MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

Article credited to Texas Monthly: http://www.texasmonthly.com

MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

Scotus Says

The U.S. Supreme Court allowed President Donald Trump’s revised order to go into effect on Monday, banning residents from eight countries, including six which are majority Muslim, from traveling to the United States. The decision has major implications in Texas, which has the largest Muslim population in the U.S. and is a national leader in refugee resettlement. Rulings by lower courts had restricted Trump’s order, exempting travelers who had grandparents, aunts, uncles, or other “bona fide” relations or connections to institutions in the United States, but in an unsigned opinion Monday, the justices lifted the injunctions, which had been issued by federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland, according to the Washington Post. The justices did not disclose the court’s reasoning in the opinion. People from predominantly Muslim nations Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Chad, and Somalia, as well as North Korea and Venezuela, are now mostly barred from entering the United States. Federal appellate courts could rule soon on the decisions made by the federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland, so the legal battle isn’t over yet, but until then, at least, it appears the travel ban will be in full effect. When the ban first went into effect in January, there was chaos at airports across Texas, where attorneys, protesters, and family members gathered to try to secure the release of people who were detained, including children and the elderly. The ban also tore apart Texas families, stranding spouses and parents overseas while their loved ones were in America. And it could also impact Texas’s oil and medical industries, which are particularly dependent on global fluidity and draw workforce talent from across the world.

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MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

Sloppy Joe

More key Texas GOP figures are calling for Representative Joe Barton to resign, after the Ennis Republican’s nude sexts that he sent to a woman years ago were made public last week, according to the Dallas Morning News. On Wednesday, Barton was dealt another blow when the Fort Worth Star-Telegram exposed some sexually explicit Facebook messages the veteran congressman had sent another woman while he was still married to his second wife. The messages included questions about whether the woman was “wearing a tank top only.. and no panties.” The target of these messages, Kelly Canon, told the Star-Telegram that Barton “took it a step too far on rare occasions,” and that “he was very fascinated with my attire, to the point of being inappropriate.” Canon is an active member of the Republican party. Barton confirmed to the Star-Telegram that the message exchange took place but did not comment any further, and his consultant told the Star-Telegram that he apologized to Canon, though Canon denied that the apology ever happened. On Wednesday, state Senator Konni Burton, a Republican from Colleyville, became the latest high-profile Republican to call for Barton to discontinue his bid for re-election. “We must hold public officials to a high standard and recent publicized incidents demonstrate those standards were not met,” Burton, an influential tea party leader, said in a statement, according to the Morning News. Burton said Barton should not seek re-election “so that Tarrant County can move forward in making sure we send a strong conservative to Congress.”

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MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

Seeking Justice

A family that lost nine family members in the Sutherland Springs church shooting filed a claim against the U.S. government on Tuesday, seeking damages and citing errors made by the Air Force in allowing the shooter to purchase a gun. According to the San Antonio Express-News, the Holcombe family filed a claim specifically in the death of Bryan Holcombe, and a lawsuit could be imminent. Coincidentally, the Air Force also announced on Tuesdaythe results of a review into shooter Devin Kelley’s case, finding background reporting lapses at other locations similar to the mistake that allowed Kelley to purchase his weapon despite having been convicted in military court of domestic abuse. The conviction should have prevented Kelley from buying the gun he used in the church massacre. “Although the shooter undoubtedly ‘pulled the trigger’ that resulted in the injuries and death of JB Holcombe and others, failures of the US Air Force, and others, allowed the shooter to purchase, own and/or possess the semiautomatic rifle, ammunition and body armor he used, and it is these failures that were a proximate cause, in whole or in part, of the injuries and death of the decedent,” the Holcombe family’s claim said.

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Bomb Squad

A woman was indicted in federal court last week after allegedly sending explosive packages to Governor Greg Abbott and former President Barack Obama last year, according to the New York Times. The bizarre details of the allegations were revealed last week: Julia Poff, of Brookshire, allegedly shipped the explosive packages, which included a cigarette box with a Texas tobacco stamp, a salad dressing cap from a brand she was known to have bought for an anniversary dinner, and hair from her pet cat. According to the indictment, Abbott actually opened the package he received from Poff, but, luckily, it did not explode, because, according to court documents, “he did not open it as designed.” Poff was allegedly upset at Abbott, who was attorney general at the time, because “she had not received support from her ex-husband.” She faces six counts, including mailing injurious articles and transporting explosives with the intent to kill and injure.

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MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

Border Tragedy

A U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed on duty near Big Bend on Sunday, according to the San Antonio Express-News. While agent Rogelio Martinez and his partner were patrolling near the Van Horn Station about 120 miles east of El Paso on Sunday morning, they responded to unspecified activity and were injured. Both agents were taken to a hospital, and Martinez, a 36-year-old who lived in El Paso, died from his injuries. The other agent is still hospitalized and in serious condition. The FBI is investigating the incident and has confirmed that there was no shooting, though few other details have emerged. The agency told the Express-News that a full account of the incident will be released on Monday. “Our condolences and prayers go out to the family and friends of Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez, who was killed this morning in the line of duty,” Senator Ted Cruz said in a statement. “We are also praying for the full recovery of his partner, who was also attacked.” President Donald Trump, meanwhile, used the incident to renew his call for a border wall on Twitter. “Border Patrol Officer killed at Southern Border, another badly hurt. We will seek out and bring to justice those responsible. We will, and must, build the Wall!”

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Bipartisan Bill

Senator John Cornyn, the number two Republican in his chamber, has teamed up with one of the most outspoken Democrats on gun control for a bipartisan bill that seeks to improve the federal background check system after a breakdown allowed the Sutherland Springs church shooter to purchase firearms despite a criminal conviction, according to the Dallas Morning News. Cornyn and Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut introduced the Fix NICS Act, which will “penalize federal agencies that fail to report records and incentivize states to send criminal history records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System,” according to the Morning News.

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Article credited to Texas Monthly: http://www.texasmonthly.com

MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

Twitter Fingers

Texas’s “tweeter laureate” had to answer tough questions about his popular Twitter account on Wednesday. Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett, one of President Donald Trump’s nominees for the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, went before the Senate on Wednesday along with his fellow nominee and Dallas appellate attorney Jim Ho. But most of the two-hour confirmation hearing was focused on Willett. According to the Texas Tribune, senators took issue “both for his outsized presence on the social media platform and for a pair of particularly controversial tweets related to LGBT issues.”

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MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

Greek Tragedy

Texas State University has suspended all fraternity and sorority activitiesindefinitely after a student died following a fraternity event, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Matthew Ellis, a twenty-year-old sophomore at Texas State, died after attending an off-campus fraternity party, which Texas State newspaper The University Star reported was a Phi Kappa Psi initiation event. The Express-News reports that the Phi Kappa Psi chapter was already under investigation at the time of the incident. Ellis’s death—which police say might have been alcohol-related—could be another instance in a disturbing trend of hazing-related deaths among fraternities across the U.S.

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MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

A One-in-Five Year Flood

A new study says that because of global warming, Houston could be in for Harvey-like hurricanes with much greater frequency by the end of the century. The study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, says that between 1981 and 2000 there was roughly a 1-in-100 chance that a hurricane would bring twenty inches of rain to Houston. If the planet continues to warm at the pace it is now, from 2081 to 2100, those odds increase to 1-in-5.5. “When you’re planning for the future of cities like Houston, it would be unwise to assume that the climate of the future is pretty much similar to what it’s been for the last 100 years or so,” Kerry Emanuel, the author of the paper, told the Atlantic. “Even if the climate wasn’t changing, records of rainfall are too short, and the quality of them is too low, to really get a handle on flooding risks.”

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Article credited to Texas Monthly: http://www.texasmonthly.com

MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

Encrypted

As investigators piece together the life of the deceased Sutherland Springs church shooter, Devin Kelley, a familiar struggle is surfacing between tech companies and the government. The FBI has possession of Kelley’s phone, but so far it has been unable to crack the device’s password. According to NPR, FBI Special Agent Christopher Combs blamed the industry standard encryption for the agency’s failure to access information inside the phone. “With the advance of the technology and the phones and the encryptions, law enforcement, whether that’s at the state, local, or federal level, is increasingly not able to get into these phones,” Combs said. There was a similar problem in the aftermath of the San Bernardino attack in 2015, when the FBI asked Apple to write software that could override encryption on the shooter’s iPhone. Ultimately, Apple refused, saying that solution would result in a powerful tool that foreign governments could potentially hack. Apple said in a statement that it offered to assist in the immediate aftermath of Sutherland Springs, but that the bureau wasted critical time in not responding. Apple would have advised the FBI to use Kelley’s fingerprints, but that window has now closed.

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Article credited to Texas Monthly: http://www.texasmonthly.com

MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

Somber Visit

Four days after a gunman killed 26 people in the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Vice President Mike Pence visited with survivors and spoke at a vigil for victims in South Texas on Wednesday, according to the Dallas Morning NewsAfter landing in San Antonio, Pence went to Brooke Army Medical Center for private visits with survivors of the attack. Then he went to Floresville High School, where he spoke with relatives of those who died in the worst mass shooting attack in Texas history. “We mourn with those who mourn and we grieve with those who grieve,” Pence said during a vigil at the Floresville High School’s football field, according to the San Antonio Express-News. “The Bible tells us that the Lord is close to the heart of the broken-hearted. That will be our prayer for you from this day forward.” He also admitted that the Air Force failed to do its part to keep the shooter from legally buying a gun. “He lied on his application. He had a history of mental illness, and there were bureaucratic failures,” Pence said. “We will find out why this information was not properly reported in 2012 and we are working with leaders in Congress to ensure this never happens again.”

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MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

New Challenger?

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez has emerged as a potential Democratic opponent for Governor Greg Abbott in the 2018 election. Valdez said on Monday that she might be interested in running against Abbott, telling the Texas Tribune that she’s “in the exploratory process” and is looking at data on a possible campaign. “Too much of one thing corrupts, and I’m a strong believer in a two-party system,” Valdez said. “I’m hoping that enough people are seeing that too much one-sided is not healthy for Texas.” She has 34 days left to file if she wants to run. Valdez was elected in 2004, and is serving her fourth term as sheriff of Dallas County. She’s one of only a few female sheriffs in Texas and is the only Hispanic female sheriff in the country, according to the Tribune. Valdez is best known outside of Dallas for publicly sparring with Abbott over Texas’s anti-sanctuary city policies, which will likely remain a hot-button issue in the 2018 gubernatorial race.

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MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

 

Retirement Party

U.S. Representative Jeb Hensarling, a Dallas Republican, announced on Tuesday that he won’t be running for reelection, according to the Dallas Morning News. “Today I am announcing that I will not seek reelection to the US Congress in 2018,” Hensarling said in a statement. “Although service in Congress remains the greatest privilege of my life, I never intended to make it a lifetime commitment, and I have already stayed far longer than I had originally planned.” Hensarling is sixty years old, and he’s represented Texas’s fifth congressional district since 2002. He’s a pretty big deal in D.C., chairing the powerful Financial Services Committee, and he’s been a prominent figure in shaping the regulation of the financial industry. He told the Morning News that he decided not to seek reelection due to family reasons. As the Morning News notes, North Texas politics will look a whole lot different in the next election cycle, as Hensarling will join longtime U.S. Representative Sam Johnson, a Plano Republican, in retirement after the election.

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Article credited to Texas Monthly: http://www.texasmonthly.com

MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

Earning History

The Houston Astros have the chance to win the World Series tonightAccording to ESPN, Houston will hand the ball to its postseason ace, Justin Verlander, who has allowed just seven runs and nineteen hits in thirty innings so far in the playoffs, while striking out twenty nine. He’ll face off against the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Rich Hill, who allowed one run and struck out seven over four innings against the Astros in game two. If the Astros win, it will be the franchise’s first-ever World Series title—but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Houston has a 3-2 lead and the Dodgers will look to force a game seven. Although the Astros seem to have the momentum after a thrilling eleven-inning victory on Sunday, it’s been a back-and-forth series so far. One thing is certain: Tonight’s game is a must-watch, even on Halloween.

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MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

 

Taking a Stand

Most players on the Houston Texans took a knee during the national anthem before Sunday’s game against Seattle in protest of racially insensitive comments made by team owner Bob McNair, according to the Houston ChronicleESPN reported last week that, at an NFL owners meeting earlier this month, McNair said, “We can’t have the inmates running the prison,” when discussing players protesting police brutality and racial injustice. Star wide receiver Deandre Hopkins and running back D’Onta Foreman left practice early on Friday in protest, and McNair publicly apologized and met privately with the team. Apparently that meeting didn’t go smoothly (when asked how it went, team leader Duane Brown told the Chronicle, “uh, not too well”). All but ten Texans players protested by kneeling during the national anthem on Sunday.

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Article credited to Texas Monthly: http://www.texasmonthly.com

 

MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

 

JFK Files

The Trump administration made good on a promise to release thousands of documents related to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas. The massive file dump release on Thursday night might not be too exciting for the conspiratorially-minded—so far, no one has found any evidence to show that Lee Harvey Oswald wasn’t acting alone—but there’s plenty of interesting facts related to Texas that reporters and editors have found in their initial comb through the documents. The Washington Post found an internal FBI report from May 1964 that links Lyndon B. Johnson to the Ku Klux Klan, though the “documented proof” was not provided. The Hill and multiple other outlets reported that on November 24, 1963, an unidentified man called the FBI office in Dallas to say that he would assassinate Oswald; Oswald was killed in Dallas the next day. USA Today reported that the files included a handwritten document from the CIA tracking Oswald’s movements in Mexico City two months before JFK’s assassination. The document shows that the CIA was watching Oswald’s contact with the Soviet embassy in Mexico City; Oswald once lived in the Soviet Union. You can sleuth through the nearly 2,900 documents released at the National Archives website.

Amazon has asked for tax breaks and public subsidies, but Texas cities are refusing to make their proposals public.

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Article credited to Texas Monthly: http://www.texasmonthly.com

MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

Texas Visit

President Donald Trump was in Dallas on Wednesday, where he visited with Texas’s political leaders and attended a fundraiser downtown, according to the Dallas Morning News. Trump met with Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick after arriving at Dallas’s Love Field Airport, where they briefed him on recovery efforts since Hurricane Harvey. Trump said he was open to supporting major infrastructure projects in the Houston area that would that would reduce flooding, and suggested that homeowners in flood-prone areas build water-resistant drywall on the first floor of their homes. “I’m the builder president,” Trump said during the meeting, according to the Washington Post. “Remember that.” A few dozen supporters gathered to greet Trump at the airport, and he posed with a supporter’s sign that read “We played hooky to high five our president.” But he was later met by protesters after going to the Belo Mansion and Pavilion for some fundraising events. The protesters chanted, “Cheeto go home!”

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Article credited to Texas Monthly: http://www.texasmonthly.com

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HOU vs. LA

The Houston Astros take on the Los Angeles Dodgers in game one of the World SeriesTuesday night, and the championship series should start off with a bang. Both teams are rolling out their staff aces, with the Astros starting Dallas Keuchel and the Dodgers giving the ball to Clayton Kershaw. Keuchel has been phenomenal this postseason, allowing just five runs over 17 1/3 innings after winning fourteen games with a 2.60 earned run average during the regular season. Kershaw, meanwhile, is one of the game’s all-time greats, but he’s had a “down” playoffs by his impeccable standards, with a 3.63 earned run average over three starts. He’s got a career 2.36 earned run average in nine seasons and is a three-time National League Cy Young winner, but he’s historically struggled in the playoffs, going 6-7 with a 4.40 earned run average in 106 1/3 innings. Both pitchers will have to deal with the heat, with temperatures expected to be around 95 degrees at the game’s start—the hottest temperature ever for a World Series game, according to USA Today.

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MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

Presidential Palace

All five living former presidents gathered at Texas A&M University on Saturdayfor a Hurricane Harvey relief benefit, according to the Dallas Morning News. Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter all spoke at the “Deep From the Heart” benefit concert organized by One America Appeal, which had raised more than $31 million from over 80,000 donors by Saturday. “When they see their neighbors, their friends, when they see strangers in need, Americans step up,” Obama said, according to the Morning News. “And as heartbreaking as the tragedies that took place here in Texas, Florida, in Puerto Rico, in the U.S. Virgin Islands have been, what we’ve also seen is the spirit of America at its best.” Senator Ted Cruz, Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, and former Vice President Dick Cheney were also at the benefit concert—plus, Lady Gaga. President Donald Trump did not attend.

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Article credited to Texas Monthly: http://www.texasmonthly.com

MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…

Real Talk

Former President George W. Bush delivered a harshly worded speech on ThursdayHe condemned the divisive actions of President Donald Trump, though he stopped short of actually calling out the president by name. “We’ve seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty,” Bush said during a sixteen-minute address at “The Spirit of Liberty” event in New York, sponsored by his presidential center. “Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone and provides permission for cruelty and bigotry. The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.” Bush said our political system has been corrupted by “conspiracy theories and outright fabrication,” and cautioned against the U.S. turning inward under Trump. “We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism, forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America,” Bush said. “We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade, forgetting that conflict, instability and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism. We’ve seen the return of isolationist sentiments, forgetting that American security is directly threatened by the chaos and despair of distant places.” He took aim at white supremacy too. “Our identity as a nation—unlike many other nations—is not determined by geography or ethnicity, by soil or blood,” Bush said. “This means that people of every race, religion, and ethnicity can be fully and equally American. It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed.”

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