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Newsclips - October 22, 2019

Lead Stories

Dallas Morning News - October 21, 2019

Dean Stansel: Mexico’s tax crackdown could harm Texans

The Texas and Mexico economies are inextricably linked. As my colleagues Michael Cox and Rick Alm found, Texas and Mexico trade more with each other than with any other country or state. So, when Mexico implements anti-growth policies, Texans should be concerned.

Facing a lagging economy, Mexico’s new populist President Andrés Manuel López Obrador unveiled a ten-point plan to reactivate growth and industrial output and “generate a climate friendly to business that inspires certainty.” His administration has also reassured investors that he is committed to “respect rights to property as inherent human rights.” That all sounds good, but the Mexican people already suffer from one of the worst legal systems and one of the weakest protections of private property rights in the world. According to the 2019 Economic Freedom of the World Report, Mexico ranks 122nd out of 162 countries for its “legal system and property rights.”

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State Stories

San Antonio Express-News - October 21, 2019

Julián Castro to end presidential campaign if he can’t raise $800K quickly

Julián Castro said this morning that he needs an immediate influx of cash or he’ll end his quest for the Democrats’ 2020 presidential nomination. “If I can’t raise $800,000 in the next ten days, I will have no choice but to end my race for president,” Castro’s campaign wrote in an email to supporters. “I‘m asking you to fight for me like never before. If I don’t meet this deadline, I won’t have the resources to keep my campaign running.”

The appeal is Castro’s bluntest yet as he struggles to qualify for the next candidate debate, on Nov. 20. The Democratic National Committee has said that candidates must register 3 percent in four approved polls to qualify for the November debate, a higher threshold than for the debate last week. Castro, who met the DNC rules for the first three debates, has scored 1 percent in several recent national polls. Castro, a former San Antonio mayor and U.S. housing secretary, has been appealing for funds in order to finance the advertising that he believes could give his campaign a boost.

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San Antonio Express-News - October 21, 2019

Ex-Uresti staffer gets 8 months in federal prison on bank fraud charge

A former Texas credit union CEO who worked on disgraced ex-San Antonio lawmaker Carlos Uresti’s staff was sentenced on a bank fraud charge to eight months in prison by a Pecos federal judge Monday. James “Jimmy” T. Dutchover, 57, in May had pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud in connection with a loan he made for the benefit of Uresti, 56.

Dutchover also received an eight-month sentence for his guilty plea to a misdemeanor count of failing to file a tax return in 2015, when he received gross income of about $107,150 from the credit union, $77,350 from his business and almost $9,300 from the state, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney William Harris. The sentences, imposed by U.S. District Judge David Counts, will be served concurrently. Dutchover has at least 60 days to report to prison. Dutchover also was fined $4,000 and must serve three years of supervised release.

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Rivard Report - October 20, 2019

Robert Rivard: Dennis Bonnen is no Joe Straus

If you are like me, you miss Joe Straus. That’s an odd statement of sorts for a San Antonio journalist who now sees Straus more than ever since he left elected office and his work at the Texas Legislature in Austin. Since then, Straus has been quite visible in San Antonio, especially since he generously agreed to co-chair the Early Matters San Antonio initiative with Peter J. Holt, CEO of Holt Caterpillar and chairman of the San Antonio Spurs. Most people who leave public office welcome a breather, but less than one year later, Straus is helping lead an important citywide early childhood education initiative.

What I mean to say is that I miss Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus. Elected officials guided by a true sense of public service, especially after they accrue real power, are to be revered. They stand in sharp contrast to those at the top who engage in backroom deals and put self ahead of state. Straus was an exemplary leader who acted out of principle, reaching across party lines to act in the best interest of citizens. That doesn’t mean he made every voter or Rivard Report reader happy, as we might read in the comments section of this column. That’s why Dennis Bonnen is no Joe Straus. Less than one year into his new role as the GOP’s head of the lower chamber, the Gulf Coast legislator from Angleton is engulfed in a scandal of his own making.

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Dallas Morning News - October 21, 2019

Bristling at impeachment threat, Trump repeats false claim that Texan Al Green pushed it as Plan B

As part of his ongoing effort to cast the impeachment inquiry as illegitimate, President Donald Trump leveled a favorite unfounded claim on Monday — that Houston Rep. Al Green has pushed impeachment because Democrats know they can’t beat him at the ballot box.

“I see this guy, Congressman Al Green, say we have to impeach him. Otherwise he’s going to win the election,” Trump said during a cabinet meeting, his first since the inquiry began. “That’s exactly what they say. We have to impeach him because otherwise he’s going to win.” Trump has made such claims before, insisting that impeachment is a completely baseless exercise, and Democrats’ fallback plan to ensure his ouster since they can’t defeat him fairly.

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Waco Tribune-Herald - October 18, 2019

Bill Whitaker: State of Texas' war on cities, counties backfires over failed bill

For decades to come, political analysts, scholars and journalists will scrutinize the audio recording that right-wing activist and lobbyist Michael Quinn Sullivan clandestinely made of his closed-door meeting with Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and GOP caucus leader Dustin Burrows. They will marvel at the colossal deceit of Bonnen who publicly warned his House flock against campaigning against any incumbents within their ranks — and yet in this subsequent meeting doggedly conspires to convince Sullivan to fund right-wing challengers to unseat “10 moderate Republicans who don’t want to help on anything.”

Another disturbing message emerges loud and clear in Sullivan’s bracing audio recording: Texas Republican leadership has declared all-out war on cities and counties all across Texas. They are the enemy, neatly succeeding the Obama administration. In his remarks to Sullivan, Bonnen makes clear not only such a war rages to the death but what he thinks of elected officials at the grassroots level: “In this office and in the conference room on that end, any mayor, county judge that was dumbass enough to come meet with me, I told them with great clarity, my goal is for this to be the worst session in the history of the Legislature for cities and counties.”

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County Stories

Houston Chronicle - October 21, 2019

Former judge Maria Jackson to challenge Rodney Ellis for Harris County commissioner seat

Former Harris County criminal court judge Maria T. Jackson will challenge incumbent Rodney Ellis for Harris County Precinct 1 commissioner, her campaign announced Monday.

Jackson, the county’s longest serving felony judge until her resignation last month, plans to hold a campaign kickoff on Tuesday. She said she was unavailable for comment Monday. Jackson, a Democrat, served as presiding judge of the 339th State District Court in Harris County between 2008 and 2019. Previously, she was a Houston municipal court judge. She unsuccessfully ran for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 2018.

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City Stories

Houston Chronicle - October 21, 2019

Loyal patrons at Landry’s Post Oak hotel pub say autistic son was wrongfully detained

The Zabihi family of Tanglewood used to dine three or four times a week at the lavish Post Oak Hotel, where pub fare includes wood-fired pizza, bison chili and hibiscus margaritas. The joyful excursions to Craft F&B came to a halt last summer after a troubling incident involving their teenage son, who is autistic and nonverbal, resulted in a $1 million lawsuit and broader concerns about the treatment of people with neurological differences that aren’t always apparent.

Devin Zabihi, 19, wandered away on July 8 from the family’s table to a patio area, to let off pent up energy, his family said. His involuntary tics, a common feature of autism, did not rattle the restaurant or hotel personnel on previous visits. But this time, his behavior outside an adjacent hair salon alarmed its staff, who summoned hotel security. Devin’s father, Daniel Zabihi, who runs a petrochemical testing laboratory, sued the hotel, hair salon and its security company in federal court this month alleging they violated Devin’s civil rights with an aggressive and unlawful detainment.

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Houston Chronicle - October 21, 2019

After drug raid scandal, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo creates new narcotics squad to handle high-risk warrants

Months after a botched drug raid that ended in the deaths of two civilians and a police officer charged with murder, the Houston Police Department has created a new narcotics squad to serve high-risk warrants, Police Chief Art Acevedo confirmed. Acevedo framed the decision to start the squad as a way to protect his officers from similar incidents in the future, though he defended HPD’s record, saying the vast majority of the division’s search warrant raids were performed safely.

“I’m not going to wait until we have a second situation where four officers get shot,” he said. “I would rather have a heavily vetted and trained team to carry out these operations.” Previously, individual narcotics squads executed their own search warrants — often dozens a year — with officers often asking peers from other squads to help. Internal police records show Squad 15, the squad which performed the botched raid in January, carried out 49 search warrants in 2018.

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Houston Public Media - October 21, 2019

Turner pulls further ahead of rivals, UH Hobby poll shows

A new poll suggests Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is widening his lead over his main rivals. The survey results come out just as early voting gets underway Monday. The poll found Turner leading with 43.5% of likely voters, compared to 23.4% for Tony Buzbee. Bill King (7.8%) and Councilmember Dwight Boykins (6.8%) registered in statistical dead heat. Seventeen percent of voters were either undecided or declined to answer.

“A solid majority of…the likely voters believe that the city is going in the right direction,” said Renée Cross, senior director of the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs, which conducted the survey. “And in that case, typically, people will stay with the incumbent, because why do you want to change if things are going well?”

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Dallas Morning News - October 21, 2019

Man who beat Muhlaysia Booker in viral video found guilty of assault

The man who beat up Muhlaysia Booker in a viral video last spring was found guilty of assault Monday. Prosecutors had asked a Dallas County jury to find Edward Thomas guilty of aggravated assault, a felony, but they instead convicted him on a misdemeanor charge of assault.

The prosecution and defense each presented their closing arguments Monday morning after a weeklong trial that included a defense attorney being tossed in jail over his continued outbursts. Thomas, 29, was caught on video beating Booker, a transgender woman, at the Royal Crest Apartments in east Oak Cliff. The video of the April beating went viral after it was was posted on Facebook. She was hospitalized with a broken wrist and a concussion afterward. Booker, 22, was killed about a month later in an unrelated attack. Another man, Kendrell Lavar Lyles, is charged with murder in her death.

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San Antonio Express-News - October 17, 2019

Elaine Ayala: As San Antonio’s generational losses mount, young leaders need an assist

In a relatively short period of time, San Antonio has sustained a succession of profound losses. For me, the passing of former Mayor Lila Cockrell set off an acute awareness about the departures of a great generation over the last year. That included civil rights leader Andy Sarabia, civic leader Dr. Alfonso Chiscano, gay rights activist Gene Elder, jazz musician Jim Cullum and Vernon “Spot” Barnett, who helped define a musical category called the West Side Sound.

Then on Saturday we lost Emilio Nicolas, a giant of Spanish-language television whose work was as internationally known as it was San Antonio-centric. He helped build a national network that first used satellite to distribute programming. CNN and Fox followed. “Our generation’s task is heavy: to emulate and build upon their examples of excellence,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in reflection. All their careers hit their height long ago, but they nonetheless left holes in the city’s psyche — forcing us to ponder if we’re doing enough to prepare new generations of San Antonians to envision big ideas, execute them, sustain failures and rebuild.

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National Stories

Associated Press - October 21, 2019

Affordable housing among striking Chicago teachers' demands

Striking Chicago teachers who are seeking smaller class sizes and higher pay also are demanding that the nation's third-largest city do more to lower housing costs and put more resources into helping homeless students. The demand for affordable housing citywide — for students and their financially-strapped families as well as for school employees — stands as a dramatic example of organized labor's effort to expand bargaining beyond bread-and-butter issues.

The pursuit is part of the union's "social justice" agenda and is a unique departure from standard negotiating tactics. Despite early rejection by city officials, teachers argue that the issue belongs on the bargaining table. After months of negotiating , the Chicago Teachers Union's 25,000 members began striking Thursday along with thousands of support staff. Talks that continued through the weekend and into Monday made some progress but didn't resolve key disagreements, including teachers' demands for stricter class size limits and more support staff in schools, and classes remained canceled for more than 300,000 students.

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Washington Post - October 21, 2019

Margaret Sullivan: The media has turned a corner and is normalizing Trump less. It’s about time.

Although it drew little notice, Richard Engel’s report from northern Syria on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” struck me as stunning. “While this is happening,” the NBC chief foreign correspondent told viewers, speaking about the temporary Turkish cease-fire, “there is ethnic cleansing underway.” He acknowledged that “that is a very, very big word,” but based on his reporting about the Kurds under siege, there was just no other way to say it.

And although the Engel moment was notable in its forthrightness — simply stating the facts without hedging — it wasn’t the only one of its kind in recent days. The mainstream media seems to have quietly removed its Trump-normalizing gloves in the past few weeks. The New York Times’s veteran correspondent, Peter Baker — no hothead — wrote a “White House Memo” that appeared on Saturday’s print front page. It wasn’t cluttered with “critics say this” but “Trump loyalists say that.”

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New York Times - October 21, 2019

ISIS reaps gains of US pullout from Syria

American forces and their Kurdish-led partners in Syria had been conducting as many as a dozen counterterrorism missions a day against Islamic State militants, officials said. That has stopped. Those same partners, the Syrian Democratic Forces, had also been quietly releasing some Islamic State prisoners and incorporating them into their ranks, in part as a way to keep them under watch. That, too, is now in jeopardy.

And across Syria’s porous border with Iraq, Islamic State fighters are conducting a campaign of assassination against local village headmen, in part to intimidate government informants. When President Trump announced this month that he would pull American troops out of northern Syria and make way for a Turkish attack on the Kurds, Washington’s onetime allies, many warned that he was removing the spearhead of the campaign to defeat the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

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Wall Street Journal - October 21, 2019

Last-minute opioid deal could open door to bigger settlement

A $260 million late-night settlement between four drug companies and two Ohio counties averted a trial here over who is to blame for the opioid crisis, clearing the way for broader talks aimed at resolving thousands of opioid-addiction cases nationwide. Lawyers for the plaintiffs and companies said the settlement could be an important step toward a multibillion-dollar deal that brings closure to 2,500 lawsuits and sends needed money to communities hard-hit by opioid addiction.

Municipalities have balked at a comprehensive settlement negotiated by state attorneys general that includes $22 billion in cash and up to $26 billion in donated addiction-treatment drugs and services, saying that it isn’t enough money and that they want some control over how it is spent. For now, Monday’s deal will direct $215 million to Ohio’s Cuyahoga and Summit counties from the country’s top drug distributors: McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Corp. The counties—which encompass the Cleveland and Akron metro areas—will also receive $20 million in cash and the donation of $25 million in addiction-treatment drugs from Israel-based drug manufacturer Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.

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Newsclips - October 21, 2019

Lead Stories

Associated Press - October 19, 2019

Impeachment inquiry puts spotlight on Rick Perry, who shunned it

Long after more flamboyant colleagues flamed out of President Donald Trump's favor amid ethics scandals, low-profile and folksy Rick Perry survived in the Cabinet in part by steering clear of controversy. Until now.

The former Texas governor said Thursday he was quitting as energy secretary by year's end. The announcement came as the House impeachment investigation highlighted his work in Ukraine, where he promoted U.S. natural gas and where Trump hoped to find dirt on Democratic rival Joe Biden. Trump said that Perry, one of his longest serving Cabinet members, had planned for months to leave. But the timing of the announcement of Perry's departure fits a Trump pattern, said governance expert Kathryn Dunn Tenpas of the Brookings Institution. Her work shows there has been more turnover in Trump's Cabinet than under any president since at least Ronald Reagan.

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Dallas Morning News - October 21, 2019

Early voting begins today. What's on the ballot?

On Nov. 5, Texas voters will have to decide whether to add 10 amendments to the state constitution. Constitutional amendments require the support of the majority of voters and two-thirds of the Texas House and Senate. The Legislature approved them in May. Here’s what those propositions, including a controversial ban on a state income tax, could mean for Texans. Early voting begins Monday and ends Nov. 1.

Proposition 4, authored by Republican Rep. Jeff Leach of Plano, would strike that amendment and add language that the Legislature “may not impose a tax on the net incomes of individuals.” The Legislature narrowly approved it in May. If voters approve it, two-thirds of the Texas House and Senate would have to vote to repeal the amendment and call a statewide election to establish an income tax. Proposition 3 would temporarily exempt property owners in a governor-declared disaster area from a portion of the taxes for the property’s appraised value. But the proposition does not guarantee an exemption for property affected by a disaster after the local tax rate has been set, the House Research Organization reports. Proposition 8 would create a Flood Infrastructure Fund in the state treasury for the Texas Water Development Board to pay for drainage, flood mitigation or flood-control projects.

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Washington Post - October 20, 2019

Trump reversed course on hosting G-7 at his club after learning that impeachment-weary Republicans were tired of defending him

President Trump was forced to abandon his decision to host next year’s Group of Seven summit at his private golf club after it became clear the move had alienated Republicans and swiftly become part of the impeachment inquiry that threatens his presidency. In a round of phone calls with conservative allies this weekend, Trump was told Republicans are struggling to defend him on so many fronts, according to an administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters.

Democrats, meanwhile, continued to blast Trump for awarding the massive government contract to his own company and said they might add the alleged “emoluments” violation to the articles of impeachment they are preparing. The White House has been struggling to explain Trump’s G-7 decision since it was announced Thursday. The president’s opponents quickly seized on it as another example of Trump abusing his office for personal gain. Even many Republicans seemed reluctant to offer political cover.

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Austin American-Statesman - October 18, 2019

Fact-check: Is Austin spending $20,000 per homeless person, as Abbott said?

Gov. Greg Abbott has the city of Austin in his sights. The Republican governor has threatened state action if the Austin City Council does not take steps to address its decision to lift a ban on camping in public places that is aimed at homeless people. “The City of Austin is dedicating more than $20,000 PER HOMELESS PERSON in Austin,” Abbott wrote in a tweet. “The problem isn’t resources. It’s prioritization. It’s inaction & word salad on an urgent public health & safety issue. Haven For Hope in San Antonio works. Lawlessness is never the answer.”

We had to ask: Is Abbott’s estimate accurate? Sort of. While it is true that the city has allocated significant funding toward addressing homelessness, a large chunk of the funding is aimed at preventing homelessness, rather than going to programs to support individuals who are currently homeless. Abbott spokesman John Wittman said the governor’s statement was based on the city’s current homeless population and its recently adopted budget. “The current Austin homeless population is 2,255 according to ECHO,” Wittman said in an email, referencing the non-profit Ending Community Homelessness Coalition. “The current Austin budget calls for $62.7 million to be spent on homelessness initiatives. This breaks down to $27,804.88 per homeless person.”

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State Stories

Dallas Morning News - October 20, 2019

Art Young: Can these California birds bring back the quail population (and hunter) to Texas?

A new group of Californians is moving to Texas to help the environment and economy. A group of researchers at Texas A&M Commerce are introducing the California valley quail to Texas to help the state’s bird hunters deal with the declining population of bobwhite quail. The birds are getting a heartfelt howdy, as this weekend marks the beginning of quail hunting season.

Research led by Kelly Reyna shows that bobwhite quail in Texas have declined by 80 percent in the past 50 years. These native quail do not fare well in the face of expanding residential areas and increased agriculture. But California valley quail are more resilient, and they could replenish Texas’ dwindling quail population. As part of the research, Reyna and his team successfully transferred 250 wild California valley quail last spring from Idaho to Texas. They fitted many of the birds with radio trackers and located them weekly for monitoring. California valley quail already have been successfully introduced all over the world, including in New Zealand, Argentina, Hawaii and British Columbia.

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Dallas Morning News - October 21, 2019

Tornado leaves heavy damage, power outages in its wake after moving through Dallas

A tornado left a miles-long trail of heavy damage from northwest Dallas to Richardson late Sunday. Tornadoes also had been reported in southern Dallas and Rockwall counties.

The city of Dallas said in a news release about 12:20 a.m. that there had been no reports of deaths or serious injuries. First responders had been going door to door in some neighborhoods to check on residents. Police and fire crews would assess damaged structures through the night. Parts of northern Dallas, including the Love Field area, were especially hard hit.

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Dallas Morning News - October 20, 2019

Mitchell Schnurman: Naming the football stadium isn’t enough. Children’s Health will pay Prosper ISD nearly $3 million more in programs and cash

You may already know that Children’s Health System in Dallas is paying $2.5 million to put its name on the high school football stadium in Prosper. But that’s just the half of it. As part of the deal, Children’s will contribute dozens of other benefits valued at an additional $2.85 million over the next decade. They range from programs for school nurses to student-trainer scholarships to coach’s movie night at the stadium.

Why pledge over $5 million to become “the official pediatric health care partner” of Prosper schools? Because the district is one of the richest, fastest-growing in the state — and a rival hospital system in Fort Worth is competing for the same market. “Prosper is the next Plano/Frisco, and we know that,” CEO Chris Durovich said at a recent editorial board meeting with The Dallas Morning News.

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Houston Chronicle - October 21, 2019

Houston Chronicle Editorial: Texans should play bigger role in redistricting

Texas must redraw its congressional and legislative district lines after the 2020 census. The importance of this process cannot be stressed enough. Democratic lawmakers fled to New Mexico in 2003 in a vain effort to prevent Republicans, in control of both chambers for the first time since Reconstruction, from replacing court-approved maps from the year before in order to strengthen their legislative majorities. The gerrymandered lines were approved and Republicans have controlled both chambers ever since.

It’s time to redraw the lines again, but a lot has changed. Not only have there been population shifts, a court ruling earlier this year said Texas won’t need prior approval by the Justice Department when it draws new district lines in 2021, despite findings by a federal court that maps drawn after the 2010 census intentionally discriminated against minorities. Without the “preclearance” requirement as a backstop against discriminatory maps, Texans must pay even closer attention to the current redistricting effort. They can start by attending one of the field hearings the state House Redistricting Committee is holding across Texas to get the public’s input on redistricting.

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Houston Chronicle - October 20, 2019

Schlumberger’s $11.4 billion loss blamed on two past acquisitions, weakening shale market

Schlumberger, the world’s largest oilfield service company, reported steep losses in the third quarter after writing down the value of two previous acquisitions and its North American shale business by billions of dollars. Schlumberger said it lost $11.4 billion in the three-month period ending in September, compared to a $659 million profit during the same period a year earlier. Third quarter revenues rose to $8.54 billion from $8.5 billion in the third quarter of 2018.

The third quarter loss was more than double the combined $5.6 billion of profits that Schlumberger earned during the previous 12 quarters. The company, which is headquartered in Paris but has its principal offices in Houston, blamed the loss on $12.7 billion of pretax charges. More than $8.8 billion of those charges were attributed to write downs in the value of business units formed by the 2010 acquisition of Houston oilfield service company Smith International and 2016 acquisition of Houston offshore service company Cameron International. Executives attributed another $1.6 billion in losses to write downs in value for company's North American hydraulic fracturing business, which has suffered from weaker demand amid lower crude oil businesses and tightening customer budgets.

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Corpus Christi Caller-Times - October 18, 2019

Will Beto O'Rourke and Julián Castro end up adrift in a boat with the other also-rans?

By this time next month, Julián Castro and Beto O'Rourke could find themselves in the same boat as Steve Bullock, John Delaney and Joe Sestak. Never heard of the last three guys? Well, they're all credible politicians. Bullock is the two-term governor of Montana. Delaney served three terms in Congress representing part of Maryland, and Sestak retired from the Navy as an admiral and later was a congressman from Pennsylvania.

And, as it turns out, all three are running for president. And the reason so few people know that is because they — and a half-dozen or so others — have been left off most or all of the Democratic presidential debates so far. The same fate awaits Texans O'Rourke and Castro because they so far have not been able to meet the tougher polling threshold to be included in the Nov. 20 debate in Atlanta. Being left out of the debates means being left out of the larger conversation. And that leads to a vicious circle that almost always spirals downward. Fundraising dries up, the volunteers who do the campaign grunt work and the paid staffers who do the strategic thinking and planning begin to look for other avenues to make a difference in the political world.

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Midland Reporter-Telegraph - October 20, 2019

Nadine Craddick: Texans can choose to fight cancer

Very soon early voting will open before the Nov. 5 election. There are a number of Constitutional amendments proposed, but only one of them directly impacts the lives of all Texans; Proposition 6 – Cancer Prevention and Research Institute Bonds Amendment. To put it simply, each of our lives have somehow been touched by cancer. Cancer is the leading cause of death among Americans under the age of 85.

In addition, one in three people will be diagnosed with cancer. Cancer is the leading disease cause of death in children and teens. As a board member of many health care-related nonprofits, including MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, it is a life passion of mine to help people and to find a cure for cancer. The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute (CPRIT) is responsible for making Texas a leader in the cancer research arena. These dollars are spent on research to save lives and ultimately find a cure for cancer. CPRIT funding creates more than 10,000 jobs and saves lives.

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Austin American-Statesman - October 21, 2019

UT alumna and her partner donate $45 million to the sciences

The University of Texas College of Natural Sciences on Monday announced its largest endowment ever: $45 million to advance programs in biodiversity and ecology. The endowment is the total value of the gifts given to the university over four decades by alumna Dr. Lorraine “Casey” Stengl, as well as from her partner Lorraine Wyer. For years, Stengl was an anonymous donor, supporting faculty and students in the college and donating land for fieldwork.

She gave $4.3 million in her lifetime and Wyer, who died in 2014, left a $2 million gift from her estate. More than $38.5 million came from Stengl’s estate following her death in 2018 at the age of 99. “Because of the Stengl-Wyer Endowment, students will benefit from extraordinary new fieldwork opportunities, and faculty members will have access to hundreds of acres of preserved land for research and discovery,” said UT President Gregory L. Fenves. In 1939, Stengl became one of the first female graduates of the chemistry program. She later worked as a medical and x-ray technician before earning her medical degree at the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1947. In the 1950?s she returned to Texas, where she and Wyer bought 208 acres of what she called “majestic forest” near Smithville.

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New York Times - October 20, 2019

Fort Worth Police have more violence to answer for, residents say

Before there was Atatiana Jefferson, there was Jackie Craig, a black woman who called the police to report that her white neighbor had grabbed her son — and found herself pinned to the ground by the officer who responded. There was Henry Newson, a black man who had just been discharged from the hospital and was waiting for a ride home when two officers working security questioned why he was there. He refused to leave, and a white officer punched him in the face.

There was Craigory Adams, also black, who knocked on his neighbor’s door late one night carrying a barbecue fork — to keep stray dogs away, he said — and the neighbor called the police. A white officer pointed a shotgun at Mr. Adams but said he wasn’t meaning to fire it. He did, striking Mr. Adams in the arm. These names and others have all been brought up again in the days since Ms. Jefferson, a 28-year-old black woman, was shot and killed in her bedroom this month by a white police officer who was standing outside her window. In the largely black and Hispanic neighborhood in southeast Fort Worth where Ms. Jefferson lived, and in others nearby, many residents recalled times when they had tried calling the police — and ended up sorry that they did.

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KXAN - October 20, 2019

Some may be paying for flood insurance who don’t need it

This month marks one year since historic flooding hit the Hill Country. But, long before the flood hit, KXAN learned Llano County had gone back and forth with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to correct errors on the county’s flood maps adopted in 2012. Llano County says many families are paying for flood insurance who are not in an actual flood zone, and some families are in a flood zone, but don’t know it.

“There are not many people who are aware of how bad the maps are currently and how exaggerated these maps are,” said Cristy Vaught, Llano County Flood Plain Administrator. Vaught said county commissioners reluctantly adopted the FEMA flood maps in 2012 knowing they were not accurate but planned to work with the agency to make the corrections. FEMA presented a preliminary map to Llano County in 2015 which included updates to the main Llano River, but left out the tributaries. The county requested a base level engineering study on the unstudied creeks which FEMA conducted and completed in 2017. It showed a major decrease in the flood zone.

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Politifact Texas - October 21, 2019

Julián Castro wrong about job losses in Midwestern states

The claim: “Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania actually in the latest jobs data have lost jobs, not gained them." — Julián Castro, Democratic presidential contender. Castro took a shot at President Donald Trump’s stewardship of the economy during the Oct. 15 Democratic presidential debate in Westerville, Ohio.

PolitiFact ruling: False. Official government figures show that each state gained jobs between July 2019 and August 2019, the latest month-over-month period available. To arrive at his job-loss figure, Castro cherry-picked a time period that he didn’t mention in his remarks — a time period that ignores the existence of the most current data. His assertion that employment levels have been crumbling in these states is belied by data showing that each state has seen job gains both in the past year and since Trump took office.

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San Antonio Express-News - October 21, 2019

Congressional candidate Wendy Davis weds in San Antonio

Congressional candidate Wendy Davis wed private investor and attorney Alan Schoenbaum in a Sunday morning ceremony in San Antonio. The 56-year-old former state senator and gubernatorial candidate, who posted a photo about her nuptials on social media late Sunday night, is running against incumbent Republican Chip Roy in the 21st Congressional District, which spans Austin to north San Antonio and also runs west to Kerr County.

The race is expected to be one of the most heated in Texas and possibly the country after Roy, a hardline conservative, won the seat with just a 2.6 percent margin in 2018. The district is one of several Republican-held and open congressional seats that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has targeted for 2020. Fewer than 100 people attended the intimate ceremony at Hotel Emma in the Pearl development near downtown, a campaign staff member told the Express News. The two were issued a marriage license earlier this month from Travis County, records show.

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KVUE - October 19, 2019

Kyle, Austin, San Marcos, 2 other organizations join lawsuit against Kinder Morgan's Permian Highway Pipeline

The City of Kyle is again suing the group behind the Permian Highway Pipeline just a few weeks after settling a different lawsuit over the pipeline's construction. That's a 400-foot natural gas pipeline stretching from West Texas to Katy outside of Houston. "This is round three for the City of Kyle," said Travis Mitchell, the mayor of Kyle. "There are still serious environmental concerns."

Part of the reason the city is joining the lawsuit is it would like Kinder Morgan to provide an environmental impact study that will show what effect this pipeline will have on our aquifers. Joining Kyle are the cities of Austin, San Marcos, as well as the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District and the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association (WVWA).

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Longview News-Journal - October 21, 2019

Longview News-Journal Editorial: For state and party, Bonnen should resign as speaker of Texas House

Dennis Bonnen is still playing games. After all that has transpired since the hour or so he and and another top lawmaker spent “deal-making” with bomb-throwing activist Michael Quinn Sullivan, one would think Bonnen might be tiring of games. But one would be wrong, at least based on what we have heard from some who were inside the room at an Austin resort where the House GOP caucus met Friday. It was there that Bonnen, the Republican speaker of the Texas House who apparently was willing to throw fellow Republican representatives overboard for personal power, showed us he is still playing.

In a meeting where he might instead have indicated he was more concerned about his party and his state than about increasing his own power, he instead threw a resolution before the assembled representatives that asked them to vote on his resignation. Of course many of them want it, but not like that. But Bonnen is right. It is time for him to step down. We will leave it up to the good people of Angleton to decide in the next election if they want to continue to be represented by a politician who has dishonored himself, their community, the House and the Texas Republican party with his shady backroom talk.

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County Stories

KVUE - October 19, 2019

Williamson County has 2 props on the ballot this Election Day. Travis County has 1. Here's what they are

In addition to the 10 state propositions that will be on this year's ballot, voters in Travis and Williamson counties have a few other things to consider. Williamson County has two propositions on the ballot this Election Day, Nov. 5 – and lucky for voters, they're both pretty straightforward.

The first, Proposition A, deals with issuing over $400 million in bonds for roads. The wording voters will see on their ballots is: "The issuance of $412,000,000 tax bonds for roads." Proposition B for Williamson County voters deals with money for parks and recreational projects. The ballot wording is: "The issuance of $35,000,000 tax bonds for parks and recreational purposes."

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Houston Chronicle - October 16, 2019

Harris County Flood Control District moves to reclaim property as mitigation efforts ratchet up

On a Friday night in August, Diane and Ted Simpson got home from work to find a certified letter from the Harris County Flood Control District notifying them that a portion of their backyard was in a public right-of-way. A fence and an old brick shed, both of which came with the Spring Branch home they bought in 2001, sat on the other side of the line, and they had until the middle of September to remove them. If they didn’t, the district would do it for them - with or without their permission.

In the coming years, thousands of other Harris County property owners will be getting their own certified letters telling them to remove their encroaching structures as the district begins to work its way through hundreds of construction and maintenance projects, many of which are related to the $2.5 billion flood infrastructure bond passed last year. If they ignore the order, the district may remove the structures for them. And if the district does the removal, depending on what it spends, it could take the property owner to court to recover its costs, thanks to a new state law meant to streamline the process and clarify the district’s property rights.

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City Stories

Houston Chronicle - October 18, 2019

Houston is in for a bumpy ride to fix its pocked and patched streets

Countless Houstonians have lost a few hours and a few hundred dollars to daily showdowns with the city’s rough streets, many of which fail the test the city uses to judge their quality. By its own assessment, completed last year, one in six segments of Houston streets is low or very low quality.

Houston did not get a patchwork of pocked, and potentially dangerous, streets overnight. A Houston Chronicle review of three decades of city documents shows it took years of under-investment or shifting priorities. In some cases, mayors refocused efforts on patching streets at the expense of completely rebuilding more roads; others simply shifted funds from street repairs to other priorities. Among the Chronicle’s other findings: If the city were to completely rebuild each of its 16,500 lane miles of streets every 35 years, the typical lifetime of a road, it would need to average 470 miles of new lanes each year. There is no evidence the city ever has achieved that total.

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Houston Chronicle - October 19, 2019

Buzbee and King aim to tie one another to Turner in hopes of making mayoral runoff

Mayoral candidates Tony Buzbee and Bill King are both seeking to tie one another to Mayor Sylvester Turner as they battle for conservative votes and the chance to face the mayor in a potential December runoff. Buzbee, who was positioned about 10 percentage points ahead of King in a poll conducted last month, is now running online and mailer ads that draw attention to King’s former employer, delinquent-tax collection law firm Linebarger, Goggan, Blair & Sampson.

King previously managed the firm’s Houston office and put Turner’s law firm on retainer in 2004. One of the ads says King “made millions off city contracts while paying Mayor Turner,” who was among multiple then-state representatives hired by the firm. On Saturday, King slammed Buzbee for backing Turner in the 2015 runoff, when Turner narrowly defeated King. A new site launched by King’s campaign, tonyandturner.com, is headlined by a photo of Buzbee with his arm around Turner’s shoulder and hearts floating above the mayor’s head.

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Houston Public Media - October 18, 2019

Houston unemployment rate under 4 percent for seventh month in a row

The unemployment rate for the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metro area was 3.6% in September, according to figures released Friday by Workforce Solutions. That makes seven consecutive months in which the regional unemployment rate has been at 4% or below.

Overall, the Houston region added 6,400 jobs last month, with education, construction, finance and healthcare being the sectors that created the majority of new positions. In August, the region’s unemployment rate was 3.9%.

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National Stories

Washington Post - October 19, 2019

'They are livid': Trump's abrupt withdrawal from Syria tests military's 'code of silence'

A cascade of criticism by current and former military officials of President Donald Trump's abrupt withdrawal from Syria has thrust into plain sight internal debates over the military's role in foreign policy and whether uniformed officials have a responsibility to publicly appraise decisions affecting American security.

Retired Gen. Joseph Votel, who stepped down this year as head of U.S. Central Command, and other former top officers have issued sharp warnings in the days since Trump ordered a sudden exit of nearly all U.S. forces in Syria, leaving Syrian Kurdish forces that have been an important U.S. partner against the Islamic State exposed to an offensive by Turkey's better-armed military. The "abandonment threatens to undo five years' worth of fighting against ISIS and will severely damage American credibility and reliability," Votel and co-author Elizabeth Dent wrote in the Atlantic. The hurried drawdown also triggered an unusual wave of commentary, mostly anonymous, by current and former Special Operations troops who predicted that the unceremonious rupture of their partnership with Kurdish forces would spark a militant resurgence.

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Bloomberg - October 21, 2019

Trump allies craft list of potential Mulvaney replacements

Some of Donald Trump’s closest associates are assembling a roster of possible replacements if the president decides to replace Mick Mulvaney, his acting chief of staff, said three people close to the situation. Among those said to be on the list are former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and veteran political operative Wayne Berman, now a senior managing director for government relations at the Blackstone Group Inc.

White House communications staff didn’t immediately comment. While there are few signs Trump is in a hurry to replace him, some White House aides were unhappy with Mulvaney’s performance at a press conference on Thursday, the people said. Mulvaney said that the White House had withheld nearly $400 million in U.S. security aid to Ukraine in part to urge an investigation of a 2016 election conspiracy theory to discredit Democrats. “I have news for everybody: Get over it. There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy,” Mulvaney said in the White House press briefing room.

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Market Watch - October 21, 2019

Romney says he’s open to removing Trump from office, if the evidence is there

Sen. Mitt Romney says he’s open to removing President Donald Trump from office, but is trying to stay as impartial as he can until he hears all the evidence. In an interview airing Sunday night on “Axios on HBO,” the Utah Republican said “it was shocking” for the president to ask Ukraine and China to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

Romney is among the most outspoken Republican lawmakers willing to publicly criticize Trump, though he said many share his concerns but are too afraid of voter backlash if they speak out. “There’s no upside in going on out and attacking the leader of your party, ’cause that’s just gonna let someone come in and primary you on the right. So people want to hang onto their job,” he told Axios. “And they don’t want to do something which makes it more likely for Elizabeth Warren to become president or for us to lose the Senate.”

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USA Today - October 21, 2019

Poll: Iowa caucuses are 'up for grabs' as Pete Buttigieg surges into top tier

It's a new three-way race in Iowa. Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who was initially seen as a long-shot presidential contender, has surged within striking distance of former vice president Joe Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, a Suffolk University/USA TODAY Poll finds.

Biden, long viewed as the Democratic frontrunner, is faltering in the wake of a debate performance last week that those surveyed saw as disappointing. The poll, taken Wednesday through Friday, put Biden at 18%, Warren at 17% and Buttigieg at 13% among 500 likely Democratic caucusgoers. Those standings reflect significant changes since the Suffolk/USA TODAY poll taken in Iowa at the end of June, when Biden led Warren by double digits and Buttigieg trailed at a distant 6%. California Sen. Kamala Harris, who was then in second place after a strong showing in the first Democratic debate, has plummeted 13 percentage points and is now in a three-way tie for sixth. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders earned 9% support, the same number as in the June poll.

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Wall Street Journal - October 21, 2019

White House moves testing Republican support for Trump

President Trump faces increasing public and private scrutiny from his own party over a series of recent White House moves, as the House impeachment inquiry reduces his margin for error with fellow Republicans and makes him more vulnerable to attacks.

In the past several days, Mr. Trump has been forced to drop plans to host next year’s Group of Seven summit at his Doral golf resort, and a top aide has tried to walk back comments linking Ukraine military aid to an investigation of the president’s political opponents. The fallout of Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria has continued to draw widespread criticism, including from Republicans.

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New York Times - October 20, 2019

Trump campaign floods web with ads, raking in cash as Democrats struggle

On any given day, the Trump campaign is plastering ads all over Facebook, YouTube and the millions of sites served by Google, hitting the kind of incendiary themes — immigrant invaders, the corrupt media — that play best on platforms where algorithms favor outrage and political campaigns are free to disregard facts.

Even seemingly ominous developments for Mr. Trump become fodder for his campaign. When news broke last month that congressional Democrats were opening an impeachment inquiry, the campaign responded with an advertising blitz aimed at firing up the president’s base. The onslaught overwhelmed the limited Democratic response. Mr. Biden’s campaign put up the stiffest resistance: It demanded Facebook take down the ad, only to be rebuffed. It then proceeded with plans to slash its online advertising budget in favor of more television ads.

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Associated Press - October 20, 2019

Mulvaney's missteps draw scrutiny from Trump allies

For Mick Mulvaney, the hits just keep on coming. First, President Donald Trump's acting chief of staff stirred up a tempest by acknowledging that the administration had held up aid to Ukraine in part to prod that country to investigate Democrats and the 2016 elections. Then Mulvaney went on television Sunday to defend his boss in effusive terms — and ended up making a new problematic comment.

Explaining why Trump had tried to steer an international summit to one of the president's own properties before giving up on the idea, Mulvaney said Trump "still considers himself to be in the hospitality business." That did nothing to allay concerns that the president has used his office to enrich his business interests. The bookended performances over the span of a few days were panned by the president's allies and cast doubt on Mulvaney's job security at the White House. Mulvaney denied on "Fox News Sunday" that there was any consideration of his resignation, "Absolutely, positively not."

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CNN - October 20, 2019

Mulvaney faced White House ouster threat before impeachment crisis took over

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney faced internal efforts to oust him before House Democrats moved ahead with their impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, multiple sources tell CNN.

Top aides including Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner were in the process of reaching out to at least two potential replacements for the top West Wing job shortly before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced in late September that she would move ahead with an impeachment inquiry. These previously unreported efforts did not come to fruition, but underscore the weakness of Mulvaney's position even before his headline-generating performance in the briefing room last week. One person familiar with Mulvaney's thinking said the search came as Mulvaney himself was looking for an exit after 10 months in the role, though people close to Mulvaney have denied he wanted to leave.

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NBC News - October 20, 2019

A radical way to mobilize black voters in 2020: Work on issues, not voting

LaTosha Brown stepped off what she calls the “Blackest Bus in America,” to the sound of James Brown’s “I’m Black and I’m Proud.” The longtime political organizer was in Flint to mobilize black voters — one stop on an 11-state tour. Brown and her organization, the Black Voters Matter Fund, which she co-founded with political strategist Cliff Albright in November 2016, are doing this work in an unusual way.

In the first 20 minutes or so in Flint, before a group of about 20 people, the words “vote,” “voting” and “election” never left Brown’s mouth. Not once. Instead, she asked community organization leaders who had turned out to Flint’s Neighborhood Engagement Hub about the details of life in Flint, the challenges faced and the solutions imagined and tried. Brown listened as Albright made notes: a list of entry points, reasons to connect people inside and outside of Flint to support them in solving these challenges.

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Newsclips - October 20, 2019

Lead Stories

NPR - October 20, 2019

Poll: Number of Americans who favor stricter gun laws continues to grow

The percentage of Americans who favor stricter gun laws is on the rise, though significant partisan divisions persist. A Pew Research Center survey conducted in September found that 60% of Americans say gun laws should be tougher, up from 57% last year and 52% in 2017.

The study, released this week, indicates that while a solid majority of Americans favor stricter gun laws, support remains split down party lines. Eighty-six percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said gun laws should be stricter than they are today, compared with 31% of their Republican counterparts. Large majorities of Democrats and Republicans somewhat or strongly support barring people with mental illnesses from purchasing guns, as well as making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks. But when it comes to banning high-capacity ammunition magazines and assault-style weapons, the parties diverge: Nearly 9 in 10 Democrats favor each of these proposals, compared with roughly half of Republicans.

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Washington Post - October 19, 2019

Trump says his Doral golf resort will no longer host next year’s G-7 summit, bowing to criticism

President Trump announced abruptly Saturday night that he would no longer host next year’s Group of Seven summit at the Trump National Doral Miami resort in Florida, bowing to criticism for having selected his own property as the venue for a major diplomatic event. Trump was buffeted by two straight days of allegations of self-dealing and exasperation from lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including some Republican allies who said the selection of Doral as the venue for a gathering of world leaders was indefensible.

The decision — while it lasted — was an unprecedented one in modern American politics: The president awarded a huge contract to himself. The White House promoted Doral as the single best venue in the United States to host the G-7 summit in June, and the meeting would have brought thousands of guests in the offseason to a resort that is struggling financially. For months, Trump had touted Doral as an ideal venue to host visiting dignitaries, and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney made the choice official at a news conference Thursday.

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Texas Monthly - October 20, 2019

Chris Hooks: The Texas GOP keeps on dancing to Donald Trump’s tune

On Thursday, President Donald Trump held a rally at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, the same site as his first rally ever in Texas. That was on September 14, 2015, approximately four years, one month, three days, and several centuries ago. At the time, I’m embarrassed to say now, I was as much baffled by the Trump phenomenon as concerned. Attendees ran from housewives who were devotees of The Apprentice to some goofy teens from Oklahoma who just wanted to see a celebrity in person. Though there were some more menacing types there too, my main takeaway was: Oh, this is a show.

Instead, in year five of what Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick last night called the Trump “Revolution,” the most interesting thing about Trump is the effect he’s having on other people. Texas Republicans, or at least elected officials, are privately uneasy. The backdrop to Trump’s visit is that his support here looks shaky. Democratic candidates are beating him in some head-to-head polls, and the more he tries to make his presence felt here, the more he puts local Republicans at risk. In the illicit recording of Dennis Bonnen that leaked to the public this week, the Texas House speaker offered that Trump was “killing us in urban-suburban districts,” adding that in the Dallas state House district represented by Angie Chen Button (a seat Republicans very much want to defend), polling showed Trump’s net approval rating 15 points underwater while Button was holding even.

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Gatehouse Media - October 20, 2019

Hostage to heat: Texans fall victim to sweltering summer temperatures as regulators ignore skyrocketing power cutoffs

When the electricity disconnection notice arrived at her Abilene home early this summer, Katrina Paro panicked. Doctors had recently diagnosed her with stage 4 chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. She depended on an oxygen machine to breathe and a mechanized chair and bed to move. Without electricity, she could die. Trying to pay a mortgage and make ends meet on a monthly $1,057 disability check had left little for an electric bill that averaged about $200 a month. Her balance had ballooned to more than $2,000.

Paro, 45, is one of about 10,000 Texans on lists of critically and chronically ill patients whom the state has promised to protect from power disconnections. But as Paro and other sick Texans have learned, those lists are no guarantee against power shutoffs for failure to pay. In the past decade, private utility providers have disconnected the power of hundreds of medically vulnerable Texans, according to data obtained by GateHouse Media. While disconnections of residents like Paro, whose lives depend on electricity, remain rare, people with chronic conditions such as multiple sclerosis have been cut off with alarming regularity. What’s more, the Texas Public Utility Commission, the agency that oversees the lists, has rejected efforts to strengthen the protections and fails to track the outcomes when residents are disconnected.

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Houston Chronicle - October 20, 2019

Ed Emmett: House speaker’s mindset is shameful, sad for Texas

As a former member of the Texas House of Representatives and a county judge, I read the transcript of the meeting between Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and Michael Quinn Sullivan of Empower Texans from a special perspective. For me, it was something different. Reading the transcript made me sad. Most of the discussion was tawdry, and there was not even the pretense of serving the people of Texas.

Speaker Bonnen referred to a member of the House as “a piece of sxxx,” then called another member “vile.” I wonder if he understands the irony of calling someone vile after he himself used such vile language. Of course, Empower Texans CEO Michael Quinn Sullivan, had his usual approach of bold talk from a political bully who represents a shadowy organization that distorts voting records and hides its finances from public scrutiny. He opined that “we have a political system designed for timid people.” Those “timid” people might just be reasonable. Sullivan has never had to face the voters, honor their wishes or set aside his agenda for the greater good.

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State Stories

San Antonio Express-News - October 18, 2019

Gilbert Garcia: Team Warren stakes its claim on Texas

Two weeks ago, Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign announced the hiring of a state director for its operations in Texas. Without directly saying so, the announcement told us two things: Warren is taking Texas very seriously and her campaign team understands the kind of homegrown field effort needed to penetrate the electorate of this state. Texas Democrats are used to presidential candidates swooping into a couple of big Texas cities a few weeks before the primary with a thin staff and a tight budget.

In selecting San Antonio field organizer Jenn Longoria to run her Texas team, however, Warren has started the process of building a statewide team five months before the 2020 Texas primary. In fact, although the announcement didn’t come until early this month, Longoria joined Team Warren as far back as August, when her hiring was hinted at (without mentioning the candidate’s name) during Longoria’s interview on the VIVA Politics podcast. Aside from former El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke, no other 2020 Democratic contender has announced the hiring of a Texas state director.

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San Antonio Express-News - October 18, 2019

Texas Lutheran University raises more than $75 million — a year ahead of schedule

Texas Lutheran University has ended its “Ignite. Inspire. Impact.” fundraising campaign a year ahead of schedule, having raised more than $75 million since 2011.

“The impact of the $75.6 million raised touches all aspects of our campus — facilities such as the Weston Center for the Performing Arts, scholarships for our students, support for a variety of academic and athletic programs, and endowment support that ensures long-term stability and growth for TLU,” President Debbie Cottrell said in a prepared statement. “The momentum generated by this campaign positions us to further our growth and visibility and to deliver on our commitment to serve our students well, now and in the future.”

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San Antonio Express-News - October 18, 2019

GOP lawmakers in Texas House rebuke Speaker Bonnen over ‘offensive’ conduct

The Texas House Republican Caucus on Friday condemned “in the strongest possible terms the offensive language used and statements made” by House Speaker Dennis Bonnen in a secretly recorded conversation at the Capitol. The recording was released to the public this week. But the GOP lawmakers did not call for the embattled Republican to step down from the powerful post — and left open the possibility that Bonnen could remain speaker through 2021 and beyond.

Bonnen and Rep. Dustin Burrows of Lubbock, who was the leader of the Republican caucus, both took part in the June 12 conversation with a conservative activist, who surreptitiously recorded it. The recording has rocked state politics, with revelations that Bonnen questioned a Democrat’s sexuality and called another “vile.” Bonnen and Burrows agreed that they wanted 2019 to be the “worst session in history of the Legislature” for cities and counties. They also provided the activist with a list of 10 GOP lawmakers, largely moderates, for him to target in primary elections next spring.

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San Antonio Express-News - October 18, 2019

Texas exporters line up new markets as China trade war continues

Though President Donald Trump announced the first phase of a partial trade agreement with China late last week, farmers and exporters remain uncertain when the trade dispute might end. China has long been the second-largest purchaser of Texas agricultural goods, but many companies, feeling pressure from the cost of tariffs, have turned to other, less costly Asian markets.

USDA data show the shift in agricultural exports away from China to other nations is already underway — a signal U.S. reliance on China could dwindle in coming years, and vice versa. “A big question for China will be, are they going to depend on the U.S. in the same way they’ve depended before?” asked Luis Ribera, a Texas A&M professor and agricultural economist. “The answer is probably not, because they’re very exposed if there’s another trade war with the U.S.” Through August, exports to China were less than half of what they were through the first eight months of last year. Since 2015, annual agricultural exports to China from Texas have fallen by 72 percent.

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San Antonio Express-News - October 18, 2019

Ruben Mesa, George B. Hernández Jr. and Jaime Wesolowski: Support Proposition 6 and continued cancer research

As leaders of three major San Antonio health institutions — the Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center; University Health System; and Methodist Healthcare Ministries — we often speak about research on our campuses. Inevitably, that means we talk about the prevention, treatment and study of cancers. With cancer ranked as the second-leading cause of death in Texas, claiming more than 40,000 lives annually, it’s no surprise that almost every hand in the room goes up when we ask who has been touched by cancer.

Thousands of health care providers, researchers and others who work with us and at other programs are committed to changing this statistic in San Antonio and South Texas. For the past 10 years, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas has been our impactful partner in the fight against cancer. Texans voted in 2007 to create CPRIT, a state agency established to invest $3 billion in groundbreaking cancer programs in our state to accelerate innovation and save lives. With that first round of funding about to run out, Texans are being asked to extend the work of CPRIT through Proposition 6 on the ballot in November. What has CPRIT meant for San Antonians and South Texans over the past decade?

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Houston Chronicle - October 19, 2019

Monica Rhor: Trump’s Harvey punchlines aren’t funny

Know what’s not funny? A monster storm named Harvey that dumped more than 50 inches of rain over the Houston region, killed 103 people, and ravaged the homes and lives of thousands of Texans. Know what’s even less funny? That, two years later, many families are still struggling to recover, federal relief funds have been slow to arrive, many Houstonians shudder at the hint of rainfall, and children still have flashbacks about frantic boat rescues from flooded homes.

Know what’s really not funny? A president who dismisses the impact of Harvey with punchlines — just so he can get a laugh from a jeering, cheering Dallas crowd that seemed oblivious to the suffering of their fellow Texans. The comments tossed out by Donald Trump at a campaign rally at the American Airlines Center in Dallas Thursday night were a slap in the face to everyone who lost so much when Harvey hit Texas — and for whom the pain is still raw. What’s worse, the leaders elected to look out for the residents of this state, sat in the audience listening as Trump belittled the scope of our suffering. On Twitter, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz praised the “amazing energy” of the rally.

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Houston Chronicle - October 19, 2019

Houston Chronicle Editorial: We recommend Anna Eastman to represent House District 148

A veritable flood of candidates is seeking to replace longtime State Rep. Jessica Farrar in a special election in District 148 on the city’s near north side. Democrat Farrar stepped down this summer after 25 years on the job so she could take care of her mother. While many may assume she will be replaced by another Hispanic politician, some experts say that is not certain because the district, anchored by the Heights, is becoming increasingly gentrified and less diverse.

Voters have their work cut out for them in making a choice because there are 14 candidates for the job, including 11 Democrats, two Republicans, and one independent — all of them appearing on a single unified ballot. We recommend voters choose Anna Eastman, who was a respected member of the HISD board for eight years before she stepped down this year. Her HISD district included 75 percent of District 148. Eastman stood out as a smart, dedicated member of the board who generally favored enlightened policies.

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Houston Chronicle - October 18, 2019

Chris Tomlinson: Trump tariffs slowing global economy, strangling shale oil revolution

Experts are in a raging debate over the future of North American oil production, but only the self-proclaimed Tariff Man has control over the fate of the shale drilling revolution. President Donald Trump’s belligerent approach to international trade is stifling the global economy and slowing demand for oil. Turning allies into enemies has squelched business investment, leaving the world awash with surplus energy.

If the Tariff Man does not change his strategy, a global recession could spell the end of the oil and gas renaissance in Texas, leading to global supply problems and price hikes in the long run. Last week, my colleague Jordan Blum chronicled the dramatic slowdown in shale investment and drilling, asking analysts whether Texas oil and gas production has peaked. It is a reasonable question, but with an answer as unknowable as the future of the global economy. Shale drillers are scaling back because oil prices are dropping due to an oversupply. The surplus was created by lower-than-expected demand due to slower economic activity. Guess what’s causing that?

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Dallas Morning News - October 19, 2019

Foster care plaintiffs ask judge to sanction Texas, citing blown deadlines, ‘shocking’ revelations

Plaintiffs in a long-running legal battle over Texas foster care have asked a federal judge to hold the state in contempt of court, citing in a motion many “false statements” about nighttime watches of kids and a recent blown deadline for crafting a workload study. The Department of Family and Protective Services has been “utterly contemptuous” of U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack’s orders, plaintiffs’ lawyers said in a motion filed Friday.

The motion asks the department, Gov. Greg Abbott and Health and Human Services chief Courtney Phillips to show cause for why Jack shouldn’t sanction them for the agency’s alleged stonewalling of her five-year quest to ensure that foster children in group settings are supervised by adults who remain awake all night. Also at issue is the department’s alleged failure to meet the judge’s Sept. 28 deadline for proposing guidelines for a workload study that will be used to help determine how many youngsters a Child Protective Services conservatorship caseworker should supervise. A department spokesman declined to comment Saturday.

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Dallas Morning News - October 20, 2019

Dallas Morning News Editorial: We recommend James Armstrong III for Texas House District 100

A special election to fill Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson’s former seat in the Texas House has drawn strong candidates with solid backgrounds of public and political service. But the strongest candidate in the field is affordable housing chief executive James Armstrong III. Armstrong, 33, is clear-eyed about the challenges of poverty that too many residents of the southern and eastern Dallas district face. And of the four candidates in the race, he offers the most substantive answers on how to address them.

Armstrong also has done the work to reduce poverty as president and chief executive of Builders of Hope Community Development Corporation. He has stepped into gentrification battles on behalf of residents, and he has helped create home ownership — a critical wealth generator — for people in the district. We also admire his deep understanding of ways to advance school finance reform to lower the burden on local property owners and shift that burden more fairly to the state. Further, he recognizes that the way the state Department of Public Safety deployed troopers in South Dallas was flawed. But he understands that they accomplished something important - getting some 700 guns off the streets.

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Austin American-Statesman - October 18, 2019

Kim Kardashian West voices support for Texas death row inmate Rodney Reed

Kim Kardashian West has weighed in on a Texas death row case. The reality television star and entrepreneur tweeted at Gov. Greg Abbott early Saturday, urging him to “do the right thing” for death row inmate Rodney Reed.

Kardashian West had just finished watching the film “Just Mercy,” based on the true story of lawyer Bryan Stevenson and his work on the wrongful conviction case of Walter McMillian in Alabama in the early 90s. Reed is scheduled to be executed on Nov. 20 for the murder of 19-year-old Stacey Stites in Bastrop County in 1996.

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Austin American-Statesman - October 18, 2019

TxDOT to clear camps under Austin highways, Abbott says

Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday that he will direct the Texas Department of Transportation to clear homeless people’s encampments under many of Austin’s highways. Abbott’s decision came after the Austin City Council voted late Thursday to reinstate portions of a camping ban aimed at people who are experiencing homelessness. Specifically, the council banned public camping on sidewalks, near the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless, or ARCH, and in areas prone to wildfires.

Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday that he will direct the Texas Department of Transportation to clear homeless people’s encampments under many of Austin’s highways. Abbott’s decision came after the Austin City Council voted late Thursday to reinstate portions of a camping ban aimed at people who are experiencing homelessness. Specifically, the council banned public camping on sidewalks, near the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless, or ARCH, and in areas prone to wildfires.

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Texas Monthly - October 16, 2019

Federal judges temporarily block public charge rule, but public health worries persist

Last month, Elizabeth Hasse, an immigration attorney with the Tahirih Justice Center in Houston, spoke to a client about renewing her work permit. Hasse had helped the woman secure temporary status years before under a provision in the Violence Against Women Act protecting immigrant victims of domestic violence. Hasse asked her client to bring in her tax returns, paychecks, and proof that three of her four children, all U.S. citizens, were enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid. But the client told Hasse she had decided not to renew their benefits this time.

In the fall of 2018, the Trump administration proposed changes to a longstanding immigration policy known as the public charge rule, making it harder for low-income immigrants to become permanent residents or enter the country. Currently, immigrants applying for green cards and visas can be denied if immigration officers find them likely to receive more than half of their income from cash assistance programs or require long-term care. The new regulation would dramatically expand the criteria to decide if someone is a “public charge,” allowing immigration officials to consider the use of other public benefits like Medicaid, SNAP, and housing programs. Lacking English proficiency, having a medical condition, and being low-income could also hurt immigrants’ applications.

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Longview News-Journal - October 17, 2019

Dave McNeely: Texas politicians and Ukraine

Texas, and its politicians, are getting drawn into national and international affairs. Donald Trump says his secretary of energy, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, urged him to call newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Trump phoned Zelensky July 25. That call accelerated efforts to impeach Trump. House committees working on the impeachment effort have subpoenaed Perry — mostly for documents about the call. Perry swears his recommendation to Trump was solely to encourage energy dealings between Ukraine and the U.S.

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KTRH - October 16, 2019

A conservative teacher’s association is now a reality in Texas

A new teacher's group with conservative Texas values is claiming to be a ‘non-union’ alternative to help teachers and educators in the classroom without funding for political agendas that go against classroom needs. This year, the number of teachers leaving the profession after just one year has reached an all-time high across the nation.

Deer Park ISD teacher Melissa Martin with Innovative Teachers of Texas said teacher lobbying groups still haven't been able to solve ongoing classroom teacher issues. "The pay is still stagnant. We're still burdened with the testing. There still are still so many things that we need to improve in the education system. I feel like we need to be open-minded to looking at some other alternatives," said Martin. She said the biggest goal is to give a voice to teachers and some control in the classroom, while conserving traditional Texas values. ITT’s goal is to give some control back to teachers who know their students best.

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Associated Press - October 19, 2019

Army Corps of Engineers proposes new Texas hurricane protection plan

The Army Corps of Engineers has proposed 14-foot-high natural sand dunes in the latest version of its up to $32 billion plan for protecting the Houston and Galveston areas from hurricane-related storm surges. The plan calls for establishing roughly 44 miles of dunes and floodgates that would run from High Island to San Luis Pass, as well as ecosystem restoration farther south, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The sand dune field is among a series of revisions the Corps recently made to the draft coastal barrier alignment released last year. The original proposal was to build levees that would run parallel to FM 3005 on Galveston Island and Texas 87 on Bolivar Peninsula but behind the dune line. This plan for the harder barrier would have left thousands of homes adjacent to the beach exposed to flooding and likely required extensive eminent domain buyouts. The update is more ambitious than the so-called “Ike Dike,” proposed by Texas A&M University researchers and named for the 2008 hurricane that flooded parts of Galveston.

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram - October 19, 2019

Atatiana Jefferson’s father wins restraining order over funeral services for daughter

A fissure among relatives of a woman who was shot to death by a Fort Worth police officer opened Friday in connection with her funeral and burial arrangements. Atatiana Jefferson’s father won a temporary restraining order in Dallas County Probate Court that freezes plans for her funeral, which was scheduled for Saturday afternoon.

The Potter’s House of Dallas, where the funeral was to be held, said in a statement Saturday morning that the service has been canceled. “As a reflection of our core values, The Potter’s House will continue to stand ready to serve the community when called upon,” the church said in the statement. “The outpouring of global support for Atatiana Jefferson reflects the need for our collective communities to heal. We pray that her memory will not be overshadowed by the circumstances surrounding her death, but rather her legacy be respected, protected, honored and celebrated for the fullness of her life. We will continue to pray for the family and the community that is in deep pain from the senseless loss of Atatiana Jefferson’s life and the lives of countless others.”

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City Stories

San Antonio Express-News - October 18, 2019

‘Dramatic’ San Antonio housing crisis is squeezing the income of households and renters

When Jose Gomez moved into his downtown studio apartment four years ago, his rent was about $400. The price was affordable and the apartment was a 15-minute walk from his job at the Westin Riverwalk hotel, where he’s a cook. But Gomez could soon be priced out of his home. After a Houston real estate firm bought the aging complex on San Pedro Creek, landlords began raising rents of the tenants — made up primarily of downtown workers, students and retirees — to help pay for renovations.

Gomez, 56, saw his rent jump at the rebranded Soap Factory apartments to $550 a month when he renewed his lease for nine months. Then it increased to $675 a month for six months. “It’s almost $700 and it’s only a room,” Gomez said. “It doesn’t have a (bedroom).” His experience is becoming more common as more residents struggle with rising housing costs that for years have outpaced income growth in San Antonio, which the census recently determined is the poorest big city in the country. Experts say homeowners and renters ideally should spend no more than a third of their income on housing. But a third of San Antonio households — and about half of renters — pay more than that.

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San Antonio Express-News - October 18, 2019

Elaine Ayala: Cummings’ wife was a San Antonian before her D.C. life

When a big event happens anywhere in the country, sometimes anywhere in the world, a San Antonio connection somehow emerges. Sometimes it’s found deep in the details. Sometimes it has been there all along, hiding in plain sight. All too often, it comes with bad news. So it was with the death this week of Congressman Elijah Cummings, whose storied political career began when he fought to desegregate a Baltimore swimming pool. He was 11.

In his last hours, as the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, one of three panels leading impeachment investigations of President Donald Trump, Cummings signed two subpoenas. They seek federal documents related to the Trump administration’s decision not to allow some immigrants with severe health issues temporary reprieve from deportation. By his side during those last moments was his wife Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, a graduate of San Antonio’s John Jay High School who was honored as a “pillar of character” by the Northside Independent School District.

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San Antonio Express-News - October 20, 2019

San Antonio parents without Texas IDs barred frrom Southside ISD schools

Southside Independent School District officials say they’re following state law by requiring guardians to show a Texas form of ID before allowing them inside schools. However, the Texas Education Code doesn’t require state-issued IDs. It gives districts the option of asking school visitors for government-issued photo IDs, but it doesn’t say that the ID has to be issued by Texas.

Dozens of parents and community members attended Southside Independent School District’s board meeting Thursday evening to ask for a change to district policy that makes it difficult for parents who aren’t U.S. citizens to access their children’s schools. The policy requires parents to have a Texas driver’s license or state-issued ID to be in areas where other children are around. A mother named Sandra, who asked not to give her last name, testified that she was barred from eating lunch with her son at his school because she didn’t have a Texas ID.

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Houston Chronicle - October 20, 2019

Sylvester Turner could win Houston mayor’s race without runoff, UH poll finds

Mayor Sylvester Turner retains a wide lead over his opponents, most of whom have failed to gain traction with weeks left until Election Day, according to a University of Houston poll released Sunday. The poll, published on the eve of early voting, shows Turner with 43.5 percent support among likely voters, followed by lawyer and businessman Tony Buzbee at 23.4 percent.

Bill King, Turner’s 2015 runoff opponent, trails with 7.8 percent, while 6.8 percent of voters said they support Councilman Dwight Boykins. Former councilwoman Sue Lovell was backed by 1.2 percent of respondents, while 0.2 percent of voters said they support one of the other seven candidates. Another 17.2 percent of likely voters said they remain undecided. For the poll, 501 likely voters were surveyed between Oct. 1 and Oct. 9. The margin of error is 4.4 percent.

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Houston Chronicle - October 20, 2019

Houston Chronicle Editorial: We recommend Sylvester Turner for Houston Mayor

Bats aren’t blind. The Great Wall of China is not really visible from space. And vaccines do not cause autism. Many people believe these myths because they’ve heard them repeated enough times. Statements that are familiar start to feel right, regardless of accuracy. It’s called illusory truth effect. And it’s been a powerful weapon in Houston’s rough-and-tumble mayoral race. Houstonians have been told - at forums, in news articles, and in a barrage of TV ads - that Mayor Sylvester Turner’s tenure has been mired in corruption, that Houston has grown into a dangerous place under his watch, that he ignored the will of the people on firefighter raises.

If true, this editorial board would have no qualms about recommending that voters throw the bum out. But facts - the real ones, scrutinized thoroughly by the Chronicle’s reporters in the newsroom - show a different picture. While weak ethics rules make pay-to-play politics a perennial concern in Houston and Harris County politics, Turner’s opponents have failed to land a bombshell that proves he has abused his power. The most high-profile attempt to discredit Turner, involving a $95,000 “executive internship” created at the airport for a man who called Turner his mentor, fizzled after it was reported that the salary was in line with the employee’s experience and education, including three degrees.

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KERA - October 18, 2019

Fort Worth activists gave city, police 11 demands. Officials say no to most, but are open to talking

Community activists in Fort Worth have issued a list of demands to the city’s leadership in the wake of Atatiana Jefferson’s killing in her home by a Fort Worth police officer. City officials responded Friday by saying some of the demands aren’t possible and others aren’t practical, but on some others, they're open to a conversation.

Some of the 11 demands issued by the Tarrant County Coalition for Community Oversight were directly related to the killing of Jefferson, a black woman who was shot through a window by a white police officer last weekend. Others were borne out of long-standing concerns about policing in Fort Worth’s communities of color and a general mistrust of the police department. “We don’t just want to speak to this current situation, this current tragedy,” said Pamela Young, who spoke on behalf of the six community groups that make up the coalition. “We want to make sure that in this moment that we secure justice and that we put some things in place that this doesn’t happen again.”

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Gatehouse Media - October 19, 2019

Airlines damage thousands of wheelchairs

After a United Airlines flight three years ago, Isabelle Briar ripped open her thumb as she pushed her wheelchair away from the gate. The airline had cracked the metal grip ring, leaving a sharp, protruding shard. The same airline ignored Cindy Otis’ complaint about damage to her power chair in 2006, responding weeks later and only after she had an attorney write a letter threatening to sue.

In 2017, U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, boarded a flight hours after writing federal Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. Duckworth wanted to know why the agency again delayed requiring airlines to track damage to wheelchairs and scooters. Upon landing, the paralyzed Army veteran noticed her wheelchair no longer moved. “They bent the metal bracket with the casters,” Duckworth said. “We’re talking about heavy-duty metal. I wonder, how are you managing to break these chairs?” Not confident the U.S. Department of Transportation would implement the tracking rule it proposed years earlier, Duckworth slipped a provision into last year’s reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration to make it law. It passed. Now, for the first time, major commercial airlines must tell the DOT each month how often they gate-check wheelchairs and scooters, as well as how often passengers report those devices as damaged, lost, delayed or stolen.

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National Stories

New York Times - October 19, 2019

In a strong economy, why are so many workers on strike?

At first glance, it may seem like a paradox: Even as the economy rides a 10-year winning streak, tens of thousands of workers across the country, from General Motors employees to teachers in Chicago, are striking to win better wages and benefits. But, according to those on strike, the strong growth is precisely the point. Autoworkers, teachers and other workers accepted austerity when the economy was in a free fall, expecting to share in the gains once the recovery took hold.

Increasingly, however, many of those workers believe that they fell for a sucker’s bet, having watched their employers grow flush while their own incomes barely budged. Corporate profits are near a record high, up nearly 30 percent since the pre-recession peak in 2006. During the same time, the income of the typical household has increased by less than 4 percent. Some workers are responding with measures like strikes partly as a result. “That was the understanding — that if we gave up the concessions back in 2007 and 2009, that once G.M. got back on their feet, we would slowly get those things back,” said Tammy Daggy, who worked at the now-idled G.M. plant in Lordstown, Ohio, for nearly 25 years. But on many issues, “we never did.”

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New York Times - October 19, 2019

Boris Johnson forced to seek Brexit extension after rebuke from lawmakers

Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered a stinging defeat on Saturday as Parliament rebuffed his campaign to take Britain out of the European Union by the end of the month and forced him to seek an extension that he had vowed never to pursue.

The turbulent events left Mr. Johnson’s agreement in limbo and threw British politics once again into chaos, with any number of outcomes possible: a no-deal exit from the European Union, a second referendum on whether to leave at all, or a general election that could shift the balance in Parliament. The only sure result was continuing frustration and confusion among the British public. Late on Saturday night, Mr. Johnson formally applied to the European Union, in an unsigned letter, for another extension of Britain’s departure, something he said he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than do.

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New York Times - October 19, 2019

Francis Rooney, GOP lawmaker who won’t rule out impeachment, is to retire

Representative Francis Rooney, Republican of Florida, who has refused to rule out voting to impeach President Trump, said on Saturday that he would not be seeking re-election. Mr. Rooney, who first won his district in southwest Florida in 2016, said on Fox News that he believed he had accomplished what he wanted to do in Congress and had grown frustrated with aspects of legislative service.

Asked if he was interested in a third term, Mr. Rooney said, “I don’t really think I do, and I don’t really think I want one. I’ve done what I came to do,” he added, noting that he also wanted to set a model in the House for adhering to term limits. A day earlier, Mr. Rooney became the first House Republican to indicate that he was willing to consider supporting articles of impeachment over the president’s attempts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, but he said on Saturday that his decision to retire was unrelated. (He emphasized to reporters that the allegations did not rise to the level of the Watergate scandal.)

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Associated Press - October 18, 2019

Hillary Clinton implies Russia wants Gabbard as 3rd-party candidate

Hillary Clinton appears to call Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard "the favorite of the Russians" in a recent interview while describing 2016 Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein as "a Russian asset."

During a podcast appearance this week on Campaign HQ with David Plouffe, the former secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee did not mention the Hawaii congresswoman by name, but said she believes the Russians have "got their eye on somebody who's currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate." "She's the favorite of the Russians," Clinton said. "They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far. And that's assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not because she's also a Russian asset."

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Associated Press - October 20, 2019

Pentagon chief says US troops leaving Syria for western Iraq

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper says that under current plans all U.S. troops leaving Syria will go to western Iraq and the American military will continue to conduct operations against the Islamic State group to prevent its resurgence.

Esper, who arrived in the Afghan capital on Sunday, did not rule out the idea that U.S. forces would conduct counterterrorism missions from Iraq into Syria. But he told reporters traveling with him that those details will be worked out over time. His comments were the first to specifically lay out where American troops will go as they leave Syria and what the counter-IS fight could look like. Esper, who flew overnight to Afghanistan, said he has spoken to his Iraqi counterpart about the plan to shift the more than 700 troops leaving Syria into western Iraq.

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Wall Street Journal - October 20, 2019

Bernie Sanders returns to trail with fresh endorsements—and challenges

Bernie Sanders is back on the campaign trail and looking to project confidence. Standing in front of what his campaign said was nearly 26,000 people here, Sen. Sanders (I., Vt.) said he was “more than ready to assume the office of president of United States” following a heart attack Oct. 1.

Mr. Sanders and his campaign are hoping for a revival to tick up his sluggish poll numbers—which show a notable lack of support among older voters—following two weeks off the campaign trail that raised questions about the future of his bid. Aides and allies of Mr. Sanders said Saturday’s event here, with the Queensboro Bridge in the background, is a sign of positive things to come. The rally capped off a strong week back for Mr. Sanders, whose first public appearance was the debate Tuesday. Then fundraising numbers came out showing he had millions more dollars than his opponents. He also secured two major endorsements with progressive Democratic social-media stars New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez introduced Mr. Sanders Saturday.

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National Review - October 20, 2019

George Will: ‘Texodus’ bodes badly for Republicans

‘I am a classically trained engineer,” says Representative Will Hurd, a Texas Republican, “and I firmly believe in regression to the mean.” Applying a concept from statistics to the randomness of today’s politics is problematic.

In any case, Hurd, 42, is not waiting for the regression of our politics from the extreme ends of the ideological spectrum to something like temperate normality. He is leaving Congress at the end of this, his third term. And he sees portents that his blinkered party would be prudent to notice. Hurd is one of six Texas Republican congressman who have decided not to seek reelection next year. Until this year, none of them had, since 2011, experienced the purgatory of being in the House minority. In the 2018 “Texodus,” five Texas Republican representatives retired (a sixth resigned) and two were defeated. Of the 241 Republicans in the House when Donald Trump was inaugurated, almost 40 percent are gone or going. See a trend?

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US News and World Report - October 18, 2019

Virginia in the crosshairs

National gun control groups are pouring money into Virginia ahead of the state's November legislative elections, seeking to energize voters frustrated by the way Republican lawmakers shut down a special session on gun violence called in the wake of a deadly mass shooting in Virginia Beach this spring and hoping to score a win in what some say is a bellwether for next year's national races.

According to recent polling, gun violence is the most important issue to Virginia voters heading into next month's election. And with all 140 seats up for grabs in the state legislature next month, the stakes could not be higher for either side: House Republicans, who lost 15 seats in 2017 but ekked out a razor-thin majority, are eager to claw back some of those flipped districts, while Democrats are hoping to build on the state's decided leftward shift in recent years and capture both chambers of the General Assembly for the first time since the 1990s. Republicans currently hold a one-seat majority in the House of Delegates and the state Senate, with a vacancy in each chamber.

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NPR - October 20, 2019

Partisan divide grows over opioid settlement plan

The nation's response to the deadly opioid epidemic has been broadly bipartisan, but deep divides have emerged over a settlement plan offered last month by Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxycontin. Democratic state attorneys general have generally panned the deal, which would force Purdue's owners, member of the Sackler family, to give up control of their company while paying roughly $3 billion in cash from their personal fortunes.

Joel Stein, the Democratic attorney general in North Carolina, wants the Sacklers to pay a lot more. "They are more responsible than any for all the death and destruction our nation has experienced," Stein told NPR. "They have to make a meaningful and certain contribution to clean up the mess they helped to create." So far, only two Democratic attorneys general nationwide have backed the plan, with more than 20 rejecting it. Republican attorneys general, meanwhile, have mostly embraced the structured bankruptcy plan. They say the deal isn't perfect but it would get money to communities fast.

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Newsclips - October 18, 2019

Lead Stories

Dallas Morning News - October 17, 2019

Reports: Energy Secretary Rick Perry tells Trump he will soon resign

Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Thursday told President Donald Trump that he will soon resign, according to multiple news reports. The former Texas governor’s departure has been rumored for some time, though Perry has repeatedly batted down those reports, even as he’s become engulfed of late in the growing controversy over Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukrainian officials to investigate a political rival.

An Energy Department spokeswoman didn’t immediately return a request for comment. But Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on Thursday appeared to confirm the news by issuing a press release that hailed the “former energy secretary” as a “good man and a good friend who has devoted his life to serving his country” and wished "him the best as he returns to private life after a long, successful and productive career.” Another top Texas Republican, Rep. Kevin Brady of The Woodlands, also on Thursday appeared to send out a farewell note by thanking Perry for his “longstanding service to our nation.”

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Washington Post - October 17, 2019

Mulvaney confirms Ukraine aid withheld in part to force probe of Democrats

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters Thursday that President Trump blocked nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine in part to force the government in Kyiv to secure a politically motivated investigation of Democrats, a startling acknowledgment after the president’s repeated denials of a quid pro quo. Mulvaney defended the maneuver as “absolutely appropriate.”

But hours later, Mulvaney scrambled to walk back his comments in an official statement blaming the media for misconstruing his words “to advance a biased and political witch hunt against President Trump.” “Let me be clear, there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election,” he said in a written statement. “There was never any connection between the funds and the Ukrainians doing anything with the server ... there was never any condition on the flow of the aid related to the matter of the DNC server.”

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New York Times - October 17, 2019

Bill McvRaven: Our republic is under attack from the President

If President Trump doesn’t demonstrate the leadership that America needs, then it is time for a new person in the Oval Office. Last week I attended two memorable events that reminded me why we care so very much about this nation and also why our future may be in peril. The first was a change of command ceremony for a storied Army unit in which one general officer passed authority to another. The second event was an annual gala for the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.) Society that recognizes past and present members of the intelligence and Special Operations community for their heroism and sacrifice to the nation.

What struck me was the stark contrast between the words and deeds heralded at those events — and the words and deeds emanating from the White House. On the parade field at Fort Bragg, N.C., where tens of thousands of soldiers have marched either preparing to go to war or returning from it, the two generals, highly decorated, impeccably dressed, cleareyed and strong of character, were humbled by the moment. But, beneath the outward sense of hope and duty that I witnessed at these two events, there was an underlying current of frustration, humiliation, anger and fear that echoed across the sidelines. The America that they believed in was under attack, not from without, but from within.

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Dallas Morning News - October 18, 2019

President Donald Trump headlines mega-rally in Dallas, slamming Beto O’Rourke, impeachment

President Donald Trump evoked the rugged history of Texas -- including the fight at the Alamo -- Thursday night and declared Texas would remain loyal to the Republican Party. “Texas is not in play,” Trump said as the crowd roared.

And he told a packed house at American Airlines Center Thursday night that the impeachment inquiry against him was an effort by “enraged” Democrats to rewrite the 2016 election, since they can’t beat him at the ballot box. “The more America achieves the more hateful and enraged these crazy Democrats become,” Trump said. “They’re crazy. They’re crazy. At stake in this fight is American democracy itself.” He called Democrats “corrupt people.” Numerous times he called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “crazy” and “nuts,” to applause and cheers from the crowd.

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Gallup - October 17, 2019

Congress approval, support for impeaching Trump both up

As Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives work through an impeachment inquiry regarding alleged abuses of office by President Donald Trump, approval of Congress is now at 25%. That is up from 18% in September, prior to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announcing the impeachment inquiry following news of possible wrongdoing by the president in communications with Ukraine.

The increase in approval of Congress over the past month is the result of a 15-percentage-point jump among Democrats (from 19% to 34%) as well as a smaller increase among independents (from 19% to 25%). Republicans' rating of Congress is stable, at 17%. This update, from an Oct. 1-13 Gallup poll, also finds that Trump's approval rating remains flat, at 39%, compared with 40% in the late September update. It is on the low end of the 37% to 46% range recorded in 2019 so far, with the 37% readings coming in January during the government shutdown. Currently, 87% of Republicans, 34% of independents and 5% of Democrats approve of the job Trump is doing.

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State Stories

Houston Chronicle - October 17, 2019

Appeals court sides with Houston in rape victims’ suit over untested kits

A federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit in which two victims accused the Houston Police Department, and current and former city leaders of failing to test rape kits that could have put their assailants, whose DNA was in a national database from earlier crimes, behind bars before the women were assaulted.

The Wednesday decision from Texas’ Southern District appeals court upholds a 2018 ruling by a lower court, and all but ends the two women’s legal action against the City of Houston, former and current mayors Bill White, Annise Parker and Sylvester Turner, and HPD Chief Art Acevedo, among others. The two women were raped by serial offenders whose DNA was in a national database for crimes committed decades earlier. They filed suit in 2017, alleging the city deprived them of their civil rights by not addressing the backlog earlier, and of taking years to alert them about the status of their kits.

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Houston Chronicle - October 18, 2019

Houston state House candidate pays $26,000 tax lien

The top fundraiser in a special election race for a Houston-area Texas House seat paid more than $25,000 in delinquent taxes last week. Michele Leal, one of 12 Democrats running to replace longtime state Rep. Jessica Farrar, raised nearly $109,000 last quarter.

She said Thursday that she and her husband last week made a payment on a $26,853.25 tax lien to the federal government, as first reported by the Texas Tribune. Leal said it was “an unfortunate circumstance” that was the result of a “communication issue.” “We immediately took steps to remedy it, and we’ve completely resolved it,” Leal said. The candidate said she and her husband first learned about the lien through a letter from the Internal Revenue Service that she received a week ago.

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Houston Chronicle - October 17, 2019

‘Totally unbiased’ power shopping site owned by electricity company

Power Wizard, a new electricity shopping website in Houston, promotes itself as an independent voice on the side of consumers looking for low cost plans, providing unbiased advice to shoppers because Power Wizard has no ties with retail electric providers. Except it does.

Power Wizard is owned by NextEra Energy, the nation’s biggest utility company, which also owns two retail electric providers in Houston, Frontier Utilities and Gexa Energy, according to registration records on file with the Texas Secretary of State and other public records. The chief executive officer of Power Wizard, Brian Landrum, is also president of Gexa, according to public records. “It doesn’t sound very unbiased to me,” said Fred Anders, founder of Texas Power Guide in Houston, a website that helps consumers find the cheapest power plans.

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Houston Chronicle - October 17, 2019

Texas Democrats push bill to ban ICE action on election day

Warning that President Donald Trump could weaponize Immigration and Customs Enforcement to scare Latinos away from the polls, several Texas Democrats are pushing to bar immigration action around polling places on voting days.

“We’ve already seen, for instance through the Ukraine scandal, that this president would do anything to be able to win this election, including seeking the help in interfering in an election,” said U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, who on Thursday filed the Polling Access Safety Act, which among other things would bar immigration enforcement actions within a mile of polling places during voting. The bill would require polling locations to post notices making clear that no immigration enforcement may take place there. It would prohibit ICE and CBP from setting up vehicle checkpoints or conducting searches of public transportation, or from performing public training exercises on voting days.

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Houston Chronicle - October 17, 2019

EMILY’s List endorses progressive Cisneros in South Texas congressional race

An influential national political group seeking to get more women in office is throwing its weight behind Jessica Cisneros in the Laredo immigration attorney’s bid to unseat longtime U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo. EMILY’s List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, on Thursday endorsed Cisneros, saying the 26-year-old “represents the next generation of leadership in our country.”

It’s the latest major endorsement for Cisneros, whose run at Cuellar from the left is shaping up to be the most serious challenge he’s faced in years. Cuellar has held the South Texas congressional district since 2005. “A lifelong Texan and the daughter of Mexican immigrants, Jessica has witnessed firsthand the effect that our broken immigration system has on families like hers,” Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List, said in a statement. “As an immigration lawyer, she stands up and fights for families who want a fair opportunity to succeed — the same thing she will do for Texans when she’s in Congress.”

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Dallas Morning News - October 17, 2019

In Fort Worth, Trump boasts he just saved millions of Kurds by unleashing Turkey, then brokering ceasefire

Moments after landing in Texas for a day of politicking, President Donald Trump boasted that he’d just averted millions of deaths and gave a major boost to civilization itself, after Turkey agreed to a 5-day ceasefire in its attacks on Kurds -- U.S. allies he had effectively abandoned last week. “This is an amazing outcome,” he said. “You would have lost millions and millions of lives. You wouldn’t get it without a little rough love.”

By that, he was referring to the invasion by Turkey that began after Trump abruptly, and without consultation with Congress or European allies, ordered U.S. troops out of the region. Over the last seven years, Kurdish fighters have taken the brunt of the U.S. effort to decimate the Islamic State, but Turkey, another U.S. ally, has long viewed that ethnic group on its border as a danger. At least 100,000 Kurds reportedly have been displaced in the last week, after President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an took Trump’s withdrawal as a green light to push into Kurd-held territory, establishing a long “safety zone” that Trump described as a 22-mile strip.

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Dallas Morning News - October 17, 2019

Dallas Morning News Editorial: Atatiana Jefferson had a right to a gun and cops needed to respect that right before skulking around

Since it is now becoming an issue, we’d like to say a few words about Atatiana Jefferson’s gun. She is, of course, the 28-year-old African-American woman shot to death by a police officer in Fort Worth in the predawn hours of Oct. 12. She was at home and playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew at the time.

According to statements her nephew made to police and that police have since made public, Atatiana Jefferson seems to have taken a pistol out of her purse before looking out a window. We can surmise that she either heard or saw something that made her believe there might have been an intruder in the backyard and, worried for her safety and the safety of her nephew, she appeared to decide it was appropriate to arm herself until she ascertained what was going on. We now know that what was going on was then-Fort Worth Police Officer Aaron Dean had responded to a “welfare” call on the house. A neighbor had seen a door ajar and called a non-emergency number to request that someone check on in the house.

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Dallas Morning News - October 17, 2019

Eric Johnson: "I cannot abide" Bonnen’s insults of Texas cities

Last year, when I was a member of the Texas House, I supported Dennis Bonnen to become our speaker. While I had made the deeply personal decision to seek the speakership myself, I stepped aside because I believed he had the potential to unify the House and help our state address critical issues, such as school finance, that for far too long had been left unresolved.

In the time since the speaker election, I was fortunate enough to be elected mayor of Dallas, a place that I have called home my entire life. I cannot abide by what I heard the speaker say in that recording about our state’s great cities and their leaders. “Any mayor, county judge that was dumbass enough to come meet with me, I told them with great clarity, my goal is for this to be the worst session in the history of the Legislature for cities and counties,” Bonnen is heard saying on the recording of a meeting with conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan in June.

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Dallas Morning News - October 18, 2019

Trump: Texas made a 'fortune’ after Hurricane Harvey

When President Donald Trump took the stage at American Airlines Center on Thursday, he rattled off a long list of how he thought Texas was better since he took office — including a big payout after Hurricane Harvey.

"You made a fortune on the hurricane!” Trump said, referring to the federal aid the state received after the Category 4 hurricane in 2017 killed more than 100 and left catastrophic flooding from southeast Texas into Central Texas. It caused more than $125 billion in damage. Trump meant it as a joke. But one Houston state lawmaker is not laughing.

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Dallas Morning News - October 18, 2019

Yes, Texas is a battleground: Millions more dollars flow into U.S. House races than in 2018 election

Texas’ road to battleground relevancy is paved with campaign cash. More than $39.6 million flowed into U.S. House races in the Lone Star State during the first nine months of this year, marking an eye-popping 44% increase over the $27.6 million gathered there in the same time period last election, according to a Dallas Morning News analysis.

That spike reflects the intense early interest in Texas’ reemergence as a competitive state after decades of GOP dominance, along with continued turnover in its large congressional delegation. “We are fighting to defend Texas in 2020,” said James Dickey, chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, explaining that Democrats are “pouring money into Texas” to bring their “extremist, leftist” views to the state. The trend also highlights a stunning turnabout from Texas’ role as a political piggy bank more for the rest of the country than its own native sons and daughters, particularly in a presidential election year when candidates are keen to swoop in to fill up their campaign coffers.

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Austin American-Statesman - October 16, 2019

Wendy Davis outraises Chip Roy in 3rd quarter

Wendy Davis, a former Democratic gubernatorial candidate running for a U.S. House seat, outraised freshman Rep. Chip Roy, a Republican from Hays County, by more than $360,000 between July and September, according to federal election filings.

Davis, who raised $940,100 during the third quarter, launched her bid to unseat Roy in July. She raised more than $250,000 in the first 24 hours after her announcement, her campaign said in July. But Roy, who raised $574,200 in the same period, has nearly double the amount of cash on hand compared to Davis. According to the Federal Election Commission, Roy has $1.1 million in his campaign coffers while Davis has $604,000. Davis’ campaign said Tuesday that roughly 88% of her contributions were under $50 while 70% of the contributions were from Texas.

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Austin American-Statesman - October 17, 2019

Jonathan Tilove: I was a ‘useful idiot’ for Dennis Bonnen

Tuesday afternoon I received a text from a friend: “Heard you on the ‘Texas Standard.’ ” “Oh,” I replied. “Then can I ask you, is it true I called myself ‘a useful idiot’?” “You certainly did!” she replied. “But it was endearing.”

Let me explain. I went on the public affairs radio show to talk with host David Brown about the release that morning of the surreptitious recording Empower Texans CEO Michael Quinn Sullivan had made of his June 12 meeting with Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Lake Jackson, at which Bonnen offered Sullivan House press credentials if his conservative political organization would lay off the speaker and instead “pop” 10 mostly moderate Republican incumbents in the 2020 GOP primary. But having just listened to the hour-and-change recording for myself before going on the show, I was in a bit of a state.

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Austin American-Statesman - October 17, 2019

Death row appeal: Ruling on dead lawyer requires seance to prove

Lawyers for death row inmate Paul Storey, admitting they are seeking an “extraordinary decision in this extraordinary case,” are asking the state’s highest criminal court to take another look at a rejected appeal that claims a prosecutor lied to Storey’s jury.

The defense lawyers argue that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals should not have dismissed the appeal on Oct. 2 by blaming the actions of a lawyer who previously represented Storey but has since died and is unable to defend himself. That 6-3 ruling, the petition argued, “imposes a burden unlike anything this Court has ever demanded of the State or defense — proof directly from beyond the grave.” “Short of a seance, this new burden is one that can never be met,” said the petition, filed late Wednesday.

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KUT - October 17, 2019

Austin joins legal fight against Permian Highway Pipeline

The city of Austin is signaling it intends to sue Kinder Morgan, the company behind the proposed Permian Highway Pipeline — a 430-mile natural gas line that has provoked major opposition in the Texas Hill Country. In filing its Notice of Intent to sue, Austin joins opposition already being mounted by San Marcos, Kyle, the Barton Springs Aquifer Conservation District and a property-owner group called the TREAD Coalition.

The pipeline has already been the subject of suits and counter suits. In June, the Austin City Council announced its opposition to the project, but this is the first time the city itself has stepped into the legal fray. Here’s why. You know the old expression to “have a dog in the fight?” City of Austin environmental officer Chris Herrington says the city has “two Salamanders in the fight.” They are the endangered Austin blind salamander and the Barton Springs salamander. Herrington says the pipeline project could hurt or kill these animals.

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Denton Record-Chronicle - October 18, 2019

Denton County judge calls for Bonnen to resign

Denton County’s top official joined leaders across Texas in calling for Republican Dennis Bonnen to resign as Texas House speaker after an activist released audio from a secretly recorded meeting in June in which the speaker said he tried to make it difficult for counties and cities in the 2019 legislative session.

On Thursday, Denton County Judge Andy Eads’ office released a prepared statement chastising Bonnen for his comments and called for Bonnen to resign. “Mr. Bonnen should immediately step down from his position to allow the opportunity for someone who will respect local officials and value positive working relationships,” Eads is quoted as saying in the statement.

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County Stories

Dallas Morning News - October 17, 2019

Dallas Democrats call Trump ‘terrified’ hours before mega rally

Hours before President Donald Trump was expected to take the stage in Dallas, local Democrats took aim at the commander-in-chief on his handling of the economy, health care and immigration. They also took a chance to thump their chest as Texas is increasingly considered a battle ground state in the 2020 election.

“Texas Democrats are rising,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. “And they're registering more voters than ever before. We're seeing unprecedented energy in the state of Texas. "And we're seeing a completely new electorate.” The prospect of flipping Texas, a reliably Republican state for decades, has excited Democrats. But there is little doubt that Trump is still the biggest name in politics as thousands of individuals lined up around the American Airlines Center -- some days in advance. Jenkins dismissed the crowd as evidence that North Texas would be a battlefield.

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City Stories

Houston Chronicle - October 17, 2019

Houston area new home sales show strong September

Sales of new homes in the Houston area edged up 1.4 percent in September over the prior month, while the average price fell slightly to $353,588, according to a new report.

The Houston region registered 1,456 new home sales in September, according to the HomesUSA.com New Home Sales Index. Home sales averaged 1,436 in August. The index tracks a 12-month rolling average for new homes listed in the four local Multiple Listing Services in the largest markets in Texas. “The Houston new home sales market showed its continued strength last month as did total new home sales in Texas,” Ben Caballero, CEO of Texas-based HomesUSA.com, said in an announcement. “Houston’s total home sales were higher, despite a continuing decline in pending sales.”

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San Antonio Express-News - October 17, 2019

Greg Jefferson: San Antonio’s airport inferiority complex

An airport is like a mirror that reflects the city it serves. That’s why every morning Dallas gazes lovingly at DFW, straightens its silk tie, winks and purrs, “Big D, you just keep getting handsomer.” What does San Antonio do when it looks at its namesake San Antonio International Airport? Worries that it’s gained weight and that the bags under its eyes have gotten darker and saggier. It’s afraid it’ll never find a life partner. In other words, we wield our little airport like an instrument of self-flagellation — a cat-o’-nine-tails with a Cinnabon attached.

Here’s the litany of complaints: It has too few direct flights, unless you’re trying to get to Las Vegas. If that’s the case, no worries — a flight straight to Sin City departs every 10 minutes or so. Want to fly nonstop to Boston? Sorry, Einstein, you’re out of luck. SAT, as the air travel intelligensia calls San Antonio International, lacks the imperial dimensions of true big-city airports such as DFW, O’Hare or Sky Harbor in Phoenix. A tram ride from Terminal A to Terminal B would take four seconds. Arriving travelers don’t get a sense of the city. The place manages to come off as an airport, but not necessarily one located in San Antonio. To be honest, I have a hard time with this last gripe because I’m not sure what our “local flavor” is supposed to be.

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KUT - October 18, 2019

Austin reinstates limited bans on camping and resting in public

The Austin City Council reinstated partial bans on camping, sitting and lying down in public on Thursday. After hours of debate, Council approved the new ordinance on a 7-4 vote.

The city's new rules ban camping, sitting and lying down within 15 feet of a doorway to a home or an open business, as well as within the area of a city-operated emergency shelter, including the immediate area around the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless and within a half-mile of any future city shelter. The vote comes after months of scrutiny and outright divisiveness after Council voted to roll back its previous ordinances outlawing public camping and resting in June. That divisiveness was on display at City Hall on Thursday as well, with the discussion ultimately being riven by competing views over how the city should regulate behavior related to homelessness.

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Houston Chronicle - October 17, 2019

IAH to break ground on expanded international terminal

Bush Intercontinental Airport will begin redeveloping its international terminal on Friday, a project years in the making that will ultimately increase Houston’s capacity for wide-body jets capable of reaching new international destinations.

The $1.23 billion project essentially combines Terminal D and Terminal E into one terminal with a central area to house the ticket counters, security checkpoint and baggage claim. Today, international travelers departing on foreign airlines go to Terminal D, and international travelers on Chicago-based United Airlines go to Terminal E.

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram - October 18, 2019

Carlye Hughes: To honor Atatiana Jefferson, Fort Worth must tackle its long history of segregation

Most of us will know Atatiana Jefferson only by secondary means. Her family and friends speak eloquently of her love of life and family and her hopes for the future. But they should not be alone in ensuring her life will hold as much significance as her death. This is a task facing all of us.

Her death is a monumental failure of the whole community. No amount of arrests, prosecution, sentencing and sorrow will bring Atatiana Jefferson back, but her life can have great meaning to this city, if all Fort Worth residents seize the opportunity to make her life and memory count. I grew up in Fort Worth. While I had a vague sense of segregation in our city as a child, once I got my driver’s license, I understood the full social, economic, and career impact of segregation. I wanted no part of it. I knew by age 16 that I would leave.

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National Stories

New York Times - October 17, 2019

Mulvaney: Trump held back Ukraine aid pending inquiry of Democrats

Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, said Thursday that the Trump administration withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate what the president has long insisted was Kiev’s assistance to Democrats during the 2016 election.

The declaration by Mr. Mulvaney — which he tried to take back later in the day — undercut Mr. Trump’s repeated denials of a quid pro quo that linked American military aid for Ukraine to investigations of Democrats that could help him politically. Mr. Trump had pushed Ukraine to open an investigation into an unsubstantiated theory that Ukraine, not Russia, was responsible for hacking Democratic party emails in 2016 — a theory that would show that Mr. Trump was elected president without Russian help.

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New York Times - October 16, 2019

Inside the derailed White House meeting

You know a White House meeting has gone off the rails when the president of the United States and the speaker of the House cannot agree over the precise insult one called the other. According to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Trump called her a “third-grade” politician during a combative meeting with congressional leaders of both parties on Wednesday about the worsening situation in northern Syria. The White House and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said Mr. Trump actually called Ms. Pelosi “third-rate.”

The roughly 20-minute meeting on Wednesday, the first since Democrats began an impeachment inquiry of Mr. Trump, was a new low, according to the recollections of several Democratic officials who shared details of the meeting. The White House did not dispute their accounts. Mr. Trump began the proceedings in the Cabinet Room by making it clear that he did not want to be there. “They said you wanted this meeting,” Mr. Trump told the congressional leaders. “I didn’t want this meeting, but I’m doing it.” Several lawmakers replied that the White House had reached out to them in efforts to brief them on the administration’s Syria policy.

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Reuters - October 17, 2019

Turkey agrees with U.S. to pause Syria assault while Kurds withdraw

Turkey agreed on Thursday to pause its offensive in Syria for five days to let Kurdish forces withdraw from a “safe zone” Ankara had sought to capture, in a deal hailed by the Trump administration and cast by Turkey as a complete victory.

The truce was announced by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence after talks in Ankara with Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan, and was praised by President Donald Trump, who said it would save “millions of lives”. But if implemented it would achieve all the main objectives Turkey announced when it launched its assault on Oct. 9: control of a strip of Syria more than 20 miles deep, with the Kurdish militia, once U.S. allies, obliged to pull out.

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Reuters - October 17, 2019

UAW will keep GM strike going while members vote on new contract

Union leaders are giving the 48,000 striking workers until Oct. 25 to vote on the contract terms, but have recommended ratification of the deal. The decision to keep the strike going for another week reflects the pressure on top UAW leaders amid a continuing federal corruption probe of the union.

Disappointment among rank and file at the failure to prevent the plant shutdowns and block GM from moving work to Mexico could be challenges for union leaders as they seek to have the deal ratified. In 2015, rank and file UAW workers at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV rejected the first version of a contract. This time, UAW leaders are keeping workers on strike pay of $275 a week while they decide on the tentative agreement.

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NPR - October 17, 2019

'Get over It': Politics is part of foreign policy, Mulvaney says

White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney acknowledged Thursday that President Trump expected concessions from Ukraine's president in exchange for engagement — but said that's just how business is done in diplomacy. Mulvaney was asked whether it was a quid pro quo for the White House to condition a meeting between Trump and Ukraine's president on an agreement by Ukraine to launch an investigation that might help Trump politically.

"Get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy," he said, adding that "elections have consequences." Mulvaney said that he wasn't involved with the other request that Trump made of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy — to investigate the family of former Vice President Joe Biden. But he did admit that Trump held up aid to Ukraine as part of a quid pro quo — something Trump himself has denied. The president's top aide argued that the administration held up the money so that the Ukrainian government would comply with an ongoing investigation into the 2016 elections and that it "had absolutely nothing to do with the Bidens" or the 2020 race.

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Washington Post - October 17, 2019

Trump has awarded next year’s G-7 summit of world leaders to his Miami-area resort, the White House said

President Trump has awarded the 2020 Group of Seven summit of world leaders to his private company, scheduling the summit for June at his Trump Doral golf resort in Miami, the White House announced Thursday. That decision is without precedent in modern American history: The president used his public office to direct a massive contract to himself.

Trump’s Doral resort — set among office parks near the Miami airport — has been in sharp decline in recent years, according to the Trump Organization’s own records. Its net operating income fell 69 percent from 2015 to 2017; a Trump Organization representative testified last year that the reason was Trump’s damaged brand. Now, the G-7 summit will draw hundreds of diplomats, journalists and security personnel to the resort during one of its slowest months of the year, when Miami is hot and the hotel is often less than 40 percent full. It will also provide a worldwide spotlight for the club.

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Associated Press - October 17, 2019

Pelosi moves on drug prices despite falling-out with Trump

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is plowing ahead with her bill to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices despite a breakdown in relations with her chief bargaining partner on the issue — President Donald Trump. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated the legislation would save Medicare $345 billion over seven years, partly because some seniors would no longer have to skimp on costly medicines, and they'd stay healthier.

A separate estimate from nonpartisan analysts at the Department of Health and Human Services found that households would save $158 billion over 10 years. But the budget office also cautioned that squeezing drugmakers could mean that some new medications — 3% to 5% — won't make it to market. Such trade-offs were front and center Thursday as House committees considered the legislation. The Education and Labor committee voted along party lines to advance the bill, and the Energy and Commerce panel was deliberating.

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CNBC - October 18, 2019

Would Trump quit? One Wall Street firm looks at the potential and its market ramifications

As Donald Trump faces the toughest political test of his presidency, he essentially has two options: Dig in and fight, or walk away before he faces an almost certain impeachment in the House of Representatives. Trump’s instincts, of course, are to fight, and he’s given no indication so far that he’s about to back down as the Democratic leadership builds its case.

The impeachment forces are banking that they can prove Trump made a quid pro quo deal with Ukrainian leaders to withhold aid in exchange for an investigation into Hunter Biden, son of Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden. Despite the unlikelihood that Trump would shrink from the battle, one Wall Street firm has put together a what-if case should he decide to resign before being impeached.

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Newsclips - October 17, 2019

Lead Stories

Dallas Morning News - October 17, 2019

‘Time to cut the head off the snake’: Targeted GOP lawmaker calls for Texas House speaker to resign

One of the Republican lawmakers who was targeted in a meeting between the leader of the Texas House and a conservative activist said Wednesday that Speaker Dennis Bonnen should resign not only from his position at the head of the chamber but also from public office altogether.

“I want him to resign. That’s what he needs to do," Rep. Phil Stephenson of Wharton told The Dallas Morning News. “Time to cut the head off the snake.” Stephenson, who had previously asked for Bonnen’s resignation, repeated his call ahead of the House Republican Caucus’ annual retreat in Austin, which begins Thursday. He said he thought that between 35 and 40 Republicans would ask Bonnen to resign as speaker, and at least five others have already said so publicly. Bonnen did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Washington Post - October 16, 2019

Only once has Gallup seen more support for removing a president. Nixon was gone four days later.

When President Trump’s 2020 campaign claims that Democrats have always wanted to see Trump impeached, it’s not entirely incorrect. While the Democratic Party’s establishment has only relatively recently embraced the idea of impeaching Trump, Democrats broadly — that is, voters — have long approved of the idea.

Polling from Monmouth University that we covered earlier this month makes that clear. Support for impeaching Trump has been steady since Monmouth started asking about it (shortly after the appointment of former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III), powered by support from Democrats. It has moved in parallel, in fact, with support for the president himself, measured as job approval. That, of course, is powered by support from Republicans.

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San Antonio Express-News - October 16, 2019

Gilbert Garcia: Gutierrez-Rodriguez match likely in Senate District 19

Ali v. Frazier. Lakers v. Celtics. Gutierrez v. Rodriguez. The great rivalries never die. They just build resonance over time. In San Antonio politics, there is no rivalry like a South Side rivalry, where the grudges are long, the tempers are short, and the action eventually starts to include a complex web of surrogate candidates.

Fifteen years ago, a young lawyer named Roland Gutierrez battled it out with a former CPS Energy lineman named Sergio “Chico” Rodriguez in the Democratic primary for Precinct 1 county commissioner. Rodriguez edged out Gutierrez for a spot in the runoff and ended up unseating incumbent Bobby Tejeda. A year later, Gutierrez won a spot on the City Council and gave that seat up in 2008 to launch what proved to be a successful bid for state representative. Jennifer Ramos, Gutierrez’s council aide, won the appointment to succeed him. In 2012, Ramos left the council to take on Chico Rodriguez for county commissioner. She lost that race. In the coming weeks, we will see yet another manifestation of the Gutierrez v. Rodriguez saga.

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Washington Post - October 17, 2019

McConnell tells Senate Republicans to be ready for impeachment trial of Trump

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Republican senators Wednesday to be ready for an impeachment trial of President Trump as soon as Thanksgiving, as the Senate began to brace for a political maelstrom that would engulf the nation. An air of inevitability has taken hold in Congress, with the expectation Trump will become the third president in history to be impeached — and Republicans believe they need to prepare to defend the president.

While McConnell briefed senators on what would happen during a Senate trial, House GOP leaders convened what they expect will be regular impeachment strategy sessions. In their closed-door weekly luncheon, McConnell gave a PowerPoint presentation about the impeachment process and fielded questions alongside his staff and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who was a manager for the 1998 impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

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State Stories

Houston Chronicle - October 17, 2019

Houston Republican Kathaleen Wall launches second self-funded bid for Congress

It’s a new year and a new congressional district, but Republican Kathaleen Wall is starting her latest campaign for Congress in the Houston area much like her last one — by making it clear she isn’t afraid to spend her own money.

Wall put $600,000 into her campaign for the 22nd Congressional District, giving her a big financial advantage over 9 other Republicans who are vying to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Pete Olson, R-Sugar Land. The 22nd District includes most of Fort Bend County, part of Brazoria County and southeastern sections of Harris County. No other announced candidate in the race among the Republicans has raised more than $220,000. The second-biggest fundraiser so far is Brazoria County court-at-law judge Greg Hill, who reported raising about $217,000, including a $40,000 personal loan he gave to his campaign.

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Houston Chronicle - October 17, 2019

Kinder Morgan begins construction on controversial Hill Country pipeline

Houston pipeline operator Kinder Morgan has started construction on a controversial natural gas pipeline that would run through areas of the Texas Hill Country that opponents say are environmentally sensitive and home to eight threatened or endangered species.

During a call with investors Wednesday, Kinder Morgan CEO Steve Kean said the company has acquired 85 percent of the right-of-way needed for the $2 billion Permian Highway Pipeline, which was designed to move 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from the Permian Basin to the Katy Hub near Houston. Although the project still needs permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on the eastern end of its 430-miler route, Kean said construction for the 42-inch pipeline has already started on the western end. Kean said obtaining regulatory approvals has slowed the project a bit, pushing back the expected completion to early 2021, from the end of 2020.

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Houston Chronicle - October 16, 2019

What Rick Perry was doing in Ukraine

Robert Bensh, a Houston energy investor, spent the past two decades developing a small oil and gas business in Ukraine, operating there in relative obscurity. Then early this year, Bensh got a call asking him to drive to George Bush Intercontinental Airport for a short meeting with Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who was looking for an independent assessment of the former Soviet state’s energy sector.

“We met at the airport, when he was on his way back from Austin or Round Top,” Bensh said, referring to the small Texas town where Perry owns a home. “I told him you have a brand new government that’s open to reform and outside investment. The United States should be at the forefront to help Ukraine improve its energy security.” Long before the revelation that President Donald Trump asked Ukraine’s newly elected president to investigate whether the Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden helped kill an investigation into his son’s work for a small, Ukrainian natural gas company, Perry was becoming increasingly engaged in a country viewed by U.S. foreign policy officials as critical to countering Russian influence in Europe.

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Houston Chronicle - October 16, 2019

Medicinal cannabis prescriptions rise 65 percent as Texas expands program

Texas doctors have prescribed medicinal cannabis to almost 1,000 patients, a 65-percent jump since the end of last year, according to newly released numbers from the Department of Public Safety, which oversees the Texas therapeutic marijuana program.

The growth comes as the state recently opened the program to cover a host of new patients with ailments including terminal cancer and autism. Previously, only those with uncontrollable epileptic seizures could get access to cannabidiol that is low in THC, the element that gives people a high. “I'm glad to see more patients accessing cannabis through the compassionate use program, even though our numbers still pale in comparison to other states that allow more comprehensive access,” said Heather Fazio, Executive Director of the Texas Marijuana Policy Project.

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Houston Chronicle - October 17, 2019

Army Corps’ proposal for sand dunes to protect Texas coast brings questions about cost, feasibility

Nearly a decade before the “Ike Dike” became accepted jargon for coastal residents of southeast Texas, there were geotubes. Installed on the beaches of Galveston and Bolivar Peninsula in 2001, geotubes — nicknamed “sand socks” — were sediment-filled oval sleeves made of a special fabric, anchored to an apron placed in a trench along the dune line.

Their intent was to provide an artificial dune structure to guard coastal residents from floodwaters. The installation cost $5.4 million, a relative pittance for a flood mitigation measure. The geotubes were damaged by various storms, and Hurricane Ike delivered the death blow in 2008. The Category 2 hurricane brought 100 mph winds and a 17-foot storm surge from the Gulf of Mexico, leveling the dune lines on Bolivar and Galveston and leaving the exposed geotubes prone on the sand like beached whales. Ike showed, said Rice University professor emeritus John Anderson, that “one storm could defeat all our progress.”

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Dallas Morning News - October 16, 2019

Sharon Grigsby: Dreading the anger as Trump and Beto rally supporters in Dallas area? This SMU prof can help

I don’t know about you, but the sorry state of what passes for debate these days — hair-trigger anger and social media carpet-bombing — beats me into believing that thoughtful discussion about life’s toughest stuff is dead and gone. Too often, I wind up feeling timid, tentative or just plain tired-head around hot-button issues. That’s why I went back to college last week to look into what I had heard were powerful efforts by one professor and her students to revive civil discourse. I didn’t find a magic potion for what ails society, but I did come back with better ideas on how to reengage.

The timing couldn’t have been better, given the hotbed of political emotions brewing here this week with President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke both in the Dallas area Thursday for election rallies. Professor Jill DeTemple, in the religious studies department of SMU’s Dedman College, has developed a discussion tool, dubbed reflective structured dialogue, that she is using in her own classrooms and sharing with professors here and across the nation. The idea is to take topics that drive people apart — gun rights, abortion, the death penalty, the existence of God — and reframe the conversation around personal experiences. Lots of weighty research underpins the technique, but at its core is curiosity about another person’s life and values.

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Dallas Morning News - October 16, 2019

Dallas Morning News Editorial: Dennis Bonnen and Michael Quinn Sullivan’s ugly plan to disempower Texans

We’ve been around long enough to know that politics is ugly business and that the politician who kisses your baby today can turn out to be the same politician who will stab you in the back tomorrow. But if we aren’t naive, we aren’t jaded either. So to see what House Speaker Dennis Bonnen tried to pull off with the blogger and two-bit provocateur Michael Quinn Sullivan engaged even our gag reflex.

This has been a nasty business from the start, with Sullivan and Bonnen (along with former GOP caucus leader Dustin Burrows) deep in the muck with one another, emerging to point fingers about who came out dirtier. How about this? You all look like you are covered in mud from where we’re standing. And what you tried to do together was to undermine the electorate for your own short-sighted power grab. Sullivan released the secret recording he made of his June meeting with Bonnen and Burrows Tuesday on Chris Salcedo’s radio show. Sullivan is the sort of political ally who records meetings with his friends and then releases the audio, in case you needed to understand something about his character. Not the sort of person you want to do business with.

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Dallas Morning News - October 17, 2019

Beto O’Rourke-Pete Buttigieg flare-up over mandatory buybacks of AR-15s is latest in ongoing rivalry

No, Beto O’Rourke wouldn’t send armed federal agents “door to door” confiscating assault weapons. His “mandatory buyback” relies on voluntary compliance, with fines or other punishment awaiting lawbreakers after the ban takes effect.

But with at least 10 million AR-15s and AK-47s in private hands, the proposal has stirred controversy. And at the Democrats’ latest presidential debate, it served as fodder for one of the more testy interactions — the latest skirmish in a festering rivalry between the Texan and Pete Buttigieg. The former El Paso congressman insinuated that his rival, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., was too timid to defy public opinion and do the right thing on guns. He refrained during the debate from applying the term “weatherman” — someone who puts his finger in the wind — but it didn’t take long afterward for him to dust off the epithet he’d used many times before.

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Dallas Morning News - October 17, 2019

Trump administration: Academy Sports liable for selling gun to Sutherland Springs shooter

The federal government says a Texas-based sporting goods retailer is responsible in part for the 2017 mass shooting at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs. Several local families are suing the U.S. Department of Justice, claiming the federal government’s negligence allowed shooter Devin P. Kelley to purchase the firearm used in the massacre.

Now, Trump administration lawyers are trying to shift some of the attention onto Academy Sports + Outdoors, writing in a motion filed Tuesday that the retailer is liable for the massacre because the shooter purchased his gun and high-capacity magazine at one of its stores. Kelley showed a Colorado license but carried out the purchase in Texas. High-capacity magazines are illegal in Colorado. “The Federal Gun Control Act required Academy to comply with the laws of both Texas, the seller’s state, and Colorado, the buyer’s apparent state of residence," Paul David Stern, a Justice Department attorney, wrote. “Academy was not permitted to sell Kelley the Model 8500 Ruger AR-556 under federal law because sale of that rifle would have been illegal in Colorado.”

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San Antonio Express-News - October 17, 2019

San Antonio, Bexar County officials fire back at House Speaker Bonnen over secret recording

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said disparaging remarks made by the Texas House’s top leader about cities and counties weren’t anything new, but what was surprising was how plainly he showed his animosity. “Now the truth finally comes out,” Wolff said. “They were determined to … do everything they can to damage local government. And they did a pretty good job about it.”

The remarks came in a recording made secretly during a June meeting between Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, state Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, and prominent conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan. Bonnen is heard to say he went into this year’s legislative session with the intent of making it “the worst session in the history of the Legislature for cities and counties.” And, by session’s end, state legislators had enacted a law that limits how much more in property taxes cities and counties can collect without asking voters — a substantial blow to local governments, who vehemently opposed the measure. Texas lawmakers also cut fees that telecommunication companies paid cities. For San Antonio, that resulted in a $7.3 million budget loss.

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San Antonio Express-News - October 17, 2019

Pipeline operator asking Texas regulator to rethink flaring decision

A first-of-its-kind dispute over whether an oil producer can burn off natural gas — even though a pipeline is available to transport the substance — is headed back to state regulators. The Texas Railroad Commission, the state’s oil and gas regulator, voted 2-1 on Aug. 8 to allow Exco Resources of Dallas to flare the natural gas, a byproduct of its oil production, at 69 locations in Dimmit and Zavala counties.

Pipeline operator Williams Cos. is seeking a rehearing of the matter at the commission’s meeting Oct. 23. Flaring, the controversial practice of controlled burning of natural gas, releases pollutants into the atmosphere. In the first case of its kind, Tulsa, Okla.-based Williams contested Exco’s flaring permit, arguing there was no need to flare the gas because Exco could use Williams’ gathering system in the area. The commission routinely approves thousands of uncontested flaring permits a year, largely based on the absence of pipeline systems to transport the natural gas, said Harry Sullivan, Jr. an attorney who teaches oil and gas law at Texas A&M School of Law in Fort Worth.

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San Antonio Express-News - October 16, 2019

In San Antonio, Trump Jr. mocks Democratic debates: ‘Reasonable people are seeing crazy’

In downtown San Antonio on Tuesday, Donald Trump Jr. attacked the Democratic presidential contenders hours before their debate while avoiding thorny topics for his father, including the ongoing fighting in Syria. He ridiculed former Vice President Joe Biden over his son’s business dealings in Ukraine and mocked U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren's claims of Native American heritage, saying his father “trolled her” into taking a DNA test.

“Please play the debates again and again and again because reasonable people are seeing crazy,” he told a crowd of roughly 600 people packed into a conference room at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. "I mean the amount of new genders multiplies by 50-fold every day. I can’t keep track. Neither can they.” Trump Jr.’s visit to San Antonio comes two days before the president is scheduled to hold a campaign rally in Dallas — in what will be Trump’s 12th visit to Texas since taking office in 2017.

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San Antonio Express-News - October 16, 2019

Texas AG: San Antonio can keep scooter proposals secret

As expected, the Texas Attorney General’s Office has ruled against the efforts of three news organizations to use the state’s open records law to obtain proposals submitted by nine electric scooter companies seeking two-year contracts with San Antonio.

The applications in response to the city’s request for proposals, or RFP, contain minutely-detailed business profiles of the scooter companies -- some more than 100 pages. They took months to prepare and answer a host of questions from the city on everything from staffing, insurance and user agreements to where the firms would deploy their vehicles. San Antonio plans to award three contracts sometime this fall to reduce the number of scooter companies now operating under a temporary set of rules, allowing each of the winners to rent up to 1,666 so-called dockless vehicles.

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D Magazine - October 16, 2019

What can Texas cities do when state legislators admit to hating them?

Buried near the 40-minute mark of the surreptitious recording of House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and the far-right Empower Texans head Michael Q. Sullivan was a brief exchange that spelled out the antipathy many in the state Legislature feel toward Texas’ cities: “In this office, in the conference room at that end, any mayor or county judge who’s dumbass enough to come meet with me, I told them with great clarity, my goal is for this to be the worst session in the history of the legislature for cities and counties.”

The quote made it around certain Twitter circles yesterday morning. The plain language explained what plenty of bills have done in recent legislative sessions: kneecap urban areas from passing policy the Lege doesn’t want. Last year came reform bills that capped the rate at which cities can raise property taxes. The Lege banned red light cameras. It blocked cities from charging private telecommunication companies for using public right of way, particularly concerning when you think of all the impending 5G infrastructure. Houston estimates that not charging telecom companies for right of way will cost it $27 million per year. Taken altogether, the bills passed by the Lege will create a $44 million annual shortfall for the city of Dallas by 2023, according to a budget forecast.

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NBC 5 - October 16, 2019

Granger to face primary challenge from former Colleyville Council Member

A former Colleyville City Council member is challenging 12-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Kay Granger (R-Fort Worth) for the Republican nomination in Texas' 12th U.S. congressional district. Chris Putnam said he has already raised $500,000 in the first week of his campaign.

"I think that is clear evidence that there is a big appetite out there to do something different at this point," Putnam said. Putnam spent 30 years in the technology business and served one term on the Colleyville City Council. He said he thought the district needed a more conservative Republican. Granger has raised more than $751,000 this year and has more than $362,000 cash on hand, according to her campaign. Monday, she released a statement on the race.

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KUT - October 16, 2019

Two Austin Republican Congressmen break with Trump on Syria withdrawal

The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Wednesday – 354 to 60 – to oppose the Trump administration’s withdrawal of American soldiers from northern Syria. Less than half of Austin’s Republican delegation stood with the president.

Five Republican members of Congress have districts that include part of Austin. Reps. Michael McCaul and Bill Flores, who’s retiring when his term expires, joined all 225 Democrats present, including Austin Democrat Rep. Lloyd Doggett, to vote in support of the resolution. McCaul was one of two cosponsors of the legislation.

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Queerty - October 16, 2019

Texas GOP Speaker of the House under fire for homophobic insult in leaked audio

Texas Republican House Speaker Dennis Bonnen has come under fire for a leaked recording in which he referred to a married Democratic representative as “gay,” and offered to sell media accreditation to a lobbyist firm.

In the recording, Bonnen requests gossip from a lobbyist about other members of the Texas legislature. Of Democratic Rep. Jon Rosenthal, Bonnen said Rosenthal’s wife was “gonna be really pissed when she learns he’s gay.” Bonnen also refers to colleagues as “a piece of sh*t” and “vile.” In an ironic twist, conservative radio host Michael Quinn Sullivan made the recording and released it to his website. Sullivan also works as CEO of Empower Texans, a petroleum lobbying group that donated $4.7 million to far-right candidates in 2018. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Bonnen can also be heard begging Sullivan to keep the conversation private.

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Texas Observer - October 16, 2019

Michael Quinn Sullivan’s recorded conversation with Speaker Bonnen exposes the Texas GOP for what it’s always been

In June, Empower Texans leader Michael Quinn Sullivan revealed that he had secretly recorded a meeting with House Speaker Dennis Bonnen during which, the right-wing hardliner alleged, the speaker presented him with a quid pro quo proposition: the Speaker would provide press passes to MQS’s staff in exchange for MQS directing the political spending of his PAC, Empower Texans, toward certain Republican targets. Since first mention of the tape, its specific contents have been an obsession of all who closely follow Texas politics.

The recording depicts a more than hour-long meeting between MQS, Bonnen, and House Republican Caucus Chair Dustin Burrows in the Speaker’s office in June, shortly after the 2019 legislative session ended. The tape, an incredibly rare glimpse behind the curtain of power, illustrates—to almost farcical degrees—the cynicism, vindictiveness, and ugliness that sits at the heart of the Texas GOP’s political project. The group’s conversation also articulates the enemy that animates the politics of Texas’s political majority: an obsessive hatred of liberals and local governments—which to them are one and the same.

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City Stories

Houston Chronicle - October 16, 2019

Lovell, council alum and GLBT organizer, fights for viability in Houston mayor’s race

Sue Lovell says Mayor Sylvester Turner got her fired by her largest consulting client, but that is not why she is running against him. “I always wanted to run for mayor,” the former three-term at-large councilwoman said. Lovell said she nearly ran in 2015, after then-mayor Annise Parker left office, but ultimately decided to pass.

This time around, she made the jump, saying she brings more credible experience at City Hall than any other candidate in the race. During her six years on council, Lovell, 69, burnished a reputation as a candid and well-versed presence at City Hall, with a knack for gritty details and the bare knuckles to hold her own in a political fight. She forged those skills as an early and formative organizer with the Houston GLBT Political Caucus.

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National Stories

New York Times - October 17, 2019

Elijah E. Cummings, powerful Democrat who investigated Trump, dies at 68

Representative Elijah E. Cummings, a son of sharecroppers who rose to become one of the most powerful Democrats in Congress and a key figure in the impeachment investigation of President Trump, died on Thursday in Baltimore, his spokeswoman said. He was 68. His death resulted from “complications concerning longstanding health challenges,” the spokeswoman, Trudy Perkins, said in a statement, without elaborating on the cause.

As chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Mr. Cummings, of Maryland, had sweeping power to investigate Mr. Trump and his administration — and he used it. A critical ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Mr. Cummings spent his final months in Congress sparring with the president, calling Mr. Trump’s effort to block congressional lines of inquiry “far worse than Watergate.” He was sued by Mr. Trump as the president tried to keep his business records secret.

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Dallas Morning News - October 16, 2019

How the Supreme Court’s review of a Louisiana abortion case could revive an overturned Texas law

Texas abortion supporters and opponents are awaiting a U.S. Supreme Court decision that could have ripple effects on women's access to the procedure nationwide. The high court agreed this month to review a Louisiana law enacted in 2014 that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within a 30-mile radius.

It’s the same requirement the court struck down in 2016, the landmark Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt decision that overturned a 2013 Texas law. The 5-3 ruling set a new legal standard requiring courts to weigh the benefits of abortion restrictions against the burden they impose on women. The Louisiana case will be the first to test abortion rights since President Donald Trump appointed two conservative justices to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

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Market Watch - October 15, 2019

Trump in a landslide? This historically accurate model predicts exactly that

President Donald Trump has a love/hate relationship with polls, surveys and predictions. He loves the ones that paint him in a positive light, and, of course, he hates all those “fake” ones that don’t. He’s going to absolutely adore this one.

According to Moody’s Analytics, Trump is headed toward another four years in the White House. And, if the numbers are right, it won’t even be close. In fact, his Electoral College victory could very well be wider than the 304-227 margin he enjoyed over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. Since 1980, Moody’s has managed to nail the outcome every time but once — like many, it didn’t see Trump coming. “In our post-mortem of the 2016 presidential election model,” the report said, “we determined that unexpected turnout patterns were one of the factors that contributed to the model’s first incorrect election prediction.”

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KUT - October 17, 2019

Census Bureau asks states for driver's license records to produce citizenship data

The Census Bureau is asking states to voluntarily share driver's license records as part of the Trump administration's efforts to produce detailed data about the U.S. citizenship status of every person living in the country. According to a statement the bureau released Tuesday, the requests are in response to an executive order President Trump issued in July after courts blocked his administration from adding a citizenship question to 2020 census forms.

That order essentially repackages a 2018 directive from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the bureau and has ordered the compiling of records from other federal agencies and state governments. "When the Census Bureau receives the records, they are stripped of all personal identifiable information and are used for statistical purposes only," the bureau said in its statement. Last month, the president of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, Anne Ferro, sent an email to the group's members to inform them that the bureau wants monthly data about more than just citizenship information. It has also requested information about a license or identification card holder's name, address, date of birth, sex, race and eye color.

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Reuters - October 17, 2019

When it comes to U.S. national security, what's candidate Warren's plan?

Elizabeth Warren has jumped to the front of the race to take on Donald Trump in 2020 by promising far-reaching domestic reforms that highlight the Democratic senator’s wide differences with the Republican president.

When it comes to foreign policy and national security, however, Warren sounds a bit like Trump. At a debate in Ohio on Tuesday night, the Massachusetts senator joined other Democratic presidential candidates in criticizing Trump’s pullout of U.S. troops from northern Syria, but also said she thought the United States “ought to get out of the Middle East.” Warren was voicing a long-held skepticism about U.S. military intervention, in which she has vowed to reduce defense spending and withdraw troops from Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, a position that on the surface seems to echo Trump’s “America First” approach to the world.

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NPR - October 16, 2019

How will reported '$34 trillion' price tag affect the politics of 'Medicare For All'?

In meeting halls, rallies and living rooms across America, "Medicare for all" is an applause line. It is a cornerstone of Senator Sanders’ campaign and one of Senator Warren’s best known plans. Earlier this week, the Urban Institute, a center-left think tank, released a report finding that "Medicare for all" would increase federal spending over the next decade by $34 trillion. These new numbers offer the first reality check on the rhetoric that has dominated the Democratic debate over health reform. The question is how much of a difference a few numbers will make.

"When policy debates are just about my opinion versus your opinion or my wish versus your wish, they often get derailed," said Robert Reischauer, former director of the Congressional Budget Office and president emeritus at the Urban Institute. "When you have, information, numbers, a range of impacts presented on a piece of paper before you. The debate becomes real." Reischauer is right. One way or another, Democrats will have to reckon with this paper—if only because it is the first of the 2020 race to put an actual price tag on these plans. The magnitude of the cost of "Medicare for all"—$34 trillion over 10 years—likely strengthens the case candidates like former Vice President Joe Biden and Mayor Pete Buttigieg are making that the country needs an alternative.

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Washington Post - October 17, 2019

Brexit deal has been reached say E.U. and U.K. leaders

European and British negotiators struck a deal Thursday to split Britain from the European Union, raising the prospect that the country could be out of the bloc by the end of October. Negotiators working through the night in Brussels agreed on the draft Thursday morning after Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed on despite lingering questions about the warring factions in London. The agreement will still need approval by European leaders and the British Parliament.

“We’ve got a great new deal that takes back control — now Parliament should get Brexit done on Saturday so we can move on to other priorities like the cost of living, the NHS, violent crime and our environment,” Johnson tweeted, referring to the National Health Service. British lawmakers passed a law requiring Johnson to ask to delay Brexit past the Oct. 31 deadline if a deal to ease the exit isn’t in place by Saturday.

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Newsclips - October 16, 2019

Lead Stories

Wall Street Journal - October 15, 2019

Former Rep. Pete Sessions of Dallas subpoenaed for records related to Giuliani Ukraine investigation

A grand jury has issued a subpoena related to Manhattan federal prosecutors’ investigation into Rudy Giuliani, seeking documents from former Rep. Pete Sessions about his dealings with President Trump’s personal lawyer and associates, according to people familiar with the matter.

The subpoena seeks documents related to Mr. Giuliani’s business dealings with Ukraine and his involvement in efforts to oust the U.S. ambassador in Kyiv, as well as any interactions between Mr. Sessions, Mr. Giuliani and four men who were indicted last week on campaign-finance and conspiracy accounts, the people said. Mr. Sessions’ knowledge of Mr. Giuliani’s dealings is a primary focus of the subpoena, the people said. Mr. Giuliani has denied wrongdoing and said he has had no indication his actions are being investigated by prosecutors.

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San Antonio Express-News - October 15, 2019

Has the peak of the shale revolution come and gone?

The shale revolution transformed the United States into the world’s biggest producer of oil and natural gas in a little more than a decade. But now the industry is facing the prospect that the shale boom has peaked and the best days are behind it as drilling activity declines, jobs dwindle, and many of the prime oil-producing spots are depleted.

Shale’s future is still a matter of debate, but there’s little doubt the energy sector has suffered through a weak 2019 with a more challenging 2020 on the horizon amid middling oil prices, abundant supplies, rising bankruptcies, growing climate change concerns and historically low Wall Street sentiment. The trends are dire enough that energy analysts at the New York investment research firm Evercore ISI this month declared, “The oil ‘shale revolution’ is over. Finally.”

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Texas Monthly - October 15, 2019

Chris Hooks: The Bonnen tape Is tawdry, shocking, and kinda funny

In July, when right-wing ringleader Michael Quinn Sullivan accused House Speaker Dennis Bonnen of essentially trying to bribe him to secure his help in ousting members of the GOP, it was a profound shock to the Texas political community. The revelation soon after that Sullivan had secretly taped the meeting was another shock. Since then, observers have had time to come to grips with the details of the harebrained scheme launched by Bonnen and his second in command, Dustin Burrows.

Here’s the thing: If you don’t know who the Fredo Corleone in the room is, it’s you. If there’s only Fredos in the room, you should leave. None of these guys come off well, but there’s a messy exchange near the middle of the recording that captures each person’s blissful lack of self-awareness. After Bonnen has offered his “deal,” conversation turns to Sullivan’s heated criticism of the House during the last legislative session. Bonnen unloads. “You’re missing my point. There has been a ton of criticism of the House—hold on—and of me,” Bonnen complains. The Senate, he adds, has not gotten its fair share of criticism.

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Associated Press - October 15, 2019

Democrats weigh formal impeachment vote as probe quickens

House Democrats are gauging support for a vote to formally authorize the impeachment inquiry as another official testified Tuesday in the deepening probe of President Donald Trump’s efforts to have Ukraine investigate Joe Biden.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to meet privately with Democratic lawmakers later Tuesday to survey attitudes about a possible vote, according to people granted anonymity to discuss the planning. She told reporters she’d have more to say “later,” after the evening meeting with House colleagues. Trump, who calls the impeachment inquiry an “illegitimate process,” has pressured Pelosi to take a formal vote.

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State Stories

Houston Chronicle - October 15, 2019

Houston-area Democrats upset by Bonnen recording. Republicans say they haven’t listened.

Houston-area Democratic elected officials were quick to condemn Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen’s secretly recorded comments that he wished the 2019 legislative session to be “the worst” for cities and counties. The remarks, made by Bonnen in a June meeting with Empower Texans CEO Michael Quinn Sullivan, play directly into the hands of Democratic leaders, who repeatedly have accused the Republican-controlled Legislature of promoting policies that harm local governments.

“This is an outrageous, yet unsurprising betrayal of Texas families that are caught in the crosshairs of state leadership’s relentless attacks on local control that, as Speaker Bonnen’s comments make clear, are done to score political points,” said Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis, a Democrat. Local Republicans mostly declined to comment or said they had yet to listen to the recording, which was released Tuesday.

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Houston Chronicle - October 15, 2019

What they’re saying at the Texas Capitol about the recording of Speaker Bonnen

Here’s what people around the Texas Capitol are saying about the secret recording of House Speaker Dennis Bonnen that was released this morning: While the Texas Rangers investigate his conduct, Bonnen issued a statement Tuesday saying he’d “repeatedly called” for the recording to be released because it would be “immediately clear that no laws were broken.”

Texas House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner was nowhere near ready to move on. “Sadly, this recording confirms Speaker Bonnen has clearly betrayed the trust of many members of the House, which is the most important commodity for any speaker to safeguard.,” Turner said in a statement. “Speaking only for myself, I personally believe these revelations are incompatible with Mr. Bonnen serving another term as Speaker.”

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Houston Chronicle - October 16, 2019

Report: Elizabeth Warren’s #MeToo experience at UH

Before she became a presidential candidate, Elizabeth Warren was a law professor at the University of Houston — and the target of sexual harassment, according to a new report.

An Oct. 15 Washington Post story details the experience, first told by Warren at the 1997 funeral of the harasser, long-time UH law professor Gene Smith, who’d specifically requested she speak. What she said inside the small campus chapel, reported the Post, “stunned her former colleagues.” “With a smile on her face and humor in her voice, Warren described how Smith had invited her to his office one day just a few months after she had been hired,” the Post recounts. “He shut the door and lunged for her, she said, and as she protested, he chased her around his desk before she was able to escape out the door.”

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Houston Chronicle - October 15, 2019

Study linking fracking to Permian Basin earthquakes stirs public debate

A new study from the University of Texas at Austin blames hydraulic fracturing for causing some earthquakes in the Permian Basin of West Texas, dispelling the widely held view that oilfield wastewater disposals wells were solely responsible for the man-made tremors.

In a study released Tuesday afternoon, scientists with the TexNet Seismic Monitoring Program at UT Austin reported that some earthquakes in Reeves, Pecos and Culberson counties may have been caused by fracking, the process of pumping water, sand and chemicals at high pressures deep underground to crack shale rock and unlock and oil natural gas. Previous studies had blamed the earthquakes in oil-producing regions across on disposal wells, into which wastewater from drilling, hydraulic fracturing and production activities is injected.

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Houston Chronicle - October 15, 2019

Former Texas prison major pleads guilty in evidence-planting scheme

A former Texas prison major will face four years of probation after he pleaded guilty this week to a felony tampering charge for conspiring to plant screwdrivers in an inmate's cell last year at a Brazoria County lock-up. Juan Jackson was one of four Ramsey Unit prison officials indicted in July 2018 in connection with an evidence-planting scheme that came to light on the heels of an investigation into a disciplinary quota system at the Rosharon lock-up.

Prison officials did not offer comment Tuesday on Jackson’s plea. One of the other officers - former sergeant Marcus Gallegos - already pleaded guilty and late last year agreed to the same deferred adjudication deal. As long as the men comply with the conditions of their supervision, pay a $1,500 fine, abide by curfew rules and do 120 hours of community service, they won’t face any time behind bars and will have their records wiped clean. If the men fail probation, they could face up to 10 years in prison, she said.

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Houston Chronicle - October 15, 2019

Houston State Sen. Borris Miles received kidney transplant over weekend

State Sen. Borris Miles, a Houston Democrat, announced on Tuesday that he received a kidney transplant over the weekend.

Miles is canceling two planned events this month in Austin and Houston while he recovers, but said in the statement that his offices will remain open. His recovery is expected to take between four and six weeks, a spokesman said. “While my family and I are incredibly excited, I know that my recovery will cause my absence in the community but my staff will be right there continuing the work,” Miles said in the statement.

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Dallas Morning News - October 15, 2019

Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez raises $459,000 in third quarter for Democratic Senate campaign

Democratic Party Senate hopeful Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez raised over $459,000 in two months for her campaign, signaling that she’s a viable candidate against her intraparty rivals and incumbent Republican John Cornyn. Tzintzún Ramirez, an activist and political organizer, raised over $459,000 in the third quarter and $500,000 in total. She has $225,489 in the bank.

“Our campaign is building a movement to create a government that represents all of us,” Tzintzún Ramirez said. “That’s why I’m proud my campaign for the U.S. Senate is funded by the people, not corporations and their PACs.” Tzintzún Ramirez, a first-time candidate, says when she got into the race in August, she set a goal of raising $400,000. According to a news release, actor Alec Baldwin will headline a fundraiser on her behalf in New York. Tzintzún Ramirez, of Austin, is in a Democratic primary for Senate that includes former Air Force helicopter pilot MJ Hegar, state Sen. Royce West, Houston council member Amanda Edwards and former U.S. Rep. Chris Bell.

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Dallas Morning News - October 15, 2019

Six takeaways from the secret audio of Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and Michael Quinn Sullivan

Since news of the meeting broke, the biggest question has been whether Bonnen and Burrows gave Sullivan a list of GOP targets. Bonnen repeatedly mentions fellow Republicans he’d like to see ousted from the Texas House. A few times, he hints that Burrows can provide names. About 45 minutes into the conversation, Bonnen left the room. That’s when Burrows rattled off the names of Republicans who voted against legislation to ban cities and counties from using taxpayer money to lobby lawmakers — the top priority in 2021, he said.

Both Burrows and Bonnen repeatedly said their ultimate goal is to ensure the Texas House remains in Republicans’ control. “I’m trying to win in 2020,” Bonnen said. “Let’s not spend millions of dollars fighting in primaries, when we need to spend millions of dollars trying to win in November.” At one point, Sullivan told Bonnen that he doesn’t enjoy getting involved in primaries, to which Bonnen offered his ideal scenario. “Well, let’s not touch any of them,” he said. Bonnen’s opponents have cast the conversation as a potential abuse of power because of the allegation of a “quid pro quo.” He has insisted he’s broken no laws.

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Dallas Morning News - October 15, 2019

Dallas Baptist University campus cleared after threat of bomb, armed attack leads to evacuation

Dallas Baptist University was evacuated Tuesday and remained on lockdown for more than four hours after a threat was called in to campus police.

John Shaw, the university’s chief of police, said Dallas police’s SWAT team and the FBI were notified about the “bomb and coordinated armed threat" to the campus, in the Mountain Creek area of southwest Dallas, about 1 p.m. Live helicopter video from KXAS-TV (NBC5) showed the heavy police presence at the campus. The university tweeted that anyone on campus needed to evacuate after the school received “a threat against our campus.” That decision was made out of “an abundance of caution,” Shaw said.

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Dallas Morning News - October 15, 2019

Why Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen’s troubles could be just beginning

Can Speaker Dennis Bonnen survive? The audio is out. The dirty linen is piled high. If you want an unusual glimpse of realpolitik, check it out. Consider, though, using disposable latex gloves. It’s tawdry. On Tuesday, Bonnen rushed to proclaim the Capitol conversation he and sidekick Rep. Dustin Burrows had with conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan amounted to “nothing more than a political discussion.”

“No laws were broken,” Bonnen said in a written statement. “The House can finally move on,” he proclaimed. But can it? Bonnen, a 12-term Republican from Angleton, may not face any criminal exposure. Still, there are unwritten laws by which the Texas Legislature operates. One is that lawmakers must be able to take their leader’s word to the bank. It’s how they can know what to tell constituents about a bill’s prospects, how to allocate their energies in a 140-day session every two years.

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Waco Tribune-Herald - October 15, 2019

Local leaders react to House Speaker Bonnen's comments on hating cities, counties

McLennan County Judge Scott Felton said Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen’s goal to have the 2019 legislative session be the worst in history for cities and counties came true, after a secret recording of Bonnen’s conversation with a conservative activist was released Tuesday.

Felton said Bonnen got his way but that he would continue to work for the taxpayers who elected him. “I’m going to keep my dumba-- working for the taxpayers of McLennan County,” he said. “We’ve got the ability to do as well in any county, even though we’re a bunch of dumba--es.” Felton said one piece of legislation that hurt cities and counties this session was the 3.5% revenue cap placed on many cities, counties and other taxing entities. He said it is a major change to the way local governments operate and has left many of these entities unsure of how their budgets will work when the law takes effect next year.

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram - October 15, 2019

Murder warrant for ex-officer says victim was holding gun, but that’s legal in Texas

The murder arrest warrant for a white officer who shot and killed a black woman on Saturday says that the victim was holding a gun after she heard noises outside her window. But holding a gun inside your home is not illegal in Texas, and the former police officer who shot her was arrested on Monday.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said on Monday that the gun was irrelevant to the investigation. In Texas, homeowners have a right to be armed on their own property, Price said. A witness, the woman’s 8-year-old nephew, told a forensic interviewer that after Atatiana Jefferson heard noises outside their home and thought there might be a prowler in the back yard, she reached into her purse, grabbed a handgun and pointed it toward the window, the warrant said.

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Kilgore News Herald - October 15, 2019

Clardy responds to released recording: “It is political corruption, and it must be treated as such.”

State Rep. Travis Clardy was fielding back-to-back phone calls Tuesday after the morning’s release of the long-sought recording of a conversation between Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, then-GOP caucus chair Dustin Burrows and Empower Texans’ Michael Quinn Sullivan, who taped the hour-long dialogue.

One of the so-called "X Men" (roman numeral 10) of GOP representatives referenced in the alleged quid pro quo discussion (see reporting from The Texas Tribune), Clardy was described by Burrows as “the ringleader of all opposition” in the midst of one exchange about other members of the GOP.

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Houston Chronicle - October 15, 2019

O’Rourke more aggressive, Castro pointed in what could be their final debate

In what could be their final night on the national debate stage with other presidential contenders, the two Texans in the race for the White House took very different approaches. While former Congressman Beto O’Rourke was more aggressive in trading blows with other Democratic rivals, former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro kept his aim almost entirely on President Donald Trump with some sharp one-liners.

Both O’Rourke and Castro have been in all four presidential debates, but tougher polling restrictions for the November debate in Atlanta have both on the verge of being eliminated from future debates. In November, debate rules will require candidates to register support from at least 3 percent of voters in four national polls recognized by the Democratic National Committee. O’Rourke has just one qualifying poll and Castro has none. With that looming over both, O’Rourke joined with other Democratic candidates in the lower tiers in public polling to challenge Democrat Elizabeth Warren who has been surging in the polls. O’Rourke went after Warren’s approach to tax policy and taxing the rich.

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County Stories

Houston Chronicle - October 15, 2019

Attorney for slain couple accuses Houston officials of not being transparent on botched Harding Street drug raid

Relatives of a woman killed in a botched police raid in January accused Houston city officials in a court filing this week of slow-walking the legal process in order to avoid a deeper investigation and to stymie the family’s efforts to sue.

The move came months after Mike Doyle, an attorney for the family of Rhogena Nicholas, asked a local court for permission to gather information and testimony from police in order to consider the possibility of a civil lawsuit. “It’s become increasingly apparent that the city is interested in doing everything they can to suppress any investigation instead of offering the transparency they promised the family and the public at the beginning,” Doyle said. “It’s pretty clear that it’s all aimed at not letting anything come out to the family or the public.”

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Dallas Morning News - October 15, 2019

To reform its bail system, Dallas County set to iron out differences between groups of judges

The legal battle over reforming Dallas County’s bail system arrives at a critical juncture this week. All sides are expected to meet Thursday with a mediator in an attempt to hash out an agreement. And they’ll need a big table as representatives from the county commissioners court, two groups of judges, the district attorney and the Texas attorney general, as well as the lawsuit’s plaintiffs will take part.

At issue is whether people facing felony charges should be part of the reforms, and if so, what is the process. If a deal isn’t struck, the case will be argued next month in front of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The debate began in 2018 when six residents sued the county over how Dallas sets bail for individuals arrested. Before the lawsuit, bail was typically set on a fixed schedule based on the alleged crime. A federal judge ruled the cash bail system, which was shrouded in secrecy and did not take into account a person’s ability to pay, was unconstitutional.

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City Stories

Houston Chronicle - October 15, 2019

Iconic downtown Houston office tower renamed TC Energy Center

One of downtown's most recognizable skyscrapers has been renamed. The 56-story postmodern building at 700 Louisiana is now called TC Energy Center after its lead tenant, pipeline, power generation and gas storage company TC Energy Corp.

TC Energy occupies more than 300,000 square feet, roughly 25 percent, of the 1.25 million-square-foot building. The new name was announced Tuesday by building owner M-M Properties and Calgary, Alberta-based TC Energy, with representatives from the leasing team at Madison Marquette and Central Houston on hand.

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Houston Chronicle - October 15, 2019

City inspector general closes inquiry into Turner and airport intern

The city’s Office of Inspector General has closed its inquiry into a complaint Councilman Dwight Boykins had filed regarding a $95,000-a-year Houston Airport System intern whose hiring has become an issue in the mayor’s race.

The news comes weeks after Turner denied to KPRC — which first reported on the internship — that he knew of the intern, Marvin Agumagu, despite once writing a letter of recommendation on Agumagu’s behalf, among other connections. Turner’s opponents have criticized him for his initial denial, as well as the intern’s salary level, while Turner since has admitted he knows Agumagu but argued his pay is “commensurate with his education and experience.”

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Dallas Morning News - October 15, 2019

Dallas council member violated city code with VisitDallas tickets, ethics commission says

Dallas City Council member Casey Thomas violated the city’s ethics code by failing to disclose over $1,600 worth of event tickets he received from VisitDallas, the city’s Ethics Advisory Commission said Tuesday.

Ahead of the commission’s vote, Thomas promised to recuse himself from any votes related to VisitDallas, the city’s tourism bureau, for the remainder of his term. He also said he fixed procedures with his staff to ensure the mistake wouldn’t happen again. “I did not solicit or ask for the concert tickets,” Thomas told the commission in a written statement. “I did not even know the value of the tickets when they were offered to me. ... It was simply an oversight on my part.”

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Associated Press - October 15, 2019

Police chief says it again: No excuse for fatal shooting

Fort Worth's police chief reiterated Tuesday that a white officer's killing of a black woman in her home was inexcusable, as an arrest warrant was released quoting the victim's 8-year-old nephew as saying she pointed a gun at a bedroom window after hearing suspicious noises outside.

Interim Chief Ed Kraus said 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson behaved as any Texas homeowner would do if he or she heard a prowler. Also, the arrest warrant gave no indication that Officer Aaron Dean would have even been able to see the weapon through the glass. Kraus declared there was "absolutely no excuse" for the shooting, which happened while Jefferson was staying up late playing video games with her nephew.

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National Stories

Washington Post - October 16, 2019

High-profile trial over who should pay for the opioid crisis begins Wednesday

The U.S. opioids epidemic has claimed more than 400,000 lives and left millions of people addicted, strained health care, law enforcement and social service systems, cost governments billions, and bankrupted the best-known manufacturer of narcotic painkillers.

Now, 12 ordinary people will decide whether drug companies should be held responsible for the worst drug crisis in U.S. history and forced to pay billions of dollars to help clean it up. That effort begins Wednesday in U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster’s courtroom on the 18th floor of the federal building here, where attorneys will start picking a jury for the landmark trial. Described as the most complex litigation ever, the trial will begin to sort out the welter of accusations over the crisis.

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Washington Post - October 15, 2019

A British family on vacation accidentally drove into the U.S. They’ve spent days detained with their 3-month-old baby.

The Connors family didn’t plan to be on the unmarked road. Originally from the United Kingdom, the two couples and their three young children were driving near the U.S.-Canada border on Oct. 3 during a visit to Vancouver when an animal ventured into the road, forcing them to make an unexpected detour. But before the family could get very far, flashing lights from a police car appeared in their rearview mirror. The officer that pulled them over was American — they had accidentally crossed the border.

The vacationing family says this was the moment their trip turned into “the scariest experience of our lives,” according to a complaint filed Friday to the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security. Instead of being allowed to return to Canada or the U.K., Eileen Connors alleges that her entire family, including her 3-month-old son, ended up detained at the Berks Family Residential Center in Leesport, Pa., where they have spent more than a week living in “frigid” and “filthy” conditions. As of late Monday, Bridget Cambria, the Connorses’ lawyer, told The Washington Post that the British family was still at the center waiting to be deported.

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New York Times - October 15, 2019

Justice Dept. indicts Turkish bank on charges of evading Iran sanctions

The Justice Department on Tuesday escalated pressure on Turkey by filing fraud and money laundering charges against the country’s second-largest state-owned bank, accusing it of helping Iran evade United States sanctions.

The charges against the institution, Halkbank, came as the administration sought ways to project that it was taking a tough line with Turkey after President Trump effectively signaled this month that the United States would not stand in the way of Turkey’s desire to send forces into northern Syria. Mr. Trump’s willingness to allow the military action has thrown the region into chaos and ignited an intense bipartisan backlash against him at home.

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Wall Street Journal - October 16, 2019

Drug distributors in talks to settle opioid litigation for $18 billion

Three major drug distributors are in talks to pay $18 billion to settle sweeping litigation brought by state and local governments blaming them for fueling the opioid crisis, people familiar with the discussions said, paving the way for a broad resolution to lawsuits that have shaken the pharmaceutical industry.

The three distributors— McKesson Corp. , AmerisourceBergen Corp. , and Cardinal Health Inc. —would collectively pay $18 billion over 18 years under the deal currently on the table, the people said. Johnson & Johnson is also involved in the discussions to contribute additional money, some of the people said. Players up and down the pharmaceutical supply chain, including drugmakers, distributors and pharmacies, have been sued by virtually every state and thousands of city and county governments. Over 2,000 lawsuits allege the industry’s overly aggressive marketing of prescription painkillers and lax oversight over drug distribution contributed to widespread opioid addiction.

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Politico - October 16, 2019

NASA paid Musk millions to make sure his employees don't smoke pot

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s infamous pot-smoking incident last year prompted NASA to order a mandatory review of the federal contractor’s workplace culture — but taxpayers, not the company, are bearing the cost, according to contracting records reviewed by POLITICO.

The space agency agreed to pay SpaceX $5 million in May to cover the cost of the review, which includes educating its employees and ensuring they are following strict guidelines for federal contractors barring illegal drug use. The decision, which has not previously been reported, struck some space industry insiders as a highly unusual expenditure given that Musk, who holds a security clearance, prompted the concerns about whether SpaceX is following the rules. While marijuana is legal in multiple states – including California, where Musk’s stunt took place – it remains illegal under federal law. And illegal drug use is also considered a violation of the terms of a government security clearance.

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NPR - October 16, 2019

He, She, They: Workplaces adjust as gender identity norms change

It's a pivotal time for LGBTQ people in the workplace. Last week, the Supreme Court heard arguments in cases testing whether people in that community are protected by the country's workplace anti-discrimination laws.

That's happening at a time when more workplaces are adapting to an increasing number of people openly identifying as gender nonbinary — that is, they don't consider themselves categorically male or female, and favor gender-neutral pronouns like "them," instead of "he" or "she." Some employers are including those preferences on email signatures and name tags. But workers and employers are also navigating changing social norms around gender that can be confusing, and shifting workplace culture away from traditional gender identifiers can also be tricky.

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Reuters - October 16, 2019

Ride-hailing companies Uber, Lyft won't testify before Congress: report

Uber Technologies Inc and Lyft Inc have declined to appear at a U.S. House of Representatives hearing on Wednesday on issues relating to the ride-hailing industry, the Washington Post reported, citing company and congressional sources.

The two ride-hailing companies had been asked to appear as part of a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee inquiry on safety and labor practices as lawmakers seek to prepare legislation that will impact the industry. The head of the panel, U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio, urged the companies’ chief executives in a letter this week to participate in the inquiry even as Uber and Lyft directed lawmakers to third-party industry associations.

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Associated Press - October 16, 2019

Ocasio-Cortez, Omar endorse Bernie Sanders for president

Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar are endorsing Bernie Sanders for president. The Sanders campaign confirmed the backing of two members of “The Squad” on Tuesday.

The endorsements are a major boon for the 78-year-old Vermont senator, who has faced questions over his health since suffering a heart attack two weeks ago. The 30-year-old Ocasio-Cortez and 38-year-old Omar are progressive stars and frequent targets of President Donald Trump.

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Newsclips - October 15, 2019

Lead Stories

Washington Post - October 14, 2019

Trump’s ex-Russia adviser told impeachment investigators of Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine

Fiona Hill, the White House’s former top Russia adviser, told impeachment investigators on Monday that Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, ran a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine that circumvented U.S. officials and career diplomats in order to personally benefit President Trump, according to people familiar with her testimony.

Hill, who served as the senior official for Russia and Europe on the National Security Council, was the latest witness in a fast-moving impeachment inquiry focused on whether the president abused his office by using the promise of military aid and diplomatic support to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rivals. In a closed-door session that lasted roughly 10 hours, Hill told lawmakers that she confronted Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, about Giuliani’s activities which, she testified, were not coordinated with the officials responsible for carrying out U.S. foreign policy, these people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to disclose details of her deposition.

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Politico - October 15, 2019

Poll: Warren faces high expectations ahead of debate

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is facing the highest expectations of any of the candidates on tonight's debate stage, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll. Nearly a third of Democratic primary voters — 31 percent — expect Warren to perform the best during Tuesday's debate. That's up 12 points from the polling ahead of the September debate, when 19 percent of Democratic primary voters said they believed she would perform the best.

Twenty-five percent said they believed former Vice President Joe Biden would perform the best, followed by 12 percent for Sen. Bernie Sanders. There's also early signs that Democratic primary voters are growing tired of the debates. Tonight's debate is the fourth of 12 planned debates. Democratic primary voters: 72 percent said they are motivated to watch tonight's debate. But that's a drop from 79 percent of Democratic primary voters who said they were motivated to watch September's debate.

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San Antonio Express-News - October 14, 2019

Will Tuesday’s national debate be Democrat Julián Castro’s last?

Julián Castro is seeking a spark from what could be his final presidential debate, though perhaps unlike last time when his pointed jabs at former vice president Joe Biden brought a few rotten tomatoes from rivals and reporters. Castro is among several candidates in the 2020 Democratic candidates whose quests could founder for failing to meet criteria for the next debate, on Nov. 20, which includes at least 3 percent in four approved polls.

In the same boat as Castro are Beto O’Rourke, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Hawaii U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. Castro and others taking part in Tuesday’s debate also risk being marginalized by a growing focus on a two-person contest — Biden and Elizabeth Warren — playing out on the new political terrain of impeachment and foreign policy. Castro, a former San Antonio mayor, has credibility among Democrats on the impeachment front, having been the first in the field to call for formal proceedings after the release of the Mueller report.

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram - October 14, 2019

Former Fort Worth officer charged with murder in shooting death of woman in her home

A former Fort Worth officer has been arrested and charged with murder in the shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson, according to jail and court records. Aaron York Dean, 34, resigned from Fort Worth Police Department on Monday morning. Early Saturday morning, he shot and killed Jefferson, 28, inside her home on Allen Avenue while responding to a call from a neighbor about the front door being open, police said.

Dean was listed as an inmate in the Tarrant County Jail as of 6:50 p.m. Monday night, according to records. The Fort Worth police department tweeted at about 7:15 p.m. that Dean had been arrested. Chief Ed Kraus planned on scheduling a press conference for Tuesday, the tweet said. A press conference will also be held Monday at 8:30 p.m., according to an additional tweet from the department. Jefferson’s family’s attorney, S. Lee Merritt, tweeted that “the family of Atatiana Jefferson is relieved that Aaron Dean has been arrested & charged with murder. We need to see this through to a vigorous prosecution & appropriate sentencing. The City of Fort Worth has much work to do to reform a brutal culture of policing.”

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State Stories

Dallas Morning News - October 15, 2019

Activist says he’ll release secret recording of controversial meeting with Texas House Speaker on Tuesday

The conservative activist who alleges that the Republican speaker of the Texas House and one of his top lieutenants offered him quid pro quo for targeting 10 fellow GOP incumbents in next year’s primary elections said he will release his surreptitious recording of the meeting on Tuesday.

Michael Quinn Sullivan, the CEO of Empower Texans and frequent critic of GOP leadership, said in his Monday morning newsletter to supporters that he will appear on the Chris Salcedo Show on Fort Worth-based WBAP-AM (820) at about 9:15 a.m Tuesday. Around the same time, he said, he will release the recording publicly on his website Texas Scorecard.

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Dallas Morning News - October 14, 2019

Deaths of Atatiana Jefferson, Botham Jean show how police training emphasizes danger to cops over community

The Fort Worth officer who shot and killed Atatiana Jefferson likely relied on police training that overemphasized the risk to an officer’s life while ignoring basic patrol guidelines every cop learns, law enforcement experts said Monday.

At the same time, Jefferson’s death shows that overall police training in the United States hasn’t changed much, said Johnny Nhan, a criminal justice professor at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. Police academies and departments focus their initial and subsequent training on the fact that officers can be hurt or killed at any time, said Nhan, who studies police use of force. “It focuses on the risk, officer safety. To not get killed and go home,” he said. “Whenever you have someone just out of the police academy, they have a very heightened sense of danger and risk.”

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Dallas Morning News - October 15, 2019

Colin Allred stands by impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump as Republicans target him for protest

Rep. Colin Allred on Monday defended his support of an impeachment inquiry targeted at Donald Trump, telling constituents that the president crossed the line by using the nation’s foreign policy to advance his political agenda. “It’s not something that I wanted to end up doing. It’s not a road I wanted to go down,” Allred said at a town hall meeting at the Greater Cornerstone Baptist Church in Hamilton Park.

“He used the foreign policy of the United States for his political interests,” Allred said about Trump. “That’s why we are where we are now. This, in my opinion, crossed the line.” Democrats, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, launched an impeachment inquiry after Trump asked the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. The request came after the men talked about financial support to the country. Before the telephone call, Allred said he was happy to let the matter of Trump’s conduct be settled by the 2020 election, but that doesn’t mollify his GOP critics. On Monday, Trump’s presidential campaign and local Republicans staged a protest at the Dallas Democrat’s district office.

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Dallas Morning News - October 15, 2019

Francisco Galicia, U.S. citizen facing deportation, issued 2020 immigration court date

It may be more than a full calendar year before the U.S. government confirms what Francisco Galicia has been saying since June –– that he’s a U.S. citizen. The Dallas-born 18-year-old high school senior who spent nearly a month in the custody of U.S. Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement learned last week that an immigration court in Harlingen, TX has ordered him to appear in August 2020.

His attorney now fears that the U.S. government may actually be trying to build a case to question his citizenship based on the fact that his mother solicited a birth certificate for him in Mexico almost three years after he was born in Dallas, an action Galicia had no control over as an almost three-year-old. Claudia Galan, Galicia’s attorney, said she hoped the court date would be scheduled sooner so this matter could be put to rest and questions of Galicia’s citizenship can cease. But now she said there’s no choice but to file a motion to terminate in the hope that she can get before a judge who can order the government to speed things up. Galan added that this shouldn’t be a concern for him as he tries to finish his high school senior year.

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Dallas Morning News - October 14, 2019

Democratic Senate hopeful MJ Hegar raises $1 million for third quarter

MJ Hegar hauled in $1 million during the third quarter, showing that she is raising enough cash to mount a credible primary campaign for the chance to face incumbent Sen. John Cornyn next year. According to totals shared with The Dallas Morning News, Hegar has nearly $900,000 in the bank, money that she’ll use for the March Democratic primary for Senate.

“I am proud of the campaign we are building and am excited to see so many Texans hopping on board,” Hegar said in a news release. “As I travel across Texas, I have heard from thousands of working people who are ready for a Senator who knows firsthand the challenges they face and will fight for affordable health care and aggressive action to address climate change, not sell them out to special interests and political cronies.”

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Austin American-Statesman - October 14, 2019

Austin American-Statesman Editorial: No on Prop 4: Anti-tax measure puts state funding at risk

We get it. Taxes are unpopular, and the idea of a state income tax is particularly loathsome. Voters will understandably feel tempted on the Nov. 5 ballot to put a nail in the coffin of any such tax. But hold onto your hammer: Proposition 4 carries flawed language that could let some corporations off the hook for the franchise taxes they currently pay, putting billions of dollars of state revenue at risk. We strongly urge voters to defeat Prop 4.

The laws on the books already make a state income tax a very distant possibility. It would take a majority of lawmakers to put the question to voters, and a majority of voters to approve it, according to the state constitution. Such support is unfathomable. Seven out of 10 Texans opposed creating a state income tax, a February poll by the University of Texas/Texas Tribune found. Prop 4 would raise the bar even higher, requiring support from two-thirds of lawmakers to put a state income tax question to voters. Sounds harmless enough — until you read the Legislative Budget Board’s bold-lettered warning that this proposed amendment to the state constitution “could result in a significant loss of state franchise tax revenue, depending on potential future legal decisions.”

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Austin American-Statesman - October 14, 2019

Prop 6 would authorize another $3 billion in bonds for the state’s cancer-fighting agency

In 2007, Texans voted to create the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas after a campaign that featured cyclist and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong crisscrossing the state in a bus named “Survivor One,” pleading for a “yes” vote. CPRIT would oversee the issuance of $3 billion in taxpayer-backed bonds at a pace of up to $300 million a year, to fund research in Texas to find the causes and cures for cancer.

A dozen years later, CPRIT has emerged as the second largest source of public funding for cancer research in the country — the federal National Cancer Institute is No. 1 — awarding 1,447 awards for cancer research, product development and prevention since 2010 — a $2.4 billion commitment. But with funding running out, Proposition 6 would increase the maximum bond amount from $3 billion to $6 billion to carry on its work for another decade.

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Austin American-Statesman - October 14, 2019

Texas Securities Board revokes registration of Austin securities seller

The Texas State Securities Board has revoked the registration of George “Gus” Marwieh, who is accused of selling more than $5 million in pension-linked investments and real estate development notes to clients. The revocation of Marwieh’s registration means he can no longer sell securities in Texas “or act as investment adviser representative in any capacity,” according to the Texas State Securities Board.

According to the securities board, Marwieh failed to disclose “excessive” commissions, misuse of client funds and conflicts. The securities board said Marwieh, who is president of Austin-based Marwieh Advisory Services LLC, consented to the Oct. 11 Disciplinary Order, which revoked the investor adviser registration of Marwieh Advisory Services and the investment adviser representative registration of Marwieh. Reached by phone Monday, Marwieh declined to comment. The revocation order from the Texas State Securities Board followed a May 7 inspection of Marwieh by securities regulators.

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Houston Chronicle - October 14, 2019

‘Even-keeled’ litigator poised for lifetime appointment as federal judge in Houston

Attorney Charles R. Eskridge III is wonky enough to have matched historical documents with every song in the Broadway musical “Hamilton” for a lecture he gives periodically around the legal community. He has also amassed the requisite 21st century courtroom skills to have ascended — fairly unscathed — to the brink of a lifetime seat on the federal bench.

This week, Eskridge, a complex commercial litigator who is active in the conservative Federalist Society, is poised to win Senate confirmation to a judgeship in the Southern District of Texas, which handles the second-busiest criminal docket in the country and a bustling civil caseload reflecting the region’s proximity to the Texas Medical Center, the Port of Houston, the petrochemical industry and the border. Eskridge’s nomination has not raised the hackles of liberal activists who have packed the halls outside of the Senate Judiciary Committee to oppose more-controversial picks by President Donald Trump.

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Houston Chronicle - October 14, 2019

Beto O’Rourke fundraising improves, but still lags behind leaders

Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke’s fundraising improved over the last three months, but he is still way behind the front-runners battling for the party’s nomination.

O’Rourke announced late Friday that he will report raising $4.5 million since July 1. That’s better than the $3.6 million he pulled in during the previous three months, but still well behind U.S. Sens Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, both of whom reported raising over $24 million since July. Since he got into the race in March, O’Rourke has raised about $17.5 million. But Sanders has raised $61.5 million and Warren $49.8 million. Former Vice President Joe Biden got into the race in late April and has raised $37.2 million.

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Houston Chronicle - October 14, 2019

Railroad Commission gets new look, online tools

The Railroad Commission of Texas, the state agency that regulates the oil & gas industry, has a new look and several new online tools. Using the iconic Texas flag as a guide, the new logo gives the agency a modern look. Railroad Commission chairman Wayne Christian said it is the latest initiative to improve the agency's image with regards to transparency.

“The RRC is an historic brand in Texas and we want to preserve that part of our history. It’s also a brand recognized around the world as the global leader in energy regulation,” said in a statement. “Since the Commission is the lead agency in Texas working to ensure safe, responsible production and transportation of our energy resources, this new logo better communicates to Texans exactly who we are, and what we do to serve them.”

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Texas Public Radio - October 14, 2019

Indigenous Peoples Day — San Antonio's American Indians protest handling of human remains At Alamo

The archaeological team at the Alamo announced Friday that human remains were uncovered at the site. On Monday, a group of Native Americans gathered across the street from the Alamo to provide their own perspective on those remains.

The Alamo is undergoing a half-billion dollar renovation scheduled for completion in 2024. Not so fast, said Ramon Vasquez, executive director of American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions, and member of the Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan Nation. “I did an open records request,” Vasquez said. “These remains were found in August. And they’ve continued to find them since then. You’re in a cemetery. My goodness, why be surprised that you found human remains?” The Alamo used to be a Catholic mission before it became the cradle of Texas Liberty. The Valero Book of Burials reports more than 1,300 early settlers and indigenous peoples were interred on Alamo grounds between 1703 and 1885.

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Rivard Report - October 14, 2019

UTSA to launch College for Health, Community, and Policy in 2020

The University of Texas at San Antonio plans to launch a new college focused on health and public policy in January 2020. Students can enroll in the College for Health, Community, and Policy in fall 2020. The college will be the new home for all the academic departments from the College of Public Policy and the departments of psychology, sociology, and health, kinesiology, and nutrition. UTSA also plans to develop a new department of public health to house all bachelor’s degrees in health and public health.

The new college will include more than 175 faculty and 6,800 undergraduate and graduate students. “This is really a restructure, but what we envision is by bringing people together around a common purpose, is that it creates this kind of rubbing of shoulders, working together on some [larger health challenges],” UTSA Provost Kimberly Andrews Espy said. The school will allow students interested in health careers to more deeply study the social determinants that impact community health like walkability or policy decisions, Espy said. While no new degree programs are currently in the works, it is likely UTSA will introduce new programs in the future, she said.

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KXAN - October 13, 2019

The impact of the impeachment inquiry on Texas politics

As the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump moves forward, some Texans are finding themselves caught up in the process happening in Washington. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry was subpoenaed by House Democrats on Thursday as part of the investigation on the President. Donald Trump said Perry, who currently serves as Energy Secretary, set up the July 25 call with the Ukrainian president.

Also, former Texas Congressman Pete Sessions, who is now running for Congress in a central Texas district, has been linked to the indictment of two associates of Rudy Giuliani. The indictment says the two men asked a U.S. congressman to help remove the American ambassador to Ukraine. The men also committed to raise more than $20,000 for that politician. The congressman was not named in the indictment. The New York Times reported campaign finance filings show Sessions to be that politician.

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KPRC - October 11, 2019

New trend of passing "Second Amendment Sanctuary County" resolutions in TX

After the mass shootings in El Paso and Midland and Odessa, several state and federal leaders called for tougher gun laws, which led to some county leaders to seek the new trend of a "Second Amendment Sanctuary County" resolution. The resolution states county deputies will not enforce any restriction that infringes on the on the Second Amendment.

The resolution appeared first in states like Oregon and Illinois that have very restrictive gun laws. Now several Texas counties are looking to pass similar resolutions. Guns right attorney Emily Taylor said the Texas Legislature is very respectful of Second Amendment rights with few restrictions. Even though Texas gun rights laws are favorable now, that could change.

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County Stories

Rivard Report - October 15, 2019

PR entrepreneur, former mayoral candidate Trish DeBerry launches Bexar Commissioners Court bid

Conceding defeat to Mayor-elect Julián Castro in May 2009, after garnering the second-most votes in that year’s mayoral race, Trish DeBerry told a crowd of gathered supporters they hadn’t heard the last of her. Nearly 11 years later, DeBerry has set her sights on a soon-to-be-vacant Bexar County Commissioners Court seat and hopes to overturn the 25-year void in female representation on the Court.

DeBerry, who owns a public relations firm in San Antonio, will run as a Republican in the 2020 race for the Precinct 3 Commissioners Court seat, she announced Saturday. The seat has been held by Kevin Wolff, also a Republican and son of political stalwart and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, for 14 years. But Wolff in August announced he would be stepping down after his term, citing his desire to return to the private sector. A former TV journalist, DeBerry has run the DeBerry Group for seven years. Wolff’s resignation contributed to her decision to run for Commissioners Court, but the decision was not immediate. However, she said she received an outpouring of encouragement and took steps toward launching her campaign.

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City Stories

Austin American-Statesman - October 14, 2019

Austin City Council poised to revise camping rules Thursday

Camping could be prohibited in some areas of the city under a proposed ordinance Austin City Council members will weigh on Thursday. Council Member Ann Kitchen posted the ordinance to the Council’s online message board over the weekend, clarifying several locations where camping should be barred to keep people experiencing homelessness and the community at large safe.

The changes, co-sponsored by Kathie Tovo, Alison Alter and Leslie Pool, prohibits camping in the following areas: Guadalupe Street between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and 26th Street; 24th Street between North Lamar Boulevard and Guadalupe Street; Congress Avenue between Oltorf and 11th streets; Second Street between Trinity Street and West Avenue; and Fifth and Sixth Streets between Interstate 35 and Lamar Boulevard. More streets could be added later with council approval.

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Austin American-Statesman - October 14, 2019

Georgetown files suit seeking to cancel its 25-year solar energy contract

The city of Georgetown has sued the company that it contracted with for solar power alleging that the firm breached at least three sections of the contract. The lawsuit says Buckthorn Westex LLC had information about the expected performance of its solar facility that it was supposed to disclose, but never revealed it during negotiations with the city over contract amendments in 2016.

The city is seeking more than $1 million in damages and a cancellation of the 25-year contract, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday. The city’s lawyer, Charlie McNabb, declined to comment Monday. Georgetown City Manager David Morgan said last week that “unfortunately, since the solar farm became operational in 2018, the city became aware of several problems at the facility related to its operation and performance.” “These ongoing problems have resulted in financial losses for the city. Buckthorn was aware of some of these issues but did not disclose them during negotiations,” Morgan added.

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Houston Chronicle - October 14, 2019

Money keeps flowing into HISD trustee elections despite takeover threat

The threat of state officials stripping power from Houston ISD trustees has not scared off donors interested in the district’s school board elections, with 13 candidates combining to raise about $210,000 through early October.

With about a month before the Nov. 5 general election, candidates running for four school board seats were collecting money at a similar pace as the 2017 election cycle, campaign finance records show. That year, 19 candidates took in about $300,000 with a month remaining before the general election, which featured five regular races and one special election in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram - October 14, 2019

Fort Worth Star-Telegram Editorial: For justice’s sake, Fort Worth officer’s murder charge must go to grand jury — fast

As Fort Worth grieves the unjustified death of Atatiana Jefferson at the hands of a police officer, words and actions are both crucial. So we were heartened by the honesty and completeness with which Mayor Betsy Price, City Manager David Cooke and interim police Chief Ed Kraus spoke Monday about the tragedy.

The mayor’s tone was sorrowful and apologetic. She addressed specific issues, including the police department’s inflammatory initial focus on the presence of Jefferson’s gun at the scene of the shooting. She spoke directly to Jefferson’s family, including the nephew who had to watch his beloved aunt die. And she called for a complete, independent review of the department. The words were right. Now, the actions must be, too.

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National Stories

New York Times - October 14, 2019

Ohio was set to purge 235,000 Voters. It was wrong about 20%.

The clock was ticking for Jen Miller. The state of Ohio had released names of 235,000 voters it planned to purge from voter rolls in September. Ms. Miller, director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio, believed thousands of voters were about to be wrongly removed.

Ms. Miller, who spends her work day helping register people to vote, scrolled through the names and then asked herself a question: What was her own voter status in the state? She went online and discovered that her name had also been flagged as an inactive voter. The state was in the process of removing her from its voter rolls. “I voted three times last year,” said Ms. Miller. “I don’t think we have any idea how many other individuals this has happened to.” Ohio, where the Democratic presidential candidates are set to debate Tuesday, is both a battleground state and the site of some of the country’s strictest voting laws, from voter ID requirements to a “use-it-or-lose-it” provision that lets officials drop voters seen as inactive.

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CNBC - October 14, 2019

Mike Bloomberg keeps talking to allies about running for president as Joe Biden struggles against Elizabeth Warren

Mike Bloomberg might end up running for president, after all. Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York, has indicated to associates in recent weeks that Joe Biden’s recent struggles against Sen. Elizabeth Warren are making him rethink his decision to stay out of the 2020 Democratic primary.

That’s according to people familiar with the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity because the conversations were deemed private. Bloomberg has signaled he’s “still looking at” running for president, but people close him say that the only way he could even go down that path is if Biden’s fortunes suffer so much that he drops out before or during the early stages of the primary. Bloomberg could then enter the race as one of the rare moderates with enough name recognition and campaign funding to make a run. Forbes estimates his net worth at $51 billion, and he was planning to spend over $100 million on a campaign for president if he ran.

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Washington Post - October 14, 2019

Trump’s ex-Russia adviser told impeachment investigators of Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine

Fiona Hill, the White House’s former top Russia adviser, told impeachment investigators on Tuesday that Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, ran a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine that circumvented U.S. officials and career diplomats in order to personally benefit President Trump, according to a person familiar with her testimony.

Hill, who served as the senior official for Russia and Europe on the National Security Council, was the latest witness in a fast-moving impeachment inquiry focused on whether the president abused his office by using the promise of military aid and diplomatic support to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rivals. In a closed-door session that lasted roughly 10 hours, Hill told lawmakers that she confronted Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, about Giuliani’s activities which, she explained, were not coordinated with the officials responsible for carrying out U.S. foreign policy, this person said on the condition of anonymity to disclose details of her deposition.

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CNN - October 14, 2019

Trump wanted to release his taxes in 2013 to show how smart he was for paying so little

President Donald Trump's fight to keep his tax returns private is at odds with his own thinking in 2013 and 2014 that releasing them as part of a presidential bid would make him look like a smart businessman who had spent years lowering his taxable income, according to two people with firsthand knowledge of conversations at the time.

Trump ultimately changed his mind after an adviser says he convinced him not to release his taxes, and he has spent years claiming he can't because he's under audit by the IRS. Sam Nunberg, Trump's political adviser from 2011 to August 2015, tells CNN that during a meeting he had with Trump in the summer of 2013 at Trump Tower, the future president said he was comfortable releasing his tax returns and, even, that he thought it would be a good idea. Nunberg assumed this was because of how little Trump must pay in taxes.

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Seattle Times - October 10, 2019

When is daylight saving time? Do you need to turn clock back in Washington, given the new law? Your questions answered

Yes, you do have to “fall back” and change your clocks Nov. 3, even though the Washington state Legislature passed a law earlier this year to stay on daylight saving time permanently. The law, which passed with strong bipartisan support, was signed by Gov. Jay Inslee in May.

But under federal law, states aren’t allowed to stay on permanent daylight time without congressional approval. That means Washington’s law won’t take effect unless Congress acts — and, in case you haven’t noticed, Congress is a little busy. Washington’s U.S. senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, both said in emails they would support the effort. Murray called it “a smart move for public health, safety, and our economy,” saying she has heard complaints about the time change from constituents for years.

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Austin American-Statesman - October 14, 2019

Julián Castro releases list of 58 endorsements

Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro released a list Monday of nearly 60 endorsements from state lawmakers, local elected officials, activists and actors. Castro, a former mayor of San Antonio and secretary of Housing and Urban Development, posted the list on Twitter one day before he and 11 others take the debate stage in Ohio.

The list featured 14 Texans, including state Rep. Christina Morales, D-Houston, and San Marcos Council Member Joca Marquez. Rolando Rios, a San Antonio-based voting rights attorney and advocate, and former state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, who was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in 2014, also signed onto Castro’s campaign. Some endorsements had already been released before his announcement Monday.

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Reuters - October 14, 2019

Trump lawyer Giuliani was paid $500,000 to consult on indicted associate's firm

President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was paid $500,000 for work he did for a company co-founded by the Ukrainian-American businessman arrested last week on campaign finance charges, Giuliani told Reuters on Monday.

The businessman, Lev Parnas, is a close associate of Giuliani and was involved in his effort to investigate Trump’s political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, who is a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic Party nomination. Giuliani said Parnas’ company, Boca Raton-based Fraud Guarantee, whose website says it aims to help clients “reduce and mitigate fraud”, engaged Giuliani Partners, a management and security consulting firm, around August 2018. Giuliani said he was hired to consult on Fraud Guarantee’s technologies and provide legal advice on regulatory issues.

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