Jeff Davis, Loving, Martin and Midland counties. "It's a huge concern when you look at the fact we're seeing direct care staff who are caring for our mothers, our grandmothers, our fathers, our grandfathers, have a turnover rate of 90 to 97 percent," Kevin Warren, president and chief executive officer of the association, said in a phone interview from his Austin office.

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County Stories

Dallas Morning News - June 12, 2018

North Texas Municipal Water District wants to name Texas' first big lake in years after itself – but that could change

The decision to call Texas' first new reservoir in 30 years North Texas Municipal Lake was met with disappointment, anger and laughter. A state senator said it was arrogant for the North Texas Municipal Water District to ignore local suggestions and name the lake after itself. Now the district could be backing away from that choice. "NTMWD has worked hard over the years to build relationships and goodwill with the residents of Fannin County, and we sincerely want to continue to be good neighbors and partners in the future," spokeswoman Janet Rummel said in a statement. "Selecting a name that Fannin County supports is important to the District."

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City Stories

San Antonio Express-News - June 12, 2018

San Antonio weighs new hotel fee to raise funds for tourism promotion

Tourists would wind up paying slightly higher hotel bills if local hoteliers and tourism officials succeed in getting the city to create a fee they say is necessary to keep San Antonio’s nearly $14 billion hospitality industry competitive. The San Antonio Hotel and Lodging Association and Visit San Antonio, the former Convention and Visitors Bureau that is tasked with promoting the city to travelers, want to create a “tourism public improvement district” that covers the entire city and is aimed at funding promotion efforts for the local tourism industry. Under the proposal, hotel guests would pay 1.25 percent on top of the existing 16.8 percent occupancy tax on stays at hotels and lodging facilities with more than 100 rooms. Officials estimate the fee would bring in $10 million during the first year if it’s enacted.

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Houston Chronicle - June 12, 2018

Feds worry convicted Houston charter founders are selling off assets before sentencing

When federal prosecutors last month walked through the 7,000-square-foot Houston estate of Alsie Cluff Jr. and Marian Annette Cluff, founders of the Varnett charter school network, they found the married couple’s mansion virtually empty, down to missing bathroom mirrors and towel racks. Appliances, artwork, chandeliers, furniture and televisions were all gone, either donated or sold. The recipients included charitable organizations, such as Goodwill and a Baptist church, but also the couple’s son, their real estate agent and unnamed victims of Hurricane Harvey. The walk-through confirmed prosecutors’ suspicions that the Cluffs, who have admitted to siphoning $2.6 million their charter school and hiding the money from the Internal Revenue Service, were getting rid of their assets ahead of their sentencing scheduled for Friday. That’s when a judge is expected to deliver the couple’s restitution bill: $4.4 million.

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Houston Chronicle - June 12, 2018

'Die-in' outside Cruz's office recognizes 2nd anniversary of Pulse massacre

The Houston branch of an organization seeking tighter gun control marked the second anniversary of the Pulse nightclub massacre on Tuesday by protesting outside of Sen. Ted Cruz's office downtown. About 15 people from March for our Lives participated in a 12-minute "die-in" on the sidewalk outside of the lawmaker's office at 808 Travis, honoring the 49 people who were killed June 12, 2016, at a gay nightclub in Orlando. The mission of the group, created after a different massacre in Florida - the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School - is to change the nation's gun laws, organizers said. The organization is primarily led by students, although several adults came to support the protest.

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National Stories

The Hill - June 12, 2018

DNC to reject fossil fuel company donations

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) will no longer accept campaign donations from fossil fuel companies. The DNC's resolution, first introduced by Christine Pelosi, a member of the committee and the daughter of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was introduced as a way to connect with grass-roots voters and emphasize the party's stance on environmentalism. "Climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels represents an existential threat to civilization, and Democrats committed in our 2016 Platform to curbing the effects of climate change, protecting America’s natural resources, and ensuring the quality of our air, water, and land for current and future generations," read the text of the resolution, which passed over the weekend and was provided to The Hill by the DNC.

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Houston Chronicle - June 12, 2018

UH's Khator pushed against House GOP's higher ed bill

University of Houston Chancellor Renu Khator has pushed back against parts of the House's bill overhauling federal higher education policy in a series of letters to lawmakers, records show. She wrote that, in its current form, the bill could exacerbate student debt and add to UH's administrative burdens. House leaders will soon assess how many votes are locked down for the bill, which is called the PROSPER Act, Politico reported Tuesday morning. Democrats and some higher education groups have protested the bill, which they say pares back financial aid for students. That appears to be Khator's main criticism of the bill. In early May, she sent letters to more than 30 elected officials, including Rep. Kevin Brady, a Republican from The Woodlands, Rep. Al Green, a Houston Democrat, and Rep. Ted Poe, a Humble Republican.

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Dallas Morning News - June 12, 2018

Perry's plan to save coal, nuclear power plants 'difficult to stomach' for at least one fellow Texan

Energy Secretary Rick Perry's latest effort to prop up the struggling coal and nuclear energy industries is testing anew the free market credentials the former Texas governor burnished over decades in public office. Just ask some of his most ardent home-state backers in Congress. "It's not the worst idea in the world," said Ennis Rep. Joe Barton, a senior Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which shares oversight of the Energy Department. "But if you believe in free markets, it's difficult to stomach." Perry's push — which comes at President Donald Trump's prodding — seeks to give those beleaguered power sources what would amount to a regulatory bailout.

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Washington Post - June 13, 2018

Bernie Sanders supporter attends every DNC rule-change meeting. DNC member calls her a Russian plant.

Selina Vickers’s weekend trip to Rhode Island was as cheap as she could make it. She shelled out $143.60 for a train ticket from West Virginia to Providence, where the Democratic National Committee’s rules and bylaws group was meeting. She paid $68.07 for an Airbnb in Cranston, a short commute from Providence. Once there, Vickers did what she always did at DNC meetings — she took notes, recorded video and made sure that the party was committing to overhaul its primary rules. A few days later, Vickers was accused of being a Russia-backed agent of chaos, working to destabilize the Democratic Party from within.

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Wall St. Journal - June 12, 2018

Republican Rep. Mark Sanford Defeated in South Carolina Primary

Republican primary voters rewarded loyalty to President Donald Trump in primary races Tuesday, ousting South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford, a vocal critic of the president, and nominating Trump ally Corey Stewart for a U.S. Senate seat in Virginia. Together, the two primary results were a sign of how thoroughly Mr. Trump has come to dominate the Republican Party. In the Charleston-based district in South Carolina, Rep. Katie Arrington was declared the winner by the Associated Press. She accused Mr. Sanford of being disloyal to the president, portraying him as a Trump adversary because he had been openly critical of some of the president’s policies and provocative statements.

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Wall St. Journal - June 13, 2018

Trump, Kim Begin New Phase of Diplomacy

President Donald Trump launched a high-stakes diplomatic effort to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons, betting that a friendlier approach with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un —including a surprise promise to halt military exercises with South Korea—would work better than intimidation. With the task ahead to make the agreement concrete, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to travel to Seoul on Wednesday for talks with South Korean and Japanese officials, followed by a trip to China. The decision to cancel the exercises, the refining of the timetables for denuclearization and possible future sanction relief are expected to be on the agenda. North Korea said Wednesday that Mr. Trump had told Mr. Kim he intended to halt U.S.-South Korea military exercises and lift sanctions against the North, suggesting through its state media that Mr. Trump had explicitly acceded to two longstanding North Korean demands during bilateral talks at their summit meeting a day earlier.

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New York Times - June 12, 2018

The New Obamacare Lawsuit Could Undo Far More Than Protections for Pre-existing Conditions

A new Trump administration court challenge is explicitly aiming to remove a central promise of Obamacare — its protections for people with pre-existing health conditions. But it could also make it much harder for any individual to obtain health insurance on the open market. The administration’s brief, filed in Federal District Court in Texas on Thursday, focuses on the core Obamacare provisions that make insurance available to people with prior illnesses. Those protections — which President Trump once praised and Republicans in Congress vowed not to disrupt last year — don’t exist in a vacuum. Undoing them could also undo other programs in the health law, making insurance harder to obtain for people who buy their own insurance or get it through a small company, and possibly making it unaffordable for many middle-income people who receive financial assistance with their health insurance premiums under the law.

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New York Times - June 12, 2018

Douthat: The Obama-Trump Grand Strategy

Of course the foreign policy differences between the two presidencies are obvious — just look at the Iran deal, or the Paris climate change accords, or their differing attitudes toward Israel or Saudi Arabia, Angela Merkel and Justin Trudeau. But there is also a mirror-image quality to their gambits and ambitions. Trump is trying to make a deal with North Korea, a last Cold War holdout, much as Obama did with Cuba. Trump is angering a traditional set of allies (the Europeans and now Canada) while pining for a détente with an authoritarian rival (Russia); Obama had a similar approach to realignment in the Middle East, angering the Israelis and Saudis while seeking an accommodation with Iran. Meanwhile, there is a clear overlap in the two presidents’ approach to the global war on terrorism they inherited from George W. Bush: Both are willing to be aggressive with drones and bombs and special forces, both claim expansive executive authority to determine battlefields and targets, but both are wary of wider wars and ready to feud with their own advisers about anything that involves ground troops.

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Dallas Morning News - June 12, 2018

Meade: How Mexico and Texas have built a compelling case on the benefits of free trade

Topo Chico has become a Texas staple. This is real news. The Mexican sparkling water is not only quenching the thirst of the Latino community or washing down tasty tacos. It is the only carbonated water served at Dallas' Winspear Opera House and a trendy chaser accompanying single malts. Topo Chico is an example of the North American Free Trade Agreement importance to one of Mexico's most intertwined relationships in the world: with Texas. Mexico is Texas' largest export market, and Texas is Mexico's main commercial partner. Texas families are better off today, thanks to the 382,000 jobs that depend on trade with Mexico. Mexico and Texas have built a compelling case for the benefits of free trade, which will be one of the crucial issues on the ballot in a couple of weeks in Mexico's watershed presidential election.

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Visalia Times Delta (CA) - June 12, 2018

Devin Nunes to haters: 'Thank you' after big election win

Protesters lined his streets. Strangers and members of the media knocked on his Tulare door and the doors of his family and friends. Billboards went up with his photo front and center. Vandals defaced his signs with Russian symbols. Some national prognosticators switched his District 22 U.S. House of Representatives seat to "likely Republican" from "safe Republican." But numbers from June 5's primary election showed Tulare's favorite son and eight-time incumbent U.S. Congressman Devin Nunes racking up more votes than his five competitors — combined. Now, Nunes moves on to a November race against a Democrat, Redwood High School graduate Andrew Janz, in a district that hasn’t voted blue since its lines were redrawn in 2003. Nunes' response to his critics after that commanding Election Night performance: "Thank you.” It’s not often a political heavyweight such as Nunes thanks people who criticized him, but he says his base has never been stronger because of local and national attacks on him. Nunes blames the media, local and national outlets, for giving Democrats false hope that an anti-President Trump wave could unseat him.

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Los Angeles Times - June 12, 2018

Radical plan to split California into three states earns spot on November ballot

California’s 168-year run as a single entity, hugging the continent’s edge for hundreds of miles and sprawling east across mountains and desert, could come to an end next year — as a controversial plan to split the Golden State into three new jurisdictions qualified Tuesday for the Nov. 6 ballot. If a majority of voters who cast ballots agree, a long and contentious process would begin for three separate states to take the place of California, with one primarily centered around Los Angeles and the other two divvying up the counties to the north and south. Completion of the radical plan — far from certain, given its many hurdles at judicial, state and federal levels — would make history. It would be the first division of an existing U.S. state since the creation of West Virginia in 1863.

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Wall St. Journal - June 12, 2018

AT&T Beats U.S. in Antitrust Fight Over Time Warner

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that AT&T Inc. T 0.50% can proceed with its blockbuster acquisition of Time Warner Inc., TWX 0.05% without any conditions, marking a historic defeat for the Justice Department that could rewrite the media landscape and set the stage for other deals. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon told a packed courtroom that the department hadn’t proved its case that the deal would suppress competition in the pay-TV industry. At one point waving his 172-page opinion in the air, Judge Leon declared: “The court has now spoken and the defendants have won.” The moment provided a final act of drama in a case that carried the highest stakes for the two companies, their leaders and the Trump administration’s antitrust enforcement. President Donald Trump was unusually direct in opposing the deal, both before and after taking office, giving the case an unusual political cast.

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Dallas Morning News - June 12, 2018

George H.W. Bush becomes first U.S. president to reach 94 years of age

Former President George H.W. Bush is celebrating his birthday today — and it's a record setter. The senior Bush is the first president to reach 94 years of age. He might not be the only former president to hit that mark — former President Jimmy Carter turns 94 on Oct. 1 — but the other surviving presidents are far behind. His son, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton are 71. So is Donald Trump. Barack Obama is only 56. Bush, who observed his late wife Barbara's 93rd birthday Friday, planned to celebrate his milestone in his family home in Kennebunkport, Maine. A separate celebration was scheduled for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Texas A&M in College Station.

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