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Newsclips - July 16, 2019

Lead Stories

Dallas Morning News - July 15, 2019

Texas Republicans squirm as Trump tells nonwhites in Congress 'go back' home; Cornyn calls it 'unforced error'

President Donald Trump's suggestion that four nonwhite Democratic members of Congress should "go back" home -- even though they're all American citizens and three were born in the United States -- kept fellow Republicans on the defensive on Monday. Repudiation gushed from Democrats, but came in a trickle from his own party.

After saying nothing for 36 hours, Sen. John Cornyn called Trump's comments an "unforced error." Three GOP House members from Texas issued more stern denunciations as most remained silent, feeding a sense that Trump's unbreakable support from the party's base has intimidated other Republicans. Rep. Pete Olson, a six-term Sugar Land Republican, forcefully distanced himself from Trump –– a rarity for him –– by insisting the comments don't reflect the values in his diverse suburban Houston district. He narrowly won a sixth term last fall against Sri Preston Kulkarni, a former diplomat whose father immigrated from India, and Kulkarni is seeking a rematch next year.

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Dallas Morning News - July 15, 2019

Beto O’Rourke still top Texan in donations despite Q2 skid, but Julián Castro shows momentum

Julián Castro's fundraising accelerated in the last three months, and the $2.8 million haul he touted on Monday more than doubled the donations he took in during the early months of his bid for president.

A remarkable 40% of that came in the four days after the first Democratic primary debate, in which Castro attacked fellow Texan Beto O'Rourke for failing to do his homework on border policy. O'Rourke's fundraising pace, meanwhile, plummeted. He raised $3.8 million from April to the end of June, but that was not even as much as he raised in the first 24 hours of his campaign. And it amounted to about a third of what he'd raised in his first month.

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Houston Chronicle - July 15, 2019

Chris Tomlinson: Petrochemical industry has five years to prepare for bust

Big booms and bracing busts are defining features of the oil and gas business, but rarely do experts give us a five-year warning to get ahead of the cycle.

The petrochemical industry is the latest to fall victim to irrational exuberance by overbuilding capacity, particularly in Texas, according to a smart story by my colleague Marissa Luck. The recent construction boom along the Gulf Coast will create a glut of plastic and chemicals in 2023 and keep the market oversupplied until 2030, holding down prices and profits.

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KUT - July 16, 2019

Texas and other states decide not to spend money on 2020 Census

You've got to spend money to make money. But that's not the way Texas, and a handful of other states, are looking at the 2020 census. Officials in Texas have decided not to spend any money or make statewide plans for the census, despite the fact the state experienced massive population growth in the past decade.

With federal dollars at risk, the state's major cities, business leaders and even non-profits say they are being forced to step-in instead. Across the country, states are spending millions on making sure they get a better head count of their residents. For example, California officials announced they are investing as much as $154 million in the 2020 census. But not all states are making investments or even coming up with statewide plans to improve the count.

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State Stories

Dallas Morning News - July 15, 2019

Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen creates new PAC to keep GOP in power by re-electing incumbents

House Speaker Dennis Bonnen announced Monday the creation of a new political action committee focused on re-electing Republicans to the lower chamber of the Texas Legislature during next year's crucial elections.

Bonnen, an Angleton Republican who just wrapped up his first session as the House's leader, started the PAC, Texas Leads, with $3 million from his campaign account. Keeping the Texas House in 2020 is a Republican priority, as Democrats, fresh from their victories in last year's elections, look to re-take a majority in that chamber for the first time since 2003. But to do that, Democrats would have to hold the 12 seats they picked up in the last election and pick up nine more.

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Dallas Morning News - July 15, 2019

False rumors of ICE raids stir fears in Dallas as nationwide immigration sweeps kicked off

Starla Patterson was eating breakfast Sunday morning and scrolling through Facebook when she read a post that warned of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid at a downtown Dallas hotel. Knowing that President Donald Trump had threatened ICE sweeps that were set to start Sunday, Patterson immediately reshared the information that was originally posted by her friend, who works at a downtown hotel.

“Dallas friends: ICE IS IN DOWNTOWN DALLAS. They are currently raiding the Sheraton please send undocumented friends and family somewhere safe until they are gone,” Patterson posted on her Facebook Sunday morning. Her post, which she later deleted, was wrong. ICE did not raid the hotel. On Monday, an associate at the Sheraton hotel said there was no ICE activity, and a general manager said he was not allowed to comment. A Sheraton corporate spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Dallas Morning News - July 15, 2019

Add slaveholding ancestors to Beto O’Rourke contrition list, along with white male privilege

The revelation that Beto O’Rourke’s ancestors owned slaves could damage his already declining presidential campaign, and make it harder to escape an image as a privileged white man, political analysts say.

The El Paso Democrat sought to get ahead of the issue by alerting supporters by email and in a post on Medium on Sunday night, when The Guardian published findings of a dive into his family history, showing that both he and his wife, Amy O’Rourke, were descendants of slaveholders. He recommitted himself to addressing the legacy of inequality, including some sort of reparations for the descendants of slaves.

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Dallas Morning News - July 15, 2019

Dallas Morning News Editorial: As West Texas influence in Austin wanes, Texas Tech takes a new approach

If Texas were its own country, it could claim to have the 10th largest economy in the world, and two of its main industries would be energy and agriculture. Both, of course, are prominently rooted in West Texas, where something like less than 15% of Texans of live.

These facts were part of Texas Tech Chancellor Tedd Mitchell’s pitch this year to the Legislature as he made the argument that taking care of Tech would help a large part of the state succeed in the decades ahead. The pitch worked, as Tech got everything it asked for from the Legislature this year. One secret to his pitch was a simple approach: just one special request per university, the full force of West Texas support, and the promise to sell off his house to economize. That’s not to say Tech got more goodies than other public universities.

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Dallas Morning News - July 16, 2019

Dallas Morning News Editorial: Boom or bust, fracking is permanently changing Texas and undercutting OPEC

Stock investors are souring on the oil and gas industry as oil prices have declined. For an industry whose fortunes are bound to the cycles of economic growth and the caprices of a commodity market, anyone could have guessed that the boom would eventually deflate. It happens every few decades.

But this time something is different. Fracking technology has fundamentally changed the oil and gas industry, altering the nature of the boom-bust cycle in ways that hit Texas directly. Here are a few ways that the fracking revolution has changed how Texas experiences an oil and gas downturn. Reducing operations now means focusing on Texas, rather than pulling out of Texas.

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San Antonio Express-News - July 15, 2019

San Antonio business groups tap Austin strategy in bid to block city’s paid sick leave policy

A group of business associations filed a lawsuit against San Antonio’s paid sick leave policy Monday, using a legal argument that successfully blocked a similar ordinance in Austin last year.

The 12 companies, associations and trade groups asked a Bexar County district judge to block San Antonio’s ordinance from taking effect Aug. 1. They argue Texas’ minimum-wage law preempts the paid sick leave policy. “By compensating employees for time not worked, the effect of the Ordinance is to require employers to pay hourly wage above minimum-wages set by Texas law,” Ricardo Cedillo wrote in the complaint.

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San Antonio Express-News - July 15, 2019

Sen. John Cornyn amasses $9M campaign stockpile as Democratic challengers emerge

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn has more than $9 million to fend off a Democratic challenger in a race that is already drawing national attention — and money — but has yet to really take shape.

Cornyn’s campaign said Monday it raked in $2.5 million in the second quarter of the year as it warned of the “dire need to Keep Texas Red.” More than 80 percent of those gifts came from donors in Texas, the campaign said, and two-thirds were first-time donors. Democrats are already lining up to challenge Cornyn, and even more could jump into the race as the party tries to flip the Senate seat Cornyn has held since 2002. They hope to ride momentum from the 2018 elections that saw the state’s closest Senate race in recent history as Beto O’Rourke come within three percentage points of beating U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.

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San Antonio Express-News - July 15, 2019

Gov. Greg Abbott raised $12 million in two weeks. He won’t face re-election until 2022.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott reported raising $12 million in a two-week period after the legislative session ended, an eye-popping sum for a governor who doesn’t face reelection until 2022.

Abbott’s campaign says it now has more than $26 million in cash on hand, which he can use in the 2020 election cycle, when all 150 state House members and roughly half of state Senators are up for reelection. Democrats are targeting Texas seeking to build on their gains in 2018, when the party flipped 14 seats in the Texas Legislature.

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram - July 15, 2019

This North Texas city might soon be known as a ‘sanctuary city for the unborn.’

There soon could be a new sanctuary city in North Texas. This one would be for “the unborn.” Leaders in Mineral Wells are scheduled Tuesday night to discuss whether they’d like to consider making their hometown such a sanctuary, following the lead of Waskom, a small East Texas town, even as critics adamantly argue that cities don’t have the ability to do that.

“I think this is absolutely the right thing to do,” Mineral Wells Mayor Christopher Perricone said. “My beliefs as a Christian are that life begins at conception. Those lives are in need of help. “Our town could take a stand.” If the City Council agrees that this is the direction the city should take, a formal vote could come later this month. Perricone, a 38-year-old who became mayor last year, said he would like his small city of around 15,000 residents about 50 miles west of Fort Worth to lead the way for other cities.

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram - July 16, 2019

Soon, Texas sexual assault survivors will be able track their rape kits online

Survivors of sexual assault will see an added layer of transparency later this year through a statewide database that tracks the progress of sexual assault evidence kits. And Arlington has been one of the first cities to test the new system in Texas.

Mandated by a state law passed in 2017, the database will require police departments, crime labs and medical facilities to update a kit’s location in the criminal justice system. Survivors will be able to access the online database, known as Track-Kit, anonymously. It goes into effect statewide on Sept. 1, 2019.

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Austin American-Statesman - July 15, 2019

John Cornyn outraises MJ Hegar by $1.5 million in second quarter

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, outraised his high-profile Democratic challenger MJ Hegar by roughly $1.5 million in the second quarter, hauling in $2.5 million. That leaves the senator with $9 million in cash on hand, according to his campaign. Hegar, a retired Air Force helicopter pilot who is the most formidable Democrat running for Cornyn’s seat next year, has about $600,000 in cash on hand.

Monday was the Federal Election Commission filing deadline for candidates to report their April, May and June campaign finance information. “Over the last three months we’ve seen a massive surge in enthusiasm and grassroots support for the campaign,” John Jackson, Cornyn’s campaign manager, said in a written statement Monday. Hegar previously announced that she had raised more than $1 million in the period between April 23, when she began her run, and June 30, the end of the second quarter.

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Austin American-Statesman - July 15, 2019

Data: Former UT chancellor Bill McRaven was highest paid public university leader of 2018

Bill McRaven, the former chancellor of the University of Texas System, had the largest compensation package of any public university leader in the country last year, according to a review by the Chronicle of Higher Education. McRaven earned $2.58 million last year, which included a base pay of over $600,000, a bonus of over $678,000 and $1.28 million in deferred compensation, according to the national education newspaper.

McRaven, a retired four-star admiral who directed the raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011, was an unconventional choice for the position. He had no experience as a higher education administrator. His compensation package at the time of his hiring — $1.6 million a year in salary and deferred compensation — was nearly twice that of his predecessor, Francisco Cigarroa, and UT regents said it reflected his market value.

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Associated Press - July 15, 2019

O'Rourke raises just $3.6M, a big drop from last quarter

Beto O'Rourke raised just $3.6 million in the second quarter, a dramatic drop that places him among a growing group of Democratic presidential hopefuls who are struggling to raise the cash needed for a credible White House run.

The former Texas congressman entered the race with a glowing cover story in Vanity Fair and the expectation that he would be a formidable contender. But the total his campaign announced Monday night was far less than the $9.3 million he raised last quarter and placed him toward the back of the pack.

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City Stories

Houston Chronicle - July 15, 2019

ICE arrests several immigrants at Houston apartments, but so far it’s largely routine

Immigrants hunkered down in a southwest Houston apartment complex Monday, refusing to open their doors and missing work after federal agents arrested several residents early in the morning. The episode may have been a sign that President Donald Trump’s promised large-scale immigration enforcement had begun in the Houston area.

The raids, which the president said last week would start Sunday and were thought to target thousands of recently-arrived families with final deportation orders, did not immediately materialize across the country even as many immigrants locked themselves into their homes and shied away from churches, markets and restaurants.

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Houston Chronicle - July 15, 2019

CDC in Houston Monday touting plan to end HIV

Top federal health officials Monday brought the Trump Administration’s ambitious initiative to end the HIV epidemic to Houston, home to one of the nation’s highest rates of new diagnoses.

The initiative, announced in President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address in February, seeks to dramatically cut the rate of new infections by better deploying drugs that stop the transmission of the virus that causes AIDS. The focus is on 50 “hot spots” — 48 counties, Washington, D.C., and San Juan — where half of new infections occur.

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram - July 16, 2019

Fort Worth mayor has ‘serious concerns’ after reading Panther Island report

Fort Worth officials said Monday they were worried about Panther Island after reading a consultant’s report about the $1.17 billion project.

The report from Dallas-based Riveron suggests changes to the management structure of the Trinity River Vision Authority to improve oversight, transparency and clear confusion surrounding the decades-old flood control and economic development effort. Suggestions include moving real estate development and recreation promotion on the island to a nonprofit and creating a risk management office to better plan for obstacles.

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram - July 15, 2019

No evidence fired Fort Worth police chief acted inappropriately in D.C., commission says

The Texas Workforce Commission found no evidence that former Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald is guilty of work-connected misconduct, the state agency announced Monday in a reversal of its earlier decision in June. In its decision, the TWC also said Fitzgerald should receive full unemployment benefits after being fired on May 20.

The TWC originally denied Fitzgerald unemployment compensation on June 13 based on the claim that the chief was fired due to work-related misconduct. Fitzgerald appealed the decision, and an appellate hearing was concluded on July 11. Fitzgerald was fired after city officials said he acted inappropriately during a police awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.

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San Antonio Express-News - July 16, 2019

Climate change study: San Antonio could see more than three months of 100-degree heat a year by end of century

San Antonio could see 97 days a year with a heat index over 100 degrees and 59 days above 105 degrees by mid-century if no global action is taken to combat climate change, according to a report released Tuesday by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

By the end of the century, the heat would become more life-threatening if carbon emissions continue to increase and drive up average global temperatures, the advocacy group reported. In San Antonio, 133 days would be above the 100-degree heat index and 103 days over 105 degrees. In addition, 10 days a year would be “off-the-charts” hot days, according to the report, “Killer Heat in the United States: The Future of Dangerously Hot Days.”

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Dallas Voice - July 15, 2019

FW Human Relations Commissions vote to remove Steele

The Fort Worth Human Relations Commission today (Monday, July 15) voted unanimously to recommend the removal of Commissioner Mike Steele, who posted numerous racist, transphobic and conspiracy memes on Facebook.

Steele was not present at the meeting. The Facebook posts were discovered two weeks ago by TCU Professor Emily Farris, who posted about them on Twitter, and first reported by the Dallas Voice. Steele is serving his second term on the commission, which advises the city council and the city manager on human rights issues, including LGBTQ issues.

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National Stories

Washington Post - July 16, 2019

George Conway: Trump is a racist president

To this day, I can remember almost the precise spot where it happened: a supermarket parking lot in eastern Massachusetts. It was the mid-1970s; I was not yet a teenager, or barely one. I don’t remember exactly what precipitated the woman’s ire.

But I will never forget what she said to my mother, who had come to this country from the Philippines decades before. In these words or something close, the woman said, “Go back to your country.” I remember the incident well, but it never bothered me all that much. Nor did racial slurs, which, thankfully, were rare. None of it was troublesome, to my mind, because most Americans weren’t like that. The woman in the parking lot was just a boor, an ignoramus, an aberration. America promised equality

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Washington Post - July 15, 2019

'Why don't you speak Spanish?': For Julián Castro and many Latinos, the answer is not so simple

In the crowded Democratic primary field, candidates like Beto O'Rourke, Cory Booker and Pete Buttigieg have flaunted their ability to speak Spanish. But Castro, 44, a third-generation Mexican American and the only Latino running for president, does not speak the language fluently.

The matter has become something of a litmus test from reporters who Castro says ask him repeatedly why he doesn't speak Spanish as though that were essential to being authentically Latino. It came up in the 2016 presidential campaign, when Castro was being considered as a potential running mate for Hillary Clinton, when the front-runner on Clinton's list, Tim Kaine, spoke fluent Spanish. It came up after his keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2012. And Castro took on the question in a practice session before the Democratic presidential debate last month.

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New York Times - July 15, 2019

A blaring message in Republicans’ muted criticism: It’s Trump’s Party

President Trump for his comments about four Democratic congresswomen of color illustrated both the tightening stranglehold Mr. Trump has on his party and the belief of many Republicans that an attack on progressivism should in fact be a central element of the 2020 campaign.

While a smattering of Republicans chastised Mr. Trump on Monday, most party leaders in the House and Senate and much of the rank-and-file remained quiet about the president’s weekend tweets directing dissenters to “go back” where they came from. He followed up on those comments on Monday with harsh language directed at “people who hate America” — an inflammatory accusation to be leveled against elected members of the House.

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San Antonio Express-News - July 13, 2019

Gilbert Garcia: History suggests Trump will be tough to beat in 2020

Over the past 85 years, only three American presidents have been voted out of office. In each case, the incumbent faced a serious intra-party challenge and grappled with a sluggish economy. Remove those factors and the climate becomes very conducive for re-election. That’s why George W. Bush rode out the growing public dissatisfaction with the Iraq War in 2004 and Bill Clinton sailed to victory in 1996 while facing a sexual-harassment suit from Paula Jones.

Heading into the 2020 election, with a Democratic field that includes former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro and former El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke, it doesn't look like Donald Trump will encounter either a serious Republican challenger or a bad economy. Sure, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld has committed to challenging Trump for the GOP nomination. But Weld has no constituency in the party.

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San Antonio Express-News - July 16, 2019

Elaine Ayala: Trump’s ‘go back’ anti-immigrant tirade is as old as the colonies

People of color in the United States have heard variations of “go back to where you came from” all their lives, since childhood even, and in ways that reverberate through generations. Grandparents can tell stories of bullies in the playgrounds and in church pews. Parents remember the racist epithets delivered by college professors, fellow patrons in restaurants and in corporate offices.

Over the weekend, Donald Trump delivered his newest racist tweet, telling four U.S. congresswomen to go back to where they came from, including U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts, all of them U.S.-born. He included Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, a naturalized U.S. citizen. The tweet told them to go back to the “crime-infested” countries “from which they came.” “You can’t leave fast enough,” he added.

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Inside Higher Ed - July 16, 2019

DeVos charges Israel boycott movement with anti-Semitism

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Monday accused the Israel boycott movement BDS of anti-Semitism. At a Justice Department forum on anti-Semitism, DeVos said the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is “one of the most pernicious threats” of anti-Semitism on campuses.

The protest movement was launched more than a decade ago to push for Israel to end its occupation of former Palestinian land and recognize the rights of Arab citizens. It's been endorsed by two freshman members of Congress. It's also been the source of academic and free speech controversies on college campuses.

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Associated Press - July 15, 2019

New election systems use vulnerable software

Pennsylvania's message was clear: The state was taking a big step to keep its elections from being hacked in 2020. Last April, its top election official told counties they had to update their systems. So far, nearly 60% have taken action, with $14.15 million of mostly federal funds helping counties buy brand-new electoral systems.

But there's a problem: Many of these new systems still run on old software that will soon be outdated and more vulnerable to hackers. An Associated Press analysis has found that like many counties in Pennsylvania, the vast majority of 10,000 election jurisdictions nationwide use Windows 7 or an older operating system to create ballots, program voting machines, tally votes and report counts.

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New York Post - July 15, 2019

Meet ‘Ice Bae’: Latina Border Patrol officer taking social media by storm

A female Border Patrol officer has gone viral — with social media users dubbing the woman #IceBae — on account of her dolled-up appearance.

“#IceBae could detain me for however long she wants,” another said. The female officer was providing security for Vice President Mike Pence during his recent border visit when she was photographed standing outside of a holding cell.

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Newsclips - July 15, 2019

Lead Stories

New York Times - July 14, 2019

Trump tells freshman Congresswomen to ‘go back’ to the countries they came from

President Trump said on Sunday that a group of four liberal Democratic congresswomen feuding with Speaker Nancy Pelosi should “go back” to the countries they came from rather than “loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States” how to run the government.

Wrapped inside that insult was a factually inaccurate claim: Only one of the lawmakers was born outside the country. But all four are women of color. Even though Mr. Trump has repeatedly refused to back down from stoking racial divisions, his willingness to deploy a lowest-rung slur — one commonly and crudely used to single out the perceived foreignness of nonwhite, non-Christian people — was widely regarded as beyond the pale.

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Dallas Morning News - July 15, 2019

Gromer Jeffers, Jr.: With straight-ticket voting gone, Texas House down-ballot races hang in the balance

For decades Texas voters have been able to select a straight-party slate — Democratic, Republican or Libertarian — and avoid the cumbersome task of picking candidates in races up and down a crammed ballot. Straight-ticket voting, as it's commonly known, was more than a convenience. It was an easy way to lock in partisan base voters, as well as casual election participants who lacked the patience to sort through long ballots.

But next year a new Texas law that abolished straight-ticket voting takes effect, and it has already changed how candidates and party leaders are campaigning. Now operatives and candidates are urging voters to make selections across the entire ballot, no matter how long it takes. No more punching one button and going home. According to a February study produced by Austin Community College's Center for Public Policy and Political Studies, Republicans in the 2000 presidential election got 51% of the statewide straight-ticket vote, compared to 49% for Democrats. Last year it was a wash, with both parties getting nearly 50% of the straight-ticket vote.

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Houston Chronicle - July 13, 2019

Stan Marek: Houston business leaders’ solution to the immigration crisis

The lowest unemployment rate in decades is great news, and yet many employers are facing the biggest labor crisis they have faced in years. Full employment is great if everyone working is playing by the same rules. In Texas, more than in any other state, the large number of undocumented workers tend to change the dynamics.

Recently the Social Security Administration sent out “no match” letters to 577,000 employers who had 10 or more employees whose names and Social Security numbers on their W-2 forms did not match Social Security records. Another 500,000 or more notices could be sent soon. Employers who receive no match letters have a certain amount of time to notify the employee to contact Social Security and resolve the problem. For some employees, the no match issue is a matter of correcting an error or clarifying their name.

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Wall Street Journal - July 15, 2019

China growth at its slowest since 1992 as Beijing struggles to juice economy

China’s economic growth decelerated to its slowest pace in decades, weakened by trade tensions with the U.S. and businesses that held back from making big investments despite encouragement from Beijing.

The economy grew by 6.2% in the second quarter, down from 6.4% in the period before, official statistics showed Monday. Growth was slower than the 6.3% on-year rate forecast by economists. Investments remained weak on a quarterly basis, even though the month of June saw the beginning of a potential recovery as Beijing encouraged banks to lend more. Exports fell in June from a year earlier after trade talks with Washington broke down and President Trump applied higher tariffs to Chinese goods.

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State Stories

Houston Chronicle - July 15, 2019

Houston oil executive gets 18 years in prison for defrauding investors

A Houston oil executive was sentenced to state prison for defrauding investors who thought they were paying for the drilling and testing of wells –– but instead paid the executive's mortgage. Daniel Walsh, the CEO of Houston-based Western Capital Inc., was sentenced to 18 years in state prison on Friday, the Wichita County District Attorney's Office said.

Walsh, a Galveston oilman, plead guilty to money laundering Wednesday after raising money for the drilling and testing of oil wells in Galveston between 2007 and 2009, but spent the money on his personal expenses instead. He was indicted on first-degree felony charges of theft, money laundering and securing execution of a document by deception. Authorities said he stole nearly $500,000 from 12 investors.

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Houston Chronicle - July 14, 2019

Parents of slain exchange student Sabika Sheikh make first visit to Santa Fe

The first thing Sabika Sheikh’s parents saw when they entered the main room at the Santa Fe Resiliency Center were several large white canvas sheets forming a square in the center of the room. “God Bless Santa Fe” was emblazoned above dozens of messages scrawled in marker: “We miss you,” “Santa Fe Strong,” “Never forget.”

The center opened its doors for the first time last week to Abdul Aziz Sheikh and Farah Naz. Their daughter Sabika, an exchange student, was one of the 10 people killed during a shooting at Santa Fe High School in May 2018. Making their way slowly through the main room, the couple, their three children and a niece paused at each canvas to read the messages, well-wishes and blessings, each a tribute from the community to their daughter.

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Houston Chronicle - July 15, 2019

Texas appeals court reverses case after judge told lawyers to ‘hurry up’ — then ruled mid-trial

A Texas appeals court overturned a decision by a Harris County civil judge who cut off testimony mid-way through trial and then abruptly issued a ruling after complaining he wanted the parties involved to “hurry up.”

Throughout the proceedings for the small contract dispute in Harris County Court at Law No. 1, Judge George Barnstone expressed frustration at how long things were taking. Then, while attorneys peppered the defendant with questions, Barnstone cut in with one of his own: “What do I have to do to get y’all to hurry up?”

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Houston Chronicle - July 12, 2019

West Texas' Permian leads rig count drop

Another sign that activity in the booming Permian Basin has at least plateaued for now, the prolific basin in West Texas lost six active drilling rigs last week.

The Texas Permian alone triggered the nationwide rig count dip because the overall tally only fell by five rigs, according to weekly data compiled by Baker Hughes, a GE company. South Texas didn't fare much better with the Eagle Ford shale losing five rigs for the week. Small gains in Colorado, Oklahoma and the Gulf of Mexico - prior to the formation of Tropical Storm Barry - helped avoid a larger nationwide loss in the rig count. Texas lost seven rigs overall while no other state lost more than one net rig for the week.

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Dallas Morning News - July 14, 2019

American Airlines cancels 737 Max flights until at least Nov. 2

American Airlines is taking the troubled Boeing 737 Max jets off its schedules for another two months until at least Nov. 2. The move will force American Airlines to cancel about 115 flights each day. American has 24 Boeing 737 Max jets in its fleet, the second most of any U.S. carrier behind only Dallas-based Southwest Airlines with 34.

American said it is hopeful the plane will be recertified to fly by the end of the year, but it is canceling flights through Nov. 2 to give more predictability to the coming fall travel season. "By doing so, our customers and team members can more reliably plan their upcoming travel on American," the company said in a statement. Boeing 737 Max jets have been grounded by the FAA since March following two crashes over the last year in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people.

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Dallas Morning News - July 15, 2019

Dallas Morning News Editorial: The debate over heat in state prisons has raged for years. Now Texas is paying the price

Texas has an ugly problem that’s not going to get better by ignoring it. But as the long battle over installing air conditioning in state prisons shows, the state Legislature often chooses to spend millions of dollars fighting lawsuits in court instead of fixing the problem when it first comes knocking.

Our Legislature needs to resolve statewide problems like this and stop deferring to the courts as its standard reaction to complicated issues. In most cases, all that does is make bad problems worse. A recent lawsuit related to heat in state prisons illustrates this. A few years ago, a group of inmates from Wallace Pack state prison near College Station sued the Texas Department of Criminal Justice over the prison’s lack of air conditioning on the grounds that no heat relief is cruel and unusual punishment. After years of back and forth in court, the federal district judge in the case issued a blasting rebuke of the prison’s conditions and ordered the TDCJ to install air-conditioning in areas where inmates with health problems reside.

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Houston Public Media - July 14, 2019

After no ICE raids on Sunday, Houston immigrant advocates say deportation roundups still a threat

Houston was one of several cities on high alert Sunday, following threats of large-scale Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids targeting immigrants with deportation orders. But, as in most of the country, immigration authorities did not carry out large-scale raids.

The threat of immigration raids in Houston led lawyers, advocates and communities to take extra precautions Sunday. Local churches opened their doors, and an immigration rights hotline fielded calls for additional hours. Andrea Guttin is the legal director for the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative, which runs the hotline, and said her organization will remain on alert throughout the week.

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San Antonio Express-News - July 14, 2019

City managers of San Antonio suburban cities vary widely

The salaries of San Antonio’s suburban city CEOs vary as widely as the populations of the communities they serve. But size doesn’t always translate to more pay. In many cases, the most important determining factors are experience and location.

Ron Bowman, Boerne’s city manager, tops the salary list of San Antonio’s suburban cities. At $289,200 base salary plus stipends, he’s close to the sum earned by San Antonio City Manager Erik Walsh, whose base salary is $312,000 plus $1,275 in stipends. That has raised eyebrows among some Boerne residents, including Lance B. Kyle, who calls it “excessive.” “Mr. Bowman was scoring pretty high for a city of 16,000,” Kyle said. “I still don’t think $300,000 is reasonable.”

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Texas Monthly - July 14, 2019

Chris Hooks: Even Trump wouldn’t follow advice from Ted Cruz and Chip Roy to ignore the Supreme Court

On Thursday, at a press conference in the White House Rose Garden, President Donald Trump reversed course on his administration’s long-running effort, recently halted by the Supreme Court, to ask respondents to the 2020 census whether they are citizens. Attorney General Bill Barr took time to bat down stories that Trump had explored the possibility of doing an end-run around the court by ordering the question’s inclusion.

But two of the most prominent members of the Texas congressional delegation—Congressman Chip Roy and Senator Ted Cruz— had urged the administration to circumvent the court’s ruling and direct the agency to add the question. After the high court decision last week, Roy tweeted that Trump “should ignore” the lawyers advising him and “print the census with the question and issue a statement explaining why – ‘because we should.’”

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Denton Record-Chronicle - July 14, 2019

At Energy Summit, speakers say electric vehicles will become mainstream soon

With new vehicle technology like electric and autonomous vehicles, Drew Campbell, senior partner of Capitol Insights, said the notion of “don’t text and drive” could change in the future.

U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Pilot Point, hosted the 14th annual Energy Summit and Fair on Saturday morning at the University of North Texas’ Discovery Park. Leaders and experts showcased energy-efficient technology and showed residents how they can conserve energy. “Just like we make consumer conscious choices in every other aspect of our lives, so should we include our energy purchases [in those choices],” Burgess said about getting consumers educated on efficient energy.

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Midland Reporter-Telegraph - July 13, 2019

Brandi Addison: Environmentalists need stronger arguments, more solutions

It's not too often I go to the Midland County Courthouse and have a dog in the fight. It should be that way most days as a reporter. But this time, I'm passionate enough about the issue I'm willing to reveal myself as the environmentalist I am. Just over a month ago, I wrote about what will be one of the nation's largest solar farms — more than 4,600 acres — entering Andrews County. I danced a little on the inside.

But then, on Wednesday and Thursday, I sat for nearly 10 hours among many environmental groups and individuals in opposition to the proposed nuclear waste storage in Andrews County. Today, I am not dancing. It isn't only because high-level nuclear waste storage could enter a county 40 miles away, but also because the people I side with, environmentalists, have offered zero solutions to what they are fighting against — and this is largely why most of our arguments are immediately rejected.

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City Stories

Houston Chronicle - July 13, 2019

Geoff Carlton: A new vision for I-45. And for Houston.

A “boondoggle” and a “Texas-sized mess of a highway plan” is how one national headline recently described the proposal to spend more than $7 billion in public dollars to rebuild and realign I-45. It is hard to disagree.

The project — which would remake I-45 between downtown and the Sam Houston Tollway — represents a doubling down on the formula that has made Houston a national leader in roadway deaths and transportation CO2 generated per capita. It has made us increasingly vulnerable to major storms and flooding while doing little to address congestion on our roadways.

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Houston Chronicle - July 15, 2019

CDC in Houston today to tout plan to end HIV

The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be in Houston Mondaymeeting with local officials about the area’s HIV problem, part of the federal government’s ambitious initiative to end the epidemic.

The meeting marks the launch of the initiative, first touted by President Trump in March, seeking to dramatically cut the rate of new infections by better deploying preventative drugs. The focus is on 48 hot spots — Harris County is one — where half of new infections occur. Trump is seeking to cut the rate of new infections by 90 percent — from about 40,000 a year to about 4,000.

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Dallas Morning News - July 14, 2019

Amber Guyger more likely to draw white, conservative jury if trial for killing Botham Jean is moved

If Amber Guyger's attorneys get their wish to move the fired Dallas police officer's murder trial to another county, her jury figures to be whiter and more conservative, according to an analysis by The Dallas Morning News.

Defense attorneys filed a motion last week saying Guyger can't get a fair trial in Dallas because of all the publicity after she shot 26-year-old Botham Jean in his apartment. But the populations of the six counties that her attorneys suggest as alternatives are less diverse and more suburban and rural.

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Austin American-Statesman - July 12, 2019

Three Austin-area roads could be reversible in 2045

Three Austin-area roads could have reversible lanes by 2045 under a proposed plan this is already receiving mixed reviews by local officials. But area transportation officials said implementing the directional changes, where a lane of traffic may travel in either direction depending on the time of day to alleviate congestion, are a long way from being recommended.

A regional study released in June by the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization proposes to implement reversible lanes on Bee Cave Road, RM 2222 and FM 969 during peak morning and evening hours. It is part of the CAMPO’s regional arterials study, a component of its 2045 transportation plan. CAMPO’s plans also include adding other flexible lane options to regional and major local corridors using non-tolled managed options such as HOV or restricted lanes.

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Rivard Report - July 15, 2019

San Antonio avoids ICE raids but 'know-your-rights' campaign continues

San Antonio was not on the list for the long-threatened “immigrant raids” over the weekend by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but local activists seeking to protect immigrants still deployed rights education efforts for concerned communities.

The raids, slated for last month but postponed by President Donald Trump, were to target people with deportation orders in 10 cities: Houston, Miami, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Atlanta, San Francisco, Denver, Baltimore, Chicago, and New York, according to national media reports. Raids will be suspended in areas impacted by Tropical Storm Barry, according to ICE officials quoted by CNN, and apprehending violent criminals and aggravated felons were prioritized.

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San Antonio Express-News - July 15, 2019

Leon Valley in turmoil over allegations a city councilor harassed women and abused his power

Leon Valley may be close to a pivotal decision in a painful chapter in its history as an independent city: what to do about a city councilman accused of sexual harassment and abuse of power.

While many San Antonians drive through the town without stopping, many of Leon Valley’s 11,500 residents know it as a place that blends the conveniences of city life with small-town camaraderie, preserving slices of Americana through its annual Christmas tree lighting and July Fourth parade and festival. But those who follow city politics have seen the community seized by turmoil over allegations against City Councilor Benny Martinez, who could be forced to vacate his seat under Leon Valley’s 2-year-old city charter.

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National Stories

Associated Press - July 13, 2019

House Democrats who tangled with leader not backing down

Days after tensions with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi boiled over publicly, several House Democrats sent a message to Washington: We're not backing down.

Three members of the "squad" — the cadre of liberal freshman lawmakers who are struggling with their party's more centrist members over impeachment, immigration and other issues — defended their approach Saturday while appearing on a panel at the annual Netroots conference. All are young women of color, a fact not lost on supporters who have bridled at the criticism thrown their way.

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Associated Press - July 14, 2019

Court order blocked Trump administration contraception exemptions upheld

A federal appeals court upheld a lower court order that blocked the Trump administration from enforcing rules that allow more employers to deny insurance coverage for contraceptives to women.

The three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia said Friday that state plaintiffs in Pennsylvania and New Jersey were likely to succeed in proving that appropriate procedures weren't followed and the regulations weren't authorized under the 2010 health care overhaul or required by a law aimed at protecting religious freedom.

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Associated Press - July 15, 2019

Inside Epstein network, layer upon layer to protect the boss

A few cells away from drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman at a New York City jail, jet-setting financier Jeffrey Epstein sits accused of running a different kind of criminal network. There was the team of recruiters and enablers bringing Epstein dozens of underage girls to sexually abuse, federal prosecutors allege. There was the assistant who scheduled those encounters, and the butler who cleaned up afterward and doled out cash and gifts to the girls, authorities contend in court records.

There were the mansions in New York and Florida, the sprawling ranch in New Mexico and the private island in the Caribbean that kept prying eyes at a distance, and the forms his employees had to sign swearing they wouldn't speak about him publicly. All of it served to insulate Epstein with layer upon layer of secretiveness, investigators say, like a kingpin. And, as eventually happened to Guzman, all of it could be on the verge of collapsing inward on him.

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The Hill - July 14, 2019

Inslee says he'll ask soccer player Megan Rapinoe to be secretary of State

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said Saturday that if he is elected president, he will ask soccer player Megan Rapinoe to be his secretary of state. He said at the progressive Netroots Nation conference that one of his first acts as president would be to get a secretary of State who embraces world unity and "love rather than hate" as he rebuked President Trump's foreign policy.

"My first act will be to ask Megan Rapinoe to be my secretary of State," he said. "I haven't asked her yet, so this could be a surprise to her." "I actually believe this because what I think what she has said that has inspired us so much is such an antithesis of the president's foreign policies," he added.

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The Hill - July 14, 2019

John S. Baker, Jr.: The facts on Trump's order on counting citizens — and what to expect now

President Trump’s executive order directing federal agencies to provide citizenship information to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had not been written when the president and Attorney General William Barr spoke in the Rose Garden yesterday. That left the field wide open for misinformation and disinformation.

The citizenship question itself will not be on the 2020 census, but the information sought through a citizenship question will be available through administrative records to supplement the census. You might think that, because the president will now follow the course advocated by the resisters in the Census Bureau, the litigation over the census would end — at least for now. After all, Ross has been faulted for not following the proposal of Census Bureau “experts.”

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Washington Post - July 15, 2019

‘His own fiefdom’: Mulvaney builds ‘an empire for the right wing’ as Trump’s chief of staff

Mick Mulvaney’s battles with Alexander Acosta began almost immediately. Weeks after he was named acting White House chief of staff, Mulvaney summoned the labor secretary for a tense January encounter that became known inside the West Wing as “the woodshed meeting.”

Mulvaney told Acosta in blunt terms that the White House believed he was dragging his feet on regulation rollbacks desired by business interests and that he was on thin ice as a result, according to advisers and a person close to the White House. Soon after, Acosta proposed a spate of business-friendly rules on overtime pay and other policies. But it wasn’t enough to save Acosta from Mulvaney’s ire — and helps explain why the former federal prosecutor had such tepid administration support last week as he resigned over his handling of a high-profile sex-crimes case more than a decade ago.

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Washington Post - July 14, 2019

He’s the Rush Limbaugh of Brazil. He has Bolsonaro’s ear. And he lives in rural Virginia.

Thousands crowded onto the busiest streets of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, clad in the green and gold of the Brazilian flag, many chanting a slogan at the core of the nation’s sudden shift to the right. “Olavo is right!” they yelled, in Portuguese. “Olavo is right!”

More than 4,600 miles away, in a single-story house at the end of a country road in Dinwiddie County, Va., an elfin man with gray hair reviewed footage of the rallies this spring, took a puff on his pipe and smiled. For years, Olavo de Carvalho has recorded and uploaded lectures and rants from his home office in rural Virginia for consumption in his native Brazil — videos, blog posts and social media riffs laced with obscenities, homophobia and dark proclamations about a globalist conspiracy bent on enacting what he calls a “worldwide socialist dictatorship.”

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Wall Street Journal - July 15, 2019

Scooters, Segways and skates: Latest vehicles try to solve your last-mile problem

You have a meeting in 15 minutes, 20 blocks away. Are you going to get there on time? You could try the subway, but who knows how the train is running? Traffic’s always a mystery, and everyone knows Uber wait times aren’t true. You could almost walk it, if you rush—and jaywalk. While you’re doing that, here’s what I’ll do: Answer a couple more emails, then hop on my scooter and zip up the street.

Those 20 New York City blocks make up about a mile, and since the Boosted Rev I’ve been riding goes up to 24 miles an hour, I figure I can get there in less than 5 minutes—and still have time for a quick Starbucks stop. While you’re apologizing for your tardiness and explaining the latest subway silliness, I’ll be sipping a latte. Scooters like the one I’ve been riding, or like the Bird and Lime models that litter city streets the world over, are the latest answer to what is commonly known as “the last-mile problem.” It is often discussed with shipping, but it also applies to how you get around.

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NBC News - July 14, 2019

Beto O'Rourke says his family's ancestors owned slaves

Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke revealed Sunday that his family’s ancestors owned slaves — a fact he said injected new urgency into a slate of policy proposals designed to grapple with slavery’s legacy.

In a post on Medium, O’Rourke wrote that his paternal great-great-great grandfather enslaved two women, Eliza and Rose, in the 1850s. A maternal ancestor may have also owned slaves, he wrote. Ancestors of O’Rourke’s wife, Amy, also owned slaves, he wrote. The Guardian first reported O'Rourke's family history, saying that "abundant" documentation exists on the website Ancestry.com of the couple's "slave-owning" ancestors and "their support for the Confederacy."

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Real Clear Politics - July 14, 2019

Few 2020 Dems address Netroots, where Warren reigns

It was a cattle call that only a few presidential candidates answered. And while the front-runner was away in New Hampshire campaigning, the conference probably wouldn’t have welcomed former Vice President Joe Biden anyway.

Just four Democratic hopefuls traveled to the City of Brotherly Love to address the progressive faithful Saturday at Netroots Nation. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee made the trip. All rank at less than 1% support in the polls. The only top-tier candidate to attend: Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

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Newsclips - July 14, 2019

Lead Stories

Washington Post - July 12, 2019

Planned ICE raids are putting the restaurant industry on edge

The national restaurant industry is bracing for a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement operation that could round up hundreds of migrant families that have received deportation orders. Restaurant owners and worker advocates hope the operation, planned to start on Sunday, will not disrupt an industry already hurting for staff, or broaden into a wider investigation of employees not on the Trump administration’s deportation lists.

President Trump announced on Monday that the roundups would move forward despite debate within the administration over the potential humanitarian issues (separating children from their parents) and political fallout (alienating Democrats as Congress debates a $4.6 billion supplemental aid package to deal with the crisis at the border) of the operation to remove up to 2,000 families. News reports later confirmed that the Department of Homeland Security and ICE would proceed with “family op,” as the agencies call the plan, in up to 10 major immigrant destinations such as Los Angeles, Houston, Miami and other cities.

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram - July 13, 2019

Bud Kennedy: John Cornyn still leads Texas, but Dems see ‘record numbers of votes’ against Trump

Texas Democrats think they can defeat U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in 2020, and I’m not sure why. Far more Texans don’t like U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, a former Houston lawyer, than Cornyn, a former San Antonio judge and Texas attorney general. Even liberal Texans view Cornyn more favorably. And Cruz still won in 2018 over the $80 million campaign of then-U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke.

But that’s no reason to think Cornyn might lose. Unless you’re, say, state Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas. The Cruz-O’Rourke race wasn’t a one-off, West said: “I think it’s more of a political trend.” “I think with (President) Donald Trump on the ticket, there will be record numbers of votes,” West said. He will announce next week whether he will challenge Cornyn.

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Dallas Morning News - July 13, 2019

As legalized gambling gains momentum nationwide, could Jerry Jones lead the charge in Texas?

A white-haired, 68-year-old Beaumont used car dealer pleaded guilty in June to running what a Homeland Security special agent called one of the nation's largest illegal sports gambling and money-laundering operations. The feds don't mess around. Larry Tillery had been at it for only 30 years before they wised up.

Larry's case was big but didn't come close to the state record, which is also the national record. In 2013, Plano cops and the feds shut down an operation headed by a Southlake resident, Albert S. Reed Jr., that, over a four-year period, handled $5 billion in sports bets. All of this is to say that sports gambling has long been big business in Texas –– generating annual revenues of $300 million, according to one estimate –– and will continue as such. Simply a question of whether it'll ever be legal.

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McClatchy - July 12, 2019

Republicans want to elect more women to Congress. They failed their first test in NC.

Congressional Republicans are increasingly fretting about the massive gender gap in their ranks after a GOP woman failed to advance in a North Carolina House election this week, prompting concerns that the party could lose its “capacity to govern.”

Even though she was backed by every GOP woman in the U.S. House and other prominent national Republicans, Joan Perry lost a primary runoff special election in North Carolina’s 3rd congressional district by nearly 20 points to state Rep. Greg Murphy on Tuesday. The result put into sharp focus the struggles Republican women across the nation have had winning House elections, even as the GOP has made recruiting more female candidates a higher priority. There are currently just 13 Republican women serving in the House — the lowest total since 1995 — compared to 184 men.

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State Stories

Dallas Morning News - July 14, 2019

Dallas Morning News Editorial: Dallas must postpone enforcing flawed sick leave law

If one thing is clear about Dallas' mandatory paid sick leave ordinance, it's this: The ordinance isn't clear at all, especially to the small business owners expected to live by it or risk breaking the law.

That much became plain at a recent city meeting intended to answer questions about mandatory paid sick leave — an ill-considered ordinance passed in April that requires employers to offer sick leave or face the heavy hand of city government. Keep in mind this is an ordinance that gives the city manager subpoena power over the records of private businesses. How chilling is that when it comes to dealing with the inevitable political pressures businesses face when dealing with local government?

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Dallas Morning News - July 14, 2019

Dallas Morning News Editorial: Mayor Eric Johnson is wisely boosting Dallas when it comes to regional competition

Dallas and its suburbs are in this thing together. A prosperous future relies on all of us working together to keep North Texas growing and moving forward. But we get the frustration that Dallas residents can feel when it comes to the soaring growth and bright shininess of certain suburbs that don’t have to carry some of the heavy burdens that Dallas does.

So we are gratified to hear Mayor Eric Johnson offer a nuanced position on Dallas’ need to boost the region when it’s appropriate but also to recognize that there are times when the city must put its own residents first.

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Dallas Morning News - July 13, 2019

Remembering Ross Perot: Kay Bailey Hutchison remembers his powers of persuasion

Kay Bailey Hutchison, the former U.S. Senator who's now U.S. ambassador to NATO, says her favorite Ross Perot story isn't about her. Perot had a special place in his heart for Margaret McDermott, who died in 2018 at 106. The widow of Texas Instruments co-founder Eugene McDermott adamantly refused any recognition for her extraordinary support of the arts, education and science.

So when a barrage of people wanted to name Dallas’ second Calatrava bridge after her, she’d have none of it. “Margaret was so self-effacing and kept saying, ‘No, I don’t want it,’ ” said Hutchison. “She didn’t want that kind of recognition.” After dozens of prominent folks failed to persuade her, Perot, Hutchison and Gail Thomas, longtime advocate of Trinity River corridor projects, went to McDermott’s home, hoping to numb her into submission.

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Dallas Morning News - July 14, 2019

Mitchell Schnurman: Older workers could help fix the D-FW job shortage — if only they'd land an interview

Many older Americans who are retired or nearing retirement age have an answer for the labor shortage: Hire me. With 10,000 baby boomers hitting age 65 every day, older workers are the fastest-growing part of the labor force. As unemployment remains low and companies clamor for qualified candidates, why not tap more of these experienced, skilled workers?

“I have degrees, multiple designations and yet, at age 70, [I am] not employed because every time the employer does a background search, my age is disclosed,” a reader wrote after my column on the labor shortage in Texas. “I know at least two other people who are in the same boat — eligible by experience and education but not age.”

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Houston Chronicle - July 12, 2019

Texas prison officials indicted for allegedly burning evidence in pit outside Eastham Unit

Nearly a year after they were arrested on felony charges, three Texas prison officials were indicted last month for allegedly torching tractor parts that could have been evidence in an ongoing investigation into suspected theft at an East Texas lock-up.

Jason Omelina, a farm shop property manager at the Eastham Unit in Houston County, was charged in the case along with two Huntsville-based officials, Terry Price and Rick Ellis. The men’s lawyers did not respond to the Houston Chronicle’s request for comment this week, though previously defense counsel framed the charges as unwarranted overreach.

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Houston Chronicle - July 14, 2019

Houston Chronicle Editorial: Trump’s census drama is over. But the damage is done.

Let’s hope the announcement by President Trump that he has given up adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census has ended this tiresome soap opera. Doing his best to gloss over defeat, Trump said the Commerce Department would use even better methods to get what he wants.

Trump didn’t explain Thursday exactly what it is he wants — probably because it keeps changing. Even the conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court saw through Trump’s scheme. It ruled two weeks ago that the sole reason the administration gave for wanting to ask about citizenship — ostensibly, to protect minority voters covered under the Voting Rights Act — was a lie. Evidence presented to the court showed Trump’s true goal, which he later admitted, was “to find out if somebody is a citizen as opposed to an illegal.”

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Houston Chronicle - July 12, 2019

Cookware manufacturer Tramontina to cut 100 Sugar Land jobs as tariffs increase costs

Tramontina USA Inc., a manufacturer of metal kitchen cookware, will lay off 108 workers by the beginning of September, according to a Texas Workforce Commission notice.

The Sugar Land-based American subsidiary of a Brazilian company will cease its U.S. manufacturing operations due to increased costs as a result of tariffs on components such as aluminum, steel studs and glass lids. The company also said the cost of raw materials, labor and freight in the U.S. has increased in recent years.

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram - July 12, 2019

Advocacy groups, officials call on Texas lawmakers to provide aid for migrant crisis

Over the course of nearly six hours Friday, state lawmakers heard testimony from officials and advocacy groups that have witnessed the effects of an influx of immigrants traveling to the U.S. to seek asylum.

As the night wore on and proposals that ranged from suing the federal government to increased oversight over state-licensed shelters were heard, a 3-year-old girl zipped around the back of the room in white sandals while lawmakers discussed an immigration system that had detained her father. The girl, a U.S. citizen, babbled to members in the audience Friday night, while her father was held in the South Texas Detention Complex more than 130 miles away, according to Sara Ramey, an immigration attorney assisting him. He is one of thousands of immigrants being detained in Texas as they await their day in court.

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Associated Press - July 12, 2019

Ex-South Texas district judge convicted of accepting bribes

A former state district judge in South Texas faces up to 70 years in federal prison after being convicted of accepting bribes for favorable rulings while on the bench.

Rodolfo Delgado of Edinburg was convicted Thursday of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, federal program bribery and travel act bribery. The 65-year-old Delgado, who was tried in McAllen, remains free pending sentencing. Investigators say Delgado, from 2008 to late 2016, conspired with a lawyer and accepted bribes, then tried to fake a story about the payments.

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Texas Public Radio - July 12, 2019

Vice President Pence visits RGV migrant detention facility, wants 'irresponsible rhetoric' to end

Vice President Mike Pence and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee visited a migrant processing center in the Rio Grande Valley on Friday.

The same day groups across the country scheduled vigils to protest the conditions of detention facilities. This comes after a report from the Office of the Inspector General detailing dangerous overcrowding at Border Patrol facilities in the Rio Grande Valley.

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Denton Record-Chronicle - July 14, 2019

State officials head back to court to enforce radioactive waste cleanup in Denton

State health officials have begun enforcement proceedings against a Utah company for failing to remove low-level radioactive waste stored in Denton for the past decade.

U.S. Radiopharmaceuticals faces a possible $2.2 million fine for missing a state deadline to decommission the waste and contaminated equipment. In June, the Texas Department of State Health Services returned to state courts in the long-running case. A hearing with a state administrative law judge on the enforcement matter is set for Aug. 6 in Austin.

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San Antonio Express-News - July 13, 2019

Joaquin Castro and Diego Bernal: What we saw inside Border Patrol detention centers

Our border patrol system is broken. Part of the reason it stays broken is because it’s kept secret, shielded from oversight. Elected officials, the press and the American people are often barred from stepping inside these facilities. If allowed in, agents often attempt to prevent anyone from getting the entire story or recording what they see and hear.

It’s past time for the American people to fully comprehend what is being carried out in their name. That’s exactly why the Congressional Hispanic Caucus led a delegation of members of Congress and Texas state representatives to uncover the truth at two Border Patrol facilities. It’s exactly why we recorded our experience and wrote down names, so that Border Patrol will be held accountable for their mistreatment of migrants. What we witnessed was deeply disturbing.

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KUT - July 14, 2019

Some Houston churches will open doors to immigrants during ICE raids

U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee met with faith leaders in Houston on Saturday to invite undocumented immigrants to seek refuge in churches, mosques and synagogues and call on religious organizations to open their doors ahead of Sunday’s anticipated deportation roundup by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.

Jackson Lee gathered with faith and local leaders Saturday afternoon at the Living Water International Apolistic Ministries in Houston. The ministry, along with half a dozen other churches, announced it would shelter undocumented immigrants on Sunday who fear they are in danger of being taken by ICE. “We want to be a beacon of light for those who may be in fear. So when I got the call, I couldn't do anything but accept,” said Apostle Robert Stearns, leader of Living Water. “There is nothing strange to us in doing this. This is our heart and our passion.”

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County Stories

Austin American-Statesman - July 14, 2019

Sudden death behind bars: Investigators find questionable judgments in some Travis County inmate deaths

Jail isn’t supposed to be a death sentence, but for a few in the Travis County Correctional Complex at Del Valle’s medical unit awaiting trial or sentenced to jail in 2018, it was. While in-custody deaths are rare at the correctional facility, experts say some recent deaths deserve extra scrutiny.

In one case, no one noticed 55-year-old Ronald Hall hurting himself and falling until an investigator watched the cell surveillance video after he died. Hall had banged his head against the thinly padded wall of his jail cell almost 30 times one summer night in July 2018 and into the morning. Shortly before 7 a.m., a corrections officer saw Hall — a man who’d been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was in jail for multiple DWI offenses — shaking on the floor. By 10:20 a.m., Hall was dead.

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KUT - July 12, 2019

Travis County DA calls criminal justice system a 'very pool tool' to address drug usage

Things have changed in the past year or so in how Travis County approaches some cases involving particular types and amounts of drugs. District Attorney Margaret Moore says the "criminal justice system is a very poor tool to use to address drug usage or substance abuse of any kind."

Moore announced last week that her office is dismissing 32 felony cases of possession or delivery of marijuana because of a new Texas law legalizing hemp. Hemp and marijuana both come from the cannabis plant, but hemp contains only trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive compound that gets people high. She and a few other district attorneys in Texas say crime labs cannot test concentration levels of THC to determine if the substance is illegal.

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San Antonio Express-News - July 13, 2019

Alamo Colleges launches free-tuition program for grads of 25 area high schools

The Alamo Colleges District board unanimously voted Saturday to launch the first phase of a program that eventually is to offer all new graduates of Bexar County high schools free tuition at its five community colleges.

Officials said Alamo Promise will cost the district $300,000 in funding for the first year, to cover graduates of the 25 high schools whose seniors have historically had the lowest college-going rates in the county or have higher percentages of economically disadvantaged students. The estimated loss of tuition revenue that the district must cover the first year will be relatively small because so many of those graduates qualify for federal Pell grants and other assistance, but is expected to jump to about $3 million in the second year when the program expands to all 45 high schools, officials said.

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City Stories

Austin American-Statesman - July 13, 2019

Migrant boy in Buda still separated from parents

Fourteen months ago, Byron Xol was packed in a wooden crate by smugglers and shipped from Guatemala to the U.S., only to be grabbed immediately by border agents and ripped away from his father. His dad was deported. Byron remained, locked away with the thousands of children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border by the Trump administration.

More than a year after the practice officially ended, a small number of children like Byron remain in limbo, far from their families. Byron spent his ninth birthday in Central Texas, with a host family devoted to giving him a loving home. His parents, meanwhile, passed the day a thousand miles away, in the gang-ridden forests Byron and his father, David, had tried to escape. They have not seen their child in more than a year. But they have hope. A federal judge could soon decide whether to let the father return to the U.S. If he rejects the motion, Byron may be sent home to Guatemala.

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram - July 12, 2019

Review finds confusion, lack of planning in $1.17 billion Panther Island project

An independent review of Fort Worth’s $1.17 billion Panther Island endeavor found confusion surrounding the project’s progress and suggests changes to the management structure overseeing the Trinity River effort. The report from Dallas-based consulting firm Riveron also found the project failed to plan for funding changes and other obstacles.

Some officials with Trinity River Vision Authority, the coordinator of the flood control and economic development undertaking, sought to keep the report secret until they had a chance to review and suggest changes. The Star-Telegram received a copy Friday from a government source close to the project. The 92-page document, distributed to authority board members Wednesday, is marked “draft.”

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Houston Chronicle - July 14, 2019

Youth movement seeks to remake Houston city council

Having lost twice to her boss, who cannot run again because of term limits, Peck is making a third try this year at the conservative-leaning District A seat, which covers parts of of Spring Branch and northwest Houston. At 34, Peck no longer is among the youngest cohort of city council candidates, some of whom were in high school or younger when she first ran.

Inspired by the recent electoral success of millennial and Generation Z-aged candidates, more young people are running for Houston city council than ever before, a trend local politicos attribute to the potent national surge of activism stemming largely from President Trump’s election in 2016.

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Rio Grande Guardian - July 10, 2019

Brownsville gears up for commercial space exploration, development

To kick off its Summer of Space, the City of Brownsville is launching a new website titled NewSpace Brownsville. The website seeks to inspire budding entrepreneurs who wish to service the new space commercial industry and foster an improved employment environment for the community of Brownsville, the Rio Grande Valley and the U.S. space and technology sectors.

The address of the NewSpace Brownsville website is newspacebrownsville.com. More content will be added to the site in the coming days and weeks. The launch of the new website coincides with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday for the Expanding Frontiers (ExF) non-profit. ExF has been started by the City of Brownsville and Dr. Fredrick Jenet, an astrophysicist, researcher, and educator at UT-Rio Grande Valley. Jenet said ExF is “dedicated to the development of the commercial space ecosystem in Brownsville, Texas, and throughout the United States.”

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Rivard Report - July 12, 2019

All SAHA residents to have air conditioning by the end of July

The $1.5 million public-private initiative to install about 2,400 much-needed air conditioning units in local public housing facilities is nearing completion as temperatures in San Antonio continue to rise into the summer months.

On Friday, crews began installing the final 53 air conditioners at Kenwood North Apartments, the last of 22 older San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA) facilities that needed the cooling units. About a third of SAHA’s 6,000 units, most of which are reserved for low-income individuals and families, did not have air conditioning. The initiative began in May and when it’s completed by the end of July, roughly 8,000 people living in SAHA apartment buildings will be in a cooler and more comfortable living situation.

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National Stories

New York Times - July 13, 2019

Maureen Dowd: Scaling Wokeback Mountain

I was feeling on edge. Writing a column that sparks an internecine fight among the highest-profile women in the Democratic Party is nerve wracking. So I went to the gym. Alex Toussaint, the digital Peloton instructor inside the little screen on my spinning bike, had some wisdom for me — the kind of New Age bromide dispensed in spin classes everywhere: You climb the mountain to see the world. You don’t climb the mountain so the world can see you.

I only wished A.O.C. was cycling alongside me to hear it as well. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ensorcelled me from the start. I loved the bartender-makes-good Cinderella story, the shake-up-the-capital idealistic dreams, the bravado about how the plutocrat president from Queens wouldn’t know how to deal with a Puerto Rican girl from the Bronx. And I imagined the most potent feminist partnership in American history: Nancy Pelosi as sensei, bringing her inside game, and A.O.C., the Karate Kid with a wicked Twitter game.

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New York Times - July 12, 2019

The long history of the US government asking Americans whether they are citizens

When Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross ordered the Census Bureau to attach a question on citizenship to the 2020 census, the first argument he used to back up his decision was also the simplest: We’ve always asked. The question has been “a longstanding historical practice,” he wrote, “asked in some form or another for nearly 200 years.”

But the lineage of the citizenship question is more complicated than that. And all along, it has been tied up with bitter partisan fights over the racial makeup of the country and the distribution of political power. President Trump threw in the towel Thursday on his legal fight to add a citizenship question to the census, but not on his quest to distinguish citizens from noncitizens in the nation’s population figures, which he said would be done using various databases the government already has. “We’ll leave no stone unturned,” he said.

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Washington Post - July 12, 2019

Megan McArdle: The media is starting to tune Trump out, and it’s helping him in the polls

With the first two nights of primary debates behind us, the Democratic presidential campaign season is now officially in full swing. The ostensible topics of contention are about what you’d expect from Democrats: health care, immigration, racial and sexual justice. But the subtext of all these arguments is a simpler, more visceral question: Which one of these candidates can most easily shove Donald Trump off the national stage?

At the moment, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) is winning that silent primary. But what does it matter that Harris isn’t much of a policy wonk? The important thing is that during the second night of the debates, she poleaxed former vice president Joe Biden with an unexpected, emotional question about his opposition to federal busing programs during the 1970s. Apparently, many Democrats are eager to see her do the same thing, only more so, when President Trump is on the stage.

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Washington Post - July 13, 2019

They used to be Beto O’Rourke fans. But Texans’ allegiance to him has vanished as quickly as ‘Beto-mania.’

Just nine months ago, attorney Katie Baron was so inspired by Beto O’Rourke’s Senate campaign in Texas that she commissioned a sprawling mural in an alleyway in east Austin featuring the candidate in a Superman-like pose. After O’Rourke lost the race and began mulling a presidential campaign, the artist added a sweeping “2020” in blue paint — providing what seemed to be yet one more call for O’Rourke to get into the crowded race.

Now, four months into O’Rourke’s campaign, Baron wishes he had stayed out. After the first Democratic presidential debate last month, Baron posted an altered picture of the mural on a Facebook page dedicated to the artwork. She had replaced O’Rourke’s face with Sen. Kamala D. Harris’s and wrote: “Don’t worry, still got PLENTY of love for Beto, but Kamala earned herself a little recognition too last night!” The comments filled with messages from angry O’Rourke supporters and a few excited Harris backers.

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Miami Herald - July 13, 2019

Deflecting blame, Acosta pointed finger at others. Why they may have some explaining to do

On Oct 23, 2007, as federal prosecutors in South Florida were in the midst of tense negotiations to finalize a plea deal with accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, a senior prosecutor in their office was quietly laying out plans to leave the U.S. attorney’s office after 11 years.

There have long been questions raised about the level of influence Epstein and his powerhouse legal team may have exerted over federal and state prosecutors as well as Palm Beach’s County’s sheriff, Ric Bradshaw. Alexander Acosta, the former top prosecutor of the Epstein case in 2007-2008, resigned on Friday as U.S. secretary of labor, saying the overwhelming media scrutiny he has faced since Epstein’s arrest, part of the fallout from the Miami Herald’s investigative series Perversion of Justice, had become too big a distraction to overcome.

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KUT - July 13, 2019

How Mexico beefs up immigration enforcement to meet Trump's terms

Under pressure from President Trump's tariffs threat, Mexico reached a deal with the United States on June 7 to step up immigration enforcement and to take in more migrants waiting for their U.S. asylum hearings.

The deal came at a critical time: Families continue to flee Central America by the thousands for a better life in the north. Getting Mexico to take strong action was President Trump's latest move to reverse this trend. Here is a look at how it's going.

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Associated Press - July 14, 2019

Weakened Barry rolls into Louisiana, drenches Gulf Coast

Barry rolled into the Louisiana coast Saturday, flooding highways, forcing people to scramble to rooftops and dumping heavy rain that officials had feared could test the levees and pumps that were bolstered after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005.

After briefly becoming a Category 1 hurricane, the system weakened to a tropical storm as it made landfall near Intracoastal City, about 160 miles west of New Orleans, the National Hurricane Center said. Barry was moving so slowly that heavy rain was expected to continue all weekend. "This storm still has a long way to go before it leaves this state," Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Saturday night. "Don't let your guard down."

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Newsclips - July 12, 2019

Lead Stories

Fort Worth Star-Telegram - July 11, 2019

Vice President Mike Pence visits Texas Friday to talk about ‘humanitarian crisis’

Vice President Mike Pence heads to Texas Friday. By early afternoon, he plans to arrive in McAllen in time to join the Senate Judiciary Committee for a visit to the border, according to a statement from his office.

Pence and other leaders also plan to tour a center where migrants who seek asylum are processed. He also plans to participate in a roundtable discussion about “the humanitarian crisis at our southern border,” the statement reads. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas is on the committee and is expected to be in McAllen. Cornyn has said it’s time for Congress to take action, which is why he introduced the Humane Act, which he said would keep families together and streamline processing of migrants.

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New York Times - July 11, 2019

Trump says he will seek citizenship information from existing federal records, not the Census

President Trump on Thursday abandoned his quest to place a question about citizenship on the 2020 census, and instructed the government to compile citizenship data from existing federal records instead, ending a bitterly fought legal battle that turned the nonpartisan census into an object of political warfare.

Mr. Trump announced in the Rose Garden that he was giving up on modifying the census two weeks after the Supreme Court rebuked his administration over its effort to do so. Just last week, Mr. Trump had insisted that his administration “must” pursue that goal. “We are not backing down on our effort to determine the citizenship status of the United States population,” Mr. Trump said. But rather than carry on the fight over the census, he said he was issuing an executive order instructing federal departments and agencies to provide the Census Bureau with citizenship data from their “vast” databases immediately.

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Wall Street Journal - July 12, 2019

Federal agencies trade blame over detention of migrant children

Officials from two federal agencies that oversee care for migrants are pointing fingers at each other over which bears more responsibility for children being detained for weeks on end in Border Patrol cells that have been widely criticized as unsafe.

While the number of children held in such conditions declined sharply last month, according to federal data, the debate over how the situation became so dire remains heated. Kevin McAleenan, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, on Thursday said the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is charged with taking custody of children who cross the border alone after they are apprehended by border authorities, was slow to place them in shelters.

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KUT - July 11, 2019

Texas' strong economy is making it harder for officials to hire part-time Census workers

The U.S. Census Bureau is having a tough time hiring workers in Texas for the 2020 Census, because the unemployment rate is so low – which means nonprofits and local governments may have to step in to make sure there's an accurate count.

The constitutionally mandated population count every decade takes a lot of work and a lot of people to pull it off. The bureau hires workers before and during every count to help out – but those positions are temporary. Ann Beeson, the CEO of the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin, said with so many people already employed, it’s been difficult to hire folks this time around in Texas.

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State Stories

Austin American-Statesman - July 11, 2019

Will John Cornyn face reelection headwinds in 2020?

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, who has never lost an election in his more than 30 years of public service, has long been seen as a political force to be reckoned with in Texas. But as the political tectonic plates of Texas shift, even Cornyn could face a bumpier than usual path to reelection in 2020.

In a first taste of that perhaps bumpy path, the Washington publication Roll Call on Tuesday downgraded its rating of Cornyn’s seat from “solid Republican” to “likely Republican.” That doesn’t mean that the three-term senator is in danger of losing his seat, but it does indicate that the growing group of Democrats eyeing his seat could be gaining some political momentum.

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Austin American-Statesman - July 11, 2019

UT’s pledge to cover some students’ tuition welcomed as ‘a huge relief’

Throughout his senior year of high school, Levi Perez worked two jobs — one at a golf course and another at an auto shop warehouse — trying to put away enough money to pay for college. He did so while simultaneously studying to earn his associate degree through Austin Community College and get his high school diploma. Perez, 18, chalked up the juggling act as “the way of life” for low-income students like him.

But Tuesday’s news that the University of Texas will offer free tuition for more than a fifth of undergraduate students starting in 2020 was welcomed as “a huge relief” for the incoming freshman. “It really is a huge thing for a lot of students ... knowing we are secure in following our dream,” said Perez, who will be able to benefit from the tuition relief during his last year of college, ensuring he can get his degree in film. “We don’t have to completely kill ourselves over how to get the money.”

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Austin American-Statesman - July 11, 2019

Ken Herman: Former Bob Bullock aides tell tales of his success, excess

It’s difficult to pinpoint just what it is, but there’s a definite something about a birthday celebration for a dead person. In general, even for the more complicated of the dearly departed, only positive memories are allowed to be spoken.

So I had that in mind Wednesday when I headed to the Texas State Cemetery for Bob Bullock’s 90th birthday celebration. The former lieutenant governor got to celebrate only 69 birthdays before his well-worn body wore out in June 1999. But 40 or so of his former aides, including some for whom this was the 10th year of gathering at the cemetery to mark their former boss’ birthday, showed up. Predictably and appropriately, there were some inside jokes. Some were about long-ago escapades that sounded like less than government work at its highest and best, including “the so-called library” and “something about an airplane.”

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Dallas Morning News - July 11, 2019

Michelle Kinder: Texas is No. 1 in business and No. 41 in child welfare. That's not sustainable

The Annie E. Casey Foundation has released its 2019 State Trends in Child Well-Being report and Texas ranked 41st. Contrast that with Texas being named as the 2018 top state for business by CNBC. If we were a state that was struggling, 41st might be understandable, albeit terrible. But, because we are a thriving state by so many other metrics and often recognized for our generosity, this stat — which illuminates deeper issues — should bring us to our knees.

Ignoring this bad news, or just hoping things get better for our youngest Texans when it comes to health, education, economic well-being and community, is a recipe for disaster. We must play the long game and connect the dots truthfully between our business success and the way we care for our most vulnerable. We must uncover the hidden dynamics in the social change space that siphon critical energy and cripple our efforts and best intentions. The issues are complex, but, if we want Texas children to thrive, here are three things we can start doing differently.

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Houston Chronicle - July 11, 2019

Trump administration to target immigrant families, including in Houston, in raids starting Sunday

Federal authorities are expected to try to arrest thousands of immigrant families in at least 10 cities, including Houston, beginning as early as Sunday, rattling communities across the country who faced a similar scare last month.

President Donald Trump postponed such an operation in June, partly because of conflict among his immigration enforcement officials on how to conduct the raids and out of concern for officers’ safety after the president publicized the plans on Twitter. Trump said he was giving Democrats time to come up with a solution to the immigration crisis in Congress.

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Houston Chronicle - July 12, 2019

Surge of Democratic candidates file to run for Congress in Texas

Three times as many Democrats have already filed to run for Congress in Texas this year as in 2012 or 2016, yet another sign that Texas will be more of a battleground for the two major political parties in 2020.

With the elections still well over a year away, Democrats already have 66 candidates who have signed up to run in 30 different congressional districts. At this same point four years ago, Democrats had just 19 candidates ready to run in 16 of the state’s 36 congressional districts. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm statewide,” said Abhi Rahman, director of communications for the Texas Democratic Party. It also speaks to a candidate recruitment effort that Democrats have employed since 2016, Rahman said.

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Dallas Morning News - July 12, 2019

Rick Perry: Now that Ross Perot is gone, I can tell this story

This week, the nation remembers Ross Perot for his success in business, his two independent White House bids and his no-nonsense, straight Texas talk. His love of country, larger-than-life personality and generosity are all part of his legacy that will live on. But there is another little-known part of the life of Ross Perot that should be told now that he is gone. He was a tireless, but private, supporter of our wounded veterans.

During my time as governor of this great state, I had the honor and privilege of knowing countless warriors who stepped forward to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan and returned home with horrific wounds of war. U.S. Army Cpl. Alan Babin Jr. is one such hero. On the one-year anniversary of his wounding, I joined Alan and his family for a small gathering. He was still in very bad shape, neurologically and physically incapacitated. When I asked his mother, Rosie, what I could do to help, she said she was eager to get him out of the hospital and back home, but struggling with the prospect of transporting Alan to his many medical visits.

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Dallas Morning News - July 12, 2019

Dallas Morning News Editorial: Why is Texas all but forcing the developmentally disabled into bad state institutions?

Texans with intellectual or developmental disabilities often have a choice: Add their name to a 10-year waitlist for services in their community in places like group homes or get a spot in a more restrictive state-supported institution immediately. Most choose to wait.

The state of Texas prioritizes funding for state-supported institutions over community-based services for developmentally disabled citizens. But these institutions are fraught with problems, and few choose them. In order to serve its citizens and use public funds more responsibly, the state needs to reconsider its priorities.

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SE Texas Record - July 8, 2019

USDA, Texas Department of Agriculture OK Texas Rural Challenge commitments

The rural development arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Texas Department of Agriculture recently signed a commitment to back the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Texas Rural Challenge. The initiative, which is overseen by UT San Antonio’s Institute for Economic Development, secured a commitment to increase access to financing in rural areas of mutual interest July 17.

TDA Commissioner Sid Miller and Texas state director for USDA Rural Development Edd Hargett approved the partnership at UT San Antonio’s 10th annual Texas Rural Challenge in New Braunfels. The Institute for Economic Development said the partnership will develop innovation clusters in rural areas and aid in improving financing opportunities for rural small businesses. The institute said the partners ‘will also identify prospects to deliver programs, methods to increase tax cut benefits and provide tools to help rural small businesses export products around the world.'

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McAllen Monitor - July 11, 2019

Gonzalez introduces legislation to allow donations in detention facilities

U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, who represents most of Hidalgo County, has introduced a bill which would amend the U.S. Code to allow an officer or employee of the U.S. government to accept outside donations for detained children and families, according to a news release.

The Charity and Relief in Disarray and Distress (CARIDAD) Act would change the existing U.S. policy, which prohibits governmental employees from accepting donations of goods outside of what Congress appropriates. “We have a moral obligation to process these migrants in a sanitary and safe environment,” said Gonzalez in a press release. “Our fellow Americans have stepped up and we should empower them to assist their fellow man. This legislation would remove existing barriers and allow them to do that.”

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NPR - July 12, 2019

Tours of Texas migrant detention centers reveal decrease in population

After months of reports of migrants being crammed into dangerously overcrowded facilities, acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan got some good news during a visit Thursday to one of the Border Patrol's busiest sectors.

"On May 31, we had over 5,300 people in custody here in El Paso sector. On June 15, that number was reduced down to 3,000. And on July 1, we had just close to 550 in custody," Chris Clem, deputy chief of the El Paso Border Patrol sector, told McAleenan in a briefing. Tours of two controversial Border Patrol facilities bore out those numbers. A small group of journalists was allowed to attend but could not take pictures or talk to any migrants.

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San Antonio Express-News - July 11, 2019

In climate debate, Texas lawyer stands as possible roadblock

With concerns about climate change gaining urgency — not just among Democrats, but also Republicans — efforts to reduce the nation’s dependence on oil, natural gas and other fossil fuels are intensifying.

But potentially standing in the way is Bernard McNamee, a Houston-raised energy attorney and former adviser to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who as a commissioner on the powerful Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has questioned the legality of efforts to dramatically cut greenhouse gases emitted by the U.S. energy system and replace the fossil fuels that produce them.

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Austin American-Statesman - July 11, 2019

Lawsuit targets Texas ballot laws for third parties, independents

Arguing that their access to the general-election ballot is being improperly restricted, the Libertarian Party and other minor parties, candidates and voters filed a federal lawsuit Thursday seeking to block Texas laws requiring petition signatures to be gathered in a relatively short amount of time.

Those requirements and others impose severe financial burdens on independent candidates and minor parties that Republicans and Democrats do not face, according to the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Austin. “For the last 50 years, the State of Texas denied voters their right to cast their votes effectively by enforcing a statutory scheme that guarantees ballot access to the two oldest and largest political parties at taxpayer expense, while imposing ever-greater burdens on their potential competitors,” the lawsuit said.

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County Stories

Houston Public Media - July 11, 2019

Fort Bend County Sheriff mum on political future

Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls won’t seek a third term, but also won’t say whether he plans to run for higher office. Still, the sheriff is leaving the door open. Nehls has been discussed as a potential congressional candidate. But he told News 88-7 he isn’t willing to give up the sheriff’s post just yet. “There’s a resign-to-run provision in the Texas Constitution that does not allow for a current elected official to announce or say he’s going to run for something else,” Nehls said.

The Republican sheriff did give a time frame for making a decision. “If I chose to run for something else, a decision like that would be made towards the end of the year,” he said. Nehls previously weighed and dismissed a primary challenge to GOP Congressman Pete Olson in 2018. Much of Olson’s district lies in Fort Bend County, which tilted Democratic last year.

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City Stories

Houston Public Media - July 11, 2019

Houston considers making its juvenile curfew rule less restrictive

Current Houston law prohibits juveniles under 17 from being outside from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. on weekdays and after midnight on the weekend, as well as from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on school days.

Violations are considered a Class C misdemeanor. Those in violation can be punished with an up to $500 fine, although that hasn’t happened in practice, according to municipal court judge Elaine Marshall, the presiding judge for the city of Houston’s Teen Court. At a public hearing before City Council Wednesday, multiple speakers urged to decriminalize violations, arguing a criminal record can affect someone for life, for example on a job application – even though the offense is comparable to a traffic ticket.

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Dallas Morning News - July 11, 2019

Dallas police now say no officers were put on administrative leave for social media investigation

After The Dallas Morning News reported Friday night that dozens of officers were under investigation for bigoted and problematic Facebook posts, Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall said four of the officers had been placed on administrative leave “based on the extreme nature of their posts.” But that never happened.

Executive Assistant Police Chief David Pughes said police commanders have yet to sideline any officer because of the social media investigation. And the number of officers under investigation isn’t 25 as Hall said. Police say now they’re reviewing 34 officers — a number closer to the 35 cops that a Dallas Police Association attorney estimated were under investigation Friday. In a text message exchange with Hall to confirm the number Friday, she reiterated that it was only 25 officers.

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram - July 11, 2019

Fired Fort Worth police chief calls his termination invalid, demands public hearing

An attorney for fired Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald says the chief was improperly terminated by the city and is demanding a public hearing on the matter.

Stephen Kennedy, who is representing Fitzgerald in a whistleblower lawsuit filed against the city of Fort Worth, sent a letter to Fort Worth City Attorney Sarah Fullenwider on Thursday, demanding the hearing and alleging that Fitzgerald was improperly terminated and denied due process. In a reply sent by Fullenwider to Kennedy and shared with the Star-Telegram, the city attorney responded that “Mr. Fitzgerald’s termination is final.”

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Rivard Report - July 11, 2019

SA employer groups eye legal steps to stop paid sick leave law

A group of local staffing agencies and associations representing restaurants and builders is threatening legal action to block an Aug. 1 deadline for employer compliance with the City’s paid sick leave ordinance.

A letter from attorney Ricardo Cedillo of Davis, Cedillo & Mendoza sent Thursday to City Attorney Andrew Segovia states that Cedillo is representing the interests of San Antonio businesses and associations in opposing the paid sick leave ordinance and that he is prepared to pursue injunctive relief in court. An injunction is a court order that requires parties to continue or cease a specific action. Ten plaintiffs are listed in the letter.

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National Stories

Washington Post - July 12, 2019

’Couldn’t get him out of Congress fast enough!’: Trump lashes out after Paul Ryan slams him in new book

When House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) announced that he wouldn’t seek reelection in April 2018, President Trump was effusive, calling him a “truly good man” with a “legacy of achievement that nobody can question.” But that was before Ryan blasted Trump in the upcoming book “American Carnage,” telling author Tim Alberta that the president “didn’t know anything about government” and operates on ill-informed “knee-jerk reactions.”

Late on Thursday, Trump swung back at the former speaker. In a three-tweet barrage, Trump called Ryan’s leadership “atrocious,” labeled him a “lame duck failure” and suggested he was thrilled when Ryan left Capitol Hill. “He had the Majority & blew it away with his poor leadership and bad timing. Never knew how to go after the Dems like they go after us. Couldn’t get him out of Congress fast enough!” Trump tweeted.

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Washington Post - July 12, 2019

A girl licked a tongue depressor at a clinic and put it back. Her mother now faces a felony charge.

In the grainy cellphone video, a hand lifts the lid off a clear jar filled with tongue depressors and playfully swirls the light-colored wooden sticks around. “PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH MEDICAL SUPPLIES! THANK YOU,” warns an all-caps notice posted on the wall above the container.

Moments later, another hand pops into view. It belongs to a young girl wearing a baseball cap and a turquoise tank top. She too reaches for the jar, but goes a step further, plucking one of the tongue depressors from the bunch and bringing it to her mouth. Then, she appears to lick the length of the flat stick before placing it back in with the others. She slaps her now-empty hand against the open mouth of the jar twice before the lid is swiftly replaced. “Don’t tell me how to live my life,” text superimposed on the video reads.

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Dallas Morning News - July 11, 2019

House panel prods migrant detention firms for info, suggests conflict by Trump's ex-chief of staff

The House oversight committee stepped up its pressure Thursday on the Trump administration’s migrant policies, demanding profit data from companies that run detention facilities, along with records related to alleged mistreatment and neglect of child migrants.

The demands come after the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general documented widespread overcrowding and squalor at border facilities where migrants are detained, including crammed cells and a lack of showers and hot meals. On Wednesday, the committee put a spotlight on the treatment of migrant children with emotional testimony from a Guatemalan woman whose 21-month-old daughter died in May 2018, soon after three weeks in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Dilley, Texas.

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Associated Press - July 11, 2019

Race becomes new flashpoint with Pelosi, Ocasio-Cortez

The debate between Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other House Democrats over migrant children in detention at the border was wrenching enough. Then it became about race.

First, the freshman’s chief of staff compared more centrist Democrats to 1940s segregationists. Then Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY., accused Speaker Nancy Pelosi of “singling out” her and fellow newcomers, all women of color. By Thursday, the rhetoric escalated, overshadowing the agenda and pushing House Democrats way off message with the most divisive upheaval since they took control of the chamber this year. Longtime lawmakers were stunned.

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New York Times - July 11, 2019

A Koch executive’s harassment in China adds to fears among visitors

A Koch Industries executive was told he could not leave China. An ex-diplomat who helped organize a technology forum in Beijing was hassled by authorities who wanted to question him. An industry group developed contingency plans, in case its offices were raided and computer servers were seized.

Business executives, Washington officials and other frequent visitors to China who were interviewed by The New York Times expressed increasing alarm about the Chinese authorities’ harassment of Americans by holding them for questioning and preventing them from leaving the country.

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HuffPost - July 11, 2019

DOE may have mistakenly shipped dangerous nuclear materials to Nevada

The U.S. Department of Energy shipped potentially dangerous nuclear material incorrectly labeled as low-level radioactive waste into Nevada for several years, the state’s governor announced.

A statement from Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) on Wednesday said the department sent a total of 32 shipments to the Nevada National Security Site between 2013 and 2018 that were supposed to be low-level radioactive waste from a facility in Tennessee. (The DOE told the Las Vegas Review-Journal later on Wednesday that there were actually nine shipments that had 32 containers.)

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Wall Street Journal - July 12, 2019

Bitcoin backers welcome Trump attack: At least he notices us

Cryptocurrency backers found a silver lining in President Trump’s attacks on bitcoin late Thursday. In three tweets, Mr. Trump said he is “not a fan” of cryptocurrencies, declaring they aren’t money and that their values are “highly volatile and based on thin air.” Unregulated digital assets, he said, could “facilitate unlawful behavior, including drug trade and other illegal activity.”

Still, his remarks were welcomed by some in the industry: While U.S. authorities might remain wary of digital currencies, they say, the attention shows the industry’s growing importance. “I dreamt about a sitting U.S. president needing to respond to growing cryptocurrency usage years ago,” Brian Armstrong, co-founder and chief executive at Coinbase, a U.S. platform for buying and selling bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, wrote on Twitter. “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. We just made it to step 3 y’all.”

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Bloomberg - July 12, 2019

Amazon commits $700 million to retrain workers in new skills

Amazon.com Inc. said it will spend $700 million to retrain about one-third of its U.S. workforce in skills needed to thrive in the new economy.

The e-commerce giant, which is increasingly using robots to help sort and deliver packages, said it will retrain 100,000 workers by 2025 to allow employees move into more highly skilled jobs within the company or find new careers outside of Amazon, according to a statement Thursday. The program would enable employees who work in fulfillment centers to move into technical roles regardless of any previous IT experience. Employees without technical expertise could learn skills to transition into software engineering careers. Amazon would also offer pre-paid tuition to train fulfillment center associates in high-demand occupations of their choice, among other options.

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Newsclips - July 11, 2019

Lead Stories

New York Times - July 11, 2019

Deportation raids of immigrant family members and bystanders to begin Sunday

Nationwide raids to arrest thousands of members of undocumented families have been scheduled to begin Sunday, according to two current and one former homeland security officials, moving forward with a rapidly changing operation, the final details of which remain in flux. The operation, backed by President Trump, had been postponed, partly because of resistance among officials at his own immigration agency.

The raids, which will be conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement over multiple days, will include “collateral” deportations, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the preliminary stage of the operation. In those deportations, the authorities might detain immigrants who happened to be on the scene, even though they were not targets of the raids.

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Dallas Morning News - July 10, 2019

Dallas Democrat Royce West schedules potential announcement of Senate campaign against John Cornyn

Royce West is one step closer to running against Republican incumbent Sen. John Cornyn. The Dallas Democrat has announced a news conference for July 22, where he's widely expected to launch a campaign for Senate.

The longtime state senator would join a Democratic Party primary that already includes former Air Force helicopter pilot MJ Hegar of Round Rock and former U.S. Rep. Chris Bell of Houston. And Houston council member Amanda Edwards is considering mounting a campaign as well. Cornyn isn't expected to have a major primary challenge to his re-election bid. On Wednesday Cornyn told reporters on a conference call that he expected a spirited Democratic primary.

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San Antonio Express-News - July 10, 2019

Judge dismisses parts of AG’s ‘sanctuary city’ lawsuit against San Antonio; driver faced charges in May

A state judge dismissed significant parts of Attorney General Ken Paxton's first sanctuary cities lawsuit, which alleges San Antonio Police Chief William McManus and others hindered federal immigration enforcement by releasing 12 people suspected of being in the country illegally.

The suit, filed last November, was the first under Senate Bill 4, the controversial law known for targeting sanctuary cities. It penalizes local officials who enact policies restricting the enforcement of federal immigration laws. State District Judge Tim Sulak of Austin dismissed three claims in the lawsuit on July 2, ruling the relevant portions of SB 4 were barred from being enforced at the time because they were temporarily blocked by federal courts.

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Associated Press - July 10, 2019

Facing calls for resignation, Acosta defends Epstein deal

Trying to tamp down calls for his resignation, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta on Wednesday defended his handling of a sex-trafficking case involving now-jailed financier Jeffrey Epstein, insisting he got the toughest deal he could at the time.

In a nearly hour-long news conference, Acosta retraced the steps that federal prosecutors took in the case when he was U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida a decade ago, insisting that "in our heart we were trying to do the right thing for these victims." He said prosecutors were working to avoid a more lenient arrangement that would have allowed Epstein to "walk free."

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State Stories

Dallas Morning News - July 10, 2019

CNBC ranking hammers home what kept Texas from winning best state for business title

This year, Texas fell from its coveted No. 1 position atop CNBC's annual ranking of best states for business because of two critical factors — the state's schools and declining energy prices. The Lone Star State received some of the highest overall scores in 2019 for its workforce, economy and infrastructure, but ranked 12th-worst in terms of its quality of education.

Virginia, which supplanted Texas, tied with Massachusetts for having the highest quality of education in the U.S., according to the business news network's study. What is it about Texas' education system that's so severely lacking, and how is it impacting the state's favorite point of pride outside of high school football and all things smoked meats?

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Dallas Morning News - July 10, 2019

Is the Carrizo Springs migrant facility 'too much, too late' for the southern border crisis?

Federal officials in charge of caring for and reuniting unaccompanied migrant children with their parents on Wednesday happily gave reporters a tour of the spotless migrant holding facility recently opened in this southwest Texas town.

They highlighted the high standards of medical and child care while showing off the facility, and noted the recently reduced length of stay for migrant children in federal custody. But a few questions stuck out: If the government had the ability to house children in such high-quality facilities, why did lawyers report last month that children were staying under squalid conditions in Border Patrol facilities for weeks? And is the new facility too much, too late?

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Dallas Morning News - July 10, 2019

'My daughter is gone': House hearing on 'kids in cages' spotlights infant who died after ICE custody

Amid an uproar over prolonged detention of migrants, a House oversight panel Wednesday put a spotlight on mistreatment with emotional testimony from a Guatemalan woman whose daughter died six weeks after release from ICE custody.

Yazmin Juárez tearfully told lawmakers about the ordeal, recounting acute illness and neglect during their 20-day stay at a privately-run facility in Dilley, Texas, a family detention center with a capacity of 2,400 people. "My daughter is gone. The people in charge of these facilities and caring for these little angels are not supposed to let things like this happen. We're here to find a better life," she said through sniffles and sobs. Mariee died in May 2018, three months shy of her second birthday.

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Dallas Morning News - July 10, 2019

Clay Jenkins’ business partner launches House campaign against Arlington Rep. Ron Wright

A Waxahachie Democrat who is business partners with Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins is running for Congress in 2020 against Rep. Ron Wright, an Arlington Republican who was first elected to office last year.

Stephen Daniel, an attorney, on Wednesday announced his House campaign, telling The Dallas Morning News that residents in the suburban-rural district “haven’t been adequately represented” by the incumbent and that, politically, “it’s a closer district than people think.” The campaign launch could signal that Democrats are serious about expanding the battleground map in Texas, which was already expected to host eight competitive House races next year.

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Dallas Morning News - July 10, 2019

Rep. Kenny Marchant hit with ethics complaint that alleges impermissible campaign donations by staff

An ethics complaint has been filed against Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Coppell, over what may be nearly 20 impermissible reimbursements made over the years from his campaign account to some of his House staffers for expenditures they made. At issue isn't what the few thousand dollars in reimbursements bought: food, office supplies and other legitimate campaign-related expenditures.

The complaint, obtained by The Dallas Morning News, instead zeroes in on rules by the Federal Election Commission and the House that classify those reimbursements as contributions. That's problematic because House employees are barred from donating to the campaign of their boss. One further twist is the fact that Marchant is the top Republican on the House Ethics Committee. "It's not a huge amount of money, but he should know better," said Pat Pangburn, an Irving resident and longtime Democratic activist, who wrote the complaint this month asking the Office of Congressional Ethics to conduct a formal investigation.

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Austin American-Statesman - July 10, 2019

Democrats put Texas in focus, as Houston named as debate site

Texas has been the site of some notable attempts — and even some successes — by Democrats in recent elections to flip longtime Republican-held seats, but the state hasn’t been a presidential battleground in more than two decades. Democrats eyeing the White House in 2020 are looking to change that.

The Democratic National Committee is hosting the third round of debates in Houston in September, the latest sign that the national party is looking to put Texas in play. “We’ve seen firsthand in Texas that organizing everywhere through the Texas Democratic Party has led to victories all across the state, including flipping a dozen state House seats and making the state more competitive than it has been in decades,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said late Tuesday. “Houston is the perfect place to showcase our candidates so that they can share their vision for a better future for the American people.”

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Austin American-Statesman - July 10, 2019

Gas prices climbing, but still below last year’s level

The price of gasoline has been rising lately, but the trend isn’t expected to become significant enough to prompt many motorists to cancel their summer road trips. Gas prices in Austin average $2.41 per gallon, up 3.2 cents over the past week and 4 cents over the past month –– but still down 18.1 cents, or 7%, from the same period last year, according to GasBuddy, a company that tracks prices.

Nationally, the average price is 2.75 per gallon, climbing 2.3 cents in the past week but off 10.9 cents, or about 3.5%, from 2018. Industry experts say the recent increases stem largely from a climb in the price of crude oil, which makes up more than half of the retail cost of gasoline. West Texas Intermediate crude for August delivery was trading recently at about $60.30 a barrel, up more than 4% Wednesday and about 17% over the past month.

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Houston Chronicle - July 10, 2019

San Antonio native Norah O’Donnell takes over CBS Evening News on a historic week

Norah O’Donnell says “the news gods have been working in our favor" as she gets set to begin her first week as anchor and managing editor of “CBS Evening News.”

The cherry on the cake for O’Donnell, who grew up in San Antonio, is that covering the Apollo 11 anniversary will bring her back to Texas — specifically, to Houston, home of NASA’s Johnson Space Center and the newly restored Apollo Mission Control Center, where NASA monitored that historic first flight to the moon. “As a Texas girl, I’ll always welcome any opportunity to come home,” she said. “It was my first time ever going to Johnson Space Center. A true delight — just to walk down memory lane.”

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Houston Chronicle - July 9, 2019

Appeals court drops some reforms of broken Texas foster care system, fast-tracks others

Texas won’t have to overhaul its computer system that tracks foster children in its care — what could have been an expensive undertaking for the state — a federal court decided this week in the latest twist in a long-running class-action lawsuit over Texas' treatment of thousands of foster children in its care.

The state will have to move forward with other reforms, including studying workers’ caseloads to see what they can safely handle and requiring around-the-clock supervision at licensed foster homes with more than six children, according to a decision by a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

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McAllen Monitor - July 10, 2019

Border apprehensions drop for first time this fiscal year

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said the number of apprehended people at the U.S.-Mexico border dropped in June, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended 104,344 people in June, down nearly 30% from May’s apprehensions, when 144,278 immigrants were apprehended, the DHS release read.

June’s numbers come amid reports that the “Remain in Mexico” policy, a DHS-led initiative which returns recently arrived immigrants to Mexico to wait for their respective U.S. immigration proceedings, has been expanded to the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. “Additionally, we are working with the Government of Mexico to expand Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) to allow the U.S. to more effectively assist legitimate asylum-seekers and individuals fleeing persecution and deter migrants with false or meritless claims from making the journey.

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Inside Higher Ed - July 10, 2019

Texas becomes second state to make FAFSA mandatory

In a bid to boost the number of students receiving financial support for college, Texas will soon become the second state to require high school seniors to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid before graduating.

A handful of states have looked at making FAFSA completion mandatory for graduating high school students. Beginning with the 2020-21 academic year, Texas will provide a serious test case for the policy after big successes in Louisiana, which enacted the requirement last year.

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Texas Monthly - July 8, 2019

Worse things have happened to Blue Bell Ice Cream than a gross prank at Walmart

On June 28, a very brief video clip was posted to social media that showed a teenage girl at a Walmart in Lufkin with a carton of Blue Bell ice cream. In the clip, the top of the container is off, and the girl licks the surface of it before replacing the lid and putting it back in the freezer for an unsuspecting consumer to purchase. The video quickly went viral—just one of the many tweets that shared it has more than 12 million views—and spawned a whole lot of outrage.

To be certain, licking a container of ice cream at the supermarket is gross and unsanitary, and no one should do it. But it is strange to think that the first person to face criminal charges related to contaminated Blue Bell ice cream would be a kid who posted a video of herself pulling a dumb prank, and not any of the people who were at the company when their product literally killed people.

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Texas Observer - July 11, 2019

Without transmission lines, renewable energy still has a long way to go — literally

If you want to understand the future of renewable energy, look to Texas. That’s the argument Russell Gold makes in his new book Superpower: One Man’s Quest to Transform American Energy. Texas is a global wind powerhouse, producing far more wind energy than any other state and all but five other countries.

But building turbines on remote West Texas plains is the easy part; moving that power nationwide is trickier. To make renewable energy a viable option for more Americans, we need thousands more miles of transmission lines — a wind and solar superhighway. Otherwise, the United States’ renewable energy consumption could flatline.

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Texas Tribune - July 10, 2019

Asylum seekers will appear before judges via teleconferencing in tents as "Remain in Mexico" program expands to Laredo

The Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday that the Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as the “remain in Mexico” program, has expanded to Laredo. Approximately 10 migrants crossed the border to seek asylum Monday and were sent across the border to Nuevo Laredo on Tuesday to wait as their asylum applications are processed, according to the Associated Press.

A DHS official said Tuesday that the agency coordinated with Mexican officials before sending the migrants back to Mexico. Laredo officials also said Tuesday that U.S. Customs and Border Protection will be erecting tents in Laredo to act as temporary hearing facilities for MPP cases. Mayor Pete Saenz described the facilities as virtual immigration courtrooms where immigration judges can preside over cases via video conferencing.

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Texas Public Radio - July 10, 2019

The National Guard is heading to the U.S./Mexico border to help move trucks through faster

In late March, U.S. Customs and Border Protection began pulling customs agents away from their regular jobs at ports of entry and reassigned them to process migrants at the border.

CBP has since moved some personnel back to customs processing at the ports. That’s improved wait times somewhat. Dávila said he waited less than an hour on his last trip across the border with a load of mangoes, chile peppers, cucumbers and squash. But all along the border, companies are still concerned. Staffing at ports of entry remains an issue, and business leaders worry about a possible repeat of the situation that occured this spring, when President Trump’s threats of tariffs led to a surge of Mexican imports that made traffic even worse.

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County Stories

Austin American-Statesman - July 10, 2019

Travis County weighs raises for elected officials as tighter budgets loom

Travis County commissioners plan to give raises to all elected officials that amount to nearly $650,000 in new spending in the 2020 fiscal year. Commissioners plan to give themselves a $32,309 boost, which would bring their annual salaries to $151,817 from $119,508, a 27% pay increase.

Other increases include a $6,544 raise for some county constables, a $13,000 raise for the district and county clerks, $19,427 more for the sheriff and $31,371 in additional pay for the county judge, who presides over the commissioners court as the county’s chief administrator. The proposed raises follow a market salary survey completed in 2018 by the county’s human resources department last year. The survey found that pay for Travis County elected officials was significantly out of line with what officials in similar roles are paid in comparable counties. Travis County staff, including peace officers, earn more on average than their counterparts in other counties.

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Houston Chronicle - July 10, 2019

Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls won’t seek another term

Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls announced Wednesday that he would forgo a third term, opening up potential scenarios that could change the political landscape in a fast-growing suburb that has trended blue in recent elections.

News of Nehls’ decision prompted immediate speculation that he might run for Congress, a possibility he did not confirm or deny in an interview. Nehls, who has served as sheriff of the fast-growing county since 2012, said he announced his decision not to seek re-election now to provide time for others who may want to run for sheriff. “I will again revisit that over the next four, five months,” Nehls said about a possible Congress run. “We’ll just wait to see what happens.”

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City Stories

Houston Chronicle - July 10, 2019

Houston petition drive for ‘anti-pay-to-play’ measure falls short of signature requirement

The political action committee that launched a petition drive aimed at limiting the influence of contractors and vendors at Houston City Hall failed to gather enough signatures to put the measure on the November ballot, the group’s director said Wednesday.

The drive, which ended earlier this week, was for a petition authored by a group of lawyers, including Houston mayoral candidate Bill King, to amend a city ordinance to bar people who do business with the city from contributing more than $500 to candidates for municipal office.

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National Stories

Washington Post - July 11, 2019

‘Outright disrespectful’: Four House women struggle as Pelosi isolates them

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi admonished Democrats for personally attacking one another, warning in a closed-door meeting Wednesday that the party’s fracturing was jeopardizing its majority. Without naming names, her target was clear: the four liberal freshmen known as “the Squad.”

“You got a complaint? You come and talk to me about it. But do not tweet about our members and expect us to think that that is just okay,” Pelosi (D-Calif.) told Democrats. But “the Squad” — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) — is convinced it is Pelosi who is being the bully. The four are struggling with the speaker’s moves to isolate them in recent weeks, according to interviews with the lawmakers, congressional aides and allies. Pelosi has made at least half a dozen remarks dismissing the group or their far-left proposals on the environment and health care. More recently she scorned their lonely opposition to the party’s emergency border bill last month.

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Washington Post - July 10, 2019

Trump looks to rally controversial online allies at White House social media summit

President Trump has summoned Republican lawmakers, political strategists and social media stars to the White House on Thursday to discuss the “opportunities and challenges” of the Web — but his upcoming summit, critics say, could end up empowering online provocateurs who have adopted controversial political tactics entering the 2020 election campaign.

The high-profile gathering follows months of attacks from Trump claiming that Facebook, Google and Twitter — all services the president taps to talk to supporters — secretly censor right-leaning users, websites and other content online, a charge of political bias that the tech giants strongly deny. But Trump hasn’t invited any of the major tech companies, people familiar with the White House plans say, opting instead to grant a powerful stage to people who have a track record of sending inflammatory tweets and videos and posting other troubling content that social media sites increasingly are under pressure to remove.

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Washington Post - July 10, 2019

Trump’s July Fourth event and weekend protests bankrupted D.C. security fund, mayor says

President Trump’s overhauled July Fourth celebration cost the D.C. government $1.7 million, an amount that — combined with police expenses for demonstrations through the weekend — has bankrupted a special fund used to protect the nation’s capital from terrorist threats and provide security at events such as rallies and state funerals.

In a letter to the president on Tuesday, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) warned that the fund has now been depleted and is estimated to be running a $6 million deficit by Sept. 30. The mayor also noted that the account was never reimbursed for $7.3 million in expenses from Trump’s 2017 inauguration.

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Associated Press - July 10, 2019

Tech sector leads US stocks higher as Fed signals rate cut

Stocks finished higher Wednesday as Wall Street welcomed new signals suggesting the Federal Reserve is ready to cut interest rates for the first time in a decade. Technology stocks drove much of the gains, nudging the Nasdaq composite to an all-time high. The benchmark S&P 500 index briefly traded above 3,000 for the first time before pulling back to just below its most recent record high a week ago.

The market climbed early on after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said that many Fed officials believe a weakening global economy and rising trade tensions have strengthened the case for a rate cut. Powell's remarks, which he delivered as part of his semi-annual monetary report to Congress, allayed investors' concerns that an unexpectedly strong U.S. jobs report on Friday might give the Fed reason to stay put on interest rates.

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Associated Press - July 10, 2019

New holding center for migrant children opens

A former oilfield worker camp off a dirt road in rural Texas has become the U.S. government’s newest holding center for detaining migrant children after they leave Border Patrol stations, where complaints of overcrowding and filthy conditions have sparked a worldwide outcry.

Inside the wire fence that encircles the site are soccer fields, a giant air-conditioned tent that serves as a dining hall, and trailers set up for use as classrooms and as places where children can call their families. The long trailers once used to house workers in two-bedroom suites have been converted into 12-person dorms, with two pairs of bunk beds in each bedroom and the living room.

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NPR - July 10, 2019

Appeals Court orders dismissal of emoluments lawsuit against Trump

A constitutional challenge to President Trump's continued ownership of his businesses has been ordered dismissed by a federal appeals court.

The case was brought by the attorneys general of Washington, D.C., and Maryland, arguing that Trump had violated the domestic and foreign emoluments clauses of the U.S. Constitution by accepting money from state and foreign governments via his Washington hotel and business empire. A three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled unanimously that the attorneys general did not have the standing to bring the lawsuit and instructed a lower court to dismiss the lawsuit.

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NPR - July 11, 2019

'You may need the money more than I do': McConnell once returned Trump's donation

Even from the beginning, Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump had a complicated relationship. In 1989, McConnell was running for re-election to the Senate. As he once told a Senate committee, the reason he and other lawmakers spent much of their time fundraising was because "we like to win."

And that fall, he received a $1,000 campaign check (the legal maximum at the time) from one prolific political donor: then-real-estate developer and author of the bestselling The Art Of The Deal Donald J. Trump. But in 1990, Trump's financial fortunes — and the headlines he generated — changed. Many of his casinos were underperforming, some on the verge of bankruptcy. And Forbes magazine dropped Trump from its annual list of the 400 wealthiest people, saying that his fortune was "within hailing distance of zero." According to recent reporting by the New York Times, Trump lost a combined $517.6 million between 1990 and 1991.

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Roll Call - July 10, 2019

Fallout in Michigan and beyond from Justin Amash’s breakup with GOP

Republicans didn’t shed a tear after Rep. Justin Amash jumped the GOP ship last week. But their exuberance over being rid of the Michigan congressman might be masking the impact his departure will have on their efforts to recapture the House majority and regain control of his 3rd District.

At a minimum, Amash’s decision lowers the number of Republicans in the House and increases the number of seats Republicans need to gain in 2020 to recapture the majority. The partisan balance of the House has now shifted slightly from 235 Democrats and 200 Republicans to 235 Democrats, 199 Republicans and one independent. In other words, before Amash’s decision, Republicans needed to gain 18 or 19 seats in November 2020, depending on the outcome of the Sept. 10 redo in North Carolina’s 9th. Now, Republicans need to gain 19 or 20 seats.

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Houston Chronicle - July 10, 2019

Arthur Garson Jr.: If medical prices are buried in gobbledygook, posting them won’t help

President Trump’s new executive order, which requires hospitals to share information with patients about the cost of medical care, might seem like a good idea. After all, many of us know well just how frustrating it can be when a hospital, clinician or insurer can’t or won’t share information about costs until after our surgery, test or procedure is complete — if ever.

But there is a serious danger with the new order: a simple list could intimidate or confuse patients, and it may actually turn them off from getting needed data. As a physician, I know that the eventual goal must be to inform patients about their care. That means sharing with them not only the cost of their care but also what they are paying for, and why they need to buy it. For patients, it’s increasingly important to understand those costs because employers are forcing employees to pay a growing share of medical bills.

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Newsclips - July 10, 2019

Lead Stories

Dallas Morning News - July 9, 2019

Ross Perot's political legacy: Clinton, populism, Trump and the tea party

Ross Perot wasn’t the last billionaire with the audacity to run for president. He wasn’t the first populist candidate, or the first to use extended infomercials to make a case for pet issues. But he was the most successful third-party candidate in history. The template he set in 1992 didn’t directly spark the tea party movement or the later election of President Donald Trump, but both owe a debt.

The last third-party candidate to come close to pulling in as many votes as Perot did was a former president, Teddy Roosevelt, back in 1912. Both ended up as spoilers rather than winners. But Perot did more than just sap support that George H.W. Bush could have used to fend off Democrat Bill Clinton.

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Austin American-Statesman - July 9, 2019

Attend UT for free? After Tuesday vote, 21% of undergrads could

In a move that could dismantle financial barriers to college for low-income students, University of Texas in-state students with household incomes of less than $65,000 a year will be given full scholarships beginning in fall 2020.

A $160 million endowment created Tuesday after a UT System Board of Regents vote means that an estimated 21 percent of new and enrolled undergraduate students will now automatically be given free rides at the state’s flagship public university. If it was applied now, 8,600 in-state students would qualify for free tuition. Further, the endowment will provide tuition assistance to any in-state student with a family income of $125,000 or less — an estimated 5,700 additional students.

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New York Times - July 9, 2019

Houston to host third Democratic Debate on ABC

The 2020 Democratic presidential contest is headed to Texas for the third televised debate of the party’s primary campaign. Houston is set to host the Democratic debate on Sept. 12 and 13, sponsored by ABC News and the Spanish-language network Univision. After this article was published on Tuesday, ABC News and the Democratic National Committee officially announced the debate in Houston.

“As the nation’s most diverse city, Houston is the perfect place for the Democratic Party’s third debate,” Tom Perez, the party chairman, said in a statement on Tuesday night. Like Miami, which hosted the Democrats’ first debate in June, Houston was among the final group of cities considered to host next year’s Democratic convention. (Milwaukee eventually took the prize.) The choice of Texas could also be seen as a statement of intent by the party to be competitive in a state that has not been won by a Democratic presidential candidate since 1976.

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Politico - July 9, 2019

Kudlow: Trump won't submit trade bill until Pelosi gives 'green light'

The Trump administration will not send Congress legislation to implement the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement until House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the time is right, a top Trump administration official said today.

"[U.S. Trade Representative Robert] Lighthizer has said that we will submit formal legislation when she gives the green light on the vote," chief White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said in an interview at CNBC's Capital Exchange event. Although Kudlow quoted Lighthizer, Lighthizer's office has not responded to repeated questions in recent days about whether the Trump administration could send the implementing legislation to Congress this week, now that lawmakers have returned from the Fourth of July break.

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State Stories

Dallas Morning News - July 9, 2019

Ross Perot, self-made billionaire, patriot and philanthropist, dies at 89

Ross Perot, self-made billionaire, renowned patriot and two-time independent candidate for U.S. president, has died after a five-month battle with leukemia. He was 89. The pioneer of the computer services industry, who founded Electronic Data Systems Corp. in 1962 and Perot Systems Corp. 26 years later, was just 5-foot-6, but his presence filled a room.

Perot was diagnosed with leukemia in February. A massive secondary infection the next month nearly killed him, according to the family. In true Perot fashion, he fought back, showing up at the office most days in his dark suit with the omnipresent American flag on his lapel.

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Dallas Morning News - July 9, 2019

Mitchell Schnurman: Refugees get the job done and pay lots of taxes. Yet Trump slashed their numbers

Refugees account for a small share of immigrants, just over 5% of those living in Dallas, but they have an outsized impact on the economy. Compared with other immigrants, refugees are more likely to start companies, buy homes and become naturalized citizens. They earn more, too, despite usually starting in entry-level jobs that pay less than $25,000 annually.

After being in America for at least 25 years, the median household income of Dallas County refugees topped $68,000 in 2015, according to a report by New American Economy, a pro-immigration group. That was $15,000 higher than the median income for all U.S. households in the same year. While median income for non-refugee immigrants grew 30% over the period, the same metric for refugees more than tripled, the report found.

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Dallas Morning News - July 9, 2019

How Texas Tech aims to meet the health needs in rural communities from peaky pets to tingly toothaches

The Texas Tech University System is two years from enrolling the first class of its new veterinary school, but already officials know the kind of student they want. Sure, top grades are a must. But just as important will be finding the student who understands what it's like to live in rural communities, Texas Tech chancellor Dr. Tedd L. Mitchell said.

Maybe the potential candidate grew up in the city but went to a small, agriculture college or graduated from a big-name university but has roots in ranching. It's the same approach that Texas Tech has long used to produce more rural family doctors through its medical school. And it works, Mitchell says. This spring, lawmakers gave West Texas two big wins: approving funding for the Texas Tech system to launch a veterinary school in Amarillo and a dental school in El Paso, which officials also hope to have running by 2021. Mitchell said the core mission for the Texas Tech system is to serve rural areas, which often struggle to attract and retain talented professionals.

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Dallas Morning News - July 9, 2019

A Texas doctor says American Airlines nearly kicked her off a flight for an 'inappropriate' romper

A Houston woman says an American Airlines crew told her to cover up or risk being kicked off her flight coming home from vacation to Jamaica. Tisha Rowe, a doctor and founder of a telemedicine service, posted on Twitter and Instagram that an American Airlines crew in Kingston briefly removed her and her son from a plane, called her romper inappropriate and threatened to remove her from the June 30 flight if she didn't cover up.

Rowe, an African-American woman, said on social media the incident was racist and misogynistic. Fort Worth-based American Airlines said it has apologized and reached out to the crew in Jamaica. Rowe did not respond to a request for comment, but told Buzzfeed News she believes a white passenger would not have been asked to leave the plane.

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Houston Chronicle - July 9, 2019

Blue Bell could add more protection to ice cream cartons after Texas licking incident

It was fitting that the ice cream lick seen round the world took place a day before the Fourth of July. Last week, a Lufkin Walmart was the scene of the disgusting act of desert degradation. Online, a video surfaced that showed a woman removing a carton of Tin Roof ice cream from a grocery freezer.

She then licks it before putting the top back on and the carton back in the store's freezer. The brazen Blue Bell licker inspired a series of copy cat criminals. On Monday, Police charged a 36-year-old man in Louisiana for the latest act of ice cream insolence. Now the Texas-based ice cream company is doing something about it. In a July 5 statement, Blue Bell made it clear that the safety of their food products is vital, and they are thoroughly examining any potential tampering cases

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Houston Chronicle - July 9, 2019

Erica Grieder: Perot wasn’t eccentric by Texas standards

H. Ross Perot, who died Tuesday at age 89 at his home in Dallas, was the best kind of billionaire — and one who might be remembered as a role model for other tycoons seeking political power in the United States.

Many Americans would be skeptical of the suggestion that’s a good thing, of course. Wealthy elites have always enjoyed disproportionate power in our society, and Perot’s bids for the presidency in 1992 and 1996 arguably encouraged them to be less circumspect about their political ambitions. Perot’s first bid, in particular, upended assumptions about the American electorate. The businessman was not a traditional candidate, or an ideal one, by his own assessment.

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San Antonio Express-News - July 9, 2019

San Antonio State Rep Ina Minjarez, 'Rookie of the Year,' assesses legislative session

When then-Texas House Speaker Joe Straus announced in October 2017 that he wouldn’t seek reelection, the consensus response was that the discord that simmered for years in the state Legislature would explode and create a new level of dysfunction. That didn’t happen in the 2019 legislative session, which produced a long-wished-for bipartisan breakthrough in public school funding, with Texas schools getting a $6.5 billion revenue bump.

State Rep. Ina Minjarez, D-San Antonio, sees this outcome as a direct consequence of a 2018 election cycle that gave Democrats a gain of 12 House and two Senate seats. “Elections have consequences, and I think this was a big wake-up call for the leadership of the state when a number of Democrats picked up seats,” Minjarez said during an interview on this week’s edition of the Express-News’ Puro Politics podcast.

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San Antonio Express-News - July 9, 2019

Four years later, Sandra Bland’s death casts long shadow over Prairie View

The makeshift Sandra Bland memorial on the street named after her is now tattered and faded. Old stuffed animals are bunched together on the ground. On a June day, when Prairie View Mayor David Allen stops in front of the memorial, he notes how Bland’s photo has come apart. He calls someone to come and get it fixed.

Wednesday marks the fourth anniversary of the day when Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old African American woman, was pulled over for failing to signal a lane change and then arrested following a heated exchange with a Texas state trooper. Three days later, she was found hanging in a Waller County jail cell, a death that was ruled a suicide. Her death thrust Prairie View into the center of the Black Lives Matter debate. The trooper, Brian Encinia, who is white, was fired and indicted for lying in his report about the incident, but the misdemeanor charge was dropped after he agreed never to work again in law enforcement.

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Texas Observer - July 10, 2019

Chris Hooks: The most interesting story in American politics in the coming year isn’t in Iowa, but on the outskirts of Houston and Dallas.

In 2018, Democrats picked up 12 seats in the House. Right now, the House has 83 Republicans and 67 Democrats. If in 2020, Democrats were to win every seat they lost by less than 5 percent in 2018, they’d win the chamber, which would be an earthquake. Everything would change. That outcome is exceptionally unlikely, but it is still possible, and it hasn’t been possible for a good while.

That’s a worrying situation for Republicans, because the next Legislature will draw district maps for the coming decade. A Democratic House would likely have no control over maps for state House and Senate districts, thanks to a strange feature of Texas government called the Legislative Redistricting Board, but it would influence how the state elects its national representatives. Fearing the loss of those comfortable congressional district lines, Republicans chilled out this session, in hopes of presenting a friendlier face to the suburban voters who punished them at the ballot box last year.

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El Paso Times - July 9, 2019

El Paso Times Editor: We stand by our reporting on the Clint detention center

The strength of the partnership between the El Paso Times and the New York Times lies in the fact that you have a team of reporters and editors who understand the immigration crisis and are subject matter experts.

The journalists spoke to current and former Customs and Border Protection agents and supervisors who work or have worked at the detention facility in Clint, TX. These agents and supervisors are witnesses to the severe problems at the secretive site and spoke on condition that they not be named because of fear they will face repercussions for exposing such squalid conditions.

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McAllen Monitor - July 8, 2019

State lawmakers may have tipped off judge in bribery case

Local lawmakers testified they may have inadvertently tipped off a state district judge accused of taking bribes during their time on the stand Monday in the government’s case against the former judge. That information came at the end of the second full day of testimony after the defense for former state district judge Rodolfo “Rudy” Delgado had an opportunity to cross-examine the government’s main witness, Noe Perez.

Perez testified he would give Delgado small cash contributions for favorable considerations in his courtroom. The Edinburg-based attorney who turned informant for the government, testified Monday for another six hours in addition to the six he was on the stand last week in Delgado’s bribery trial. The government has accused Delgado of accepting bribes on at least three different occasions from 2008 to as late as Jan. 2018.

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Rivard Report - July 8, 2019

Jorge Cavanati: Regional development key to a strong North American Trade bloc

For many years now, a concern of mine has been that the purpose of free trade and the agreements that envelop trade between regions has not been properly explained or promoted to communities, especially at the grass roots level.

Today, the North American economy is integrated through sophisticated supply chains. This is no longer a time of selling finished goods to each other, but a time of integration. Integration in terms of technology, advanced manufacturing, supply chain, and logistics, permits North America to compete efficiently as a trade bloc with other regions of the world and to supply these regions as well.

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Inside Higher Ed - July 9, 2019

A racist ‘Biology lesson’ and another social media headache at A&M

The academic year is over at Texas A&M University, but the campus is still in an uproar over a clip gone viral of a student repeatedly using racial slurs, the latest in a string of incidents over the last few years where students’ racist rants have been caught on social media.

The roughly 30-second clip shows a white student, apparently drunk, standing in front of a chalkboard holding a beer and delivering a fake biology lesson on race. Using a faux Punnett square, a diagram that shows how dominant and recessive genes are passed down, the student tells the camera how two black parents can birth a child who appears to be white -- which the student called a “nigglet.”

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KUT - July 9, 2019

Texas ranks third for number of stem cell clinics. But that may not be a good thing.

Austin is a “hot spot” for clinics marketing stem-cell treatments directly to consumers. In 2017, 100 of the 716 clinics in the U.S. that promoted the regenerative properties of stem cells to treat everything from dental problems to neurological diseases were in Texas.

But there is limited research to prove the safety and efficacy of some of those treatments, and new research suggests there are unqualified people administering them. Research published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association found about half the clinics in Texas, California and Florida that advertised stem cell-based procedures didn’t seem to have a doctor with "formal training matching the conditions [they] claimed to treat."

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County Stories

Dallas Morning News - July 9, 2019

Robert Wilonsky: Since Texas won't fix its broken bail system, some Dallas County judges will — and here's how

In September, a federal judge made a ruling that should have upended Dallas County's criminal justice system. The county's bail system was unfair to poor people, the judge said.

U.S. District Judge David Godbey said Dallas County needed to stop setting bail without first considering whether a defendant could actually afford it. And, he said, Dallas County would have to come to that determination pronto — "within 48 hours of arrest." Which was a perfectly legitimate and logical thing to say when you consider that hundreds of people accused of committing nonviolent crimes are in the county lockup at this very moment because they can't cough up as little as the $150 they need to stay free while they wait for their day in court.

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Abilene Reporter News - July 8, 2019

Taylor County elections chief defends security of new voting system

Taylor County plans to spend more than $2.1 million to upgrade its voting machines, replacing machines bought in 2005 with newer, touch-screen models. That decision, likely to be cemented by county commissioners Tuesday, has raised questions from a science advocacy organization, the Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues (EPI Center).

It recommends the use of paper ballots as a way of ensuring that votes are counted securely and accurately. But Freda Ragan, the county's elections administrator, countered Monday that the type of machines selected, known as direct recording electronic machines (DREs) are highly secure, with redundancies built in and no remote access.

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El Paso Times - July 9, 2019

Long-time El Paso DA Jaime Esparza will not seek re-election, setting up possible match between legislators

Long-time El Paso County District Attorney Jaime Esparza will not seek re-election after more than 25 years in the position. The general election for district attorney will take place in November 2020. His spokeswoman told the El Paso Times that Esparza does not plan to endorse anyone for his seat.

In his most recent re-election campaign, in 2016, Esparza won a tight Democratic primary against family and criminal law attorney Yvonne Rosales. He received about 51 percent of the vote. There was no Republican challenger.

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Texas Observer - July 9, 2019

Why did Victoria County’s new DA kill a proposed county defender’s office?

Earlier this year, it seemed as if poor people charged with crimes in a handful of Gulf Coast communities would finally have a fighting chance in court. In April, commissioners in Victoria County considered a partnership with a nonprofit law firm that provides indigent defendants in rural counties with more robust legal representation.

The proposal would have created a countywide public defender’s office in partnership with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA), which would staff a centralized office with attorneys and a full-time investigator. Criminal justice experts said the setup would be fairer and more efficient than the current practice of assigning private attorneys to represent the indigent on an ad-hoc basis.

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City Stories

KXAN - July 9, 2019

Austin Mayor visits Seattle, Los Angeles to learn what they “wished they had done”

Austin Mayor Steve Adler will begin a trip to Los Angeles and Seattle Tuesday morning to meet with city leaders there about how they handle mobility and homelessness. The latter is in the spotlight after the Adler-led Council approved sweeping rule changes, decriminalizing many aspects of homelessness.

Adler hopes to learn how to move forward as the city council expects to take action when the city manager reports back in August with specific recommendations. “What should we be doing now that LA and Seattle wished they had done earlier, so we can learn from those experiences,” said Mayor Adler.

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Houston Chronicle - July 9, 2019

Unvaccinated schoolchildren in Houston more common than thought

Many Houston-area children are being exposed to unvaccinated schoolmates at rates greater than previously thought, whether because of exemptions for non-medical reasons or simple tardiness in getting the required shots, according to a new analysis of the latest state data.

The analysis shows that vaccine exemptions at schools throughout Harris County have increased 175 percent since 2010, and that HISD’s 2018-2019 kindergarten delinquency rate for the measles, mumps and rubella shot was about five times the state rate. Those places include some Houston-area schools, mostly private, where the non-medical exemption rate ranges from 4 percent to 25 percent of the student population, and HISD schools where the delinquency rates range from 16 percent to more than 40 percent.

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San Antonio Express-News - July 9, 2019

State ethics commission fines former San Antonio councilman for financial reporting violations

The Texas Ethics Commission has found that former San Antonio City Councilman Cris Medina committed a slew of financial reporting infractions when he was running for re-election in 2013, levying a $4,500 fine against him.

The commission laid out the roster of violations from 2012 to 2014 in a 16-page order released Monday. Among them: Medina failed to adequately describe $17,370 in expenditures on his financial disclosures from that time period; he didn’t disclose $1,500 in free rent for campaign offices on the reports, as required; and he knowingly accepted a $500 donation from a corporation, which state law forbids.

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Dallas Morning News - July 9, 2019

Superintendent killed in motorcycle crash made Grand Prairie a destination district for students

Susan Simpson Hull was a force in Texas education known playfully as a tough "biker chick" who didn't back down from challenges and transformed Grand Prairie into a "destination" district, friends say. Hull didn't complain when hundreds of students were leaving the lackluster GPISD for charter school competitors.

Instead, she fought back, making Grand Prairie's own campuses more attractive by revamping them to offer unique programs that focused on areas like leadership, law, sports medicine and even environmental science. And then she aggressively recruited students –– including from neighboring districts –– with direct mailers and a fair-like event modeled after the NFL's pre-Super Bowl extravaganza.

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National Stories

Associated Press - July 9, 2019

Trump can't ban critics from his Twitter account, federal appeals court rules

President Donald Trump can't ban critics from his Twitter account, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday, saying the First Amendment calls for more speech, rather than less, on matters of public concern. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan upheld a lower court judge who said Trump violates the Constitution when he blocks critics.

"The irony in all of this is that we write at a time in the history of this nation when the conduct of our government and its officials is subject to wide-open, robust debate," Circuit Judge Barrington D. Parker wrote on behalf of a three-judge panel. The debate generates a "level of passion and intensity the likes of which have rarely been seen," the court's decision read. The Justice Department did not immediately comment. The ruling came in a case brought by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. It had sued on behalf of seven individuals blocked by Trump after criticizing his policies.

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Associated Press - July 9, 2019

GOP-led Virginia Legislature abruptly adjourns gun session

Less than two hours after beginning a special session called in response to a mass shooting, Virginia lawmakers abruptly adjourned Tuesday and postponed any movement on gun laws until after the November election.

Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam summoned the Republican-led Legislature to the Capitol to address gun violence in the wake of the May 31 attack that killed a dozen people in Virginia Beach. He put forward a package of eight gun-control measures and called for "votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers" in reaction to the massacre.

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Associated Press - July 10, 2019

UK ambassador to US quits days after leaked cables on Trump

Britain’s ambassador to the United States resigned Wednesday, just days after diplomatic cables criticizing President Donald Trump caused embarrassment to two countries that often celebrate having a “special relationship.”

The resignation of Kim Darroch came a day after Trump lashed out at him on Twitter describing him as “wacky” and a “pompous fool” after leaked documents revealed the envoy’s dim view of Trump’s administration. “I am grateful to all those in the UK and the US, who have offered their support during this difficult few days,” Darroch said in a letter. “This has brought home to me the depth of friendship and close ties between our two countries. I have been deeply touched.”

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Houston Chronicle - July 9, 2019

International Energy Agency head urges energy efficiency changes

Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, urged governments worldwide Tuesday to make policy changes to reduce their energy consumption in a bid to fight climate change.

Birol, who advises elected leaders on global energy supplies and demand, said with the right policies the "global economy could double in size by 2040 while still maintaining broadly the same level of energy use as today." "Greater policy action on energy efficiency can make a huge difference to global efforts to slash carbon emissions and reduce air pollution if governments act now and act decisively," Birol wrote on Twitter.

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Politico - July 9, 2019

Trump dossier author Steele gets 16-hour DOJ grilling

Christopher Steele, the former British spy behind the infamous “dossier” on President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, was interviewed for 16 hours in June by the Justice Department’s internal watchdog, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The interview is part of an ongoing investigation that the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, has been conducting for the past year. Specifically, Horowitz has been examining the FBI’s efforts to surveil a one-time Trump campaign adviser based in part on information from Steele, an ex-British MI6 agent who had worked with the bureau as a confidential source since 2010.

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KUT - July 9, 2019

Families with noncitizens could lose federal housing benefits if HUD proposal moves forward

Tuesday is the last day for public comment on a proposal that could evict or even separate thousands of families with mixed-citizenship status who receive housing assistance in Texas. Since 1980, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has allowed households that include noncitizens to receive benefits for public or subsidized housing, but the proposed rule would rescind that coverage for current recipients and any going forward.

Those under 62 who are living in mixed-status homes who don’t have a citizen as the head of household could be evicted or their benefits dropped if the rule takes effect. The department estimates the financial impact to be anywhere from $179 million to $210 million. Nationally, the rule-change would affect 25,000 families, or roughly 100,000 people, according to HUD. As many as 6,000 households in Texas could be affected.

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Newsclips - July 9, 2019

Lead Stories

New York Times - July 7, 2019

The ‘Texas Miracle’ missed most of Texas

Nearly all of the net growth in jobs and new businesses in Texas over the last decade, Labor Department data show, has been concentrated in four large metropolitan areas — Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. Those areas accounted for more than four out of every five jobs created in the state since the recession ended, their populations swelling with surges of young and talented workers.

Collectively, the four saw double the rate of job growth as the rest of Texas. A similar geographic inequality is playing out in other places in America, alarming officials at the Federal Reserve. While the latest jobs report showed the economy’s continued strength after 10 years of expansion, the effects have been uneven, with the wealthiest parts of the country reaping a disproportionate share of the gains.

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Houston Chronicle - July 8, 2019

US oil production passes 12 million barrel a day mark

U.S. oil production surpassed 12 million barrels a day in April, further extending the nation’s record output during the fracking boom, the Energy Department reported Monday.

The milestone came less than a year after the United States surpassed 11 million barrels a day, in what had been a record at the time. U.S. output reached 12.2 million barrels a day in April, with Texas and the Gulf of Mexico accounting for more than half, or about 7 million barrels a day, the Energy Department said.

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Houston Chronicle - July 8, 2019

Texas AG Ken Paxton is fighting to end Obamacare. But will it backfire on GOP in 2020?

Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton is leading the fight to undo the nearly 10-year-old Affordable Care Act, with legal arguments scheduled Tuesday in New Orleans.

A win would thrust Paxton into the national spotlight, showcasing his conservative credentials on a major stage. But it could also create a political liability for Republicans ahead of the 2020 election when health care is poised to be a top issue. More than 20 million Americans are potentially at risk of losing insurance coverage if the law is overturned — including over 900,000 people in Texas who buy insurance through the marketplace with federal subsidies, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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Politico - July 7, 2019

Trump unexpectedly tees off on Fox News

President Donald Trump took swipes at Fox News on Sunday, saying the network known for its conservative bent “is now loading up with Democrats & even using Fake unsourced @nytimes a ‘source’ of information.”

The president’s condemnations were part of a larger attack on one of his favorite targets, the news media, but what was unusual was that Trump lumped Fox News, long his preferred outlet, in with other news organizations. It’s not clear what triggered Sunday’s complaints.

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State Stories

Dallas Morning News - July 8, 2019

Why Texas is the No. 1 state for business startups for second year in a row

Texas tops the list of best states to start a business for the second year in a row, according to an annual study by WalletHub. The study highlights Texas' abundance of business incentives and its exceptional growth in small businesses.

Texas had the 5th highest amount of spending on business incentives –– totaling 1.3% of its GDP, according to WalletHub. The Lone Star State has a wide variety of non-profit and government-backed programs for assisting small businesses with funding, and regularly leads the nation in job growth.

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Dallas Morning News - July 8, 2019

Airbnb sent $24 million in hotel tax revenue back to Texas as short-term rental activity grows

Airbnb collected $24 million in short-term rental taxes in Texas over the last year – the second year since it reached an agreement with the state to collect the money from guests.

That's a 57% increase over taxes collected in the first year of the agreement, according to Airbnb. Last year, the company sent $15.3 million to the Texas Comptroller's Office, where it's mostly allocated to the state's general revenue fund. Airbnb collects a 6% tax from people who booked in Texas and returns that revenue to the state.

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Dallas Morning News - July 8, 2019

Texas must alleviate 'crushing' foster care caseworker workloads, appeals court rules

Texas will have to submit to a federal court’s supervision of plans for relieving the “crushing” workloads of Child Protective Services caseworkers who track foster children, a federal appeals court has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack of Corpus and her court-appointed monitors also must sign off on the state protective-services agency’s studies that are designed to reduce workloads of residential child-care licensing investigators and inspectors, the appellate judges agreed. A trial judge has said state licensing personnel have failed to police foster-care providers.

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Dallas Morning News - July 9, 2019

Marc Veasey: Congress must ensure Border Patrol treats migrants with respect

America is a nation of immigrants. Americans of nearly every race or ethnicity had ancestors from some other distant land or shore before ending up in the place we know today as the United States. The Trump administration's policies to deter, detain and deport immigrants reflect the worst parts of our history, instead of the country of excellence welcoming those seeking a better way of life.

I saw this grim reality for myself when I visited Border Patrol stations along the U.S.-Mexico border near El Paso with several of my colleagues. The treatment we witnessed and were told of will cause long-term, irreversible emotional damage for the migrants. During our visit, the news also broke that thousands of border agents were part of a secret Facebook group where some members posted offensive, racist and sexist comments about the migrants in their custody, as well as Latina members of Congress — some of whom were right beside me in touring the facility.

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Houston Chronicle - July 8, 2019

Texas doctors sue state for right to dispense medication

Two Texas doctors are challenging a state law that prohibits physicians from selling medications from their offices. They claim the ban has nothing to do with safety, and that it stays on the books only to protect the profits of pharmacies.

San Antonio eye surgeon Dr. Kristin Held and an Austin family doctor Dr. Michael Garrett filed the lawsuit last week in Travis County District Court against the Texas Medical Board and the Texas State Board of Pharmacy. Represented by Virginia-based Institute for Justice, a libertarian, public-interest law firm with an office in Austin, the doctors are seeking to overturn the ban on dispensing noncontrolled medications — which include drugs to treat infections and high blood pressure — directly to their patients.

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Houston Chronicle - July 8, 2019

Houston Chronicle Editorial: Border Patrol abuses real, and worthy of outrage

A ticking time bomb. That’s how a senior manager described the situation at a Border Patrol detention facility in the Rio Grande Valley, according to a report by the Office of Inspector General released this week.

The independent watchdog’s findings describe squalid, overcrowded conditions at several facilities, where men, women and children are poorly fed and held without access to showers, sometimes for weeks. Some had dismissed these claims as politically self-serving, or as the embellishments of partisans and activists looking to gin up outrage. Turns out the government’s own reporting shows conditions at these detention centers are worthy of all the outrage Americans can muster.

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Houston Chronicle - July 8, 2019

Houston man who wanted to join ISIS, be a martyr, pleads guilty in federal terrorism case

A Houston native described by his lawyer as a youth engaging in “dangerous fantasy” pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to providing aid to ISIS by offering to be a martyr and spreading bomb-making knowledge.

Kaan Serclan Damlarkaya, 20, has been in custody since his arrest on Dec. 8, 2017. With his case set for trial later this year, he admitted guilt Monday to providing aid to a designated terrorist group, with the government agreeing not to pursue charges against him for unlawfully distributing explosive making information. By agreeing to the plea agreement, Damlarkaya faces up to 20 years in federal prison, along with a $250,000 fine and possible supervised release for life.

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San Antonio Express-News - July 8, 2019

Julián Castro says he has 130,000 donors — a key qualification for September debates

Presidential candidate Julián Castro is one step closer to qualifying for the next round of Democratic Primary debates after his campaign announced Monday that the former San Antonio mayor received donations from 130,000 donors.

In order to participate in the September and October debates, the Democratic National Committee requires that candidates achieve at least 130,000 donors and poll above two percent in four qualifying polls from June 28 to the end of August.

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San Antonio Express-News - July 7, 2019

San Antonio Express-News Editorial: Justice delayed in Paxton case

Running out the clock by limiting what special prosecutors can be paid — so they quit — appears to be the strategy for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is facing charges of felony securities fraud. Involving a case against the state’s top law enforcement officer, this is nothing short of unseemly.

The Texas Criminal Court of Appeals just helped him out, refusing — without explanation — to reconsider an earlier ruling that put a $2,000 limit on pretrial work by special prosecutors. These are private attorneys who were assigned the case after the Collin County district attorney recused himself. He cited a personal relationship with Paxton. The broader issue before the court was whether a trial judge’s decision to pay the prosecutors $300 an hour could be permitted. The Paxton defense team and allies sued, claiming that $1,000 for pretrial work was the legal limit, with up to another $1,000 in additional fees.

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WFAA - July 9, 2019

Executive order to save plumbing board only a patch for a leaky situation that has many in the industry worried

Almost one month after Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order to extend the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners, some still remain concerned about the future of the industry in the Lone Star State.

The board itself has been around since 1947. Its sole purpose is to license plumbers in the state and to investigate possible violations of the plumbing licensing law along with unlicensed work. Yet, during the 86th legislative session, the board faced a crossroads unlike ever before. Periodically, lawmakers look to the Sunset Commission to assess the performance or lack of performance surrounding state agencies or entities. But after review, the commission recommended that the board be abolished and its duties absorbed by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.

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Austin Chronicle - July 8, 2019

Is the DCCC picking favorites in CD 10?

A late June report in The Intercept claimed the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has picked a favorite in the 2020 primary contest for CD 10 – the Austin-to-Houston district currently held by GOP incumbent Michael McCaul.

According to reporters Rachel M. Cohen and Ryan Grim, despite Austin attorney Mike Siegel’s strong challenge to McCaul in 2018 – a four-point loss – “the DCCC has had its eyes on Shannon Hutcheson.” The Intercept story (“Kara Eastman Fell Just Short in 2018. The DCCC Is Recruiting a 2020 Opponent Anyway,” June 27) covers several congressional candidacies for which, the reporters claim, the national Democratic leadership appears to be undermining insurgent progressives in favor of what are described as deep-pocketed, “corporate” candidates.

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Corpus Christi Caller-Times - July 8, 2019

Report: Feds formally request 1,000 Texas National Guard troops promised by Gov. Abbott

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has formally requested the 1,000 Texas National Guard troops that Gov. Greg Abbott ordered to deploy to the state's border with Mexico to assist in the growing humanitarian crisis.

Abbott's spokesman John Wittman described the request, first reported by CNN on Monday, as a routine response to the governor's order on June 21. The troops are expected to arrive at various locations along the border later this month to assist federal authorities.

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Politifact - July 8, 2019

Did Beto O’Rourke help fuel a huge increase in Texas young voter turnout?

The claim: "Young voter turnout in early voting was up 500 percent. We won more votes than any Democrat has in the history of the state of Texas."— Beto O’Rourke, in an interview with CBS late-night host Stephen Colbert.

PolitiFact ruling: True. O’Rourke’s assertion about young voter turnout is backed up by an analysis of state election data by the firm TargetSmart. And he’s correct that no Democrat has ever won more raw votes in a Texas statewide election than he has, an accomplishment achieved through a combination of his own electoral success, a pro-Democratic environment in 2018, and Texas’ rapid population growth in recent years.

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Dallas Morning News - July 9, 2019

Dallas Morning News Editorial: Ross Perot captured America's imagination and we are better for it

Ross Perot's legendary list of lifetime achievements should start with "captured the imagination." Brilliant in business, generous and demanding, driven, quirky and colorful, Perot was as hard to pigeonhole as a Texas tornado. His death at age 89 leaves a broad legacy and some of the nation's enduring one-liners born of homespun wisdom.

In Texas we recall him as an irresistible force in Austin to drag the state out of the dark ages on public education by demanding results. Asked by Gov. Mark White to tackle the problem, Perot became immersed in research and lobbying, spending his own money and hiring his own experts. Perot won landmark reforms in the Legislature in 1984, and the legacy of measuring student progress remains today.

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County Stories

Fort Worth Star-Telegram - July 8, 2019

Tarrant County is moving forward with countywide voting. Here’s what it means for you.

On Election Day this November, Tarrant County residents may have the option of casting their vote at any polling location countywide, rather than being limited to a preassigned location. The Tarrant County Commissioners Court voted 4-1 last week to move forward with the implementation of “vote centers,” joining over 55 Texas counties that have adopted the system.

Supporters of the program say it will make voting more accessible, lead to increased participation and ultimately cut costs by eliminating redundant polling locations. Experts and advocates warn that a thorough review of data and voting behaviors must be consulted to ensure that certain voters aren’t disenfranchised in the process. In addition, targeted outreach will be key amid an election that will see changes such as new voting equipment and the elimination of straight-ticket voting.

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Houston Chronicle - July 8, 2019

After supporting flood bond, Houston-area developers want to delay new building rules

Houston-area developers, engineers and real estate professionals were among the most vocal supporters of last summer’s $2.5 billion Harris County flood bond, the largest storm infrastructure investment in county history.

They contributed to a political action committee established by bond backers and helped shepherd the initiative to passage on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey, the devastating 2017 storm that flooded more than 204,000 homes and apartments in Harris County. For the past several months, however, many of those players quietly have lobbied Houston and Harris County officials to delay implementation of new building rules developers say will increase housing costs but county engineers insist are needed to protect neighborhoods from future storms.

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City Stories

Dallas Morning News - July 8, 2019

Amber Guyger's attorneys want her murder trial for killing Botham Jean moved out of Dallas

Fired Dallas police Officer Amber Guyger's attorneys asked a judge Monday to move her murder trial out of Dallas, citing "media hysteria" surrounding the fatal shooting of Botham Jean.

Guyger, 30, killed Jean on Sept. 6 inside his apartment when she was off-duty but still in uniform. Authorities said she mistook his apartment for her own. She said his door was unlocked and she thought Jean, a 26-year-old accountant from St. Lucia, was a burglar.

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Dallas Morning News - July 8, 2019

Grand Prairie ISD superintendent dies after motorcycle crash while vacationing in Arizona

Grand Prairie ISD Superintendent Susan Simpson Hull died Monday following a motorcycle accident while on vacation in Arizona, the district said.

The crash occurred about 2:20 p.m. Sunday on Interstate 40 near the town of Twin Arrows, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety. Hull, who was driving the motorcycle, was taken by ambulance to Flagstaff Medical Center, where she died. No other vehicles or people were involved. Additional details about what led to the crash were not available Monday night.

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D Magazine - July 8, 2019

Dallas PD unveils memorial for officers killed in July 7 ambush

Dallas Police Chief U. Reneé Hall joined Mayor Eric Johnson and other public officials in unveiling the memorial that will live outside department headquarters. It honors the five officers killed in the July 7, 2016 police ambush downtown, when a shooter opened fire on cops who were watching over a protest against police violence.

The memorial features realistic busts of the faces of the officers who were killed: Sgt. Michael Smith, Sr. Cpl. Lorne Ahrens, Ofc. Michael Krol, Ofc. Patrick Zamarripa, and DART Ofc. Brent Thompson.

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram - July 8, 2019

One vision. Two universities. Three years of work. The payoff: A new medical school

Finishing touches at Fort Worth’s new M.D. school were underway Friday, including filling student lockers with coffee mugs, T-shirts, medical scrubs and journals aimed at building a sense of welcome for the inaugural class.

Members of the medical school’s incoming class of 60 begin their journey to become M.D.s on Monday. The school’s activities include a luncheon for the Class of 2023 that kicks off a “Welcome Week.” Activities will take students to events and orientation activities on the TCU and University of North Texas Health Science campuses in Fort Worth. Classes officially begin on July 15.

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Houston Chronicle - July 8, 2019

Chris Tomlinson: Fighting gentrification is a losing battle, get ahead of it

Reverend Leslie Smith II does not try to slow gentrification; he knows that is a futile fight, so he tries to get ahead of it. Smith has watched his neighborhood, and those surrounding it, change for almost 40 years. He lives in the Third Ward, a residential area set aside for African Americans during segregation, southeast of downtown and south of a former warehouse district.

Smith’s ministry has moved beyond pastoring. He has built a non-profit community development corporation called Change Happens! Over decades, the organization has assembled entire city blocks and filled them with single-family bungalows that he rents to Third Ward residents at affordable prices. “These last 30 years, I’ve tried to put my hands on as many as I could,” Smith said. But it’s becoming harder as prices rise, and absentee landlords who once rented to drug dealers are selling to land speculators.

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National Stories

Market Watch - July 8, 2019

Weaker growth will offset a Fed rate cut—so sell stocks, warns Morgan Stanley

So we start the week with U.S. stock market indexes just a few steps away from all time highs. That is even after Friday’s extra strong jobs data rattled some investors, who worried that the Fed could be deterred from cutting interest rates in a few weeks. But according to CME Group, that cut is happening.

Our call of the day though, kicks things off with a warning from Morgan Stanley which is “putting our money where our mouth is” and downgrading global equities to underweight from equal-weight. Here’s why: ‘The most straightforward reason for the shift is simple—we project poor returns,” said Andrew Sheets and a team of strategists. The S&P 500, MSCI Europe, MSCI Emerging Markets and Topix Japan indexes are currently only about 1%, on average, below Morgan Stanley’s current price targets—or their best guess for the indexes’ fair value.

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News 4 Tuscon - July 8, 2019

Homeland insecurity: Empty seats at agency dealing with overcrowding at the border

The agency in charge of dealing with overcrowded conditions at migrant facilities near the southern border is severely understaffed at the leadership level. The president has demanded the Department of Homeland Security contain the surge of immigrants at the border and deport millions who are in the country illegally.

But he has failed to staff the highest levels of the agency and its departments, which include Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Homeland Security now has the lowest percentage of Senate-confirmed presidential appointments of any agency in the federal government, according to data from the Partnership for Public Service, a nonpartisan nonprofit that tracks key executive branch nominations.

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Bloomberg - July 8, 2019

Elon Musk's satellites dot the heavens, leaving stargazers upset

Two days after Elon Musk's SpaceX launched 60 satellites in May as part of a mission to bring quick internet service to people worldwide, astronomers noticed something different. As some of the satellites zipped past the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, telescopes trained on the night sky captured streaks of reflected sunlight that marred their view of a far-off star system.

Astronomers now worry that the vast number of communications craft planned, including nearly 12,000 of Musk's Starlink fleet, will shine so brightly that they'll interfere with research that depends on delicate visual observations of distant galaxies and nearby asteroids. The new satellites will fly lower than many traditional craft, and will arrive in unprecedented numbers –– all told, more than double the roughly 5,000 satellites that are circling Earth now.

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Associated Press - July 9, 2019

What did alleged child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s famous friends know and see?

Jeffrey Epstein has hobnobbed with some of the world’s most powerful people during his jet-setting life. Future President Donald Trump called him a “terrific guy.” Former President Bill Clinton praised his intellect and philanthropic efforts and was a frequent flyer aboard his private jet.

The arrest of the billionaire financier on child sex trafficking charges is raising questions about how much his high-powered associates knew about the hedge fund manager’s interactions with underage girls, and whether they turned a blind eye to potentially illegal conduct. It’s also putting new scrutiny on Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, who, as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, was involved in a 2008 secret plea deal that allowed Epstein to avoid federal charges.

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Dallas Morning News - July 9, 2019

Kate Trammell: Why the number of young people in prison has dropped dramatically

The Department of Justice recently reported that the number of incarcerated youths in America fell to 43,580, a 60% drop since 2000. Restorative approaches to youth justice that focus on outcomes and accountability, and that consider incarceration a last resort, are behind this dramatic decrease in youth incarceration.

Several states have led the way through dynamic cooperation among juvenile justice department leaders, lawmakers, advocates and families of those impacted by the youth justice system. If more states get involved, we could see an even larger decline in the number of young people in prison and realize safer, stronger communities.

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US News and World Report - July 2, 2019

White House opioid campaign not broad, diverse enough

A police officer in Texas who lost her daughter to an opioid overdose. A man from Pennsylvania who, along with his wife, adopted five children exposed to opioids in the womb and helped wean them off drugs. The goal of the awareness campaign, an administration official says, is to help people recognize that opioid addiction "can happen to anyone."

Yet some experts say the initiative, which prominently features a video message from President Donald Trump, doesn't do enough to show the range of people who are affected by opioid addiction, potentially alienating people in need instead of encouraging them to seek help. "This seemed like a very middle-class group of people – not all of them, but a lot of them," says Ingrid Walker, a drug policy researcher and an associate professor of American studies at the University of Washington–Tacoma, who reviewed the website.

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Center for Public Integrity, Montana Free Press and TIME - July 8, 2019

Steve Bullock hates ‘dark money.’ But a lobbyist for ‘dark money’ donors is helping his campaign

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is staking his name and presidential campaign on battling “dark money” — a commonly used term for secretive political cash meant to influence elections. He’s even suing President Donald Trump’s administration over it.

But next month, Bullock is scheduled to visit Washington, D.C., for a closed-door campaign fundraiser co-hosted by 11 of the capital’s elite — including a federally registered lobbyist whose clients have contributed corporate cash to groups that don’t disclose their donors, according to an invitation obtained by the Center for Public Integrity. Jay Driscoll — a Bullock friend and managing partner at lobbying firm Forbes-Tate — lobbied for 37 corporate clients during the first quarter of 2019 alone, according to congressional lobbying records.

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Washington Examiner - July 5, 2019

Charles Sauer: Trump shouldn’t go through with Obama-era rollback of EB-5 investment visas

Less regulation? Check. Lower taxes? Check. Historically low unemployment? Check. But good trade relations? Not even close. Although Trump has done a lot of good, the instability in the economy generated by the president’s trade wars threatens to overshadow all of his achievements.

And, to make matters worse, his administration is considering creating a new type of tariff, one on labor and investment. But it’s one started by the Obama administration. The EB-5 visa program is an immigrant investor program that requires visa recipients to invest $1 million in a new business that will create at least 10 new jobs, or $500,000 if the investment is in a specific high-need area.

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