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Newsclips - May 25, 2018

Lead Stories

Houston Chronicle - May 24, 2018

Democrat gubernatorial candidate Valdez owes $12K in overdue property taxes

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Lupe Valdez, who has campaigned to close loopholes in the state's broken property-tax system, owes more than $12,000 in overdue taxes on seven properties in two counties, official records showed Thursday. In addition, Valdez provided incorrect details on her official financial-disclosure report : A Dallas property that she owns is not listed, and two companies listed on the filing have incorrect names on the form. Her campaign attributes those mistakes to typos. Valdez's campaign officials acknowledged that she owes taxes on several properties, but said she is paying them in monthly installments because she cannot afford to pay the total amounts, which were due at the end of January. In a statement, she blamed Republican incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott for the fact that Texas property taxes are so high.

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Dallas Morning News - May 24, 2018

Koch-backed group hits top Texas Republican in ad campaign against $1.3 trillion spending bill

A conservative group backed by powerful GOP donors Charles and David Koch is taking to task a prominent Texas Republican as part of a national campaign that chides lawmakers for recently passing a $1.3 trillion spending bill. Americans for Prosperity said on Friday that Round Rock Rep. John Carter will be subject to mailers and other ads in the coming days over concerns about "wasteful government spending." "Washington does not have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem," said Jerome Greener, AFP's state director in Texas. "Regrettably, Judge Carter has been part of that problem. We believe it is high time for him to start being a part of the solution." The campaign will also hit Rep. Beto O'Rourke, an El Paso Democrat now running for U.S. Senate, and Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 24, 2018

3 maps that explain graying areas of Texas, U.S.

The U.S. population has changed substantially in the last half century, growing by nearly 63 percent. Perhaps the two most prominent demographic changes over the past 50 years relate to age. In 1968, the baby boom had just ended, and the oldest members of its cohort were only 22 years old. As baby boomers age, the nation has substantially aged as well. In 1970, the median age in the U.S. was 28.1. In 2016, it was 37.9. Demographers and geographers like myself have watched as this aging cohort transformed the U.S., from young children in the 1950s and 1960s to senior citizens today. This graying of America has left a distinctive geographical fingerprint.

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Washington Post - May 25, 2018

‘A lot of dial tones’: The inside story of how Trump’s North Korea summit fell apart

nside the White House residence, the first alarm sounded about 10 p.m. Wednesday when national security adviser John Bolton told Trump about North Korea’s public statement threatening a “nuclear-to-nuclear showdown” and mocking Vice President Pence as a “political dummy.” Trump was dismayed by Pyongyang’s bellicose rhetoric, the same theatrics Trump often deploys against his adversaries. Bolton advised that the threatening language was a very bad sign, and the president told advisers he was concerned Kim was maneuvering to back out of the summit and make Americans look like desperate suitors, according to a person familiar with the conversations. So Trump called it off first.

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State Stories

Dallas Morning News - May 24, 2018

Suspected Santa Fe gunman's parents also to blame for school massacre, victim's relatives say in suit

A lawsuit filed Thursday accuses the parents of the suspected Santa Fe High School gunman of negligence for failing to properly secure their guns and keep them out of their son's hands. The suit, filed in a Galveston County court by Christopher Stone and Rosie Yanas, the parents of Christopher Jake Stone,seeks more than $1 million in damages. It alleges that Antonios Pagourtzis and Rose Marie Kosmetatos were negligent by permitting their son to access their weapons and ammunition, failing to obtain mental health counseling and services for their son, failing to properly warn the public of the teen's "dangerous propensities" and entrusting their weapons to him.

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Dallas Morning News - May 24, 2018

Exonerated judge sues former Collin County DA, former AG Abbott and prosecutors over alleged 'sham investigation'

A former district judge declared innocent last year of multiple felony convictions has filed suit against Collin County and the four men she says misrepresented the law and targeted her in "a sham investigation." The federal civil suit filed Wednesday by Suzanne H. Wooten is the latest move in a years-long dispute mired in politics, improprieties and legal maneuverings. Wooten claims not only that her constitutional rights were violated but also that the charges against her were part of a larger "pattern of abuse of power and malicious prosecution for political gain" plaguing the Collin County district attorney's office at that time.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 18, 2018

AAS: More work needed on Texas Capitol’s harassment policies

A single, sobering fact accompanied the allegations that surfaced late last year about several Texas lawmakers groping, forcibly kissing and propositioning women who worked at the Capitol. No one ever filed a formal complaint. Rather, the alarming accusations came to light through investigative reporting by the Daily Beast and the Texas Tribune, amid the national conversation over sexual harassment sparked by the #MeToo movement. Women at the Capitol — staffers, lobbyists and even some journalists — have quietly warned each other for years about the men to avoid at the statehouse. But in the absence of strong policies that would truly hold offenders accountable, the women didn’t dare go public. (Indeed, most spoke to the Tribune and the Daily Beast on the condition their names not be used.)

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Dallas Morning News - May 23, 2018

Wehmeyer: If every adult gave an hour a week to show up for a child who's hurting, maybe we could stop the violence

I heard the news of the massacre at Santa Fe High school while I was driving the short distance from my home in Dallas to the elementary school where I volunteer each week. My big tote bag of candy, crafts and the day's lesson rested in the passenger seat beside me. Ten dead. An angry 17-year old. I wondered if he was once like any of the fourth graders whom I'd be working with that day. The school counselor assigned 10-year-old Alex to my group because he's been picking verbal fights in the classroom and refusing to follow directions. His mom moves him to a new school every year. Ryan lays his head on the desk in class and cries. He has almost no interpersonal skills. Little Brianna, with her long braids and wiry body, talks tough and gets angry at her classmates.

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Dallas Morning News - May 24, 2018

DMN: To stop school killings, Texas needs to spot troubled kids and get them help before they turn violent

Here's a potential game-changer that all Texans can rally around: Austin needs to invest more time and money on services that can keep vulnerable kids from falling through the cracks and being found only after they shoot up a school. For example, after the deadly rampage at Santa Fe High School last week, Gov. Greg Abbott pointed to a Lubbock-based program that has shown promise in identifying middle-and-high school students at risk of committing violence and providing intervention services to prevent such tragedies. We're intrigued by what we've been able to learn so far about this Texas Tech effort and hope Abbott explores the possibility of scaling the program across the state.

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Dallas Morning News - May 24, 2018

Schnurman: Trump backlash? Dallas, Houston and others put out the welcome mat for immigrants

As in America, there are two kinds of Texas. One pushes a bathroom bill that targets transgender students and dismisses the hit on Texas’ business-friendly image, and the other rises up in opposition and holds off the measure. One passes a “show me your papers” law that bans sanctuary cities, and the other files a legal challenge with the backing of San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, Austin and more. One sues to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the program to protect unauthorized immigrants brought here as children, and the other embraces the notion of becoming welcoming cities that nurture and integrate immigrants.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 24, 2018

Intense, tearful meeting with shooting survivors ends Abbott gun talks

Gov. Greg Abbott ended three days of gun violence discussions Thursday with an intense, sometimes tearful session devoted to survivors and victims of mass shootings in Texas. Many in the state Capitol room attended Santa Fe High School or had children who were there when a gunman killed eight students and two teachers last week, and while there was not universal agreement on the cause of school shootings or solutions to the problem, one common theme emerged — many students said they’d feel safer with more police officers on campus. The morning the shooting broke out, school band member Grace Johnson was taking a quick nap in the practice hall. She woke abruptly, and somewhat dazed, to the fire alarm.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 24, 2018

State to fine company, give students reprieve after STAAR glitches

Texas fifth- and eighth-graders affected by two widespread online testing disruptions in as many months won’t have to pass the state standardized test this year to move on to the next grade, the Texas Education Agency announced Thursday. In addition to dropping the testing requirement, the agency will levy $100,000 in penalties on New Jersey-based Educational Testing Service, which administers the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, for the testing problems. “As we continue to build upon our online platform to provide greater support to students, we cannot allow technical disruptions during testing,” Education Commissioner Mike Morath said in a news release. “We are committed to providing a positive assessment experience for our districts and students.”

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Austin American-Statesman - May 24, 2018

3 Texans approved by Senate committee for federal judicial posts

The Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday approved three Texas nominees for lifetime judicial appointments. Andy Oldham, general counsel to Gov. Greg Abbott who had earlier drawn sharp criticism from Democrats, was approved along party lines, 11-10, for a post on the powerful 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that sits in New Orleans. Beaumont attorney Michael Truncale also was approved along party lines for an East Texas district judgeship while Austin lawyer Alan Albright proved to be non-controversial and was approved by voice vote, without dissent, for a district judgeship in Waco.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 24, 2018

Herman: Runoffs that didn’t have many Texans running to the polls

Posted: 2:26 p.m. Thursday, May 24, 2018 It’s quite possible that Rebecca Marques, a political strategist for the ACLU of Texas, is giving the Republicans too much credit. (And, FYI, POC is people of color.) “It’s almost as if #txlege has done everything to make it harder for Texans — especially young people/POC/low income — to vote in November let alone in a primary runoff in May,” she tweeted sarcastically the morning after the May 22 runoff elections that again certified nonvoters as the state’s largest electoral bloc. Sure, the GOP’s beloved voter ID law makes it more difficult for some people to vote. But when it comes to voting, nothing suppresses like self-suppression, something that Texas Dems will have to overcome if they’re ever going to be competitive again in statewide contests.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 22, 2018

Texas among leaders of new U.S., Canada cryptocurrency task force

The hype surrounding cryptocurrencies continues to attract attention from more than just investors looking for big returns. Regulators have been increasingly worried about fraud amid the boosterism, and a coordinated crackdown by more than 40 securities agencies from across the U.S. and Canada is their latest effort to try to root it out. The enforcement action — called “Operation Cryptosweep” — has been organized by the North American Securities Administrators Association. It was announced in Washington on Monday during a financial technology conference, where officials with the group described the prevalence of crypto-related fraud as “a significant threat to Main Street investors.”

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San Antonio Express-News - May 24, 2018

Garcia: Allison deserves props for principled stand on guns

Steve Allison did the voters of this state a favor. He raised an issue that’s been begging for clarity for three years. It was back in 2015 that Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law a bill allowing licensed firearms owners to openly carry holstered handguns. What the law left vague, however, was the question of whether law enforcement has the right to stop people openly carrying and ask to see their permit. To Second Amendment absolutists like Matt Beebe, who ran against Allison in the Republican runoff to succeed Joe Straus in Texas House District 121, it’s a question with an obvious answer.

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San Antonio Express-News - May 24, 2018

San Antonio Express-News lays off 14 journalists

Nancy Barnes, the executive editor for Hearst Texas Newspapers and the Houston Chronicle, told the Express-News staff in an hour-long meeting that the company wants to maximize collaboration between newsrooms. In addition to San Antonio and Houston, Hearst’s Texas holdings include daily newspapers in Beaumont, Laredo and Midland. Barnes said the Express-News will continue to focus on local news, but that the San Antonio and Houston newsrooms will combine efforts on coverage of statewide issues such as energy and immigration, and on certain coverage areas including college sports. As part of the process, the Washington, D.C. bureau and the Austin bureau of both newspapers are being combined. Two employees of the Houston Chronicle’s Austin bureau were laid off Wednesday. The 14 positions lost at the Express-News included one reporter in the Austin bureau.

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Houston Chronicle - May 24, 2018

Ramirez: Why the NRA's spokesperson thinks Houston police are watching her

National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch wants to know if Houston's finest are watching her. The absurd notion comes from a lengthy Twitter feud with Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo that began earlier this week. Last Friday, the chief made national headlines when he spoke out after the Santa Fe shooting and inadvertently joined the gun reform debate. "I know some have strong feelings about gun rights but I want you to know I've hit rock bottom and I am not interested in your views as it pertains to this issue," Acevedo wrote on Facebook. "Please do not post anything about guns aren't the problem and there's little we can do."

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Houston Chronicle - May 24, 2018

HC: At long last, Texans have real contests in real elections

After what happened Tuesday night, now we’ve got some real contests. We’re not talking about the Rockets’ thrilling drive to the NBA Finals — at least, not yet. We’re talking about the match-ups that were finalized by Texans casting votes in the primary runoffs to decide who’ll appear on the ballot this November. Now that the primaries are over, we’re faced with some tough decisions and some serious disappointments. As always, it took Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart an inordinately long time to produce the numbers. His office’s tortoise-like election night performance has become an eye-rolling embarrassment in Texas political circles. But now that the ballots have been counted it’s clear that a lot of voters who’ve sat on the sidelines need to pay attention and make their voices heard in the fall, because we now have some serious candidates posing serious challenges for important seats in government.

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Texas Tribune - May 25, 2018

Ramsey: Changing one Texas election watch list for another

Election phases can be like shampoo instructions: Lather, rinse, repeat. Tuesday’s primary runoffs set the table for November’s general elections and also the names on the ballot in the relatively small number of districts where a Democrat could overturn a Republican or vice-versa. Some contests are over now. In Cameron County, Alex Dominguez, a former county commissioner, upset incumbent state Rep. Rene Oliveira, D-Brownsville. With no Republican on the ballot, that effectively made Dominguez a future state representative.

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Texas Tribune - May 24, 2018

With primary behind her, Lizzie Fletcher's bid against U.S. Rep. John Culberson emerging as major midterm fight for fall

In the early spring of last year, Houston attorney Lizzie Pannill Fletcher attended a town hall hosted by her congressman, John Culberson. As he responded to constituents' questions about his views on health care, gun regulation, immigration and net neutrality, Fletcher didn’t like what she heard. “I shook his hand, and had a pleasant and brief exchange,” she said. And then, she decided to run against him. ... On Tuesday, Fletcher secured her party’s nomination to take on the Houston Republican. The Democratic primary, which erupted into a nationalized flare-up involving the House Democratic campaign arm and her runoff rival, Laura Moser, is now behind her, and it is finally game on with Culberson in the fall. Despite their political differences, the two candidates have much in common. Both grew up in the district. Culberson attended Lamar High School and Fletcher graduated from nearby St. John’s School. Both left the district for their undergraduate degrees – he attended Southern Methodist University and she went to Kenyon College in Ohio.

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Texas Tribune - May 18, 2018

As cities sprawl, more Texans are exposed to tornadoes

Mark Fox cringes every time he relives the day his worst weather nightmare came true. April 3, 2012, was a hot and humid day in North Texas, and the unstable atmosphere spawned 17 tornadoes in five hours in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, one of the most destructive tornado outbreaks ever in Texas. The storms flattened neighborhoods, ruined elementary schools and took out approximately 110 airplanes at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, causing more than $700 million in damage overall. Fox has worked as a meteorologist in North Texas and the Panhandle — the bottom of the country’s infamous Tornado Alley — for nearly 20 years. As the warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Dallas-Fort Worth office, he’s tasked with deciding when a storm is dangerous enough to warrant an emergency alert.

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Texas Tribune - May 16, 2018

When Texas standardized tests have glitches, special education students can be deeply affected

When technical problems in 2016 affected more than 14,000 computerized State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness — or STAAR — tests, Sarah Martinez questioned whether online assessments were the way to go for her two daughters, who are both dyslexic. Now ages 10 and 14, Martinez’s daughters are each enrolled in the Fort Worth Independent School District and old enough to take the assessments — but their mom requests that they don’t take the STAAR test online because she said the system is “fraught with problems.” “I’m lucky and I’ve worked with some great teachers and administrators and we, as a group, decided the best thing for my kids was for them to take the test in small group settings with oral administration,” Martinez said. “There was just less opportunities for glitches that way, honestly.”

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Ft. Worth Star-Telegram - May 24, 2018

Allen: Ireland's pro-life experiment may be a road map for Texas

Imagine a place where the unborn and their mothers have an equal right to life under the law. Where maternal mortality rates are consistently low. Where despite the dire claims of pro-choice proponents, women are not dying in the streets or being butchered in back-alleys to obtain the so-called "health care" available to women on demand in many other progressive nations during the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy. That place exists. It's called Ireland. More than three decades ago, the unmistakably Western nation deliberately chose to buck the liberalizing trends of its neighbors and ban abortions, except in narrow cases involving the life of the mother. It was an audacious move in its time that has no doubt saved countless lives. All of that could change Friday when the people of that island nation vote to repeal or preserve the Eighth Amendment to the country’s constitution, thus giving the government the go-ahead to legalize the procedure and provide abortions as an on-demand service.

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KXAN - May 24, 2018

TxDOT cited but not fined for Dripping Springs dumpsite

The Texas Department of Transportation, prompted by a KXAN investigation, is removing 6,000 tons of tainted soil mixed with garbage, dead animals and oil that state employees dumped outside Dripping Springs for years, in violation of state regulations. KXAN first exposed the dump in a February report, after weeks of undercover surveillance using stationary cameras. That initial report showed state employees actively dumping garbage-laced dirt and carcasses and prompted the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to open its own investigation.

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Texas Monthly - May 22, 2018

Ratcliffe: Dan Patrick’s School Shooting Idea Is Not Crazy, Just Unworkable

After last week’s mass murder at Santa Fe High School—with ten dead and thirteen wounded—Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick suggested that Texas needs to harden its schools to limit access. One way in, going past security. The immediate reaction I saw on social media was that Patrick is crazy. But the idea already is implemented in inner city schools in New York and Detroit. It is the expense and shortcomings that make the idea unworkable. Without doubt, this idea came from Patrick’s own experience with a gunman. On January 21, 2010, Fausto Cardenas followed one of Patrick’s female staffers into his Capitol office while carrying a concealed handgun. He left when she called security. Cardenas then walked out on the south steps and discharged his pistol several times into the air before he was arrested. Patrick was not present at the time, but demanded that the Capitol’s open door policy be replaced by increased security—resulting in $3 million in security upgrades: metal detectors at all four entrances manned by armed Texas Department of Public Safety troopers.

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Texas Observer - May 22, 2018

Barajas: Something Has Changed in the Gun Debate in Texas

Thoughts and prayers aren’t good enough following Texas’ latest mass shooting, not even for some of the state’s gun-loving officials. “We need to do more than just pray for the victims and their families,” Governor Greg Abbott declared at a press conference on Friday, just hours after a shotgun- and pistol-wielding teenager forced his way inside a Santa Fe high school art class and began firing, ultimately killing 10 people, eight of whom were his classmates. The tragedy was so fresh that Abbott briefed reporters on basic details of the crime, suspect and police search for explosive devices that the shooter had left behind — that is, after the governor announced his new plan to address “school safety” in Texas.

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City Stories

Ft. Worth Star-Telegram - May 24, 2018

Welcome to Boomtown. Fort Worth is now the 15th largest in the country, census says

With all of the rapid growth in North Texas, it should come as no surprise — Fort Worth is now the 15th-largest city in the country. With a population of 874,168, Fort Worth jumped past Indianapolis, which has a population of 863,002, according to the Census Bureau's 2017 population estimates. And with its rapid rate of growth, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price believes Fort Worth could climb even higher next year. Columbus, Ohio, is just ahead of Fort Worth, ranking 14th, with a population of 879,170.

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Dallas Morning News - May 24, 2018

At sprawling VA hospital in southern Dallas, a righteous battle to keep the promise to care for America's vets

America has made an expensive yet richly merited promise to its veterans. It works like this: If you serve our country and get injured or spend your career in uniform, then our country will pick up the tab for your medical care for the rest of your life. That's a two-way pact with our veterans that should find room in our hearts this Memorial Day weekend. The holiday is geared explicitly toward remembrance of those service members who did not survive the dangers we sent them to face, but it's also fitting to recall the debt we owe those who returned home. It's an especially warranted reflection here in North Texas, where so many of those veterans have chosen to live. The Department of Veterans Affairs tells us that half a million veterans reside in the North Texas service area. Soon, officials told us recently, this region will boast the highest concentration of veterans living anywhere in the United States.

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Dallas Morning News - May 24, 2018

TxDOT gets the long-awaited go-ahead to move forward with LBJ East project

After months spent hashing out how to pay the $1.6 billion tab, North Texas' most pressing freeway need at long last gained the blessing of the Texas Transportation Commission at its Thursday meeting. The Texas Department of Transportation now has its governing body's approval to seek bids on 10.8 miles of Interstate 635 between Central Expressway and Interstate 30 — known as LBJ East to planners. A contract will be awarded in the summer of 2019, and construction is to finish in 2024. The result will be another free lane in each direction, continuous frontage roads that the 50-year-old freeway doesn't have now, and an improved interchange at Interstate 30. The current HOV/Express Lanes in each direction, which are tolled, are "grandfathered" into the deal and will be rebuilt.

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Ft. Worth Star-Telegram - May 24, 2018

She accused a Texas state trooper of sexual assault. Then her lawyer apologized

An allegation that a white Texas state trooper sexually assaulted a black woman last weekend in Waxahachie went viral on social media. But after the Department of Public Safety published the full body-cam video of the incident, Sherita Dixon-Cole's attorney, Lee Merritt, apologized online and said that the trooper in question had been "falsely accused." ... The allegations, which the DPS denied Sunday evening, were amplified on social media by Merritt and social activist and journalist Shaun King, who wrote that Cole had been "kidnapped and raped" in posts that were widely shared and re-tweeted from his Facebook and Twitter accounts. He also alleged in an article he wrote for BlackAmericaWeb.com that Hubbard threatened to kill her fiancé if she said anything.

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Houston Chronicle - May 24, 2018

Houston’s meager population growth puts $17M hole in city budget

In posting a sluggish population growth estimate for Houston, the U.S. Census Bureau blew a $17 million hole in the city budget. City officials had expected the count would show Houston had added about 30,400 people by January from the year prior. The Census Bureau on Thursday, however, estimated the city grew by just 9,200 between July 2016 and last summer. Because the revenue cap voters approved in 2004 limits the city’s annual increase in property tax collections to the combined rates of inflation and population growth, that means Mayor Sylvester Turner must adjust his proposed $2.5 billion general fund budget.

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National Stories

Politico - May 24, 2018

N. Korea says it’s willing to talk to U.S. ‘at any time, at any format’

North Korea signaled its willingness to engage in talks with the United States “at any time, at any format,” just hours after President Donald Trump on Thursday canceled his planned summit with Kim Jong Un and scolded the North Korean leader in a letter for “tremendous anger and open hostility” while bluntly reminding Kim of the United States’ nuclear prowess. Kim Kye Gwan, first vice minister of foreign affairs, issued a statement on Friday, local time, saying the North was “willing to give the U.S. time and opportunities” to reconsider talks, The Associated Press reported. He added that his country’s “objective and resolve to do our best for the sake of peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and all humankind remain unchanged.”

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Washington Post - May 24, 2018

Trump’s cancellation of summit with Kim raises fears of renewed tensions, destabilization

President Trump’s abrupt decision Thursday to abort a summit next month with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un left the White House scrambling to explain the outcome to allies amid fears that the collapse of talks would mean a return to heightened tensions between nuclear powers in East Asia. Trump announced he was pulling out of the planned meeting in Singapore on June 12 in a letter to Kim that came less than 12 hours after a North Korean official had personally disparaged Vice President Pence and warned of a nuclear showdown if the United States did not alter its tone ahead of the summit. In a missive that aides said the president dictated, Trump was by turns regretful of the missed opportunity and adamant that he would not tolerate the “tremendous anger and open hostility” from North Korea. The president pointedly warned Kim that he oversees a nuclear weapons arsenal that is “so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.”

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Dallas Morning News - May 24, 2018

Three Texans are the only Democratic holdouts in push to force DACA vote

Three Texas Democrats are the only members of their party who haven’t signed a petition that would force a vote on legislation intended to protect young immigrants living in the country illegally. Reps. Henry Cuellar of Laredo, Vicente Gonzalez of McAllen and Filemon Vela Jr. of Brownsville, who each represent border communities, say they want a solution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which President Donald Trump moved to end last fall. But they can’t support the current effort to force the House to vote on several immigration bills because it could lead to funding for Trump’s border wall, which they vehemently oppose.

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Washington Post - May 24, 2018

GOP immigration rebels push forward after Trump promises to veto any bill without wall funding

House advocates for moderate immigration policies stood at the cusp of forcing votes on bills that would give young undocumented immigrants a pathway to U.S. citizenship — even as President Trump threatened to veto any legislation that did not hew to his hard-line views. Backers of a “discharge” petition that would spark an immigration debate over the wishes of House Republican leaders stood five signatures short of reaching the necessary 218 after two Republicans and six Democrats added their names Thursday. They signed as conservative and moderate Republicans negotiated with House leaders to avert the discharge — and hours after Trump responded to the effort by pledging to veto any bill that does not build “a real wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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Dallas Morning News - May 24, 2018

Veasey: Immigrants who serve their country shouldn't get deported

Our country is at a crossroads. As a nation, we strive to embrace and uphold our Constitution, to accept all races and religions, and to welcome our neighbors. But the Trump administration has turned its back on many of our nation's veterans, teachers and doctors who are unauthorized immigrants. As representatives of this country, we have been called upon by our fellow Americans, as their elected members of Congress, to hold ourselves to the highest standard. The U.S. Congress has a duty to protect those who have given their blood and sweat to our country. We can and must choose a different path forward. U.S. immigrants are our fellow Texans; they are teachers in our classrooms inspiring our children to reach higher every day, engineers who design our defense equipment, nurses who care for our families, architects who build our hospitals and schools, and moreover, members of our armed forces who fight for our country overseas.

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Associated Press - May 24, 2018

Dem, GOP leaders get classified briefings on Russia probe

Republican and Democratic lawmakers huddled Thursday in classified briefings about the origins of the FBI investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election, a highly unusual series of meetings prompted by partisan allegations that the bureau spied on Donald Trump's campaign. Democrats emerged from the meetings saying they saw no evidence to support Republican allegations that the FBI acted inappropriately, although they did express grave concern about the presence of a White House lawyer at Thursday's briefings. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Fox News he had learned "nothing particularly surprising," but declined to go into detail.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express-News

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Houston Chronicle - May 24, 2018

Cromley: Ted Cruz wouldn’t talk to kids in March, but he was willing to mourn them in May

Two months ago, I marched to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz's office alongside Mayor Sylvester Turner, Chief Art Acevedo and other teenagers who had organized the Houston March For Our Lives with me; an estimated 15,000 people marched behind us. We chanted as we walked, arms linked together, sweating under the glaring Texas sun. It wasn't long before we were standing under our senator's building. I stood up on a scaffolding trying to quiet the crowd. Most people were still marching at this point — I found out later that the crowd stretched back to Tranquility Park, where we began. I was scanning the mass of people, reading the homemade signs, when I suddenly realized what they were saying. MOST POPULAR Heart Failure At Santa Fe High School, my daughter phoned: 'I'm hiding in a closet. I love you, Mom.' Ted Cruz wouldn’t talk to kids in March, but he was willing to mourn them in May [Opinion] Steve Kerr on the beefy Rockets: ‘They look like they can play football’ Immigrant families separated at border struggle to find each other NFL says players must show respect for flag or stay in locker room Chief Art Acevedo battles NRA in heated exchanges after Santa Fe massacre "Where's Ted Cruz? Where's Ted Cruz?" Over and over again. Standing on that platform, listening to the chanting crowd, I turned around and looked up at my senator's building.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 24, 2018

McCarthy: With shootings and small checks, why would anyone teach?

Teaching is one of the largest and most important professions in the United States. Currently, there are more than 3 million teachers in the U.S., and this number is not expected to change soon. Teaching is not a profession we can outsource to other countries, and we cannot replace educators with technology. Yet, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the number of degrees awarded in education dropped by 10 percent between 2009-2010 and 2014-2015. A survey conducted by The Chronicle of Education found only 4.2 percent of first-year college students planned to major in education, a low point going back decades.

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Houston Chronicle - May 24, 2018

Hawkins: How do you design safer schools?

Today, the issue of security and safety at schools during an active-shooter situation is right in line with fire and natural disasters — maybe even more so. As architects look to design safer places for our children to be educated, there is a complex array of issues to confront and resolve. One of those issues is access. Access to the building is one area in which design can hinder the progress and capabilities of an active shooter. The main design idea here should be one of creating "controlled access" to the school. There are many possibilities that an architect can implement. One of the easiest is to limit access to the main portion of the school by requiring all traffic to come through an office or central checkpoint. This is an easier design solution that can be completed with little cost to the school.

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Washington Post - May 24, 2018

As well-funded Democrats seize ‘progressive’ label in gubernatorial races, progressive group endorses insurgent challengers

One of the country’s most ambitious liberal campaign groups is endorsing five “game-changing” Democratic candidates for governor — three of them in races where better-funded candidates have grabbed hold of the popular “progressive” label, to the consternation of activists on the ground. On Thursday, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee endorsed Stacey Abrams, who won her party’s nomination for governor of Georgia this week, as well as four candidates running underdog primary campaigns: New York’s Cynthia Nixon, Arizona’s David Garcia, Florida’s Andrew Gillum and Michigan’s Abdul El-Sayed. “We looked for candidates who’d use their platforms to turn states into models of progressive government,” said PCCC co-founder Stephanie Taylor. “During a primary, everyone says they’re progressive — which, to be honest, is kind of a problem.”

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Wall St. Journal - May 24, 2018

Roger Stone Sought Information on Clinton From Assange, Emails Show

Former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone privately sought information he considered damaging to Hillary Clinton from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The emails could raise new questions about Mr. Stone’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee in September, in which he said he “merely wanted confirmation” from an acquaintance that Mr. Assange had information about Mrs. Clinton, according to a portion of the transcript that was made public. In a Sept. 18, 2016, message, Mr. Stone urged an acquaintance who knew Mr. Assange to ask the WikiLeaks founder for emails related to Mrs. Clinton’s alleged role in disrupting a purported Libyan peace deal in 2011 when she was secretary of state, referring to her by her initials.

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Dallas Morning News - May 24, 2018

Friedman: Honor us veterans by only sending troops to war when absolutely necessary

"Once you lose someone in combat," journalist and Iraq veteran Alex Horton wrote in 2011, "Memorial Day bleeds across the rest of the calendar." That's true. As veterans, we have our own anniversaries throughout the year. For some, it's the day of a major attack; for others, the night a close friend was killed. That can make Memorial Day weekend heavy for many veterans, as it compresses all those memories into a short time period. But the gravity many of us feel on Memorial Day is often diluted in American culture. That's not really anyone's fault. Most people just don't know anyone in the military, much less anyone killed in combat. For the majority of Americans, it's simply the first weekend of summer. It's retail sales, cookouts and beer.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 24, 2018

Castillo: Yes, we speak English in America – and 350 other languages too

Speaking Spanish – something 40 million Americans do – is all over the news. When a Manhattan man went on a racially charged rant last week after hearing restaurant employees speaking Spanish, he said repeatedly, “It’s America.” You get the message — ‘This is America, we speak English here.’ He’s right, of course, we do speak English in America, but that’s not all — we also speak over 350 different languages at home, according to a census report. Indeed, more than 1 in 5 Americans over the age of 5 speak a language other than English at home, the 2015 report found. We are a nation of immigrants, after all.

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Dallas Morning News - May 24, 2018

DMN: The would-be trade war with China is called off, and we're better off for it

We guess you might say that we traded up. With the would-be trade war with China being called off before any real economic conflagration began, we're all now a little better off. But even as the issue recedes, for the time being, it's worth noting what happened and why because trade has become a top economic issue for more Americans than some might want to admit. What happened is this: After threatening tariffs on some $150 billion of Chinese products, the Donald Trump administration recently announced it had worked a few things out with Beijing. Namely, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said China agreed to purchase more American products and ease access for U.S. companies to operate in that country. In exchange, the United States will forego a long list of proposed tariffs.

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Dallas Morning News - May 23, 2018

Salter: Congress killed another opportunity to end our budgetary nightmare

Last week, the Senate voted on Rand Paul's radical budget plan, aimed at getting deficit spending under control. The plan would cut next year's budget by about $400 billion and strictly limit spending increases. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the plan would reduce spending by roughly $13 trillion over the next decade. Promisingly, the plan should balance the federal budget by 2023. It was voted down 21-76. It never had a snowball's chance of passing. Profligacy with the public purse is nothing new for Congress. Every public program, whether good for the country or not, creates an interest group strongly in favor of maintaining the program indefinitely. The bill for these often-wasteful programs is passed on to taxpayers. The result: benefits are concentrated and costs are dispersed, so almost nothing ever gets cut. It's only a slight exaggeration to say the Congress has institutionalized fiscal irresponsibility.

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Newsclips - May 24, 2018

Lead Stories

McClatchy Newspapers - May 23, 2018

New sheriff in Texas: The Club for Growth

The Club for Growth, once the hero of long-shot Republicans challenging better-funded opponents, is now the political heavyweight in Texas’s GOP races. Of the Club's endorsed Texas House candidates vying in runoffs Tuesday, Michael Cloud in the 27th district, Ron Wright in the 6th district and Chip Roy in the 21st district were declared winners. Bunni Pounds lost to Lance Gooden in the 5th district early Wednesday morning. A fifth Club candidate, Van Taylor, won the GOP nomination in the 3rd district in the March primary. Those candidates have the potential to massively shift Texas’s Washington representation to the right, replacing more pragmatic Republicans who are retiring with candidates who support the Club’s hardline approach to shrinking the government and cutting taxes and spending.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 23, 2018

Gov. Greg Abbott says he can support modest gun safety regulations

Concluding his second day of roundtable discussions on gun violence, Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday that there are several modest gun regulations he could support, including stronger requirements for reporting lost or stolen firearms. Abbott also supported requiring judges to more quickly report court orders that deny people access to guns for safety reasons. “In the state of Texas right now, that report can be delayed for as long as 30 days, which is incomprehensible. I think the time period for that can be shortened to at least no more than 48 hours,” he said.

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San Antonio Express-News - May 23, 2018

Valdez vows to ‘come out swinging’ for uphill battle against Abbott

As a lifelong Democrat, Austin resident Charlena Sanchez-Rocha applauded as she watched Lupe Valdez accept the Democratic gubernatorial nomination and promise to “come out swinging” against Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in November. But with Abbott packing a $41 million campaign punch of his own, Sanchez-Rochaq readily admits Abbott will knock out Valdez in the general election. “Having a Latina on the ballot may get more brown people like me to turn out and vote, and that will be a good thing,” the 47-year-old massage therapist and mother of three said Wednesday. Valdez’s campaign began moving to raise what insiders said will be at least $10 million to fully develop a longshot ground game to defeat Abbott.

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Washington Post - May 23, 2018

House GOP holds last-ditch immigration talks as showdown looms

House Republican leaders have at least temporarily blunted an internal rebellion to force votes next month on protecting young undocumented immigrants from deportation while they negotiate with the GOP renegades on an alternate path forward. But with conservatives and moderates far apart on crucial provisions, there was little sign Wednesday that the warring factions would be able to reach a workable agreement on a compromise immigration bill. Immigration has exposed deep divisions within the GOP, pitting conservative adherents of President Trump’s hard-line stance against moderates frustrated by inaction. Last Friday, the Republican unrest sank an unrelated farm bill in a blow to House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), who faces a threat to his leadership from the feuding.

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State Stories

Austin American-Statesman - May 23, 2018

Ahead of speaker election, moderates hold strong in Texas GOP runoffs

At the end of last summer’s special legislative session, an angry Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick vowed that the Texas House members who blocked his agenda — especially the so-called bathroom bill and a measure restricting property tax increases — “are going to have to explain that to the voters.” But in Tuesday’s runoff elections and in the March 6 primary, GOP voters overwhelmingly rejected candidates aligning themselves with the agenda Patrick pushed in the state Senate, which he leads, and instead chose business-backed centrist Republicans associated with retiring House Speaker Joe Straus of San Antonio.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 22, 2018

Central Texas schools look to beef up security after Santa Fe shooting

In the aftermath of the Santa Fe High School shooting last week, Central Texas school officials are reviewing safety plans and working to tighten security, including for upcoming graduation ceremonies. Officials with several area school districts said this week they will continue to conduct drills, including for lockdown, lockout and evacuations. They said they’ll also work with local law enforcement agencies to check school emergency response plans. Some school districts are taking further steps by adding more security measures for graduation ceremonies, exploring ways to limit how people can enter campuses and training staff on responding to an active shooter.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 21, 2018

Herman: About the school shootings, can we talk?

Yes, yes, yes and yes. The correct answer is all of the below. Once again, the unthinkable has become more than thinkable. It’s become predictable. Left untreated, school shootings will happen again. We know this because we’ve seen this. And once again, this latest one in Santa Fe has us thinking about what we can do to make it the last one. That might be too much to expect. But we all expect us to do something. Nothing, as it often is, is not an option. We’ve tried nothing. I’ve heard many ideas. I haven’t heard a bad one yet. Well, maybe one bad one. I’ll try not to run out of space before circling back to that one.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 23, 2018

Lawsuit: Texas GOP judge fired secretary for anti-Trump Facebook posts

A federal lawsuit claims that a 14-year secretary was illegally fired last year because her boss, a Republican judge on the state’s highest criminal court, disapproved of her Facebook posts disparaging President Donald Trump and other GOP politicians. Olga Zuniga argued that her Facebook activity, which included support for Democrats, was done in her role as a private citizen, that she had no public role with the Court of Criminal Appeals, and that the firing violated her free-speech rights. Zuniga sued her former boss, Judge Kevin Yeary, for whom she worked after his election to the court in 2014 until he fired her last October after searching for her Facebook profile and finding comments on “politicians and political issues that were different than his,” the lawsuit said.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 23, 2018

First Reading: The Abbott campaign may show Lupe Valdez `no mercy,’ but will Latino voters say, `No más.’

The race was closer than it should have been. Andrew White, son of Gov. Mark White, but making his first run for elective office, proved to be a good candidate. But, for the most part, Valdez’s undoing was mostly her own doing. My first take on Valdez running for governor was that it was desperate, eleventh-hour (really 11:59 p.m.) gambit by the state party – which was officially neutral – to find a non-white, non-White candidate for governor after efforts to recruit a Castro-tier candidate failed. Not so, said Valdez to me last week.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 23, 2018

Familiar name, black voters helped Cole win in House District 46

With name recognition and a push to mobilize African-American and white women working to her advantage, Sheryl Cole narrowly defeated immigration attorney Jose “Chito” Vela III in the Texas House District 46 Democratic runoff Tuesday. Cole, a former Austin City Council member, earned 4,967 votes, or 50.9 percent, on Tuesday, 173 more votes than Vela in the staunchly Democratic district. Cole will face Republican nominee Gabriel Nila, a public school teacher, in the November general election. The slim margin came as no surprise to multiple political scientists and consultants contacted by the American-Statesman. The district, which encompasses parts of East Austin and Pflugerville and most of Manor, has historically been represented by a black legislator. Hispanics now constitute nearly half of district residents, by far the largest ethnic or racial group in the district.

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Dallas Morning News - May 23, 2018

Jeffers: Will Lupe Valdez help or hurt Beto O'Rourke's bid to unseat Ted Cruz?

The race for governor is often the biggest spectacle in Texas politics, and the governor's mansion the biggest prize. But the contest between incumbent Republican Greg Abbott and Democratic nominee Lupe Valdez is forecast to be not much of a contest at all. Abbott, who in 2014 beat former state Sen. Wendy Davis by 20 percentage points, looms like Goliath on the political landscape, with Valdez lacking the weaponry to take him down. She needs more than five smooth stones. Democrats have focused much of their attention on the remarkable campaign of Beto O'Rourke, the El Paso congressman who's challenging incumbent Ted Cruz for Senate.

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Dallas Morning News - May 23, 2018

Is the blue wave really rising? Democrats see historically low voter turnout in runoff election

Texas made history Tuesday night by nominating the first openly gay and the first Latina from a major party for governor. But the state also made history for a more dubious distinction — the lowest voter turnout in a Democratic gubernatorial runoff. In 1920 — the same year women gained the right to vote — Democratic runoff turnout was 449,000. In 2018, it was 432,000. The state has had 14 Democratic gubernatorial runoff elections. According to Texas Election Source, the one in 1920 was the first that didn't draw at least 725,000 voters. The last two, in 1972 and 1990, drew 2 million and 1.1 million voters respectively. Texas Election Source (Twitter): "On the plus side, Democratic turnout will likely exceed the voter participation in all but two Republican statewide runoff elections in state history." "It certainly seems there is less interest empirically this year than in prior ones for the Democrats," Texas Election Source publisher Jeff Blaylock said.

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Dallas Morning News - May 23, 2018

Davis: The most valuable answer to school shootings will come from society, not government

Anticipating the usual attack that conservatives "don't want to do anything" following school shootings, I thought I'd compile a list of things we surely do wish to achieve, amid the reflex calls for more gun control legislation following the Santa Fe murders. Our list is quite different than what liberals call for. It is more involved than simply badgering politicians to restrict gun acquisition. It actually requires something of each of us, and from society. And if sincerely pursued, it will work. But first, there is a vital matter stemming from the first waves of reaction that have now become familiar after every school shooting. As the horrific details arrived Friday from Santa Fe, some familiar behaviors surfaced. People of faith, including public officials, expressed prayerful wishes for those who had been killed or wounded and for the families and communities surrounding them.

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Dallas Morning News - May 23, 2018

Swartz: What made Santa Fe different from other shootings was the hypocrisy of Texas politicians

By now you have heard Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's dubious suggestion that schools should reduce the number of entrances and exits to prevent more shootings — and that divorce, abortion and video games are to blame. Then there was Gov. Greg Abbott's promise to "do more than just pray for the victims and their families," by holding roundtable discussions to stop the violence. He promised to speed up background checks and keep guns away from those who pose "immediate danger." But if history is any indication, both men will be more obsessed with keeping transgender kids from using the bathroom of their choice than keeping all kids safe in their schools. The most effective breach in the bloviation came from the Houston police chief, Art Acevedo, who wrote a Facebook post that went viral, taking on "the elected officials that ran to the cameras today, acted in a solemn manner, called for prayers, and will once again do absolutely nothing." Let's hope he has grander ambitions.

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Dallas Morning News - May 23, 2018

Texas governor invites NRA, gun control activists to discuss violence after Santa Fe school shooting

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he supports limited gun safety measures as well as improved access to mental health care services in the wake of the Santa Fe High School shooting. Speaking after the second of a three-day gun violence summit, Abbott said the gun activists and mental health professionals with whom he met Wednesday could agree on one thing. "That is making sure that we can keep our students, our schools, our communities safer, both through mental health strategies as well as strategies that will keep guns out of the hands who intend to do harm, while at the same time not limiting the Second Amendment right of law-abiding citizens," Abbott said. "We focused on trying to build bridges between sides that may not always see eye to eye."

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Dallas Morning News - May 23, 2018

Wall: I lost my parents in Sutherland Springs and I have some advice for Gov. Abbott

Mr. Greg Abbott ... I saw the pain in your eyes that night in Sutherland Springs, and I know you actually care about us. I am asking you personally to share this with every Texas politician, no matter their leanings. We need to require gun training, psychiatric evaluations, medical and mental history, background checks and secure storage for every gun owner, and we need to enforce this consistently and hold rule-breakers painfully accountable. We need to shut down private gun sales and gun shows. Every gun needs to be traceable to a licensed owner who can be held accountable should the weapon be used in the commission of a crime. This is too serious an issue to continue to have a wait-and-see attitude about. The other equally important solution is to improve our mental health system. Devin Kelley had a long history of mental health issues and violent criminal behavior. This is extremely common among mass shooters. There is not a clear-cut an answer for this problem, but I believe a good place to start is training school employees about risk factors in teenagers and then equipping schools with the resources to help any child who is showing signs of these antisocial behaviors. Assign extra counselors, lead student-involved workshops that discourage bullying and encourage students to empathize with one another. All of this is just as important as lockdown drills are.

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San Antonio Express-News - May 23, 2018

Texas land prices aren’t so cheap as more people flock to Lone Star State

Texas, the land of wide open spaces, had long been known for its abundant supply of cheap land. But that might be changing. Economic growth and an influx of new residents are pushing up the price of land in the Lone Star State, according to research published this week by the Texas A&M Real Estate Center. As a result, land costs are accounting for an increasingly larger share of the price of a home here, while remaining low compared to the U.S. as a whole. Statewide, 20.4 percent of the cost of a typical single-family home went to the land in 2016, up from 5 percent in 2011, the research shows. In San Antonio, the share rose to 15.2 percent in 2016 from 5 percent in 2011 when the market was still recovering from the recession.

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San Antonio Express-News - May 23, 2018

Fletcher seeks aid of Republicans 'without a party' to challenge Culberson for Congress

The swarm of progressive Democrats who were supposed to fuel Laura Moser's insurgent congressional campaign in Houston Tuesday night didn't show up – at least not in the numbers she needed. Democrats in Washington, who bet heavily on the more broad-based appeal of attorney Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, breathed a sigh of relief. By the end of the night, Fletcher doubled Moser's vote tally in the Seventh Congressional District primary runoff. While the progressive wing of the party has scored victories in other primaries around the nation, the election in this mostly suburban battlefield produced the more centrist candidate that Democratic leaders believe will have a better chance of knocking off nine-term Republican incumbent John Culberson.

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Houston Chronicle - May 23, 2018

Grieder: Lupe Valdez is worth a look from voters disappointed in Greg Abbott

On Wednesday, one of my Democratic sources texted me a few thoughts on Lupe Valdez, the longtime Dallas County sheriff, who had just secured the party’s gubernatorial nomination after edging past Houston-based businessman Andrew White in this year’s primary runoff. “She’s fought for everything she’s got, she’s taken on the good ol’ boy system, and she’s been an inspiration,” he said. I agree. That’s why I had been happy to hear, late last year, that Valdez was willing to challenge Gov. Greg Abbott’s bid for re-election.

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Houston Chronicle - May 23, 2018

State leaders seek campus security upgrades, but hefty bill looms

Less than a week after the Santa Fe High School shooting that left 10 people dead and 13 others injured, political and education leaders across Texas are proposing ways to avoid the next campus shooting: more law enforcement officers, more counselors, more metal detectors. All of which requires more money — something many cash-strapped school districts do not have right now. Legislators and school district governing boards soon will start grappling with how to pay for expensive upgrades designed to keep Texas schoolchildren safe, as state leaders seek more secure campuses in light of last Friday’s massacre. The cost of those improvements, however, likely will extend into the hundreds of millions of dollars statewide, at a time when many school districts are dipping into reserves to balance their budgets.

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Houston Chronicle - May 23, 2018

She could be Texas' first Latina lesbian governor - but can she win?

Lupe Valdez made history on Tuesday after winning her party nomination for governor as the first openly gay and first Latina candidate. Yet, even as Valdez celebrated her win, she acknowledged what many frequently told her on the campaign trail. Unseating Gov. Greg Abbott in November is going to be tough. "I am constantly hearing this is going to be such an uphill battle," Valdez told supporters in Dallas following her six-point win over Andrew White. "Please, tell me when I didn't have an uphill battle ... I am getting darned good at uphill battles."

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Texas Tribune - May 21, 2018

Ramsey: Another mass shooting and a fresh chance to act

Poke around on the internet and you’ll turn up article after article about guns and government and politics — the arguments that sprout every time there is another mass shooting. This is another chance to fix things. It’s discouraging that we and our political leaders have blown so many chances, but here’s another one. We’re either going to work things out or get used to things as they are. This is about the Texas shootings last week at Santa Fe High School and six months ago at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, but it’s also about the state’s slow Hurricane Harvey recovery, especially for people waiting to get back into their old homes or into new ones.

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Texas Tribune - May 23, 2018

Outside groups spent big backing either centrists or hard-line conservatives in GOP House runoffs. The centrists went 5 for 7.

Two groups aligned with the more moderate wing of the Texas Republican Party took off their gloves this election cycle, publicly backing like-minded candidates in contested primaries and spending more money to support them. And those contenders came out on top in several key primaries and runoffs. Five of the seven Texas House GOP runoffs were won by candidates who had support from the Associated Republicans of Texas and the Texas House Leadership Fund, two groups aligned with retiring House Speaker Joe Straus and other establishment Republicans. ART, founded in the 1970s to turn the Legislature red, spent about $2.3 million — an unprecedented amount of money for the group — since the start of 2018 on polling, donations, advertising and consulting for a slate of primary candidates who ran largely against further-right contenders, campaign finance reports show.

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Texas Tribune - May 23, 2018

Following Santa Fe school shooting, Dan Patrick says Texas should cut incentive funding for “violent” films and video games

While Democrats clamored for stricter gun regulations and Gov. Greg Abbott discussed measures to tighten school security following Friday's mass shooting at Santa Fe High School, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick set his sights on another target: the makers of violent films and video games. Patrick spent the weekend on national television talking about what was to blame for the tragedy in southeast Texas that left 10 people dead, the latest in a spate of mass shootings across the country. It wasn’t the ready availability of guns in this country, Patrick said. Instead, the bloodshed was the result of a “violent culture where we’ve devalued life,” Patrick told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

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Ft. Worth Star-Telegram - May 24, 2018

Kennedy: 'I am not more of the same': Former Joe Barton aide Ron Wright faces Sanchez call for change

Arlington Republican Ron Wright always stuck by his former boss, U.S. Rep. Joe Barton. Now, he's stuck with him. For the next five months, Wright will hear four words over and over: “more of the same.” As Barton's former chief of staff — but an even more conservative border hawk — Wright inherits both the good and bad of Barton in a November campaign against Ellis County Democratic activist Jana Lynne Sanchez. At parties 5 miles apart across Arlington, both candidates described the fall campaign in almost the same words. “She'll support what President Obama did, and I'll support what President Trump is doing,” said Wright, a former Arlington mayor pro tem, county tax assessor and co-founder of Arlington's largest Republican club.

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Washington Post - May 23, 2018

Truth in a Post-Truth Era: Sandy Hook Families Sue Alex Jones, Conspiracy Theorist

After the body of Jesse Lewis, age 6, was recovered from his classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School, his father, Neil Heslin, cradled him for a final time. At the top of Jesse’s forehead was the gunshot wound that ended his life. “It meant a lot to be able to see him,” Mr. Heslin said in an interview. “When he was born, I was the first to see him, and I was the last one to hold him.” Alex Jones, an online conspiracy theorist whose InfoWars website is viewed by millions, seized on this agonizing recollection to repeat the bizarre falsehood that the 2012 shooting that killed 20 first graders and six adults at the elementary school in Newtown, Conn., was an elaborate hoax invented by government-backed “gun grabbers.”

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New York Times - May 23, 2018

Lupe Valdez Prepares to Face Greg Abbott in Texas: ‘This Election Is Not Going to Be Bought’

Lupe Valdez made history on Tuesday night by becoming the first Latina and the first openly gay person to win a major party’s nomination for governor in Texas, narrowly defeating Andrew White, a Houston businessman, in the Democratic primary runoff. “I’m extremely honored,” Ms. Valdez said on Wednesday, adding that she had been up since 4 a.m. responding to congratulatory texts and emails, followed by a three-mile walk with her dogs. “I guess I was a little full of energy,” she said. Ms. Valdez, 70, a former Dallas County sheriff, will face off against Gov. Greg Abbott, the Republican incumbent with a $41 million war chest, who is expected to win in November. It has been nearly 30 years since Texas voters elected a Democrat as governor.

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New York Times - May 23, 2018

Body of Pakistani Girl Killed in Texas School Shooting Is Returned Home

Sabika Sheikh finally returned to her family in Pakistan on Wednesday from her months away as a foreign exchange student in Texas. Her father was the first to meet her coffin, draped by a Pakistani flag, at Karachi’s airport in the dark of the early morning. Army cadets loaded the 17-year-old’s coffin into an ambulance as dozens of sobbing family members and friends recited Quran verses. Doors shut, a siren flipped on and the ambulance took Sabika’s body and immediate family home for a burial ceremony. The acting American consul general, John Warner, choked back tears on the tarmac as he comforted a friend of Sabika’s. Sabika was one of 10 killed when another student opened fire last week at Santa Fe High School in Texas with guns he had taken from his father.

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WOAI - May 23, 2018

Sutherland Springs Shooter traces his violent behavior to schoolyard bullying

"Nobody really knows why I’m suicidal,” says Devin Kelley in a rambling, 20-minute video-taped confession. “Nobody in this world knew what I knew, and nobody really ever is going to be able to get into my brain to really see everything, I guess, that’s happened.” So, what did happen to the man who would become responsible for one of the deadliest mass-murders in modern history? In a video obtained exclusively by News 4, Kelley gives insight into his dark outlook on life and how being bullied as an elementary school student played a role. “I think when you’re under a lot of stress, sometimes, you know, you can’t handle it anymore, and you do outrageous things that you would never do, like hit a baby,” he said.

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County Stories

Austin American-Statesman - May 23, 2018

State officials: Travis case shows more auto title oversight needed

An evolving — and potentially expensive — scandal in the Travis County tax office regarding automobile title transfers served as a cautionary tale at the Capitol on Wednesday for why stronger tools are needed statewide to combat title fraud. State regulators “still lack adequate oversight” resources to stamp out the problem, said Steven Ogle, general counsel of the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission. “That was underscored (last week) by the indictment and arrest” of seven people in Travis County — including four employees of the county’s tax office. The fraud investigation became public last Friday when the arrests were announced. This week, the Statesman reviewed an audit that indicates Travis County could owe the state more than $1 million in uncollected state sales taxes because of faulty title transfers, meaning the paperwork required when vehicles are bought or sold.

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San Antonio Express-News - May 23, 2018

Guadalupe County runoff unfolded against unknown Texas Rangers probe

Incumbent Guadalupe County Commissioner Judy Cope beat challenger Daniel Kearns in the Republican primary runoff to cap an acrimonious campaign which, unknown to the public, unfolded against a backdrop of a Texas Rangers probe. Cope, who’s held the Precinct 4 post since 2003, will face Democrat Rebecca “Becca” Tucker in November after defeating Kearns, 706 votes to 560, on Tuesday. Cope also was the top vote getter in the March 6 primary, with Tim “Jake” Jacobs finishing third. Karen Hale, the Guadalupe County GOP chairwoman, said the Texas Rangers interviewed her last month about expenditures for Kearns’ campaign mistakenly being billed to the local party’s debit card, which he was authorized to use for party expenses as its communications director.

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Dallas Morning News - May 23, 2018

Border Patrol agent fatally shoots immigrant in South Texas town

A Border Patrol agent in South Texas fatally shot an immigrant after being attacked by several people Wednesday afternoon, authorities say. The agent had responded to a report of illegal activity in Rio Bravo, 10 miles south of Laredo, around 12:20 p.m., the U.S. Border Patrol said in a statement. He found a group of immigrants in the country illegally a few blocks east of the Rio Grande, the agency said. When he tried to detain them, "he came under attack by multiple subjects using blunt objects," according to the statement.

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City Stories

Texas Tribune - May 24, 2018

San Antonio tops national list in population gain; Houston growth is sluggish

Pushing past the 1.5 million mark, San Antonio grew more than any other city in the country last year, while Houston barely experienced any growth overall. Meanwhile, Texas suburbs once again topped the list of fastest-growing cities in the nation, according to population estimates released Thursday by the Census Bureau. With just 177,286 residents, Frisco — which ranked as the nation's fastest-growing city — easily outpaced the state's biggest city in population gain from July 2016 to July 2017. Frisco, north of Dallas, had a net gain of 13,470 residents. Houston, which clocks out at 2.3 million residents, only grew by an estimated 8,235.

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Houston Chronicle - May 23, 2018

Nikki Haley to University of Houston: 'Our political opponents are not our enemies'

Nikki Haley, the American ambassador to the United Nations, urged University of Houston students to talk to political opponents at a Tuesday speech that itself was briefly interrupted by protesters. Haley, who served as South Carolina's governor before joining President Donald Trump's administration, said Americans are "digging in" on polarized political views. "We increasingly view those who disagree with us not just as wrong, but as evil," she said. "I have seen true evil. And it's not in the American political system."

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Austin American-Statesman - May 21, 2018

PolitiFact: Austin is creating jobs but not more than any other city

Posted: 2:27 p.m. Monday, May 21, 2018 Austin’s mayor made a best-in-the-nation claim about local job gains that made us wonder. Steve Adler, who seeks a second term in November, was asked on KLBJ-AM about ending “the red tape and paperwork that businesses have to go through just to expand in this city.” Adler replied: “You ought to minimize the bureaucracy as much as you can. But we’re doing something right in this city, you guys have to admit, right? We’re creating more jobs than any other city in the country. We have an economy that’s on fire. I mean, we’re doing something right,” Adler said, going on to say that he wasn’t trying to take personal credit for the gains. ... To the contrary, federal figures show the five-county Austin metropolitan area (not Austin alone) trails some other U.S. metros, including the No. 1 Midland area, for its pace of jobs gained, and it lags more than 25 metro areas in raw jobs gained. It would be accurate to say the Austin area has enjoyed greater percentage job gains than other metro areas of 1 million residents or more. We rate this Adler claim False.

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National Stories

Dallas Morning News - May 23, 2018

Policy or political theater? Texas Rep. Will Hurd takes heat in push to force DACA vote

San Antonio Rep. Will Hurd is taking heat from all sides as the lone GOP Texan pushing to force a vote to protect young immigrants living in the country illegally. Facing a divided party, House Speaker Paul Ryan has resisted calls to vote on measures that would address the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which President Donald Trump scrapped last fall. But Hurd is among a small number of Republicans who joined forces with Democrats in an attempt to use a rare procedural move to bypass leadership’s wishes. “We cannot avoid action any longer,” Hurd said in announcing the move earlier this month.

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The Hill - May 22, 2018

Red states find there’s no free pass on Medicaid changes from Trump

Red states are getting a reality check from the Trump administration in just how conservative they can remake their Medicaid programs. Earlier this month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) rejected a request from Kansas to limit Medicaid eligibility to just three years. CMS Administrator Seema Verma followed up on the Kansas decision by saying the administration will not allow any states to impose lifetime limits on Medicaid. “We’ve indicated that we would not approve lifetime limits and I think we’ve made that pretty clear to states,” Verma said last week at a Washington Post event on health care.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 23, 2018

Stand or stay out of sight: NFL takes on anthem protesters

Stand or stay out of sight. Looking to quell a national debate that was sparked by Colin Kaepernick, stoked by President Trump and some say chipped away at the very popularity of America's game, NFL owners approved a new policy Wednesday that allows players to protest during the national anthem by staying in the locker room but forbids them from sitting or taking a knee if they're on the field. Commissioner Roger Goodell called it a compromise aimed at putting the focus back on football after a tumultuous year in which television ratings dipped nearly 10 percent. He said it was unanimously approved by NFL owners, but that was immediately called into question when the head of the San Francisco 49ers — Kaepernick's former team, no less — said he abstained from the vote. The owner of the New York Jets also took a more conciliatory approach, promising not to punish any player who continues to protest against social injustice in full view of fans.

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New York Times - May 21, 2018

Can Parents Be Charged for Failing to Keep Their Guns Locked Up?

The authorities in Texas were quick to identify the owner of the pistol and shotgun used to kill 10 people at Santa Fe High School on Friday — they had been bought legally by the suspect’s father, the police said. Less clear was how the suspected gunman, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, came to possess the weapons, raising questions about whether anyone else could be held responsible for the massacre. Texas is one of 14 states with a “negligent storage law,” which can make gun-owning parents criminally liable for crimes committed with their firearms by their children. In the case of last week’s massacre, though, the suspect’s father appears to be immune from prosecution under that law. That is because the Texas law defines a child as 16 or younger, and the suspect is 17.

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San Antonio Express-News - May 23, 2018

ACLU: Immigrant minors routinely mistreated in custody during Obama years

Unaccompanied minors who crossed the U.S.-Mexican border during a historic wave of migration earlier this decade were repeatedly beaten, sexually abused, and deprived of food and medical care by federal border agents, according to an American Civil Liberties Union report released Wednesday. About 30,000 pages of documents obtained by the ACLU through an open-records lawsuit depict a gantlet of mistreatment for the tens of thousands of children who arrived mainly from Central America between 2009 and 2014, during the Obama administration. Many were seeking asylum in the United States after fleeing death threats and violence in their homelands. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents allegedly used Tasers on the minors for amusement or punishment, kicked them and threatened to either rape or kill them.

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New York Times - May 23, 2018

Jared Kushner Gets Security Clearance, Ending Swirl of Questions Over Delay

Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, has been granted his permanent security clearance, a person briefed on the matter said on Wednesday, ending a period of uncertainty that had fueled questions about whether Mr. Kushner was in peril in the special counsel investigation. Mr. Kushner is a senior presidential aide with a prominent role in Middle East diplomacy. But his F.B.I. background checks dragged on for a year and became one of many political distractions for the White House. Even some inside the administration suspected that Mr. Kushner’s delay reflected legal problems on the horizon.

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Associated Press - May 23, 2018

Trump launches probe into auto imports, possible tariffs

The Trump administration on Wednesday launched an investigation into whether tariffs are needed on the imports of automobiles into the United States, moving swiftly as talks over the North American Free Trade Agreement have stalled. President Donald Trump predicted earlier that U.S. automakers and auto workers would be "very happy" with the outcome of the NAFTA talks. The White House said in a statement that the president had asked Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to consider whether the imports of automobiles, including trucks, and automotive parts threaten U.S. national security. The president said in the statement that "core industries such as automobiles and automotive parts are critical to our strength as a Nation."

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express-News

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Austin American-Statesman - May 23, 2018

Young: Team Trump goes for immediate gratification, but we’ll pay later

The old farmer says, “Don’t eat your seed corn. You need it for planting.” What would Steve Mnuchin say about that? President Donald Trump’s treasury secretary clearly would say, “It depends. Can it be sold on the futures market?” We know what Trump’s man heading the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, would say: “Seed corn makes great fritters. Fry ‘em up.” Team Trump is all about immediate gratification — a.k.a. the next meal — or at least the next election. There’s not so much as a glance down the road past that. Trump and Republicans in Congress engineered a tax cut that will drive up the federal deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next decade. For what? Principally, so that America’s wealthiest will be wealthier.

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New York Times - May 23, 2018

How the Mueller Investigation Could Play Out for Trump

Of all the questions hanging over the special counsel investigation, one stands out: How will President Trump fare in the end? An indictment is one possibility that has grown increasingly unlikely. The office of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has told the president's lawyers that it plans to abide by the Justice Department’s view that sitting presidents cannot be indicted no matter what the evidence shows. Still, if Mr. Mueller finds wrongdoing, Mr. Trump could be indicted after he leaves office. But for now, there are several other potential outcomes while Mr. Trump is president. The New York Times spoke to defense lawyers, legal experts and former Justice Department officials to determine how the Mueller investigation may play out for Mr. Trump.

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Washington Post - May 23, 2018

In reversal, Giuliani now says Trump should do interview with Mueller team

President Trump’s attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani switched gears Wednesday, saying that he would prefer the president grant an interview to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s office and that a decision would be made within “the next couple weeks.” “I guess I’d rather do the interview. It gets it over with. It makes my client happy,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post. “The safe course you hear every lawyer say is don’t do the interview, and that’s easy to say in the abstract. That’s much harder when you have a client who is the president of the United States and wants to be interviewed.” Giuliani had expressed skepticism in recent days about an interview with the team investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, telling the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that his decision would be no if a choice had to be made immediately. “If they said you have to do it now, the answer would have to be no,” Giuliani told the Journal.

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Houston Chronicle - May 23, 2018

National Weather Service eyes tropical disturbance in Caribbean

The National Weather Service is keeping tabs on a tropical disturbance near the coast of Belize. The weather agency predicts the disturbance will move slowly north this week with a 60 percent chance to develop into a tropical cyclone during the weekend. Effects from the developing cyclone will be felt east of southeast Texas.

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Texas Public Radio - May 22, 2018

Piccone: What The World Needs To Do After Venezuela's Vote

For the United States and the international community, Venezuela presents a particularly tricky case. The goals are relatively clear — weaken Maduro enough to force him to negotiate a peaceful exit while preventing a worsening humanitarian crisis that is already destabilizing neighboring Colombia and fragile Caribbean states and could bring thousands of desperate Venezuelans to U.S. borders. Washington, however, is not well-positioned politically to lead the charge. Threats of military intervention, already uttered by President Trump, are a non-starter. Support for a military coup likewise would seriously set back U.S. standing in the region. For the past three decades, the U.S. has mostly stood firm in support of democratic and negotiated solutions to the Latin America's internal political crises. That leaves expanding the list of targeted economic sanctions, coordinated with partners in the region and Europe, to pressure Maduro and his allies to come to the negotiating table in a serious way.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 23, 2018

Cornyn bill targets prosecution of juvenile sex assaults on base

Sen. John Cornyn has filed legislation that seeks to plug a jurisdictional gap on military bases that has allowed hundreds of sexual assaults committed by juveniles to go unprosecuted in recent years and decades. Cornyn is the second Texas lawmaker to push for a solution to the issue, which the American-Statesman revealed in a 2015 investigation. In March, U.S. Rep. John Carter, who represents the Fort Hood area, introduced a bill that would order military installations around the country to enter into agreements with local prosecutors to prosecute sexual assaults committed by juveniles on base. “For too long child victims of assaults at the hands of other children on our bases have fallen through the cracks of the judicial system,” Cornyn told the Statesman in a statement. “This legislation will enable local prosecutors to now pursue these cases when their federal counterparts cannot, empowering families to get justice for their children.”

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NBC News - May 21, 2018

Four-day weeks bring smiles in rural schools. But will they work in big cities?

In many ways Oliver Prince is your typical, happy fifth-grader. He enjoys recess, gym class and time at school on the computer. But in one key way, he, along with the other 92 students at White Rock School in this tiny, bucolic town 50 miles east of Oklahoma City, are very different: They go to school only four days a week. The single-school district is one of the 97 of Oklahoma's 513 districts that have made the switch to the four-day week in recent years, citing struggles to cut their budgets and recruit high-quality teachers amid a nationwide teacher shortage and pay crisis that has had a particularly devastating effect on schools in the Sooner State.

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The Hill - May 22, 2018

Park Service publishes climate report after charges of censorship

The National Park Service (NPS) released a major report on rising sea levels after the Trump administration was accused of censoring it. The Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal reported last month that administration officials removed mentions of human-caused climate change in the report, reflecting President Trump’s and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s skepticism that manmade greenhouse gases are the main cause of climate change. But the report released late Friday puts the blame for sea-level rise squarely in human hands. “Human activities continue to release carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, causing the Earth’s atmosphere to warm,” the report says.

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Newsclips - May 23, 2018

Lead Stories

Austin American-Statesman - May 22, 2018

Valdez defeats White in Democratic runoff for governor

Lupe Valdez defeated Andrew White in Tuesday’s Democratic gubernatorial runoff election. With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Valdez won 226,613 votes, or 53 percent, to 199,857, or 46.9 percent for White. “Texas is changing,” Valdez told an ebullient victory celebration in a room at Ellen’s, a restaurant specializin in Southern cuisine in downtown Dallas. “Look all around you this is what Texas looks like.” “I’m getting pretty good at these uphill battles,” said Valdez, promising to take the fight to Gov. Greg Abbott.

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Dallas Morning News - May 22, 2018

Republican voters stick with Texas House centrists in GOP runoffs

Voters in the Republican primary runoffs stuck with traditional center-right candidates over hard-line conservatives Tuesday in an election night that held the center for the Texas House. More traditionally center-right candidates claimed victory in five of the seven Republican runoffs. The results could play a major role at the beginning of next year’s legislative session, when the House Republican Caucus is expected to push to elect a more conservative leader to replace retiring Speaker Joe Straus. Straus presided over a record-tying five terms as speaker by mustering a coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats. Those two groups will likely try to select a speaker cut out of the same cloth as Straus.

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Public Radio International - May 21, 2018

Super PACs are spending big on the 2018 primary election season

During April, millions of dollars flowed in from both the political right and left as party primary season raged and the 2018 midterm elections drew nearer. Gun rights advocates, environmentalists and most everyone across the political spectrum ponied up in hopes of influencing the outcome of federal elections across the country. Here’s a by-the-numbers look at some of the highlights from the latest round of Federal Election Commission filings, which were due Sunday night: $2.75 million: Cash on hand the John Bolton Super PAC had as of April 30 after spending more than $47,000 last month, according to its financial disclosure covering activity in April. Past donors to the super PAC, founded in 2013 by now-National Security Adviser John Bolton, have included Robert Mercer and Home Depot founder Bernard Marcus. The super PAC said in March it would suspend its political activities. ... 1-800-94 JENNY: Classic jingle in 1994 for the business of weight loss guru Jenny Craig, who donated $5,500 to pro-Trump committee Great America PAC this April. This isn’t the first time Craig threw her weight behind Trump: She co-hosted a minimum $25,000-a-ticket fundraiser for the candidate back in July 2016, and has also donated to the Committee to Defend the President. “With all political contributions I make, if they share my values and are working toward making America greater, I have an obligation to support them,” Craig told the Center for Public Integrity.

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The Hill - May 21, 2018

Kennedy retirement rumors shift into overdrive

Like clockwork, Washington has whipped itself into a frenzy over rumors of a possible retirement on the Supreme Court. All eyes are on Justice Anthony Kennedy, 81, who reportedly considered calling it quits last spring. As the court’s current term winds to a close, speculation about his plans has again swept the capital, with court watchers searching for clues. Those who say Kennedy is here to stay — at least for now — point to the fact that he’s already hired his law clerks for the next term, as Above the Law reported. “I don’t think he would have hired all four clerks for next year if he was seriously entertaining stepping down,” said Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law.

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State Stories

Austin American-Statesman - May 22, 2018

Herman: Time for the look-at-me candidate to look ahead

In the end, as loser Andrew White sees it, “look at me” beat “listen to me” as Democrats, the relatively few who showed up to vote, picked former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez as their November candidate against GOP Gov. Greg Abbott. “It’s been an odd race,” White told me two hours before the polls closed as we sat in the garage apartment that served as his campaign headquarters behind his River Oaks home. “It’s been ‘Look at me’ versus ‘Listen to me.’ That’s how this race played out.” Correct. Valdez, not always up to speed on the issues of the day, counted on her impressive life story of a migrant workers’ kid who grew up to serve in the military and get elected sheriff in a county that, not all that too long ago, would not have been the place you’d expect would elect a Hispanic lesbian to any office.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 22, 2018

Cole, Goodwin, Zwiener win Democratic runoffs in Texas House races

Former Austin City Council member Sheryl Cole narrowly defeated immigration attorney Jose “Chito” Vela in the Democratic runoff to replace embattled state Rep. Dawnna Dukes Tuesday night. With all precincts reporting, Cole pulled in 4,967 votes, or 50.9 percent, and Vela, earned 4,794 votes, or 49.1 percent. Cole will oppose Republican Gabriel Nila, a public school teacher, in November. ... Writer Erin Zwiener bested Texas State University professor Rebecca Bell-Metereau in the Texas House District 45 Democratic runoff. Zwiener had 2,946, or 51.4 percent of votes, while Bell-Metereau had 2,783 votes, or 48.6 percent. ... Real estate business owner Vikki Goodwin easily defeated retiree association leader Elaina Fowler in the Democratic runoff in Texas House District 47. Goodwin earned 4,638 votes, or 58 percent, and Fowler got 3,359 votes, or 42 percent.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 22, 2018

Vikki Goodwin wins Democratic nod in Travis County legislative race

With all precincts counted Tuesday night, real estate broker Vikki Goodwin easily defeated retiree association leader Elaina Fowler in the Democratic race in Texas House District 47. Goodwin earned 4,638 votes, or 58 percent, and Fowler got 3,359 votes, or 42 percent. Goodwin will face state Rep. Paul Workman, R-Austin, in the November general election.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 22, 2018

Central Texas congressional matchups take shape

Joseph Kopser and Chip Roy will square off to replace U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio. Michael Cloud upsets Bech Bruun for Republican nod to replace U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi. Democrat Mary Jennings “MJ” Hegar to face U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, in November. Mike Siegel defeated Tawana Walter-Cadien in his bid for the Democratic nomination 69.9 percent to 30.1 percent. Siegel will face Republican U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, in a district that stretches from Central Austin to near Houston. Democrat Julie Oliver will face Republican U.S. Rep. Roger Williams of Austin in November. She defeated Chris Perri 52.2 percent to 47.8 percent.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 22, 2018

Toth defeats Davidson in GOP race for 3rd Court of Appeals

Mike Toth, part of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s inner circle, defeated longtime Austin lawyer Donna Davidson in Tuesday’s Republican primary runoff for a seat on the Austin-based 3rd Court of Appeals. Toth, who entered the runoff having raised more than three times more campaign money than Davidson, had 52.8 percent of the vote with all precincts reporting Tuesday night. Toth emerged from the four-way March primary with 39.2 percent of the vote to Davidson’s 31.8 percent in a bid for a seat on the court that handles criminal and civil court appeals from the court’s 24-county area.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 22, 2018

Cole, Goodwin, Zwiener win Democratic runoffs in Texas House races

Former Austin City Council member Sheryl Cole narrowly defeated immigration attorney Jose “Chito” Vela in the Democratic runoff to replace embattled state Rep. Dawnna Dukes Tuesday night. With all precincts reporting, Cole pulled in 4,967 votes, or 50.9 percent, and Vela, earned 4,794 votes, or 49.1 percent. Cole will oppose Republican Gabriel Nila, a public school teacher, in November. The Democratic bid for Texas House District 46, which covers parts of East Austin and Pflugerville, and most of Manor, was one of the more high-profile runoffs in Central Texas.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 22, 2018

First gun violence meeting yields ‘solid’ ideas, Abbott says

Proclaiming that he learned more than expected, Gov. Greg Abbott said his first gun violence roundtable Tuesday yielded a list of “solid” ideas for protecting Texas schools, including adding more counselors, creating threat-assessment teams and requiring schools to create emergency plans with local police. Many of the suggestions can be in place before the next school year begins, Abbott said, adding that he expected additional ideas to be generated during similar meetings Wednesday and Thursday, called in the wake of last week’s Santa Fe High School shooting that left eight students and two teachers dead. “We look forward to taking these ideas, adding to them (in future roundtables), then beginning the process of making sure we lead to lasting solutions making both our schools and communities safer,” he said.

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Dallas Morning News - May 22, 2018

Colin Allred beats Lillian Salerno for chance to unseat incumbent Republican Pete Sessions

Dallas lawyer Colin Allred, the Hillcrest High School football standout who made it to the NFL before becoming a civil rights lawyer, easily outpaced Lillian Salerno to win the Democratic nomination for the 32nd Congressional District. Allred, 35, will challenge longtime incumbent Republican Pete Sessions in November, a contest that's expected to be one of the most costliest and competitive House races in the nation. "This community got involved in our campaign and I'm so grateful," Allred said Tuesday. "Through their door-knocking, block walking and neighbor-to-neighbor contact, they helped us spread our message and they are going to help us beat Pete Sessions in November."

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Dallas Morning News - May 22, 2018

DeSoto's Sherman to succeed Giddings in House 109, Mesquite's Metzger takes GOP runoff in 107

Residents of southern Dallas County chose Carl Sherman as their first new state representative in a quarter-century in Tuesday's Democratic runoff. Republicans, meanwhile, picked Deanna Maria Metzger as their hope for regaining a Dallas-Garland-Mesquite district the party lost in 2016. Metzger defeated Joe Ruzicka in Tuesday's runoff. She will face incumbent Victoria Neave in November. Sherman had the endorsement of 13-term Democratic incumbent Helen Giddings of DeSoto. But the former DeSoto mayor had ground to make up after finishing second to insurance professional DeShaundra Lockhart Jones, 47, in the primary.

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Dallas Morning News - May 22, 2018

Sutherland Springs, Santa Fe shooting victims will participate in Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's gun safety talks

Victims, educators and family members from Sutherland Springs, Santa Fe and other communities affected by shootings will discuss gun safety and school preparedness this week in Austin. Immediately after the shooting Friday at Santa Fe High School, Gov. Greg Abbott announced he would convene talks on how to better keep kids safe in the classroom. These discussions will take place Tuesday through Thursday in the state Capitol and will include "parents, teachers, students, legislators, and interest groups that advocate for and against further gun regulations." Those affected by the November shooting at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs will take part, as well as the January school shooting in Italy, Texas, and the 2016 suicide at Alpine High School in Brewster County.

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Dallas Morning News - May 22, 2018

How traffic jams at the U.S.-Mexico border ripple through the economy

You may not think very much about border transportation issues if you don't live in El Paso or Laredo, Texas, or Nogales, Ariz., or Otay Mesa, Calif. People who live in those cities know that the traffic along an increasingly active international border affects their lives daily. But what happens there also has profound effects for millions of people who live nowhere near U.S.-Mexico border. Anyone living along that border is affected (often adversely) by the exponential trade growth that causes long wait times for vehicles to cross the border. But border-crossing issues can reach far beyond there. Like sound waves, inefficiency impacts can extend vast distances, sometimes echoing in unanticipated ways.

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Dallas Morning News - May 22, 2018

Gillman: As Democrats angle to retake Congress, Texas battlegrounds come into focus

Texas Republicans pride themselves on holding more seats in Congress than counterparts from any other state. California has 53 seats in the House but only 14 Republicans. New York and Florida together have only 25 Republicans — same as Texas, not counting a temporary vacancy on the Gulf Coast. Thanks to aggressive redistricting and a host of other factors, the GOP has kept a tight grip on Texas for decades, making the state a cornerstone in the party’s national math. It takes 218 seats to control the House, and Texas alone accounts for more than a tenth of that. Democrats are eager to change the equation.

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Houston Chronicle - May 22, 2018

Ferguson: No, Dan Patrick, violent video games don't cause violence

It's becoming a familiar refrain from conservative politicians following mass shootings. Sure enough, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick claimed that the school shooting at Santa Fe High School was caused not by real guns, but by imaginary ones. ... Here are the facts. The evidence is abundantly clear at this point: Violent video games do not cause violence. Longitudinal studies of youth have not found evidence that early game playing is associated with later violence, decreased empathy or conduct problems. In fact, the release of popular violent video games like "Grand Theft Auto" are associated with immediate declines in societal violence, and long-term relationships show that increased violent game consumption is associated with reduced youth violence — and we have to remember that youth violence is down by more than 80 percent from 25 years ago.

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Houston Chronicle - May 22, 2018

Murray: Texas suburbs hold key to victory in general election

Everything we thought early voting told us about the March primaries turned out to be, if not wrong, then certainly not exactly right. A majority of both the Democratic and Republican votes were cast early during the March primary in Texas, and the early bird analyses, published before the polls closed on Election Day, emphasized a sharp increase over recent midterm turnout, especially among Democrats. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott warned of a “blue wave” building in the deeply red Lone Star State. That interpretation seemed off the mark when the final votes were tallied. Republican primary voters actually exceeded the Democratic total by more than 500,000 votes, close to the usual GOP advantage. What happened? The early vote data included only vote totals from the top 15 counties in total registration. These counties are, of course, the largest urban and suburban venues in the state, where Democrats did make large gains. But the reports did not include the other 239 Texas counties, where Republicans maintained or even increased their usual margins.

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Houston Chronicle - May 22, 2018

Texas economy growing fast, and poised for more, says Dallas Fed chief

Texas’ rapidly increasing population will give the state an economic edge in coming years as the United States wrestles with sluggish growth in both the labor force and productivity, two trends that could weigh on the nation’s economic future, said Robert Kaplan, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Kaplan, in an interview with Houston Chronicle editors and reporters, said the number of people living in Texas has grown from 22.5 million about a decade ago to more than 28 million and could rise above 40 million over the next quarter century, enabling it to outperform the nation as a whole, in coming years, said Kaplan. Population is one of two key drivers of economic growth, not only providing workers needed by businesses, but also customers who buy houses, cars and other goods and services.

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Houston Chronicle - May 21, 2018

Want cheap electricity? Move to Austin or San Antonio

Consumers in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth and Corpus Christi were promised bargains on electricity when the Texas Legislature deregulated the electricity market. But 16 years later they're still paying more for electricity than their counterparts in cities Texas lawmakers exempted from deregulation such as Austin and San Antonio, according to the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power which analyzed federal electricity pricing data. That means that customers in Houston paid an average of $5,500 more for electricity over a 14-year time span beginning in 2002, according to the group that buys electricity on behalf of municipal governments in Texas. The calculation, which uses data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, assumes monthly electricity use of 1,300 kilowatt hours.

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Houston Chronicle - May 21, 2018

HC: Teachers and brain surgeons have a lot in common

The job of a teacher is not all that different than the job of a brain surgeon. Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath made this comparison at a recent meeting with the editorial board as a way of challenging us to think about the complexity of a teacher’s job. When teachers assume control of their classrooms, they’re not responsible for one brain but for 30. And by the way, their charges are awake and giving feedback throughout the day. Yet, teachers don’t get the respect they deserve. The old saw — “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach” — is just plain wrong. Research shows that effective teachers produce as much as five times the learning gains as the least effective teachers. Our society is slow to applaud these excellent teachers’ efforts and quick to blame educators for problems over which they can have no control such as student poverty.

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San Antonio Express-News - May 22, 2018

Allison trounces Beebe to win GOP nod in District 121

Steve Allison, the former vice chairman of the VIA Metropolitan Transit board, trounced tea-party candidate Matt Beebe in the Tuesday GOP runoff for the District 121 seat in the Texas House of Representatives. The two emerged from the March primary from a field of six vying to replace Rep. Joe Straus, who announced he was stepping down from the seat. Allison, a 71-year-old lawyer, will face Celina D. Montoya, the Democratic nominee, in the November election in a solidly red district. Allison, endorsed by Straus, said voters saw a clear distinction between his campaign and Beebe, who lost his third campaign for the seat.

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San Antonio Express-News - May 22, 2018

‘Zeta’ remark brings swift consequences to runoff candidate

Joking about the Zetas, the ruthless criminal organization that lurks just across the Rio Grande, is always a bad idea in Eagle Pass. Threatening someone with a visit from them, even in jest, can be far worse, as Rudy Bowles, a candidate for Maverick County judge, has learned the hard way. Bowles, 75, who was in a Tuesday runoff election with incumbent David Saucedo, made such a statement Sunday night in a voicemail left with the chairman of the county Democratic Party.

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Texas Tribune - May 23, 2018

Ramsey: With runoffs complete, the 2018 Texas general elections begin in earnest

Tuesday’s runoffs set the major party ballots for a November general election where Texas Republicans will be trying to maintain a 24-year winning streak in statewide elections while Democrats will be trying to breach the red seawall with a blue tsunami. The top of the general election ticket was set in March, when U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican, and U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, a Democrat, won their parties’ nomination for U.S. Senate. Based on the piles of donations the two candidates have collected and the public interest they’ve generated to date, that looks to be the marquee race this year. Ordinarily, that’s the place of the race for governor; even in years when one party or the other is dominant, Texas gubernatorial races often dominate the news and public conversation in the state during non-presidential election years.

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Texas Tribune - May 23, 2018

Hardline conservatives lose big in Texas House runoffs

If most Texas House Republican primary runoffs split the party into two warring factions, voters on Tuesday clearly chose a side. Establishment Republicans backed by groups like the Associated Republicans of Texas fell on one side; on the other were Tea Party-aligned candidates funded generously by conservative groups like Empower Texans and the anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life. And the voters on Tuesday firmly backed the center-right candidates — to the tune of well over 10 percent in most cases.

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Texas Tribune - May 18, 2018

McHenry: What Texas parents need to know about STAAR

This spring, children, teens, teachers, schools and parents are receiving results from the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness, which attempts to measure the knowledge and skills acquired by students across the state. The statewide assessment is an important part of how we measure student success, along with evaluating the success or failure at the classroom, school and district levels. These tests are identified through the well-earned title of "high-stakes testing" because of implications for school funding and accountability — and students. Because of these critical issues, statewide standardized testing has drawn criticism. In fact, the grassroots Committee to Stop STAAR filed an ongoing lawsuit in 2016 that in part seeks to bring greater public awareness to the “negative impacts of STAAR” on public schools.

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Reuters - May 22, 2018

Texas leaders want more screening and more guns to prevent more shootings

Texas political leaders are considering installing airport-style security at public schools and screening students for mental health issues as alternatives to gun control to thwart a repeat of last week’s deadly shooting at a Houston-area high school. ... “Texas Republicans look at this tragedy and they do not see the gun as the problem,” said Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston. “They see the person as the problem and security as the second problem.” ... The Republican-controlled legislature is out of session until January 2019, making it nearly impossible for the state to implement and fund any major changes that come out of this week’s three roundtable discussions. “The roundtables are more political theater than anything else,” Jones said.

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Washington Times - May 22, 2018

Ted Cruz leads Democrat Beto O’Rourke in Texas Senate race: Poll

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz leads his Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke by seven percentage points in the U.S. Senate race in Texas, according to a JMC Analytics and Polling survey released Tuesday. The survey found Mr. Cruz has a 47 percent to 40 percent lead over Mr. O’Rourke, with 6 percent of registered voters lining up behind independent Jonathan Jenkins and 7 percent still up for grabs. In the poll analysis, the group described Mr. Cruz’s lead as “modest.” They said Mr. O’Rourke is not well-known statewide and that Mr. Cruz’s approval rating is “underwater” in his home state. Forty-two percent approved of the job Mr. Cruz is doing, while 44 percent disapproved, according to the poll, which had a 4.1 percent margin of error.

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Wall St. Journal - May 22, 2018

Father of Accused Texas Shooter Believes Bullying Was Behind Rampage

The father of the 17-year-old charged with killing 10 people at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas, said Monday that his son was a “good boy” and had been “mistreated at school.” Antonios Pagourtzis said in a brief phone interview with The Wall Street Journal that his son Dimitrios was bullied and “I believe that’s what was behind” the shooting. Dimitrios Pagourtzis is being held without bond at the Galveston County Jail after he allegedly burst into an art classroom Friday morning at Santa Fe High School armed with a shotgun and pistol and opened fire, before surrendering to police. In a probable cause statement, authorities said he admitted to the shooting.

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Weekly Standard - May 22, 2018

Williamson: Remember Who Works for Whom, Chief Acevedo

Houston's police chief should stick to policing crime in his city rather than the political views of the people for whom he works. After the school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, Houston police chief Art Acevedo took to Facebook to share his thoughts. “I know some have strong feelings about gun rights,” he wrote, “but I want you to know I’ve hit rock bottom and I am not interested in your views as it pertains to this issue.” I’ve met Chief Acevedo, and he seems to me a good guy with a tough job, but he’s out of bounds here. Like a great many police chiefs and other civil servants in this ailing republic, he could stand being reminded of who works for whom. Police chiefs are not lawmakers. It is not Chief Acevedo’s job to decide what kind of gun laws Texas—or the United States—has or does not have. Like any citizen, Chief Acevedo is entitled to his opinion, but he doesn’t have any special competence or standing to speak on the issue of gun control. What he has is only a point of view.

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County Stories

Houston Chronicle - May 22, 2018

Judge booted from death row case after racial comments

On the heels of a number of racially charged comments about African-American defendants, Harris County Judge Michael McSpadden has been removed from the appeal of a black death row prisoner. Defense lawyers in March asked the jurist to recuse himself from the case of George Curry, who was sentenced to die in 2009 after he was convicted of killing a teen during a restaurant robbery. But McSpadden refused, prompting a hearing this month in front of another judge who agreed to step in and handle the matter. During the May 1 court appearance, prosecutors did not oppose the request to remove McSpadden from the case.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 22, 2018

Audit: Title transfer irregularities might mean tax shortfall of $1M

Travis County could owe the state more than $1 million in unremitted state taxes because of faulty vehicle title transfers by a then-state authorized company, according to a county audit released Tuesday. The audit, officials have said, was the impetus of a multiagency fraud investigation that has led to the arrest of seven people, including four Precinct 1 and 2 county tax office employees, since Friday. Twelve other employees were placed on leave Friday by Bruce Elfant, the county’s tax assessor-collector, who said he acted “out of an abundance of caution.”

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City Stories

Austin American-Statesman - May 22, 2018

Feuding Austin lawyers accused of racist, lewd and anti-gay remarks

The hostility between defense attorney Skip Davis and prosecutors was a constant sideshow during a recent criminal trial that could result in both sides making formal complaints against each other. It peaked when Davis, who is black, accused lawyers with the Travis County district attorney’s office of making a banana joke aimed at him, and a racist comment about him and a noose. After the trial ended in a guilty verdict, Davis stormed out of the courtroom, allegedly calling the other side liars and cheaters. The exact words Davis used in that outburst could soon become the focus of an investigation — attorneys at the district attorney’s office say he used an anti-gay slur.

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Houston Chronicle - May 22, 2018

Chief Art Acevedo battles NRA in heated exchanges after Santa Fe massacre

What started with a pained Facebook post by Chief Art Acevedo after yet another school shooting Friday has escalated into a full-on war of words with the nation’s gun lobby. ... Acevedo’s frustrated cry — followed by a Facebook post where he said he’d hit “rock bottom” and told people they could unfriend him if they thought guns weren’t a problem — was met with swift reaction from the National Rifle Association and some prominent conservatives. “@ArtAcevedo plays the part of a police chief … he says he wants to go after criminals, but for him apparently the easiest way to do that is to make new criminals that are easy to catch — make criminals out of law-abiding gun owners,” NRATV tweeted late Monday.

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Dallas Morning News - May 22, 2018

Dallas candidate who promised to reward kids for marrying white loses by 25 votes

Dallas attorney J.J. Koch eked out a win for the Republican nomination for Dallas County commissioner, beating Vickers "Vic" Cunningham, a former judge who drew national headlines over alleged racist behavior and language. Twenty-five votes decided the race for northern Dallas County's District 2 seat. Because the race was so close, Cunningham could have the right to request a recount. It was unclear whether he would. "That was totally bonkers," Koch said. "To say that this race was contentious is an understatement. To say that the last four days were bad for the Republican party is an understatement."

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National Stories

Dallas Morning News - May 22, 2018

House votes to rollback some Obama-era banking rules, giving Trump partial Dodd-Frank repeal

The contentious banking deregulation bill passed by the House on Tuesday is the "most important pro-growth piece of credit opportunity and banking legislation in almost a generation," says Dallas Rep. Jeb Hensarling. But the GOP chairman of the House Financial Services Committee still can't help but look longingly at some criticism of the measure. "They say that this guts Dodd-Frank," he said, referring to the sweeping Obama-era banking rules enacted in the wake of the Great Recession. "I wish 10 percent of what they said were true. I would be celebrating even more this historic achievement."

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Washington Post - May 22, 2018

How the FBI informant’s outreach to Trump staffers fits into overall investigation

On Monday evening, The Washington Post revealed the identity of the FBI informant at the center of President Trump’s recent frustrations. Over the course of 2016, emeritus professor at the University of Cambridge Stefan A. Halper contacted three people affiliated with Trump’s foreign-policy advisory team, two of whom were subjects of known FBI investigations beginning that summer. Trump and his allies have criticized Halper’s contribution to the FBI’s investigation as an unwarranted intrusion into Trump’s campaign itself. Trump has repeatedly insisted that reports about Halper’s work showed bias on the part of the FBI that was a scandal “bigger than Watergate.” What’s known about Halper’s outreach, though, suggests a modest effort to get information from particular people who were already the subject of FBI scrutiny. Two people he contacted, foreign policy advisers George Papadopoulos and Carter Page, initially met Halper in London — not, as some have implied, after Halper took some sort of position with the Trump campaign. (He did not do so.)

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Dallas Morning News - May 22, 2018

Leubsdorf: Here's a bigger threat to Trump than impeachment

In recent weeks, Republican leaders have sought to motivate potentially lagging GOP turnout in November's mid-term elections by hoisting the bloody flag of impeachment, warning that the main goal of a Democratic House would be to launch proceedings to drive Donald Trump from office. Admittedly, some Democrats openly tout that goal. But the party's top leaders have made clear it's not their intention, in part because, at this point, no one can predict if Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe will conclude by accusing Trump of the "high crimes and misdemeanors" needed for impeachment. A greater likelihood, and perhaps a far greater threat to Trump and the GOP, is that a Democratic House would begin to perform the congressional oversight functions that Republicans have basically ignored after spending the previous six years going after Barack Obama's Democratic administration.

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Politico - May 22, 2018

When the CIA Infiltrated a Presidential Campaign

resident Donald Trump seems to believe that FBI agents infiltrated his presidential campaign for political purposes, and has tweeted that the bureau’s actions could amount to a scandal “bigger than Watergate.” Trump hasn’t provided evidence to support these allegations, but regardless of their veracity, there is precedent for an American intelligence agency spying on a presidential campaign. It happened in the summer of 1964; the target was Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, and the perpetrator was the CIA, not the FBI. A CIA officer named E. Howard Hunt—later made infamous for his role in the Watergate break-in—was in charge of the operation. Hunt’s role in the Goldwater caper can be traced back to his involvement in the CIA’s disastrous attempt to depose Fidel Castro by landing a ragtag group of Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961. Like many agency officers associated with the fiasco, he was put in a kind of purgatory, assigned to a desk job that lacked the excitement or career-advancement potential of foreign clandestine operations.

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Ft. Worth Star-Telegram - May 22, 2018

Malcolm: That clown car again: GOP House members defeat GOP House members

Elect a Congress dominated by Republicans, they said. It’ll be fun, they said. Both houses will work together then to enact a broad GOP legislative agenda, so a Republican president can sign them into law. And voters will see how effectively a unified government in Washington can work, they said. ... So, how’s that working out for ya? Quite badly actually. So badly, in fact, that polls and historical patterns point toward Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats taking back House control in November, not by anything they’re doing, but because the majority Republican caucus is behaving like schoolyard kids arguing over who gets to be pitcher until the recess bell ends the debate. President Trump’s frequent criticisms of his own party are self-destructive, enhancing the impression of a do-little Congress that could dampen GOP turnout in November and leave the White House stymied.

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Dallas Morning News - May 22, 2018

Cruz and Cornyn join broad rebuke of Trump's push to save ZTE, Chinese cellphone maker that busted Iran sanctions

Texas Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz joined a broad coalition that issued a stern warning Tuesday to the administration, hoping to derail President Donald Trump's push to lift penalties on giant Chinese phone maker ZTE. The firm faces ruin after the Commerce Department barred it from buying U.S. components, because it violated sanctions on Iran and North Korea and then lied about its actions. "We urge you not to compromise lawful U.S. enforcement actions against serial and pre-meditated violators of U.S. law, such as ZTE," the senators wrote. "Export control and sanctions laws should not be negotiable, because fidelity to the rule of law is a key part of what distinguishes the U.S. from a country like China that is ruled by a Communist dictatorship."

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Politico - May 22, 2018

How anti-abortion forces learned to love Trump

President Donald Trump on Tuesday night was feted by a leading anti-abortion group that called him the most "pro-life president" ever. It's the exact same group that just two years ago begged Iowa caucus voters to nominate “anyone” but Trump. “I’m totally eating my words,” said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser, who praised Trump at the group's annual gala in Washington. “It’s the happiest wrong I’ve ever been." Thanks to Trump, the anti-abortion movement has notched victories on federal funding for Planned Parenthood, allowing businesses to opt out of contraception coverage in health plans and confirming conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

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Los Angeles Times - May 22, 2018

Law firm of Stormy Daniels' attorney hit with $10-million judgment

The law firm of Stormy Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti was hit with a $10-million judgment Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court after he broke his promise to pay $2 million to a former colleague. Judge Catherine Bauer of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Santa Ana ordered the Eagan Avenatti law firm to pay the $10 million to Jason Frank, a lawyer who used to work at the Newport Beach firm. ... To settle his law firm's bankruptcy, Avenatti had personally guaranteed that the $2 million would be paid to Frank last week, but both he and his firm failed to turn over the money. ... At the hearing, the U.S. Justice Department revealed that Avenatti has also defaulted on just over $440,000 in back taxes, penalties and interest that he had personally promised to pay the Internal Revenue Service under another bankruptcy settlement for his law firm.

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Politico - May 22, 2018

Trump-backed prison reform bill sails through House

A bipartisan prison reform bill backed by President Donald Trump sailed through the House on Tuesday — but it could be left to languish in the Senate amid internal Republican squabbles over the scope of the legislation. The bill, which would provide training programs for prisoners with the goal of reducing recidivism rates, easily passed the House in a 360-59 vote. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has signaled he’s unlikely to bring up the bill in the Senate unless Republicans can resolve their differences. Now, supporters of the House measure are hoping Trump will use his bully pulpit to nudge Senate opponents to the negotiating table.

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Washington Post - May 22, 2018

A one-time business associate of Michael Cohen known as New York’s ‘Taxi King’ has agreed to cooperate with federal investigators

A New York taxi operator pleaded guilty Tuesday to improperly pocketing $5 million in state tax money and has agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors as they investigate President Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, according to a person familiar with the case. Evgeny “Gene” Freidman, an immigrant from the former Soviet Union long known as the “taxi king” of New York, pleaded guilty to criminal tax fraud in Albany County Court. He is a former business partner of Cohen who managed taxis owned by the president’s lawyer for several years. Freidman’s cooperation agreement could be a significant development for Cohen, whose personal business practices are under investigation by the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is leading the federal Russia investigation, has also scrutinized Cohen’s activities and business relationships.

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Washington Post - May 22, 2018

Democratic voters reject tradition, choosing outsiders in their quest to regain power

Fresh faces with compelling life stories prevailed in Democratic primaries across several southern states Tuesday, beating candidates with deeper political pedigrees and more governing experience in several key races. The results marked an ongoing embrace by Democratic voters of non-politicians, women, veterans and nonwhite candidates to lead the party’s effort to take back control of the House and governors’ mansions this fall. Voters in Kentucky nominated Amy McGrath, the first Marine woman to fly an F-18 fighter jet, for a key House seat in Lexington over the candidate favored by party leaders, a two-term mayor who ran on a promise to bring “adult supervision” to Washington.

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Dallas Morning News - May 21, 2018

Mexico's presidential candidates pull together to send Trump a message

GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- In a rare moment of unity, Mexico's four presidential candidates have demanded protection for Mexican citizens whose lives have been turned upside down by President Donald Trump's relentless crackdown on immigrants. "We will look for a relationship with the United States based on mutual respect, not subordination," said frontrunner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, head of MORENA, the National Regeneration Movement. "We won't be subordinate to Trump or to any other foreign government." The candidates stood up to Trump in a heated, at times awkward if not comical second presidential debate that ended near midnight Sunday in the northern border city of Tijuana. It was tagged "Mexico's place in the world," but the vast majority of the 90-minute debate was largely limited to U.S.- Mexico issues. In between the name-calling, Trump was the punching bag for large parts of the evening.

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Washington Post - May 22, 2018

Court sides with transgender Va. student in his fight to use the boys’ bathroom

A federal judge in Virginia sided Tuesday with a transgender teenager who spent most of his high school years fighting to use the boys’ bathroom, ruling that school officials violated his constitutional rights. Gavin Grimm sued the Gloucester County School Board after it barred him from the boys’ bathroom. The case made Grimm, now a 19-year-old activist in Berkeley, Calif., the face of a national fight for transgender student rights and ascended to the Supreme Court. The decision comes nearly a year after Grimm graduated from Gloucester High School. But it could provide leverage for other transgender students seeking to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity.

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Newsclips - May 22, 2018

Lead Stories

Austin American-Statesman - May 21, 2018

Four races to watch in Tuesday’s runoff elections

Runoff elections, ending the 2018 primary season, are being held Tuesday across the state. The polls are open from 7 a.m to 7 p.m. Voters can participate in a runoff if they participated in that party’s primary or didn’t vote at all in the primary. Here are four races to watch.: Valdez v. White: Who will Democrats nominate as their candidate to take on Gov. Greg Abbott in the fall — Lupe Valdez, the 70-year-old former Dallas County sheriff, who promises to rally Latinos to the polls, or 45-year-old Andrew White, a successful Houston entrepreneur and son of the late Gov. Mark White, who believes he has the middle-of-the-road profile of Democrats getting elected this year in red states?

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Dallas Morning News - May 21, 2018

After Santa Fe shooting, Gov. Greg Abbott cancels his 'Texas-made' shotgun contest

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has decided not to give away a shotgun in the wake of the shooting at Santa Fe High School. On Monday, Abbott campaign spokesman John Wittman confirmed the governor, who is currently running for re-election, will no longer be raffling off a "Texas-made shotgun." The contest winner will instead receive a gift certificate. "It has been changed," Wittman told The Dallas Morning News. "Now it's just a contest for a $250 gift certificate." Gun control activists criticized Abbott for the raffle, demanding he take it down after the Friday morning rampage. The shooter, 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis, used a shotgun and a pistol to mow down 10 of his fellow Santa Fe students and teachers.

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The New Yorker - May 21, 2018

Will the Fervor to Impeach Donald Trump Start a Democratic Civil War?

Al Green cuts a distinctive figure around the Capitol. He is, for starters, the only male member of the House of Representatives with a ponytail. He expresses himself with a kind of baroque humility; to the question “How are you?” he invariably responds, “Better than I deserve.” (Elaborating, if asked, he says that he is a “recovering sinner.”) He is unusual, too, because, while most politicians call attention to their triumphs and hide their failures, Green reserves a place of honor in his congressional office for two reminders of crushing, if perhaps temporary, legislative defeats. Last year, Green—who, since 2005, has represented a district centered on Houston—sponsored the first vote in the House of Representatives on the impeachment of President Donald Trump. On December 6th, the House rejected Green’s initiative to bring impeachment up for debate by a vote of 364–58. The following month, the House rejected a similar attempt by Green, this time by a vote of 355–66. Notwithstanding the lopsided results, Green has placed copies of each of the resolutions in portfolios embossed with the gold seal of the House. The December resolution is paired with a list of the members who voted for it—they are called “the first 58.” The January resolution faces a page containing the names of its supporters, who are called “the historic 66.” Green sent identical copies of the portfolios to all the congressmen who voted with hi

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Politico - May 22, 2018

Dems grit their teeth and cheer for Trump on North Korea

Democrats face a political minefield ahead of President Donald Trump’s historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un: how to root for success for a president they usually want to see flounder. Trump is reportedly reevaluating the prospects for a significant denuclearization commitment from Kim, but if he manages to land a foreign policy coup that has eluded past presidents, it couldn’t come at a worse time for Democrats. The party is planning to center its midterm campaign message around the numerous scandals engulfing the administration. A successful meeting with Kim, however, would give Trump and the GOP — already encouraged by record-low unemployment and other positive economic indicators — a big morale boost just a few months before the November midterms.

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State Stories

Austin American-Statesman - May 21, 2018

Texas given 45 days to fix motor-voter violation; Paxton appeals

A federal judge has given Texas officials 45 days to correct an online voter registration system that was found to violate federal law, rejecting state arguments that the ordered changes cannot be accomplished before Dec. 1. U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia of San Antonio said the tight deadline was justified because the November election is looming, state officials have been aware of the problem for more than two years and the proposed changes are not as difficult as portrayed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 21, 2018

Abbott to kick off 3 days of gun discussions Tuesday

Inviting advocates on opposing sides of the gun debate, Gov. Greg Abbott will kick off three days of roundtable discussions on school safety with a Tuesday event featuring districts that arm teachers or have partnerships with local police. The hastily organized Capitol meetings will be closed to the public and open to the media only at the beginning and end of the discussions, Abbott’s office said. Abbott said this week’s meetings, announced after eight students and two teachers were shot to death at Santa Fe High School on Friday, will feature parents, teachers, students and lawmakers as well as experts in school safety, mental health and bullying. The governor also will hear from those affected by school shootings in Alpine, Italy and Santa Fe as well as November’s attack that killed 26 in a Sutherland Springs church.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 20, 2018

Smith: When will Texas finally outsmart its transportation trolls?

Looking at our transportation woes, how can there be any humans left who still believe themselves at the top of the animal kingdom? Ants seem to march along their chosen ways with ease and without argument. The gently trod paths of whitetail deer emerge from the wood without controversy. Even cats and dogs in the same crowded house keep to their own lanes. Not us. If we were ants or deer, we’d have starved already from our gridlocked immobility. With apologies to Robert Frost, there are no longer any roads not taken. The leadership in Texas and the nation is paralyzed, afraid to raise taxes to build the necessary transportation infrastructure. Do they believe their tenure is somehow more important than the time it takes your ambulance to get through traffic to the emergency room?

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Austin American-Statesman - May 20, 2018

Quintero: Texas underutilizes motor fuel tax, design-build process

For several decades, a provision in the Texas Constitution has dedicated one-fourth of the motor fuels tax to the Available School Fund (ASF), a fund setup to support public education. Hence, 25 percent of the taxes that you pay at the pump go to help fund K-12 activities — even though there’s no direct relationship there, and plenty of other sources available for schools. What do this diversion look like in dollar terms? In fiscal year 2017 alone, the ASF received $873 million in motor fuels tax revenues. Since 2010, the amount of transportation tax dollars diverted into the public education has grown to a staggering $6.5 billion. Allowing this diversion to persist is not sound policy.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 20, 2018

Williamson County Democrats square off in congressional runoff

The two Democratic candidates in the primary runoff for the 31st Congressional District, which encompasses fast-growing suburbs north of Austin and stretches north to Fort Hood, seem determined to say nothing critical — or really much of anything — about each other. Mary Jennings Hegar, known as “MJ,” an author and former military helicopter pilot, and Christine Eady Mann, a family practice physician, are political novices motivated to run by the divisive 2016 campaign of President Donald Trump. They see the district’s incumbent, U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, as a Trump acolyte. Both would face long odds in defeating Carter, who has easily won re-election seven times in the GOP-leaning district.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 21, 2018

First Reading: `For God’s sake, she’s just a nice Jewish girl from Texas.’ How Hillary Clinton misunderestimated Amy Chozick

I haven’t been here all that long (5.5 years), but for those of you who were here back at the turn of the century, somewhere between 1998 and 2001, I have a question. Did you ever go to the Barton Springs Sno-Beach and order a Tigers Blood or Wedding Cake sno-cone and you were served by this pretty young UT student? ... Yes? Well, that was Amy Chozick who spent four years in Austin, working at Sno-Beach and Tesoros, getting a dual degree in English and Latin American studies and writing mostly arts and leisure stories for the Daily Texan. ... OK. So here we have in Chozick,a reporter who stood and clapped the first time she saw Clinton at a town hall, whose ambition was to have that byline for the ages under the story on the election of the first woman president, who wanted to cover the first woman president, but who, because she did her job in ways that were not always pleasing to Clinton and the circle of men around her, was frozen out in a way that undermined Clinton’s ability to communicate who she was and to be elected president.

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Houston Chronicle - May 21, 2018

Tomlinson: Cryptocurrencies are fads, but blockchains are forever

The Texas State Securities Board is cracking down on crypto-currency scams left, right and center, but legitimate businesses are adopting the underlying blockchain technology to make money. Texas Securities Commissioner Travis Iles recently entered a cease and desist order against Wind Wide Coin Inc., a company allegedly operating in Houston and fraudulently offering investments in cryptocurrency trading. The unidentified business operators listed a fake address in Houston and posted a photo of Britain’s Prince Charles as a satisfied investor. The Wind Wide Coin scheme, like so many others, claimed to have a computer program that would guarantee one-day returns of 900 percent. Investigators are left playing a game of Whack-a-Mole as similar scams keep popping up

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Houston Chronicle - May 21, 2018

What Texans think causes mass shootings and what they get wrong

To understand how closely public opinion aligns with reality, Chron.com reached out to Adam Lankford, a criminology professor at the University of Alabama whose 2015 study of mass shootings in 171 countries has been widely cited. Viewing the poll numbers, Lankford said that mental health and gun control as the top two answers from respondents makes sense. "They very much reflect the political narrative around mass shootings," he said. "In incidents like Sutherland Springs or Columbine, there were both mental health problems and guns there, but the average person doesn't know which to blame."

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Houston Chronicle - May 21, 2018

'Dreamer' petition could force DACA vote on House floor

Two months after efforts to protect "Dreamers" fractured into a frenzy of opposing factions, a rebellion of Republican moderates – including a border-district lawmaker from Texas – could force Congress to try again. Their gambit, which ran headlong into a counterattack by conservatives using the fight to derail a major farm bill last week, is just a few votes short of a majority that could trigger a series of votes offering hope to beneficiaries of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. "We know what our vote count is, and we're going to get to the 218 that's necessary," Texas U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, a San Antonio Republican who has been leading the effort, said Monday in an interview. "We want to have an honest debate on the floor."

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San Antonio Express-News - May 21, 2018

More Texans to hit the road for Memorial Day weekend since 2005

Texans will hit the road Memorial Day weekend in numbers not seen since 2005, according to AAA Texas. Nearly 3 million Texans are expected to get in their cars and travel this weekend, a 4.7 percent increase over 2017. Another 256,000 Texans are expected to travel by plane, a 7.2 percent increase over 2017, while 162,000 are expected to use other modes of transit, a 2.1 percent increase, AAA Texas said. Kent Livesay, general manager of AAA Texas, said high gas prices are not deterring Texas drivers from hitting the road for the long weekend.

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San Antonio Express-News - May 21, 2018

On heightened alert after Santa Fe, districts report gun incidents at several schools

Seven Houston-area schools were threatened with guns Monday morning, less than three days after a 17-year-old gunman opened fire at Santa Fe High School, killing 10 and wounding 13. A student at League City Intermediate in Clear Creek ISD, located less than 15 miles from Santa Fe High, brought an unloaded gun with him to school Monday morning. He was arrested and transported to a juvenile detention facility, according to school district officials. In Cleveland ISD, a student brought a plastic replica of a Beretta 9mm Semi-automatic pistol to Eastside Elementary School and showed it to classmates. The replica fired pellets and had functional "red-dot" laser affixed beneath the barrel, according to Cleveland ISD Police Chief Rex Evans.

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Dallas Morning News - May 21, 2018

What General Electric's $11 billion deal means for its Fort Worth locomotive plant

General Electric Transportation, which operates a locomotive and mining manufacturing plant in Fort Worth, is merging with Pennsylvania-based Wabtec Corp. in a deal valued at $11.1 billion, the companies said Monday. The combined company will keep the Wabtec name, with GE and its shareholders receiving a 50.1 percent ownership stake and Wabtec shareholders the remaining 49.9 percent. GE will also receive a $2.9 billion cash payment as part of the deal, which is expected to close early next year. GE's transportation unit had been speculated about for months as a potential target for a spin-off or sale as the Boston-based industrial giant looked to restructure its businesses and turn around lagging financial performance.

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Dallas Morning News - May 21, 2018

Death of teenager in Texas state lockup being investigated as 'potential suicide'

A teenager found dead over the weekend in one of the state's youth prisons may have committed suicide. The 16-year-old boy, who is from Nueces County, was found unresponsive Friday night at the Evins Regional Juvenile Center in Edinburg in the Rio Grande Valley. On Monday, an agency spokesman said the death was being investigated as a "potential suicide," the Texas Tribune reported, and could not provide more details. "Despite the best efforts of the medical staff, the youth could not be revived and was pronounced dead," Camille Cain, executive director of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, said Saturday in a prepared statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the youth's family and friends."

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Texas Tribune - May 22, 2018

In Texas, Democrats can vote in the Republican primary — and vice versa. How do party leaders feel about it?

Hey Texplainer: I’m a Democrat, but I voted in the Republican primary. How do party leaders feel about that? Texas voters are going to the polls Tuesday to choose their parties’ nominees for a slew of statewide and local elections. Or, if they’d rather, they can weigh in on the other party’s primary runoffs instead. In Texas, primaries are open. That means it’s not uncommon for people to cast ballots in the opposite party’s primary. A Republican who wants a say in which Democrat challenges Gov. Greg Abbott in November could cast a vote in the Democratic runoff race — as long as the voter didn’t cast a ballot in the March Republican primary. The same is true about a Democrat who wants to weigh in on a local GOP runoff.

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Texas Tribune - May 21, 2018

After anti-wall website launches on the border, Texas Farm Bureau fires off cease-and-desist letter

A group of Texans that has opened up a new front in the battle against President Donald Trump’s proposed wall on the southern border have already prompted one interest group to threaten legal action, accusing the coalition of misleading people about eminent domain issues. But the organizers of defendtx.org said they welcomed the response as a sign that their mission — to call out what they say is hypocrisy over the issue of property rights — is gaining steam. The Texas Farm Bureau on Thursday sent the website's administrators a cease-and-desist letter after it featured a photo of a former farm bureau president and quoted him railing against the government’s efforts to seize private land — the quote from former Farm Bureau president Kenneth Dierschke is more than 10 years old and was in response to former Gov. Rick Perry’s trans-Texas corridor project.

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Texas Tribune - May 21, 2018

Identity politics, changing demographics take center stage in Sheryl Cole and Chito Vela's race in Austin

If Sheryl Cole wins Tuesday’s Democratic primary runoff for House District 46, she’d be favored to continue the Austin area’s 43-year legacy of having one legislative seat held by an African-American. If Chito Vela wins, the Democratic-leaning district would be likely to see its first Hispanic representative since Hispanics became the district’s largest demographic group nearly two decades ago. In a race between two candidates with few major ideological differences, the question of racial representation has dominated the debate in the campaign’s final days.

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New York Times - May 21, 2018

Police Confronted Texas School Gunman Within 4 Minutes, Sheriff Says

In many ways, Santa Fe High School followed the playbook for how to confront a school shooting. When gunfire erupted on Friday morning, two police officers stationed at the school confronted the gunman within about four minutes, law enforcement officials reported Monday, offering new details on how the police brought the shooting spree to an end. The Galveston County Sheriff, Henry Trochesset, said the officers hemmed the gunman into one classroom and saved lives by drawing his attention and fire. Even before then, the students and teachers at Santa Fe High had prepared for how to respond to a shooting: Through regular active shooter drills, they knew to barricade themselves in classrooms and flee the school grounds quickly and fluidly. Other police officers among the more than 200 who eventually responded had done “alert training” and kept their marksmanship honed.

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Ft. Worth Star-Telegram - May 21, 2018

Geren, Nelson: New program will keep doctors from leaving North Texas

For too long, Texas hasn’t kept enough doctors at home. We're facing shortages, preventing many Texans from accessing the quality health care they need. The statistics are troubling. Texas ranks 41st in the nation for physicians per 100,000 residents and 47th for primary care physicians, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Each medical student in Texas represents a $168,000 investment. If there aren't enough residency slots available, we lose those graduates to other states. That's why the Texas Legislature has increased funding for graduate medical education by $60 million over the last two sessions. We also established a permanent endowment to fund residency slots.

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Washington Post - May 21, 2018

Phillips: Why Democrats trying to build a blue wave in Texas are leaning left in the primaries

The big story in Tuesday's primaries across four states, anchored by runoffs in Texas, is that Democrats can't decide what direction to go in the era of Trump. Should they focus on getting out their already energized base by electing candidates that will fire them up? Or should they try to reach out to disenchanted independent and Republican voters with candidates whom those voters will find more amenable? That battle has manifested most clearly in a Democratic congressional primary outside Houston, in one of Texas Democrats' best pickup opportunities of 2018. In the 7th Congressional District, Tuesday will bring a runoff between Lizzie Fletcher, who is trying to appeal to the center, and Laura Moser, an unapologetic liberal.

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Associated Press - May 21, 2018

Protesters shut down commercial bridge linking Mexico, Texas

At least 200 demonstrators blocked a major commercial bridge between Mexico and Texas to protest the disappearance of dozens of people in the border city of Nuevo Laredo, snarling traffic in both directions for most of Monday. The protest began around 9:30 a.m. at the bridge, which is used exclusively by cargo trucks traveling between Tamaulipas state and Laredo, Texas, and was still going on as of late afternoon. Thousands of trucks make the crossing each day, and long lines of tractor-trailers backed up along the highway. Demonstrators were protesting what they consider a weak response by authorities to 43 complaints filed with prosecutors over disappearances in Nuevo Laredo.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express News

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County Stories

Dallas Morning News - May 21, 2018

DPS says video proves trooper didn’t sexually assault woman, despite viral online claims

The Texas Department of Public Safety says it has video footage that disproves a woman’s allegations that she was sexually assaulted by an officer in Ellis County early Sunday morning. The dash-cam video has not been released publicly. DPS said Monday it is working to release the video to the public "as soon as possible." Lee Merritt, a Dallas attorney representing the woman, said in a statement Monday that his client was pulled over around 1:30 a.m. Sunday on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. The DPS trooper who pulled over the woman offered to let her go in exchange for sexual favors, according to the statement. Merritt said when his client declined, the officer sexually assaulted her.

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Dallas Morning News - May 21, 2018

Dallas-area charters lag behind traditional public schools, according to new report

A statewide education advocacy group says traditional public schools outperformed charter campuses in North Texas last year. About 45 percent of area school district campuses earned A's and B's while only 27 percent of charter schools got those top marks in an annual report released Wednesday by Houston-based Children At Risk. The Children At Risk grades could be a preview of what's to come as the state begins issuing its own grades for the first time in a new A-F accountability system. The state will start grading districts this year and individual campuses the following year.

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Texas Tribune - May 21, 2018

Border county judge candidate arrested after he allegedly makes cartel threat

A candidate in a hotly contested runoff to be a border county judge has turned himself in to police after he was accused of threatening to send a Mexican drug cartel after the county party chairman, according to authorities. The election is Tuesday. The candidate in the Democratic runoff for Maverick County judge, Rudy Bowles, left a voicemail Sunday afternoon for the chairman, Luis Ruiz, demanding a "list of the judges for each one of the precincts," Ruiz told police. "I need to know right away," Bowles said. "If you don’t call me within 30 minutes, I am going to call the damn Zetas from across the river and they’re going looking for you, OK. Call me please, I don’t want to have to do that."

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City Stories

Austin American-Statesman - May 21, 2018

No car? No problem. Lyft offering drivers rental vehicles

Ride-hailing service Lyft is now offering would-be drivers the opportunity to lease a car through a partner, Flexdrive. Aaron Fox, Lyft’s general manager for Austin, says hundreds of people have taken advantage of the Express Drive program in Central Texas since its launch. “The core of our business is getting cars on the road,” Fox said. “There was a realization that not everyone who wants to be able to earn money with Lyft has a car available all the time. Vehicle ownership shouldn’t be an obstacle.”

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Associated Press - May 21, 2018

San Antonio, other cities activate Stage 1 watering restrictions

While storms on Sunday helped replenish the Edwards Aquifer, the rainfall wasn’t enough to stave off landscape watering restrictions on Monday. San Antonio and several other cities told their water customers to limit outdoor watering with irrigation systems and sprinklers to once a week, according to a schedule based on the last number of a building’s address. Sprinkler watering in San Antonio is allowed only before 11 a.m. or after 7 p.m., and is banned overnight and on weekends. Under Stage 1 restrictions of the San Antonio Water System, off-duty police will give warnings and may issue tickets to people who repeatedly ignore the rules regarding sprinkler watering, with fines at $250 in municipal court.

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San Antonio Express-News - May 21, 2018

New study boosts local campaign for paid sick leave

The campaign to make mandatory paid sick leave a reality in San Antonio just got some statistical reinforcement. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) has released a new study which finds that approximately 39 percent of San Antonio workers lack paid sick leave, a figure which puts San Antonio above the estimated national average of 36 percent. The study also determined that San Antonio has about 354,000 workers without paid sick leave, compared to 302,000 for Dallas and 223,000 for Austin. IWPR’s report determined that the percentages of San Antonians getting by without paid sick leave are particularly high for Latinos (43 percent) and those working in service occupations (62 percent).

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National Stories

The Hill - May 21, 2018

DOJ, Trump reach deal on expanded Russia review

President Trump and the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday reached an agreement to allow the inspector general to investigate conservative claims of FBI wrongdoing in the Russia probe, defusing at least for now a burgeoning crisis between the White House and senior law enforcement officials. After summoning top DOJ, FBI and intelligence officials to the White House, Trump agreed the DOJ’s inspector general should “expand its current investigation to include any irregularities with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s or the Department of Justice’s tactics concerning the Trump Campaign,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

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Associated Press - May 21, 2018

FBI, Justice to 'review' classified info sought by lawmakers

Ratcheting up pressure on the Russia investigation, the White House announced Monday that top FBI and Justice Department officials have agreed to meet with congressional leaders and "review" highly classified information the lawmakers have been seeking on the handling of the probe. The agreement came after President Donald Trump made an extraordinary demand that the Justice Department investigate whether the FBI infiltrated his presidential campaign. It's unclear exactly what the members will be allowed to review or if the Justice Department will be providing any documents to Congress.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express-News

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Washington Post - May 22, 2018

White House to convene GOP lawmakers to review classified information on FBI source

The White House and the Justice Department have put off a high-stakes confrontation over the FBI’s use of a confidential source to aid an investigation into the Trump campaign, after top law enforcement and intelligence officials met with President Trump on Monday to discuss the brewing controversy. A White House spokeswoman said Chief of Staff John F. Kelly plans to convene another gathering between the officials and congressional leaders to “review highly classified and other information” about the source and intelligence he provided. That could be viewed as something of a concession from the Justice Department, which had been reluctant to turn over materials on the source to GOP lawmakers demanding them. But it also could be a bureaucratic maneuver to buy time and shield actual documents.

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Washington Post - May 21, 2018

When it comes to Trump, men and women remain far apart

The evidence continues to pile up. When it comes to Donald Trump, there’s a big difference between men and women. Yes, many women voted for Trump in 2016 and continue to support him as president almost without reservation. They are women like Janelle Lutgen, whom I met during intermittent travels through counties in the Midwest over the past year-plus. She’s a Republican official in Iowa and a retired mail carrier. Like many Trump supporters, she thinks the president could tweet less often but generally finds his combative style effective. “Being completely civil hasn’t been working, so let’s try something [else],” she says. In a telephone conversation earlier this year, I asked her what, if anything, she would change about the president. “I don’t know,” she said. “I’m happy letting Donald be Donald.”

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Politico - May 21, 2018

Mueller team's special status could save Virginia Manafort case

An obscure special status obtained by several of special counsel Robert Mueller's attorneys could prevent a judge from ousting Mueller's lawyers from their role in the prosecution of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in federal court in Virginia. Several court filings indicate that when lawyers from Mueller's office appeared in federal court in Alexandria earlier this year, they did so not only as representatives of Mueller's office but as special assistant United States attorneys (SAUSAs) attached to the United States attorney's office there. That designation gives the Mueller prosecutors a kind of dual status that could complicate any attempt by U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III to try to shift the case to federal prosecutors based in Alexandria — a possibility the judge mentioned on a couple of occasions during a contentious hearing earlier this month.

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New York Times - May 21, 2018

In Hard-Line Speech, Pompeo Criticizes Iran’s Behavior

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo used his first major policy address to deliver a hard-line speech on Monday, in which he demanded that Iran change just about everything regarding its behavior on the world stage. He insisted that Iran end all nuclear enrichment programs and close its heavy water reactor, saying it did not have the right to such a program. He also appealed directly to the Iranian people, suggesting they should reject the clerical government in Tehran, the capital. “What has the Iranian revolution given to the Iranian people?” Mr. Pompeo asked at one point, and then offered an answer: “The hard grip of repression is all that millions of Iranians have ever known.”

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New York Times - May 21, 2018

Meet the Members of the ‘Shadow N.S.C.’ Advising John Bolton

In the weeks after President Trump chose John R. Bolton to be his third national security adviser in March, Mr. Bolton, a veteran of the George W. Bush State Department whose bellicose manner kept him from a high-level job at the beginning of the Trump administration, engaged in his own sped-up transition process, aided by a handful of longtime associates. Drawn from the world of conservative politics, international consulting and defense contracting, and working out of the downtown Washington offices of Mr. Bolton’s political organizations, the group of advisers provided advice on National Security Council operations, while helping to vet prospective new hires for views that would be compatible with his own.

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Real Clear Politics - May 21, 2018

Democrats Roll Out Anti-Corruption Message for 2018

As part of their midterm pitch to voters, congressional Democrats are unveiling a series of policy proposals Monday aimed at cleaning up a "culture of corruption" in Washington. In other words: Drain the swamp. The party says it isn't stealing the slogan and sentiment that helped propel Donald Trump to the White House. Instead, Democrats are returning to an anti-corruption message that helped win back the House of Representatives in 2006 against the backdrop of scandals involving lobbyist Jack Abramoff and lawmakers Tom DeLay and Mark Foley. A decade later, Trump seized on a similar theme, directing voter ire at Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton along with lawmakers of both parties in the nation's capital.

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Associated Press - May 21, 2018

Watchdog report to fault FBI for Clinton probe delay

An upcoming report from the Justice Department's internal watchdog is expected to criticize senior FBI leaders for not moving quickly enough to review a trove of Hillary Clinton emails discovered late in the 2016 campaign, according to people familiar with findings. The FBI's timing has been a sore point for Clinton supporters, who say then-director James Comey's announcement of the review less than two weeks before the Nov. 8, 2016, election contributed to her loss. The agency's findings affirming their decision not to pursue criminal charges against Clinton were disclosed two days before the vote — too late, her supporters say, to undo the damage.

This article appeared in Yahoo! News

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Washington Post - May 21, 2018

Things blamed for the deadly Texas school shooting: Ritalin. Abortion. The media. Schools. And doors.

Another school shooting has prompted yet another debate, the same intractable split about a statistic that has made the United States an outlier compared with other countries: the high number of mass shootings per capita. Study after study analyzing mass shootings within the United States and in comparison with other countries demonstrate that the single most important variable is the high number of guns in the country, according to the New York Times. Yet after the high school shooting in Sante Fe, Tex., left 10 people dead last week, the National Rifle Association and other conservative entities have offered a host of reasons for the violence, none of which involve the weapons.

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Houston Chronicle - May 21, 2018

Rubio: Stats and charts show how violent this school year has been

The Santa Fe High School shooting marks the 16th such shooting in 2018 and the 220th in the United States since the Columbine massacre in 1999. In the nearly 20 years since, shootings at K-12 schools have become an excruciatingly regular feature of American life. Using data from the Washington Post, let's take a deeper look. Has this been the bloodiest school year on record? Yes. With 102 casualties (people injured and killed in a school shooting), the 2017-2018 school year has been the bloodiest for which we have data. (It wasn't collected before the Colombine shooting.) Two shootings this year — the ones in Parkland and Santa Fe — attracted national attention. The 1998-1999 school year ranks second, and 2012-2013 (with the Sandy Hook massacre) is third.

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The Hill - May 21, 2018

Supreme Court upholds agreements that prevent employee class-action suits

The Supreme Court’s decision Monday allowing employers to keep employees from joining together in wage and hour disputes could have a dramatic and lasting impact on the American workforce. In a 5-4 ruling, the justices said arbitration agreements that bar employees from joining together in arbitration or a class-action lawsuit to settle labor disputes are enforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act. “The policy may be debatable but the law is clear: Congress has instructed that arbitration agreements like those before us must be enforced as written,” wrote Justice Neil Gorsuch in the majority opinion.

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Dallas Morning News - May 21, 2018

Piquero: Cornyn's bill to shrink the prison population will reduce crime and costs

The annual cost of the business of doing criminal justice in the United States is $270 billion. That's higher than the gross domestic product of Finland. Even with all of this spending, federal recidivism rates are high, with about two-thirds of U.S. prisoners returning to prison within three years. Finding ways to help reduce these rates matters not just for crime reduction but also for taxes. Fortunately, Sen. John Cornyn is leading the way in criminal justice reform. Earlier this month, Cornyn introduced a revised senate prison reform bill, the First Step Act, aimed at reducing recidivism rates by rehabilitating low-risk offenders while they are incarcerated. His proposal relies on a series of successful, evidence-based strategies that Texas has implemented since 2007.

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Associated Press - May 21, 2018

Netflix says it has signed Barack and Michelle Obama

Barack and Michelle Obama are getting into the television business with Monday's announcement that they had signed a multi-year deal with Netflix. The former president and first lady have formed their own production company, Higher Ground Productions, for the material. In announcing a deal that had been rumored since March, Netflix offered no specifics on what shows they would make. Netflix said the Obamas would make "a diverse mix of content," potentially including scripted and unscripted series, documentaries or features.

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Newsclips - May 21, 2018

Lead Stories

New York Times - May 20, 2018

Anti-Gun Backlash From School Shooting? Probably Not in Texas

One mile from the scene of the shooting that left 10 people dead at her school, Monica Bracknell, a senior at Santa Fe High School, approached Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in the lobby of Arcadia First Baptist Church here Sunday morning. Her message was simple: The violence was not “a political issue,” she told Mr. Abbott, explaining to reporters afterward that schools needed to be safer but restricting the availability of guns was not the way to achieve it. After the February rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., students there helped ignite the most successful push for action on gun control in decades in that state. There is little indication of anything similar in Texas, a place where guns are hard-wired into the state’s psyche, Republicans control virtually all the levers of power, and where the victims of Friday’s rampage in a conservative rural area are showing little of the anti-gun fervor that followed the Parkland shooting in a more diverse, suburban one.

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The Hill - May 20, 2018

Mark Kelly: US schools 'absolutely' should be hardened

Gun control advocate Mark Kelly said on Sunday that American schools “absolutely” should be hardened with stricter protective measures. “Absolutely,” Kelly, a former astronaut and co-founder of gun control advocacy group Giffords, told “Fox News Sunday,” when asked if schools should implement metal detectors and restricted access areas in an effort to prevent school shootings. Kelly is married to former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), who survived an assassination attempt while she was a member of Congress. His remarks come days after 10 people were killed in a shooting at a Texas high school on Friday

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NBC News - May 20, 2018

CBS News Nation Tracker poll: Americans give Trump credit for good economy, mixed reviews on N.K.

Nearly two in three Americans think the nation's economy is in good shape, and most of them believe President's Trump's policies are at least somewhat responsible for that. More Republicans rate the economy positively than do Democrats. As Congressional primaries continue and Americans look ahead six months to their midterm votes, President Donald Trump looks like a positive factor among Republicans, seven in 10 of whom say they'd prefer a candidate he backs – but the president's influence is limited to his own party. More Independents say they're less likely to support a candidate backed by President Trump. ... More than half of Democrats say they'd be more likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by Sanders, while a majority of Democrats say a Pelosi endorsement wouldn't affect their vote. Nearly half of independents say knowing a candidate was backed by Pelosi would make them less likely to back that candidate themselves.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 18, 2018

Texas Democrats’ question: which governor candidate can help ticket?

LAREDO — Magda Gonzales has dreamt about Lupe Valdez. In the dream, Valdez is campaigning in the border community of El Cenizo, a one-time colonia 16 miles south of Laredo where Gonzales lives, and Gonzales is vainly running all over the barely half-square-mile city of about 800 households trying to find Valdez and get a picture with her. Wednesday night, at a lively rally at the Pan American Courts food truck park and beer garden in Laredo, Gonzales caught up with Valdez, 70, considered the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for governor, amid a final campaign swing that also took her to Corpus Christi, Kingsville, McAllen, El Paso and San Antonio. She is scheduled to end up Sunday night at the Travis County Democratic Party Ice Cream Social at VFW Post 856 in Austin.

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State Stories

Houston Chronicle - May 20, 2018

Texas Medical Association pushes for legislative changes to cut crisis in maternal deaths

The Texas Medical Association endorsed seven recommendations over the weekend to curb the state's crisis involving women dying following childbirth. In a voice vote, the group on Saturday overwhelmingly supported recommendations to pursue statewide legislation that would improve health care coverage for pregnant women, increase access to long-acting reversible contraceptives and push the Texas Department of Health Services to improve the quality of maternal death records and other health care information. Immediate past TMA President Carlos Cardenas, speaking to the TMA’s House of Delegates at the organization’s annual meeting, challenged the organization by adding a policy goal of eliminating maternal deaths to the report. It was approved alongside the rest of the recommendations.

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Houston Chronicle - May 19, 2018

Lackluster Democratic governor primary draws to a close

By most measures, the Democrats’ hoped-for blue wave in the race for governor has had an inauspicious start as Texans wrap up the primary election season with Tuesday’s runoffs. Neither contender has mustered much momentum. MOST POPULAR At Santa Fe High School, my daughter phoned: 'I'm hiding in a closet. I love you, Mom.' Santa Fe unites as more horrific details emerge from school attack Details emerge about victims, survivors of Santa Fe shooting As class began at Santa Fe: 'There's a shooting at school' School police officer John Barnes flatlined twice after Santa Fe shooting, wife says Here’s what we know about the Santa Fe victims so far Claims of bullying surface as Santa Fe community mourns mass shooting Lupe Valdez, the former Dallas sheriff who finished first in the March 6 primary, is routinely criticized for not understanding fully how state government works. She has suggested that state officials should set property tax rates, apparently unaware that local jurisdictions do that. In an interview with her hometown newspaper, she famously admitted not knowing whether the state was spending $8 million or $8 billion on border security — when the actual sum is about $800 million.

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Houston Chronicle - May 21, 2018

Hurricane recovery dominates battle in Houston congressional district

Nine months after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, the storm is playing an outsized role in determining who will represent one of the hardest-hit sections of Houston and Harris County in Congress. While every one of the nine members of Congress that represent pieces of Harris County will be working on Harvey recovery for years, the winner of Tuesday’s GOP primary battle for the open 2nd Congressional District between Kevin Roberts and Dan Crenshaw could well be facing an almost three front war in protecting the region. “The recovery is this biggest issue moving forward,” said U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, the Republican from Atascocita who is retiring from Congress, which led to Tuesday’s battle between Roberts and Crenshaw.

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Houston Chronicle - May 21, 2018

Claims of bullying surface as Santa Fe community mourns mass shooting

The mother of 16-year-old Shana Fisher, one of 10 people killed at Santa Fe High School in Friday's shooting, said the gunman targeted her daughter. Sadie Rodriguez told an Associated Press reporter that the alleged shooter, 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis, had made repeated romantic advances toward Fisher in the four months before the shooting. Pagourtzis once dated Fisher's best friend, Rodriguez wrote on Facebook Messenger.

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Houston Chronicle - May 18, 2018

Falkenberg: Santa Fe shooting reminds us that no one is safe

Screams. Pools of blood in the art room. The fetid potpourri of gun smoke and fear. As I read witness descriptions of the scene at Santa Fe High School Friday, I felt a chill, but not a shock. I felt sadness, but not disbelief. I felt at a loss, but not for words. No, we have the words. We have practiced them countless times. We mumble the vocabulary of a massacre like a sacred yet passionless ritual: Horror. Grief. Thoughts. Prayers. For some of us, the greatest horror we feel is our utter lack of it. Even the children seem unfazed. In a TV interview shared nearly 2 million times online, a young girl with long, brown hair and shy, downcast eyes, explained to a reporter how she kept calm during the school shooting that killed 10 people.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 20, 2018

State backs off cannabis oil ban, seeks ‘big picture’ plan

A state health agency has tapped the brakes on its drive to strip food and supplements infused with CBD oil — a non-psychoactive extract of marijuana — from Texas retail store shelves. But it’s unclear how long the reprieve will last for over-the-counter food products containing CBD, or cannabidiol. An official with the Texas Department of State Health Services said the agency has slowed the rollout of its previous proposal while it consults with a number of other government entities, including law enforcement, to devise a broader framework for regulation of foods, drugs and cosmetics that are sold at retail and advertise CBD among their ingredients.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 20, 2018

PolitiFact: In governor’s race, abortion divides Democrats

Houston investor Andrew White says he’ll protect abortion rights if elected governor despite personally believing abortion to be wrong. During the debate for the Democratic nomination for Texas governor, White declared that a national abortion rights leader, Cecile Richards, said there’s room for people like him in “her movement.” ... White said that Richards said there’s room in “her movement” for people who personally believe abortion is wrong. White accurately echoed what Richards told MSNBC — that a person “can be pro-life” and also understand that government shouldn’t make abortion decisions for all women. But White left out that Richards doesn’t think White has consistently showed strong support for women’s health and rights. That’s vital clarification. We rate this statement Mostly True.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 19, 2018

Herman: Gubernatorial win for Valdez or White would be history-making

Ex-Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez is trying to become Texas’ first Hispanic governor, first lesbian governor and first person over age 70 to take the oath as Texas governor. Houston businessman Andrew White is trying to become the second governor in his family. We’ve had one pair of same-family Texas governors, the husband and wife team of Pa and Ma Ferguson. Also of note regarding the White campaign: It’s been 36 years since Texans picked a male Democrat to be their governor. The last one was White’s father, the late Mark White.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 20, 2018

Dan Patrick renews call to arm more teachers

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Sunday blamed the Santa Fe High School shooting on “a violent culture where we devalue life,” citing movies and video games, bullying on social media, and abortion. He called for arming teachers as part of the militia envisioned by the Second Amendment. Patrick’s remarks on ABC’s “This Week” won a swift rebuke from an enraged Fred Guttenberg, the next guest on the show. His 14-year-old daughter, Jamie, was killed in the Parkland, Fla., school shooting in February. “I think those are the most idiotic comments I’ve ever heard regarding gun safety,” Guttenberg said. “Let me be clear: He should be removed from office for his failure to want to protect the citizens of Texas.”

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Dallas Morning News - May 19, 2018

See T. Boone Pickens' 90th birthday party, and well wishes by Garth, Staubach, Switzer and Strait

While the world celebrated the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (aka Prince Harry and Meghan Markle) across the pond, Dallas held a Texas-sized party Saturday for one of its business and philanthropic royals. The color of the day wasn’t purple but Oklahoma State University bright -- not to be mistaken for UT’s burnt -- orange as nearly 500 partygoers toasted the 90th birthday of legendary oilman T. Boone Pickens. They transformed the swank Dallas Country Club into a sea of his beloved alma mater’s color. Even Dallas banker Alan White, one of Pickens’ closest buddies and a staunch Texas Tech Red Raider fan, wore an orange sports shirt that he’d had made just for the occasion.

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Dallas Morning News - May 18, 2018

Lopez: 4 things North Texas is doing right on infrastructure

Let's not sugarcoat things: America's infrastructure took home a report card with a D+ average from the American Society for Civil Engineers in 2017. Older metro areas such as Boston and New York struggle with 100-year-old bridges and nearly 100-year-old tunnels. Growing metro areas such as North Texas have had to stretch federal highway funding that has been frozen at 1993 levels. Now, the upside: The Dallas region, which adds more than 100,000 people a year, is better positioned for the future than many other metro regions thanks to Texas' regulatory environment, planning, and rapid advances in smart-traffic technologies. But we must remember that excessive government interference could easily cloud that future.

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San Antonio Express-News - May 20, 2018

Abortion remains a flashpoint in the Democratic race for governor

Andrew White is getting criticism from both sides of the abortion debate despite months of explaining how his personal views align with the aggressively pro-choice stand of the party he hopes will nominate him for governor. White, a Houston businessman, prompted the controversy early in his Democratic gubernatorial campaign by describing himself as personally pro-life. The uproar continued even though he repeatedly has said he would veto any legislation infringing on a woman’s right to choose if he were governor. If given the opportunity to roll back current abortion restrictions — a move that would require legislative action — he also said he would do that.

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San Antonio Express-News - May 17, 2018

Democrats debate how best to seize anti-Trump election opportunity shown in other states

Texas Democrats are drawing hope from wins around the country, but they don’t agree on exactly how to apply those election lessons to reverse a losing streak that has left them without a statewide victory here for more than two decades. Do they run with a hard-left message to stir a Democratic base distraught over actions by President Trump and statewide Republican officials? Or do they present a moderate message to appeal to Republicans who may no longer see themselves reflected in the increasingly far-right GOP? For Ed Espinoza, executive director of Progress Texas, the results in Virginia and elsewhere show Democrats here should “run with a truly progressive message that resonates with workers, with the middle class, with communities of color, with young people.”

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Texas Tribune - May 18, 2018

Will Democrats pick a Sam Johnson to vie to replace U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson?

PLANO – Since 1991, U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson has represented a section of Texas north of Dallas. The 87-year-old Vietnam War veteran last year announced his plans to retire. In Tuesday's primary runoffs, one of the names on the Democratic ballot will be Sam Johnson — but it's not the same Sam Johnson. The 35-year-old lawyer has no relation to the Republican congressman. The quirk of Johnson's candidacy has drawn attention to the Democratic race in Texas' 3rd Congressional District, even though state Sen. Van Taylor, the Republican nominee, is widely viewed as having the general election locked up.

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Texas Tribune - May 18, 2018

Amid questions of whether ex-Congressman Blake Farenthold was hired inappropriately as lobbyist, he says, "I wasn't involved"

Asked Friday about a news report that said former U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold's recent hiring as a lobbyist for the Port of Port Lavaca may have violated the Texas Open Meetings Act, the Republican said he "wasn't involved." The Victoria Advocate reported Friday that Farenthold’s hiring may have been illegal since the notice posted by the Calhoun Port Authority, which oversees the port, was too vague in describing what was going to be said at a closed meeting where the former congressman's hiring was discussed. "I’m trying to get on with my life. I wasn’t involved other than I talked to them about a job. I don’t know anything about it," Farenthold said after an event hosted by The Texas Tribune. "I’m not talking to reporters. I’m a private citizen now.”

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Texas Tribune - May 18, 2018

Texas runoff between Laura Moser and Lizzie Pannill Fletcher a pivotal moment for national Democrats

Houston Democratic players are now calling what was once the wildest Democratic primary in the state a word not spoken often in Texas politics: boring. But even as local political junkies are tiring of the national drama surrounding the 7th Congressional District's Democratic primary in west Houston featuring attorney Lizzie Pannill Fletcher and activist Laura Moser, what happens here Tuesday night will have outsized implications for national Democrats' optimism and tactics in their bid to take control of the U.S. House in the fall.

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San Antonio Express-News - May 21, 2018

On heightened alert after Santa Fe, districts report gun incidents at several schools

Seven Houston-area schools were threatened with guns Monday morning, less than three days after a 17-year-old gunman opened fire at Santa Fe High School, killing 10 and wounding 13. A student at League City Intermediate in Clear Creek ISD, located less than 15 miles from Santa Fe High, brought an unloaded gun with him to school Monday morning. He was arrested and transported to a juvenile detention facility, according to school district officials. In Cleveland ISD, a student brought a plastic replica of a Beretta 9mm Semi-automatic pistol to Eastside Elementary School and showed it to classmates. The replica fired pellets and had functional "red-dot" laser affixed beneath the barrel, according to Cleveland ISD Police Chief Rex Evans.

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Dallas Morning News - May 20, 2018

What to do after Santa Fe? Gov. Greg Abbott suggests metal detectors, mental screenings to protect schools

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott demanded swift justice for the gunman who killed 10 people at Santa Fe High School and vowed to come up with ways to prevent school massacres. Although he's assembling a panel to discuss solutions, Abbott indicated during a visit to the high school this weekend that he already has a few ideas. Among them are installing metal detectors on campuses and conducting mental health screenings and social media checks on students. Abbott said that beginning Tuesday, he will gather lawmakers, experts and citizens to hear testimony. The Republican said the roundtable will listen to survivors of the killings at Santa Fe High and a church in Sutherland Springs, as well as gun-rights supporters and gun-control advocates.

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Waco Tribune-Herald - May 20, 2018

Fighting 'yellowbelly politicians' to save Texas' public schools: Q&A with Jimmie Don Aycock

During his 10 years as a Republican state representative from Central Texas, Killeen veterinarian and rancher Jimmie Don Aycock, 71, gained prominence as a champion of public education. His legacy includes legislation to reduce the amount of testing required, enable academically troubled schools to more readily reform themselves and fix a creaky school finance system that no less than then-Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett described in 2016 as “byzantine.” The latter concern was particularly frustrating for Aycock, who in 2015 crafted a bipartisan House bill to add $3 billion to the budget to more adequately and equitably fund public schools. The bill was withdrawn in the session’s final days because of opposition in the Texas Senate. In this Trib interview — conducted immediately after a roundtable discussion with community leaders coordinated by the Cooper Foundation on Wednesday — Aycock discussed the state’s behind-the-scenes role in fueling local property values; why more and more educators believe state leaders are hostile to public education; and his involvement with the Texas First Coalition, a nonprofit bringing together education advocates and business leaders “to promote quality public schools, a thriving business climate, fiscal responsibility at all levels of government and stronger ethics for elected officials.”

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The Hill - May 20, 2018

Texas lieutenant governor: 'It’s not about the guns, it’s about us'

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) on Sunday said the slew of mass shootings in the U.S. should not be attributed to guns, instead pointing to the people who use them as the reason behind the shootings. “It’s not about the guns, it’s about us," Patrick told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week," citing the influence of bullying and social media. "Gun control, I believe, starts at home," he continued. "Every person who owns a gun must be accountable for the guns at home." Patrick went on to support taking precautionary measures at schools, including the possibility of arming teachers.

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The Hill - May 20, 2018

Parkland victim's father rips Texas lt gov's comments as 'idiotic'

The father of a Parkland, Fla., shooting victim on Sunday ripped Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's (R) comments downplaying the need for stricter gun control, calling them "idiotic." "I think those are the most idiotic comments I've ever heard regarding gun safety," Fred Guttenberg told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week." "Let me be clear, he should be removed from office for his failure to protect the citizens of Texas," he continued. Guttenberg's daughter, Jamie, was killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the Feb. 14 shooting. "For that man to make those moronic comments? Unacceptable," he said.

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County Stories

Austin American-Statesman - May 20, 2018

Three arrested workers identified in Travis Tax Office fraud case

Three employees of the Travis County Tax Office who were arrested Friday amid a fraud investigation are charged with third-degree felonies, according to jail records. Shell Prieto-Reese, 43, and Cathy Wilson, 57, are each charged with engaging in organized criminal activity and forgery, and each have bail posted at $50,000. Susie Alvarez, 43, is charged with forgery with bail set at $20,000, according to records. All three employees are listed as tax specialists on the Texas Tribune Government Salaries Explorer and earn salaries between $37,950 and $44,098.

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City Stories

Austin American-Statesman - May 20, 2018

Austin needs to do more for low-income students, new study says

Only 10 percent of black and Latino students in Austin are attending the school district’s highest rated schools, compared with one-third of white students and 50 percent of Asian students, a study being released Monday says. Likewise, Austin is doing a lackluster job in educating its low-income students, according to the most recent findings from the Houston nonprofit Children at Risk, which puts out annual rankings of Texas schools. There are only a handful of Austin schools with mostly low-income student populations that still earned an A or B grade from the group. “Austin needs to do a better job of serving black and Latino children, but especially children who are poor,” said Bob Sanborn, president of Children at Risk.

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San Antonio Express-News - May 20, 2018

San Antonio not closing educational achievement gap with major Texas metros, study finds

More than 78 percent of McQueneey Elementary families earn so little that their children qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Engaging and supporting those families, school leaders say, has been key to improving student performance at the Seguin Independent School District campus since 2015, when it failed to meet state academic standards. In results released today, McQueeney earned a B and a “gold ribbon” from the Houston-based nonprofit Children at Risk, a designation for a high-poverty yet high-performing school. Not all San Antonio-area schools have seen such improvement. Researchers for the nonprofit said the region still lags behind Texas’ other major metropolitan areas.

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National Stories

New York Times - May 20, 2018

Mueller Hopes to Wrap Up Obstruction Inquiry Into Trump by Sept. 1, Giuliani Says

The special counsel hopes to finish by Sept. 1 the investigation into whether President Trump obstructed the Russia inquiry, according to the president’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, who said on Sunday that waiting any longer would risk improperly influencing voters in November’s midterm elections. Mr. Giuliani said that the office of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, shared its timeline about two weeks ago amid negotiations over whether Mr. Trump will be questioned by investigators, adding that Mr. Mueller’s office said that the date was contingent on Mr. Trump’s sitting for an interview. A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment. Wrapping up the obstruction case would not signal the end of Mr. Mueller’s work. That is one piece of his broader inquiry, a counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s campaign to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump associates coordinated with it.

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The Hill - May 20, 2018

Dershowitz: It was a mistake to appoint special counsel to probe Russian meddling

Attorney Alan Dershowitz said on Sunday that an independent commission should have been appointed instead of a special counsel to probe Russian election meddling in the 2016 presidential election. "I think it was a mistake to appoint a special counsel. They should have appointed a non-partisan independent commission, like 9/11, to find out how this election went wrong," Dershowitz, who has met with President Trump in the past, said on ABC's "This Week." "This is one of the worst elections in modern history, with the Russian attempts to influence, other attempts by Gulf countries to influence, the existence of FBI agents trying desperately to turn the election away from Trump," he continued.

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Washington Post - May 20, 2018

RNC paid nearly half a million dollars to law firm representing Hope Hicks and others in Russia probes

The Republican National Committee paid nearly half a million dollars to a law firm that represents former White House communications director Hope Hicks and others in the Russia investigations, according to a new federal filing. The RNC's $451,780 payment to Trout Cacheris & Janis adds to the mounting legal fees associated with the investigations by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and several congressional committees of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. Hicks hired Robert Trout, founder of the law firm, as her personal attorney in September, according to news reports. The report of the payments for legal and compliance services, contained in the Federal Election Commission report filed Sunday, is the first public disclosure of RNC payments to the law firm since Hicks hired Trout.

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Washington Examiner - May 20, 2018

Rod Rosenstein asks DOJ inspector general to review possible Trump campaign infiltration

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein asked the Justice Department's inspector general Sunday to review whether there was improper politically motivated surveillance of the Trump campaign in 2016. Rosenstein made the request shortly after a tweet from President Trump saying that he would "officially" ask "that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes." In a statement, Rosenstein said: “If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action." The attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has recused himself from Russia-related matters.

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The Hill - May 20, 2018

The Memo: Will Mueller play hardball with Trump?

Special counsel Robert Mueller wants to interview President Trump — but how far is he willing to go to get the president's testimony? Some legal experts believe Mueller might have gathered sufficient evidence for indictments even without a Trump interview. They say Mueller could be reluctant to get bogged down in the months-long legal battle that would ensue were the president to resist a subpoena. “Originally my thought was, ‘Without question, Mueller will subpoena him given how he has handled this case.’ I’m not so completely sure of that anymore. I think Mueller could say, ‘We’ve tried to accommodate them, we’re moving ahead,’ ” said Solomon Wisenberg, a Washington attorney who served as independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s deputy during investigations into former President Clinton.

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The Hill - May 19, 2018

Turley: After year of investigation, Trump can rightly claim some vindication

It was called “Crossfire Hurricane,” the FBI counterintelligence operation that targeted Trump figures as part of the investigation into possible campaign ties to Russia. It was a poignant choice of a Rolling Stones song, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” that describes a man “born in a crossfire hurricane” who “howled at the morning driving rain.” It could be an apt description of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. After a year of media denials of his claims of surveillance targeting his campaign, Trump can legitimately claim some vindication. Indeed, with his rising poll numbers, the president must feel, in the words of the song, like “it's all right now, in fact, it’s a gas.”

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Washington Post - May 19, 2018

Balz: Has the political climate improved, marginally, for Republicans?

It’s too early for a genuine gut check about what the midterm elections might produce in November in terms of control of Congress. Nonetheless, political strategists are debating whether there has been a recent change in the political environment that could ease fears among Republicans that a big blue wave is coming. President Trump’s approval rating has ticked up from its lows of last year. The economy continues to grow. The unemployment rate is now below 4 percent. People feel more optimistic about the economy, and fewer people think the country is seriously off track. The gap between voting intentions for the House, which showed a big advantage for Democrats earlier this year, has narrowed. These are metrics that strategists monitor closely. A number of the statistics have been reliable indicators ahead of past elections, at least in describing the general parameters of the outcome. Just which ones are the most reliable is something strategists have long debated.

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Texas Public Radio - May 20, 2018

After U.S. Embassy Move, What Actually Changes For Israelis And Palestinians?

Nabil Shaath, a senior Palestinian official and adviser to President Mahmoud Abbas, is sitting in a home in an area Israel considers part of municipal Jerusalem, near a separation barrier along the West Bank. He recalls his days of teaching at the Wharton School of Finance in Pennsylvania — and a student there he believes was a young Donald Trump. Shaath says now-President Trump has been a "catastrophe" for Palestinians. "[Trump] is very much siding with the Israelis," Shaath says. "Moving his embassy to Jerusalem was nothing [more] than a demonstration of his alliance with the Israelis." Shaath noted the United States has been close with the Israelis in the past but says this time is different. Previously, the U.S. government didn't recognize Israel's control of East Jerusalem and said the status of the city should be determined in negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

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New York Times - May 20, 2018

Valenti: The Myth of Conservative Feminism

On Thursday, Gina Haspel, President Trump’s choice to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, was confirmed by the Senate, making her the first woman in that position. That same day, Fox News announced that Suzanne Scott would be the company’s first female chief executive. There is a distinct lack of feminist celebration over these women ascending in these jobs — an absence that Republicans have criticized as hypocrisy. Shouldn’t we feminists be pleased by these shattered glass ceilings? While groundbreaking in the literal sense, there is nothing feminist about a woman who oversaw a site where detainees were tortured, someone who refuses to say whether she believes torture is immoral. In the same way, there is nothing “empowering” about Ms. Scott, a media executive who reportedly enforced a “miniskirt rule” for female on-air talent, and who was cited in two lawsuits for contributing to a toxic work environment and retaliating against a sexual harassment victim. (Ms. Scott has denied these reports and the lawsuits were settled.)

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Wall St. Journal - May 20, 2018

WSJ: The FBI Informant Who Wasn’t Spying

Well, what do you know. The Federal Bureau of Investigation really did task an “informant” to insinuate himself with Trump campaign advisers in 2016. Our Kimberley Strassel reported this two weeks ago without disclosing a name. We now have all but official confirmation thanks to “current and former government officials” who contributed to apologias last week in the New York Times and Washington Post. And please don’t call the informant a “spy.” A headline on one of the Times’ stories says the “F.B.I. Used Informant to Investigate Russia Ties to Campaign, Not to Spy, as Trump Claims.” We’ll let readers parse that casuistic distinction, which is part of a campaign by the FBI and Justice Department to justify their refusal to turn over to the House Intelligence Committee documents related to the informant. Justice and the FBI claim this Capitol Hill oversight would blow the cover of this non-spy and even endanger his life. Yet these same stories have disclosed so many specific details about the informant whom we dare not call a spy that you can discover the name of the likeliest suspect in a single Google search.

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Newsclips - May 20, 2018

Lead Stories

Austin American-Statesman - May 18, 2018

In shooting wake, Texas Republicans pray, Democrats demand gun control

exas members of Congress reacted in familiar ways to the Santa Fe school shooting, with Republicans offering prayers and Democrats calling for gun control measures. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those injured and killed at Santa Fe School District right outside of Galveston,” U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said. “Until we know the facts and the circumstances, it’s hard to comment on what happened. And certainly, we all are standing by again and our hearts go out to those who are affected by this terrible tragedy.” After the Sutherland Springs church shooting in November that left 26 people dead, Cornyn promised to fix the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which had failed to screen the shooter. Cornyn’s “Fix NICS” bill, which punishes federal agencies that do not report ineligible gun buyers to the FBI database, passed Congress and was signed into law in March.

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Washington Post - May 19, 2018

Texas official says that fewer doors could mean fewer school shootings. We had experts weigh in.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, an evangelical Christian and Republican former radio talk-show host who has been a strong proponent of expanding gun liberties in the state, spoke with a cadre of officials on Friday, pointing out that though Santa Fe High School had been given a safety award from the state and enjoyed the regular protection of two police officers, it still fell victim to horrific violence at the hands of an armed teenager. ... Ed Hinman, a director at Gavin de Becker & Associates, a security consulting firm based in Los Angeles Hinman was more supportive of the idea to limit building entrances, saying that being able to channel and watch who was coming in was a good way to increase safety. But regulating exits was more complicated. He also spotlighted training and preventive measures as important parts of the picture, stressing, like Zimmerman, the need for better mechanisms to identify and track warning signs of problematic students. ... Arnette F. Heintze, co-founder and chief executive of Hillard Heinze, a security firm in Chicago Heintze said that one exit and entrance for a school the size of Santa Fe High School was not likely to work. “You can’t have one exit and entrance for 1,400 people,” he said. “Then you create a killing field for someone.”

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Washington Post - May 19, 2018

China agrees to buy ‘significantly’ more from the U.S., but doesn’t commit to specific amount

The United States and China said Saturday that two days of “constructive” talks between American and Chinese officials in Washington had led to an agreement for China to buy more goods and services — including “meaningful increases in United States agriculture and energy exports” — as the two countries work to defuse a brewing trade war. But a joint statement released by the White House did not contain a specific target for reducing the $375 billion trade deficit between the two countries, suggesting the White House had not secured the $200 billion reduction that senior Trump administration officials had said was forthcoming. The joint statement said the United States would dispatch a team to China to work out the details, which also may include expanded trade in manufactured goods and stronger “cooperation” in enforcement of intellectual property protections.

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The Hill - May 18, 2018

Farm bill revolt could fuel Dreamer push

Republican immigration reformers said Friday’s defeat of the GOP farm bill will generate more support for the upstart effort to force House action on "Dreamer" legislation. Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), a leading voice in the effort to revive the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, said the conservatives who opposed the farm bill essentially reneged on an agreement with GOP leaders to lend their farm bill support in return for promised action next month on a conservative immigration proposal. Twenty-nine Republicans opposed the GOP agriculture proposal Friday morning — many of them members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus — sinking the bill and delivering an embarrassing defeat to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and his leadership team.

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State Stories

Houston Chronicle - May 19, 2018

Voting in Texas primary runoff better than recent comparable elections

Nearly 380,000 voters have already cast ballots in the state's largest counties in advance of Tuesday's statewide primary runoff elections that will determine the final lineup for general election battles for governor, Congress and other offices. About 240,000 have voted in person in the largest 15 counties, while the rest have cast absentee ballots by mail. That turnout through early and absentee voting is better than previous primary runoff elections in 2016 and 2014, but way behind vote totals from the March primary when nearly 900,000 voted before Election Day. The Democratic Primary includes a statewide battle for governor between Lupe Valdez and Andrew White. Republicans have no statewide primaries runoffs, but they do have several hotly contested congressional battles around the state.

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Houston Chronicle - May 19, 2018

Gunman blasted through door, lingered for about 30 minutes

The suspect in the Texas school shooting began his attack by firing a shotgun through an art classroom door, shattering a glass pane and sending panicked students to the entryway to block him from getting inside, witnesses said. Dmitrios Pagourtzis fired again through the wooden part of the door and fatally hit a student in the chest. He then lingered for about 30 minutes in a warren of four rooms, killing seven more students and two teachers before exchanging gunfire with police and surrendering, officials said. Freshman Abel San Miguel saw his friend Chris Stone killed at the door. San Miguel was grazed on the left shoulder by another volley of shots. He and others survived by playing dead.

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Houston Chronicle - May 19, 2018

Blakinger: The accused Santa Fe shooter will never get the death penalty. Here’s why.

The high school junior accused of gunning down 10 students and teachers at a Santa Fe school is facing a capital murder charge - but he’ll never face the death penalty, even in Texas. Some day, he’ll even be eligible for parole. Though Dimitrios Pagourtzis was charged as an adult and jailed without bond, even if he’s found guilty he can’t be sentenced to death because of a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. And in the Lone Star State, he can’t be sentenced to life without parole as the result of a 2013 law that banned the practice for minors.

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Houston Chronicle - May 19, 2018

'Too damn many of these': Ted Cruz speaks out in wake of Santa Fe shooting

"Once again, Texas has seen the face of evil," Senator Ted Cruz told reporters in Santa Fe following the deadly school shooting on Friday. "What happened this morning here in Santa Fe defies words." "The agony, the hell, that parents, that this community is going through is unimaginable," Cruz said. "Everyone of us that's a parent that sends our sons or daughters off to school in the morning, to have this horror greet them." Cruz said Texas and the nation are grieving with the Sante Fe community, located roughly 30 miles south of Houston.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 18, 2018

Frustration in West after EPA does away with chemical plant rules

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Austin American-Statesman - May 18, 2018

UT System allocates $7 million in event it wins bid to run Los Alamos

University of Texas System regents voted Friday to allocate up to $7 million in transition expenses for taking over operation of Los Alamos National Laboratory — assuming the system wins the federal contract to run the nuclear weapons lab. The funding requested by Chancellor Bill McRaven and other top officials is styled as a loan to the limited liability company formed by the system to bid for the Los Alamos contract. The company would repay the money from fees it receives from the federal government. The regents also voted to name former UT-Austin President Larry Faulkner as interim chancellor until a successor to McRaven is brought on board. McRaven, a retired four-star admiral, announced in December that he would step down at the end of May because of health reasons and a desire to teach and write. Faulkner’s appointment takes effect June 1.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 18, 2018

Texas objects to proposed motor-voter fixes

After losing a legal fight over the way Texas handles online voter registration, state lawyers are arguing that fixes proposed by a civil rights group go too far and should be rejected. U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia of San Antonio had given both sides until Thursday to submit plans that will let Texans easily register to vote when they obtain or renew a driver’s license on the Department of Public Safety website. The current system violates the National Voter Registration Act’s motor-voter provision, Garcia ruled, because online users are directed to a separate page run by the Texas secretary of state, where they must download a voter registration form, print it out and mail it to their county registrar.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 18, 2018

Abbott calls for immediate talks to find ways to end mass shootings

With a sense of urgency, Gov. Greg Abbott called Friday for state officials and affected parties to begin discussions next week to find ways to ensure the school shooting in Santa Fe that claimed 10 lives is not repeated. “We need to do more than just pray for the victims and their families,” Abbott said at a news conference in Santa Fe hours after the shootings. “It’s time in Texas that we take action to step up and make sure this tragedy is never repeated, ever again in the history of the state of Texas.” “I’m going to be working with members of the Texas Legislature, but also with members of our communities from across the state of Texas to begin with roundtable discussions beginning next week where we will assemble all stakeholders to begin to work immediately on swift solutions to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again,” Abbott said.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 19, 2018

Democrats welcome Abbott call for talks but want more done

In the wake of Friday’s deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School, Texas Democrats said Gov. Greg Abbott’s proposal for gun-safety roundtable discussions was a good first step to address what they called the public health and public safety crisis of gun violence. “We welcome that discussion. We’ve been ready to have it for a long time,” state Rep. Chris Turner of Grand Prairie, head of the House Democratic Caucus, said Friday. “We welcome our seat at the table to have serious conversations about solutions to the gun-violence epidemic in Texas and across this country.”

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Dallas Morning News - May 19, 2018

Democrats vying for Rep. Sam Johnson’s seat in Collin County say they can turn red District 3 blue

The two Democrats in Tuesday’s runoff say they can turn the 3rd Congressional District blue, despite the fact that the district encompassing much of Collin County has been solidly red for decades. Voters will decide whether they want Lorie Burch or Sam Johnson, two Plano-based attorneys, to face state Sen. Van Taylor in the November election. Taylor is a well-known conservative name in the district and has a huge cash advantage. Plano Rep. Sam Johnson, who announced in January that he would retire at the end of his term, has served in the U.S. House since 1991. Burch and Johnson see the open seat as an opportunity for a Democrat to take over.

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Dallas Morning News - May 19, 2018

'I want to be able to protect my children': Santa Fe church members take course to get a gun license

At Big Kountry Shooting, Mark Giordonello barked orders at four members of the Pentecostals of Santa Fe. "Step up," he shouted. "Pick up your guns. This is going to be a five-shot exercise. One shot at a time at my command. Identify your target. Fire." The church members were at the indoor shooting range Saturday afternoon, the day after the massacre at Santa Fe High School, to qualify for a license to carry a handgun. Their pastor, Thomas Custer, asked Giordonello weeks ago to teach them the required four-hour course and administer the test because he said it's important for people to know how to properly use firearms.

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Dallas Morning News - May 18, 2018

Greg Abbott, Ted Cruz comfort families of Santa Fe school shooting at vigil

Hundreds gathered on the lawn of Texas First Bank, holding candles, roses or both. Parked cars filled the sides of the road leading to the vigil, starting more than half a mile away. People walked silently to Texas First Bank and joined a murmuring crowd. Many hugged one another and held on a second longer than usual. Texas First Bank sits in a plaza with storefronts painted a rusty brown, featuring the Zia sun symbol that graces New Mexico’s state flag. Teens wearing Santa Fe High School T-shirts clustered together. They listened as Gov. Greg Abbott urged them to stand together and promised to be with them through the healing process.

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Dallas Morning News - May 19, 2018

Democrat Andrew White demands Greg Abbott call special session to enact new gun laws

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew White on Saturday called on incumbent Republican Gov. Greg Abbott "to soften his heart and open his mind to protect our kids," by calling a special legislative session to change gun laws and spend money to harden Texas schools to thwart gun-toting intruders. White noted that Florida GOP Gov. Rick Scott, despite a top rating from the National Rifle Association, "softened his heart as he mourned with the parents who lost children in the Parkland shooting" in metropolitan Miami in February. "Abbott owes the parents of every school kid in Texas the same degree of whole-hearted representation he gave to fringe voters from his party who sought to pass the bathroom bill," White said in a written statement. He was referring to a special session Abbott called last summer, partly in a failed effort to restrict the restrooms transgender Texans may use.

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Dallas Morning News - May 18, 2018

Hallas: Community colleges are a microcosm of Texas' failure to protect women's health

I got my IUD the same way I registered for my fall classes — by scheduling an advising appointment and paying with tuition. Within 48 hours of my consultation at the university clinic, I had one of the most effective forms of birth control. My experience is fairly typical among Texas' large, four-year universities. Here, well-equipped student health services are funded by tuition, and, according to the American College Health Association, most students pay for birth control with a parent's insurance plan. But my experience isn't an option for Texas' 712,554 community college students. Despite reporting preferences among college women for longer-lasting, more reliable birth control, a recent study from the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin found that cost and insurance barriers pushed community college women to use less-effective methods such as condoms and withdrawal.

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San Antonio Express-News - May 19, 2018

PolitiFact: Lupe Valdez’s claim that Texas schools in some counties shut for opening of hunting season off the mark

“There are some counties in Texas where the first day of hunting, you have to shut down the schools because people are going to go hunting.” — Lupe Valdez on May 8, 2018, in a Facebook Live interview by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram editorial board ... We didn’t learn how Valdez reached this conclusion, for which we found no confirmation. We rate this claim False: The statement is not accurate.

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San Antonio Express-News - May 18, 2018

Report: Texas adds nearly 40,000 jobs in April

Texas added 39,600 jobs in April, and extended its streak of employment growth to 22 months, according to a report released Friday. The state’s unemployment rate was 3.8 percent in April, an improvement from 4.1 percent in March, which was also the rate this time last year. It’s a tick above the national unemployment rate of 3.7 percent for April, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. A separate report released Friday was even more optimistic on the number of jobs added to the Texas economy. The state added 42,500 jobs in April, according to seasonally adjusted and benchmarked payroll employment numbers from by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

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Texas Tribune - May 18, 2018

Ramsey: Millennial Texans might be louder, but they’re not voting

Derek Ryan, a young Texas voter who also happens to be a political consultant, is finally starting to see some of his peers talking and posting about politics and showing up on lists of voters. It’s taken long enough: He’s in his early 40s. He also has crunched the numbers, finding that his anecdotal experience is not anecdotal at all. Younger Texans aren’t voting, and it’s particularly bad in Ryan’s own party, the Texas GOP. In the 2018 Republican primary in March, voters over the age of 70 outnumbered voters under the age of 50. More than three-quarters of the voters were 50 or older, Ryan found in his analysis of voter turnout.

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Texas Tribune - May 18, 2018

Former UT-Austin President Larry Faulkner named interim chancellor of UT System

The University of Texas System’s Board of Regents has tapped Larry Faulkner, a former president of the University of Texas at Austin, to be interim chancellor. In a telephone meeting Friday afternoon, the regents gave Faulkner unanimous approval to temporarily helm the 14-campus system until they find outgoing Chancellor Bill McRaven's permanent successor. McRaven's last day will be May 31, and Faulkner will assume the interim position starting June 1. He is not a candidate for the permanent position.

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Texas Tribune - May 19, 2018

After Santa Fe shooting, Gov. Greg Abbott sees a West Texas mental health program as a statewide model

A Lubbock-based program seeing success helping prevent at-risk students from committing violent acts is getting more attention after Gov. Greg Abbott touted it as a potential statewide model to reduce school shootings the day after a student allegedly shot 10 people to death at his a southeast Texas high school. The Telemedicine Wellness, Intervention, Triage, and Referral Project at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center works to identify junior high and high school students most at risk for committing violence in schools and intervene before it happens.

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New York Times - May 19, 2018

Houston Police Chief Says He Has ‘Hit Rock Bottom’ on Gun Rights Arguments

Just hours after 10 people were killed in a school shooting in Santa Fe, Tex., the police chief in nearby Houston issued a defiant condemnation of elected officials who have failed to act on gun control, saying he had “hit rock bottom.” In a statement on Facebook, the chief, Art Acevedo, wrote that he had “shed tears of sadness, pain and anger” after the shooting, which happened about 35 miles away. “I know some have strong feelings about gun rights but I want you to know I’ve hit rock bottom and I am not interested in your views as it pertains to this issue,” he wrote. “Please do not post anything about guns aren’t the problem and there’s little we can do. My feelings won’t be hurt if you de-friend me and I hope yours won’t be if you decide to post about your views and I de-friend you.”

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Washington Post - May 19, 2018

Texas school had a shooting plan, armed officers and practice. And still 10 people died.

They, like so many others, thought they had taken the steps to avoid this. The school district had an ­active-shooter plan, and two armed police officers walked the halls of the high school. School district leaders had even agreed last fall to eventually arm teachers and staff under the state’s school marshal program, one of the country’s most aggressive and controversial policies intended to get more guns into classrooms. They thought they were a hardened target, part of what’s expected today of the American public high school in an age when school shootings occur with alarming frequency. And so a death toll of 10 was a tragic sign of failure and needing to do more, but also a sign, to some, that it could have been much worse.

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Politico - May 19, 2018

Texas Democrats look to single-payer in congressional races

Democrats hoping to wrest congressional seats away from diehard repeal-and-replace Republicans are campaigning on an unlikely issue for Texas — single-payer health care. Across the country, many Democrats are trying to minimize internal battles on health care. But Democrats in this deep red state have also watched closely races where single-payer advocates have upset centrist primary opponents. And some believe that moving left on health care will mobilize new voters in primaries —and offer a shot at winning come November. More than half the 22 Democratic House candidates competing in the Texas primary runoff next Tuesday openly tout their support for single-payer health care. On the Senate side, Democrat Beto O'Rourke, who handily won his March primary, will face Sen. Ted Cruz. Cruz built his reputation on shutting down down the government in a failed bid to stop Obamacare in 2013. O'Rourke says he supports strengthening the Affordable Care Act now but starting on a path to an eventual single-payer health system.

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County Stories

Dallas Morning News - May 19, 2018

Dallas County GOP slams one of its own candidates for alleged 'racist language and behavior'

The Dallas County Republican Party on Saturday rebuked Vickers "Vic" Cunningham, a former criminal district judge running for county commissioner, for what officials called his alleged "racist behavior and language." The party's statement came after The Dallas Morning News revealed that people close to Cunningham say he has long expressed racial animosity and referred to black people using the N-word. And Cunningham acknowledged that he had created a trust fund in 2010 that rewards his children if they marry a white, straight, Christian. County GOP chairwoman Missy Shorey said the party "wholeheartedly rejects the racist behavior and language alleged."

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Dallas Morning News - May 19, 2018

DMN: We withdraw Vickers Cunningham recommendation in GOP runoff for Dallas County Commissioners Court Precinct 2

This newspaper recommended Vickers Cunningham for the Precinct 2 seat on the Dallas County Commissioners Court because we felt the former state district judge's career left him best prepared for the job. However, recent developments have caused us to reconsider, and we are withdrawing our recommendation of Cunningham. That decision is based on several pieces of information that have come to light in the final days of this campaign, in which Cunningham is competing against lawyer and businessman J.J. Koch. In 2010, Cunningham established a living trust for his children, the terms of which suggest a personal problem with diversity. The trust provides financial distributions to his children if they reach certain milestones, including marriage to someone who is white, Christian and of the opposite sex.

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Houston Chronicle - May 19, 2018

Hooper: Harris County must unite its squabbling Republican factions to reap general election success.

The famed diversity found in Houston is brilliantly on display at any Harris County Republican Party event. The latest Republican Primary had even more Hispanic candidates than the Democratic Primary. But with diversity comes division, which can also be found at local meetings and events. One of the most obvious divides is between the establishment (the “swamp”) and the conservatives (the Tea Party). There are many labels within these broader groups: evangelicals, fiscal conservatives, libertarians, Log Cabin Republicans, Republicans in Name Only (RINOS), social conservatives and special interest Republicans, to name a few. Some labels relate to supporters of a particular candidate, such as Cruzies or Never Trumpers, who often are members of one or another subset.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 18, 2018

Several Travis County tax assessor’s office employees arrested in fraud investigation, DPS says

Texas Department of Public Safety officials served warrants at the Travis County Tax Assessor Collector’s office on Friday and arrested several employees, according to Tax Assessor Collector Bruce Elfant. The arrests are part of an ongoing investigation into fraudulent activities, DPS officials said. It is unknown how many people were arrested and what the charges are. People were arrested at the main tax office and all four satellite offices. All tax assessor collector satellite offices will be closed until further notice, but the main tax office will remain open, Elfant said.

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City Stories

Dallas Morning News - May 19, 2018

Frisco hospice exec admits overdosing patients 'to hasten their deaths' and make more money

The former executive of a Frisco hospice admitted Thursday to overdosing patients to "hasten their deaths" so the company could make more money, court records show. Melanie Murphey, 36, admitted serving as the "go-between" for Novus Health Services owner Bradley Harris, doctors and nurses in an alleged $60 million scheme. Murphey, Novus' director of operations, pleaded guilty to health care fraud and is expected to testify against 15 others in the case, including Harris and his wife, Amy. The other defendants have pleaded not guilty.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 19, 2018

Group marches to Texas Capitol to mourn victims

After the Santa Fe High School shooting Friday, Austin resident Elva Mendoza knew she couldn’t just sit at home and do nothing. So she joined a small group of people, many of them holding electric candles, who walked from St. Austin Church on Guadalupe Street to the Texas Capitol to honor those killed in the shooting. “I wanted to show solidarity with the community of Santa Fe,” said Mendoza, who volunteers with Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America.

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San Antonio Express-News - May 18, 2018

Garcia: Brockhouse pushes for recording of closed-door meetings

Let’s move on from the now-moot question of whether San Antonio should have submitted a bid for the 2020 Republican National Convention. That debate is so two-weeks-ago. Let’s also temporarily put aside the important issue of whether Mayor Ron Nirenberg and the City Council violated either the spirit or the letter of the Texas Open Meetings Act by deciding against a convention bid behind closed doors. (The Express-News has filed a formal complaint with the Texas Attorney General’s Office over this issue.) As the RNC bid debate slowly recedes into our collective rearview mirror, new questions have emerged: Was there a recording of that executive session? And, if not, what did the city do to document what happened?

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National Stories

The Hill - May 17, 2018

Trump offers 'protections' if Kim surrenders nukes

President Trump on Thursday sought to reassure North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after Kim's government threatened to pull out of the upcoming nuclear summit with the United States. Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump said he is “willing to do a lot” to offer Kim “protections” if the North Korean leader agrees to surrender his nuclear weapons. “He will get protections that are very strong,” Trump said during an Oval Office meeting with NATO’s secretary-general. “The best thing he could do is make a deal.” Trump’s comments show he is eager to address North Korea’s concerns so the summit can take place.

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Wall St. Journal - May 17, 2018

Strassel: Was Trump’s Campaign ‘Set Up’?

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes appeared on “Fox & Friends” Tuesday, where he provided a potentially explosive hint at what’s driving his demand to see documents related to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Trump-Russia probe. “If the campaign was somehow set up,” he told the hosts, “I think that would be a problem.” Or an understatement. Mr. Nunes is still getting stiff-armed by the Justice Department over his subpoena, but this week his efforts did force the stunning admission that the FBI had indeed spied on the Trump campaign. This came in the form of a Thursday New York Times apologia in which government “officials” acknowledged that the bureau had used “at least one” human “informant” to spy on both Carter Page and George Papadopoulos. The Times slipped this mind-bending fact into the middle of an otherwise glowing profile of the noble bureau—and dismissed it as no big deal. But there’s more to be revealed here, and Mr. Nunes’s “set up” comment points in a certain direction.

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New York Times - May 19, 2018

Trump Jr. and Other Aides Met With Gulf Emissary Offering Help to Win Election

Three months before the 2016 election, a small group gathered at Trump Tower to meet with Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son. One was an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation. Another was an emissary for two wealthy Arab princes. The third was a Republican donor with a controversial past in the Middle East as a private security contractor. The meeting was convened primarily to offer help to the Trump team, and it forged relationships between the men and Trump insiders that would develop over the coming months — past the election and well into President Trump’s first year in office, according to several people with knowledge of their encounters.

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New York Times - May 19, 2018

Bruni: The News Isn’t Fake. But It’s Flawed.

In the face of Trump, this newspaper began its “The Truth Is” campaign: “The truth is hard,” “The truth is hidden,” and so on. The Washington Post put, on the top of its front page, the legend “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” Such approaches are part of what prompted the media critic Jack Shafer to complain that when reporters are maligned, “They go all whiny and preachy.” “I won’t dispute that journalists are crucial to a free society,” he wrote. But “the chords that aggrieved journalists strike make them sound as entitled as tenured professors.” Pushed up against the ropes, we’re so busy self-justifying that we sometimes forget to self-examine. And there are aspects of how we work — and how we come across — that definitely warrant adjustment.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 16, 2018

Young: Trump and the art of being transparently corrupt

I overheard the voter stand by her man, Donald Trump, the day after the “Access Hollywood” tapes showed him in vibrantly misogynistic Technicolor. “I’d rather have someone coarse than someone corrupt,” she sniffed — the latter reference being to Hillary Clinton. What does that Trump voter smell now? Roses, no doubt. This, though we’re learning that several major corporations, including one with pronounced Russian connections, paid Trump attorney Michael Cohen millions of dollars to do — what? To gain insight into Trump’s thoughts? That’s pretty pricey, when Twitter is free

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Houston Chronicle - May 19, 2018

Seglin: Dems have the momentum, but no coherent narrative to sell to voters.

Public relations doesn’t have the best reputation in politics. Former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks was criticized for having a background in PR, which is often linked to spinning falsehoods or cleaning up after scandals. However, a viable public relations strategy is essential for winning elections and passing key policies, and the primary runoffs in Texas are the perfect time for the Democratic Party to reconsider its strategy for the upcoming midterm elections. There’s no doubt that anti-Trump sentiment provides a foundation for electoral success, but it’s not enough on its own to win elections. Not only have Democrats made frequent PR missteps that could cost them dearly at the polls, but they have no overarching strategy or cohesive narrative to sell. But not all hope is lost — there are concrete steps leadership can take to gain considerable seats this November.

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Dallas Morning News - May 18, 2018

Lindenberger: Defiant vote by 3 GOP senators to preserve net neutrality is best path for moderates on immigration, too

The GOP-led Senate did something this week both smart and distressingly rare. Three Republican senators defied their leadership Wednesday to vote with Democrats to overturn the Federal Communication Commission's dangerous and wrong-headed decision to eviscerate protections for the open internet. Most Americans support net neutrality, and the FCC's disastrous decision to kill it should be an easy one to oppose for lawmakers in both parties. But with the 2018 mid-terms looming, Republican leaders in Congress are in no mood to split their caucus in either chamber between moderates siding with Democrats and an dissatisfied right wing. As a result, plenty of good bills that would almost certainly pass with a mix of moderate Republicans and the bulk of the Democrats are left on the table, as if handing the other party a talking point is too high a price to support solutions that will help America.

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Washington Post - May 19, 2018

Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed a radical idea on Twitter: Parents should pull their children out of school until elected officials pass stricter gun control laws. His tweet came hours after a shooting rampage at a Houston-area high school Friday killed 10 people — a mass shooting that came just three months after 17 students and staffers were slain at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. When Peter Cunningham, a former education department employee, tweeted that it may be time for parents to pull their children out of school until gun laws are changed, Duncan, the education secretary under Obama, responded that his family “is in.”

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Dallas Morning News - May 18, 2018

DMN: New Trump immigration policy that separates families is cruel and could make a bad situation worse for kids

Here's a frightening reality: Thousands of vulnerable kids may be headed to Texas, which is already overwhelmed with problems in its own child-welfare system. The Trump administration is scouting three military bases in Texas as possible shelters for migrant children in its new get-tough plan to separate them from parents who'll be prosecuted for illegally crossing the Mexican border. We understand that the crackdown — under which even first-time offenders face separation — is intended to discourage others from trying to come here illegally. But separating families seems particularly draconian and inhumane.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 20, 2018

Show starring Avenatti and Scaramucci is being pitched to TV executives

A television show featuring Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who is suing President Donald Trump on behalf of a pornographic film actress, and former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci was pitched to two cable networks in recent weeks, people briefed on the matter said Thursday. Prominent television agent Jay Sures discussed with executives at CNN and MSNBC the concept of a program where the two men would square off, according to three people briefed on the issue. Both have become frequent cable network guests — Avenatti as one of Trump’s greatest antagonists, and Scaramucci as a loyalist to the president even after flaming out after less than two weeks at the White House.

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Esquire - May 18, 2018

Holmes: Okay, Now I Actually Do Want To Take Your Guns

Hey there, NRA: Listen, I know the moments after a gunman opens fire in a school are hectic for you. You have to get your talking points together, you have to mentally prepare to debate a traumatized yet sensible child, you have to look at yourself in the mirror and practice saying that more guns would have made the situation less deadly. It’s a busy time! And since we are always either in the moments after or the moments before a mass shooting, you’re pretty much always busy, I have noticed! Anyway, I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that I now actually do want to take your guns. All of your guns. Right now. It wasn’t always this way. I have responsible gun owners in my family. I’ve never been a fan of shooting at things myself, but guns sure do seem to have brought joy into the lives of some people I love, and as long as they were stored properly, I never had a problem with them being around. I believed that we should place a hurdle or two between a psychopath and an AR-15, but that’s about as ardent as I got. Live and let live, that was my policy. Even with death machines. That has all changed. And you changed it.

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NBC News - May 18, 2018

Inside the final days of Cambridge Analytica: Failed rebrands, fleeing clients and Nerf basketball

For months, Cambridge Analytica employees had heard whispers of a rebrand that would save their business. On Thursday, any lingering hope was extinguished when the embattled data firm linked to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign declared bankruptcy despite weeks of efforts to leave behind its controversial past. Even before CEO Alexander Nix was ousted after an undercover investigation showed him bragging about using sex workers to entrap the political opponents of prospective clients, the data firm was preparing to combine with parent company SCL under a new company called Emerdata. There was talk of rebranding under a new name, Anaxi, or possibly Firecrest Technologies, according to three former senior employees at the company, each of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect their interest in finding new employment.

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Washington Examiner - May 19, 2018

Ben Carson strikes critical blow to Obama fair-housing rule

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has undone a key element of the Obama-era fair housing rule, saying that it hurt local governments rather than helping them lessen inequities. The agency, led by Ben Carson, announced Friday evening that it was withdrawing the assessment tool by which cities and counties are supposed to identify housing discrimination and other problems faced by minorities and other groups. In a press release, HUD said that the tool was “confusing, difficult to use, and frequently produced unacceptable assessments.”

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Newsclips - May 18, 2018

Lead Stories

Washington Post - May 17, 2018

McConnell warns control of the Senate is ‘absolutely’ in play in midterm elections

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) warned Thursday that control of the Senate is “absolutely” in play in the midterm elections, identifying the nine battleground states he believes will decide the outcome in November. In an interview with The Washington Post, McConnell also confidently predicted that the government will not shut down in September just weeks before the midterms, despite recent agitation from President Trump that there will be “no choice” but to shutter the government in September if he doesn’t get funding for his border wall. “I always think it’s better to be candid and not try to spin people into thinking this isn’t going to be a challenging election,” McConnell said in the Thursday morning interview. “I think the safest place to be is just to say that this is going to be a very challenging election, and I don’t think we know in May ... whether it’s Category 3, 4 or 5.”

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Politico - May 17, 2018

GOP builds massive shadow army in fight for the House

Republicans have amassed a sprawling shadow field organization to defend the House this fall, spending tens of millions of dollars in an unprecedented effort to protect dozens of battleground districts that will determine control of the chamber. The initiative by the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), now includes 34 offices running mini-campaigns for vulnerable Republicans throughout the country. It has built its own in-house research and data teams and recruited 4,000 student volunteers, who have knocked on more than 10 million doors since February 2017.

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Dallas Morning News - May 17, 2018

Congressional candidate Gooden alleges Kaufman County voter fraud; issue now at play in runoff vs. Pounds

With his congressional runoff only five days away, Republican state Rep. Lance Gooden on Thursday filed suit alleging voter fraud in Kaufman County. The players in the suit are identical to those who led a visiting judge to call a special election just last month — a poll worker and 22 mail-in ballot voters who are mostly elderly and disabled, all from Terrell, Gooden's hometown. Gooden's petition to prevent mail-in ballots for Tuesday's runoff from being opened names the county, its elections administrator, the ballot board administrator and the Kaufman County Republican Party as defendants.

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Houston Chronicle - May 16, 2018

Capo: How long until Texas teachers march on Austin?

Teachers are realizing that collective voice speaks louder than a few lone wolves trying to effect change. The sustained, massive rallies in state capitals in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona and Kentucky showed legislators that educators stand as one, and parents and students, and even school boards and superintendents, stand with them. All agreed that closing schools for several days meant that educators weren’t walking out on their students; they were walking out for their students. There was a reckoning by lawmakers in these red states after so many years of harmful disinvestment of education, though in most cases, educators consider the final packages as down payments for what is needed to close the gaps. West Virginia lawmakers approved a 5 percent pay hike for all public employees, not just teachers.

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State Stories

Houston Chronicle - May 17, 2018

With Texas runoff numbers still low, Dem governor candidates heat it up

As early voting in the primary runoff elections ends Friday, Democrats and Republicans alike are scouring the numbers for patterns and trends they hope will show their candidates have momentum with voters. By Thursday, turnout remained low in most areas statewide — meaning that without an unlikely surge of last-minute voting, most races will be basically determined by the time polls open Tuesday for Election Day balloting. “The numbers so far show that turnout in this runoff will probably be a little low overall — low for the Republicans who don’t have any races in many areas, and a record turnout for the Democrats in some areas where they have high-profile races,” said Mark Jones, a political scientist at Houston’s Rice University.

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Houston Chronicle - May 17, 2018

Attack ads in Houston race being funded by brother-in-law's business

The biggest donor behind negative ads against Republican Dan Crenshaw in a Houston Republican congressional runoff is his opponent's brother-in-law's law firm, new Federal Election Commission reports show. The Lanier Law Firm sent $450,000 to Conservative Results Matter in April, FEC records filed on Thursday show. That PAC, which supports Kevin Roberts for the 2nd Congressional District over Crenshaw, has been running ads that slam Crenshaw as a "so-called Republican" and compares him to Democrats like former President Barack Obama and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. The Lanier Law Firm was founded by Mark Lanier in 1990. Kevin Roberts is Lanier's brother-in-law and he works for the firm as its executive director.

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Houston Chronicle - May 16, 2018

Diaz: The difference between Beto O'Rourke and Ted Cruz

Every time O'Rourke is in El Paso, he walks his children to the same elementary school he attended. "We can't plan anything before school on days he is home, so he can walk them," said Chris Evans, his communications director. "They love it, but he definitely loves it more." Cruz recently tweeted a selfie with his daughter Caroline at "Hamilton" in Houston with the grin of a man in heaven. "Singing, dancing and the Federalist Papers ... a perfect daddy-daughter evening!" In a political universe filled with not-so-great-men, we should consider ourselves lucky to have to choose this November between two amazing fathers and Texans – but, then again, we're voting for a senator. And they aren't simply running for the seat; they are competing to define what it means to be a senator.

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Houston Chronicle - May 17, 2018

Grieder: Rick Perry helps explain why Tuesday’s election matters

Early voting began this week for Texas’s 2018 Republican and Democratic primary runoff elections, which will be held on May 22. Most Texas voters won’t participate in either. And if you assume that Texas is still a safely red state, you might not see much reason to pay attention to this year’s runoffs. ... However, you shouldn’t assume that Texas is still a safely red state. It isn't. As we all know, Democrats haven’t won statewide office in Texas since 1994. That’s the longest winning streak in the country, for Republicans. But one of those Republicans was Rick Perry, who is arguably the most underrated politician in state history--and whose electoral record, in Texas, illustrates why this year’s primary runoffs are more consequential than most. Through his absence. Perry benefited from Republican strength in Texas — but it was strength he helped create.

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San Antonio Express-News - May 17, 2018

Texas prisons taking heat over aging execution drugs experts say could cause 'torturous' deaths

Concerns about Texas' dwindling lethal injection supplies coupled with questions about the age of the drugs have some advocates wondering whether the state is prepared to humanely carry out its recent uptick in scheduled executions. Texas currently has eight death dates and nine doses of its execution drug — compounded sodium pentobarbital — for use in the Huntsville death chamber. What's more, a string of contradictory records from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice raises questions about whether some of those doses could be three years old, far older than previously reported and old enough that experts worry it could increase the chances of a "torturous" execution.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 17, 2018

First Reading: Will Matt McCall be cast from the house of Trump for not wanting Trump to watch his daughters?

Is the Republican Party under President Trump becoming a cult? I ask, because of late, some of the behavior seems cult-like.Last week, the four candidates in the two party runoffs in the 21st Congressional District – Republicans Matt McCall and Chip Roy and Democrats Joseph Kopser and Mary Wilson – appeared at a League of Women Voters forum in San Marcos. I wasn’t there, and it didn’t make the Rivard Report’s coverage of the event, but in the seven-second clip tweeted by Jason Johnson, McCall said this: "I support the president’s policies. I don’t necessarily want him to watch my daughters. But I support his policies." It was intended, I think, as a funny line – McCall can be funny and people laughed – and perhaps as a bit of an ice-breaker in a bipartisan setting, but also with an element of truth: You don’t have to believe that President Trump is perfect in every way to support his politics, or even have MAGA on your campaign signs.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 10, 2018

Lopes: How danger lurks in the details of congressional Farm Bill

Most Americans feel no need to track all the harmful riders Republicans have attached to the Farm Bill that’s scheduled for a vote next week in the U.S. House of Representatives. And that’s exactly what Congressional leaders are counting on. But anyone who looks will discover the bill sponsored by Rep. Mike Conaway of Borger launches unprecedented attacks on bedrock federal protections for the nation’s water quality, forests and endangered species. Conaway’s attempt to gut some of our most important environmental laws is the latest page in a long, dark chapter of Texas conservatives embracing extreme political positions – a trend that began nearly a quarter of a century ago.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 11, 2018

Faulkner: Another piece of the story to foster care, teen pregnancy

Thanks to a recent report, Texas is one of the first states to know how many youths in foster care are pregnant or parents already. Of the 7,090 females ages 11 to 18 in foster care in 2017, 332 were pregnant and 218 were parents. Foster youths are approximately five times more likely to get pregnant compared with all youths. Hearing that youths in foster care are five times more likely to get pregnant is shocking, disappointing and something that we cannot ignore. However, it is important to clarify that the Texas foster care system itself is not causing higher pregnancy rates. The rates of pregnancy for foster youths are similar to other high-risk groups, such as youths involved in the juvenile justice system, youths who have substance use or mental health issues, youths who are homeless and although it surprises many, youths who are LGBTQ.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 14, 2018

Centers look to new Facebook tools for help during disasters

Community health centers in Texas that helped thousands of people during and after Hurricane Harvey have new crisis response tools from Facebook that could enhance their ability to reach victims when a hurricane hits. The hurricane season officially starts next month. And with the effects of Harvey still lingering in many communities — nearly nine months after the storm devastated parts of the coast and Houston area — about 20 centers from around the state met in Houston last week to hear about how the new tools could help them better publicize their services and distribute resources during a natural disaster. One is Community Help, a page within Facebook where aid organizations, businesses and government agencies can now post what services they offer during a specific crisis. The other is Disaster Maps, which uses geolocation data gathered from people using Facebook to show select organizations where people are to help improve aid delivery.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 17, 2018

A house divided: Central Texas families who cast opposite votes

Two years ago, as the campaign for president ran piping hot, Leeanner Burnell, a 63-year-old native Austinite who tends to vote Democratic, bought a gift for her husband, Edward Burnell, 77, a die-hard Republican: A bottle of Trump-branded cologne. “We agree to disagree,” Leeanner Burnell says. “But politics shouldn’t separate anybody.” In these hyper-partisan times, many Americans — Republicans and Democrats — can’t imagine living with someone who has opposite voting predilections. And yet a small portion of households in Central Texas include at least one member who votes differently from other household members. Sometimes it’s a husband and wife, like the Burnells, who straddle the political divide, sometimes it’s a voting-age child who votes differently from her parents.

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Dallas Morning News - May 17, 2018

Emails show ex-Congressman Blake Farenthold's eager pursuit of lobbying gig

Nearly a month after abruptly resigning from Congress in the wake of revelations over lewd and verbally abusive behavior, former Corpus Christi Rep. Blake Farenthold had been angling for several days to get a lobbying job at a port authority in his district. And he appeared to be getting antsy. "What's up with the lawyers?" Farenthold wrote to Calhoun Port Authority director Charles Hausmann in an April 30 email, which was obtained by The Dallas Morning News through an open records request. "I'm ready to get work for y'all. "Any problems that I should know about?" Farenthold ended up landing the gig this month. He started Monday as a $160,000-a-year legislative liaison who will seek to boost the port's "presence and visibility in Washington."

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Dallas Morning News - May 17, 2018

DMN: Texas is right to compel big drug companies to take some responsibility amid the opioid crisis

There is ample blame to be shared for the opioid crisis: doctors who overprescribe, criminals who traffic in addiction and drug makers who feed this habit by distributing millions of pills like candy. Culpability exists all along the supply chain — and now there must be accountability too. This week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton took a significant step in that direction, suing Purdue Pharma, a Connecticut-based maker of OxyContin, for allegedly violating state laws against deceptive trade practices and misrepresenting the risk of addiction in advertising to patients and health centers.

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Dallas Morning News - May 17, 2018

Watchdog: North Texas Municipal Water District fights critics with a dirty Web trick

The citizens' activist group purchased the domain for SaferWaterNorthTexas.com on March 19 at 2:08 p.m., according to Internet registry whois.com. The water district bought its SafeWaterNorthTexas.com on the same day at 2:37 p.m., 29 minutes later. I asked water district public relations director Janet Rummel about this, and, frankly, I don't like her answer very much. "We had done it because we thought if people are searching for that, we wanted them to find our information in addition to theirs. It was something that we came up with with our cities."

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Dallas Morning News - May 17, 2018

This North Texas company doesn’t just like Trump’s tariffs – it wants more of them

Commercial Metals Co. is all-in on President Donald Trump's tariffs. The Irving-based steel manufacturer has cheered a new 25 percent levy on global steel imports it says threaten America's national security. It has urged Trump to follow through on threats to separately impose $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods over intellectual property concerns. And the company is now pressing the Trump administration to expand the scope of its trade action against China by adding even more tariffs.

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Dallas Morning News - May 17, 2018

Andrew White counters Lupe Valdez's targeted radio blitz with Austin TV ad

Democratic candidate Andrew White, still sitting on nearly $1 million that he loaned his campaign, has released a television ad aimed at Austin voters. The ad release comes one day before the end of early voting for the Houston businessman's May 22 runoff against Lupe Valdez, the former Dallas County sheriff. Analysts had questioned how and when White would use, if at all, the money he loaned his campaign. When asked Wednesday night whether the money White loaned his campaign would be spent, his campaign aides would only offer the following: The Houston investor will travel to Austin, Dallas and Houston for events. White will have digital ads, mailers and conduct local television interviews. Meanwhile, Valdez is starting some limited radio advertising.

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Texas Tribune - May 17, 2018

Rep. René Oliveira's DWI arrest front and center in House District 37 Democratic runoff

Cameron County Commissioner Alex Dominguez said he wanted to run for the Texas House this year because the timing was right: He would have had to leave office in the middle of a second term had he waited until 2020 and been re-elected to the local post. If he had any doubts about his decision after coming in second to long-time incumbent state Rep. René Oliveira, D-Brownsville, during the March primary election, those likely melted away last month after Oliveira, who was first elected to office in 1981, was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated. “People have been calling and volunteering, and people are tired," Dominguez said earlier this week about Oliveira’s arrest. "That pushed people over the top. If they were ever on the fence, they have fully come to our side. People want a change at this point.”

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Texas Tribune - May 18, 2018

Little-known state agency causes controversy as chief judge forces resignation

When it comes to Texas agencies, the State Office of Administrative Hearings operates in relative obscurity. Ask the average person what the office does, and he or she probably won’t have an answer. But the office, whose judges preside over disputes involving state agencies, made headlines this year when an administrative judge was forced to resign after presiding over a case involving the Texas Medical Board. The chief judge who forced that resignation is now taking fire from people, including administrative law experts and her predecessor, who say her actions threaten the agency's independence. But the judge, Lesli Ginn, says she was justified in asking for the judge’s resignation.

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Texas Tribune - May 18, 2018

In Central Texas congressional runoffs, candidates with traditional advantages face scrappy underdogs

At a recent forum in Austin, there was a moment of unity between Matt McCall and Mary Wilson — candidates in the Republican and Democratic runoffs, respectively, for the 21st Congressional District. An audience member wanted to know: If you lose your party's nomination Tuesday, how will you support your runoff opponent in November? "Since I live in the district," Wilson said, pausing briefly after those six words, "I will be voting for whoever the winner of this runoff is, and that's the primary means of support." "I thought the first part of Mary's answer was funny," McCall said with glee when it was his turn, "because I can say the same thing: I can vote in this district."

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Associated Press - May 17, 2018

Cases against bikers struggle 3 years after Waco shootout

Texas prosecutors who have failed to convict a single person in the three years since a Waco shooting left nine bikers dead are trying a new tack of targeting fewer cases, but attorneys for the bikers say the evidence is so shaky and the lead prosecutor's credibility so damaged that it will be difficult to make the remaining charges stick. The May 17, 2015, shooting also left 20 wounded and nearly 200 arrested at the Twin Peaks restaurant. Investigators say it was sparked by rivalries between the Bandidos and Cossacks motorcycle clubs ahead of a meeting. Waco police monitoring the gathering said officers opened fire after fights and gunfire broke out. Ballistics evidence shows that police bullets struck four of the nine dead, at least two of them fatally.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express News

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KBTX - May 16, 2018

Report: Central Texas in 'crisis' for more nursing home nurses

There's a growing healthcare crisis in Central Texas. The nursing shortage isn't new, but there's now a dire need for help in nursing homes. The Texas Health Care Association said turnover is high for nursing home care facilities and there are challenges finding a qualified workforce. Their new report said the turnover rate for nurses in nursing homes and long term care facilities is more than 90 percent. The turn over rate for Certified Nursing Assistants or Certified Nursing Aides is higher.

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Texas Energy Report - May 17, 2018

AG Opinion On RRC Executive Director Resignation Indicates Chairman Craddick May Have Overstepped Authority; Fellow Commissioner Says Not So

Railroad Commission of Texas Chairman Christi Craddick may have overstepped her authority by meeting with — and allegedly giving an ultimatum to — the former executive director of the RRC, an attorney general’s opinion Wednesday said, but there are specifics of the incident that must be taken into account. In a response letter to requests for attorney general’s opinions by District 103 state Representative Rafael Anchia, Attorney General Ken Paxton‘s office noted that, “A single member of the Railroad Commission lacks authority to unilaterally terminate or hire an executive director without deliberation and a decision from the Commission as a whole at a properly-called meeting.” However, Chairman Craddick may have simply met with the executive director to inform her that her job was in jeopardy, one commissioner points out.

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Texas Standard - May 8, 2018

In Texas, creating new paths to a high school diploma

The number of high-stakes tests required to graduate from a Texas public school has gradually dropped over the years. Now, even if a student fails the STAAR exams, there are other ways to earn a diploma – the student can present a portfolio of work to a committee, or earn a certain score on another exam like the SAT test. Texas students didn’t always have that opportunity, though. In the past, if they failed to pass the STAAR test’s predecessor, the TAKS test, then that was it. No diploma. Now that’s changed, thanks in part to state Sen. José Rodríguez, an El Paso Democrat. “Here in El Paso County, there’s an estimate of at least 19,000 students who are affected,” Rodríguez says. “Today, if you want to go into the military, you need a high school diploma.”

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County Stories

Laredo Morning Times - May 16, 2018

Zaffirini's request to halt Pescadito landfill project prompts criticism

After hearing the recent testimony of Webb County's floodplain administrator at a public hearing on the Pescadito landfill, state Sen. Judith Zaffirini has asked the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to withdraw their preliminary approval of the application. "I hereby request that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality immediately withdraw the draft permit and preliminary decision, rescind the determination that (Rancho Viejo Waste Management's) permit is technically complete, and suspend or abate further processing of the permit application until the related critical floodplain issue is finally resolved, and (Rancho Viejo Waste Management) can demonstrate compliance with all applicable TCEQ rules," Zaffirini wrote in a May 7 letter to the commission's interim director.

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Texas Tribune - May 17, 2018

How Democrats in Texas are trying to win over one of America’s most ethnically diverse counties

SUGAR LAND — At a glance, volunteers at Sri Kulkarni's campaign headquarters are no different than those for congressional campaigns across the country — huddling over laptops, tapping voters' numbers into their cell phones and concentrating on the call scripts in front of them. But when the person on the other end of the line picks up, some volunteers greet them not in English but in Vietnamese, Hindi, Urdu or Mandarin Chinese. For Kulkarni, a Democrat vying for a congressional seat in a Republican-leaning district, getting his message out to voters means not just knocking on doors and calling voters but also speaking the language they speak.

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City Stories

Construction Citizen - May 17, 2018

In a Potential Setback for Economic Development, Houston Adopts New Requirements for Companies Seeking Tax Breaks

The Houston City Council on Wednesday passed a new set of requirements for companies seeking tax abatements – requirements that include specific federally certified safety training for construction workers and providing affordable housing. The tax abatement guidelines also require companies seeking tax breaks for development to choose one from a list of eight “community benefits” including paid internships for low-income students, designs of buildings meant to reduce crime, and site improvements adding to the value of a neighborhood and not just the business itself.

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Houston Chronicle - May 16, 2018

Heart Failure -- At St. Luke’s in Houston, patients suffer as a renowned heart transplant program loses its luster

St. Luke's heart transplant survival rate, the most important measure of a program's quality, now ranks near the bottom nationally, according to the most recently published data. Among St. Luke's patients who received a new heart between the summer of 2014 and the end of 2016, just 85 percent survived at least one year, compared to 91.4 percent nationally. Put another way, twice as many St. Luke's patients died within a year as would have been expected, taking into account patient characteristics and illnesses. In January, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services cited the heart transplant program for its significantly worse-than-expected outcomes and threatened to cut off Medicare funds in August if the problems were not fixed, according to a letter obtained by ProPublica and the Chronicle. The program has since submitted a plan of correction and avoided the loss of federal funds.

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Dallas Morning News - May 17, 2018

New report: Dallas' skyline has most room to grow of any U.S. city

Dallas' skyline has a lot more room to grow if researchers have it right. When it comes to development sites, downtown Dallas has the greatest development potential, according to a new study. Big D already has one of the busiest downtowns with new apartments and retail developments, office buildings opening and a program to build four new downtown parks. But there's even more property available to ramp up construction in downtown Dallas, according to a new report by researchers at Yardi Systems Inc.

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Dallas Morning News - May 17, 2018

Jim Moroney, who put The News on a digital path, reflects on efforts to sustain local journalism as he steps down from CEO role

Moroney, who stepped down in March as the seventh publisher of The News, on Thursday relinquishes the titles of chairman, president and chief executive of Dallas-based A. H. Belo Corporation, the news organization’s parent. He has held the corporate positions since 2013. In a wide-ranging interview, Moroney, 61, a great-grandson of the paper’s first publisher, G.B. Dealey, said he’ll leave it to others to decide on his legacy.

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Austin American-Statesman - May 17, 2018

Austin pastors speak out in support of ‘Dreamers’

Pastors of several Austin churches gathered Thursday night to speak out in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows young immigrants to live and work in the United States legally. The pastors said they wanted to debunk the notion that Christians opposed DACA recipients, something they said had become a common narrative. “Why should Christians care for Dreamers?” Pastor Aaron Reyes of the Church of the Violet Crown asked a room of more than 60 Austinites who attended the “Stand with Dreamers” event. Justice, honor, compassion and evangelism were among the key reasons, he said.

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Dallas Morning News - May 17, 2018

SMU stands by survey that asks students 'Why are black people so loud?'

Southern Methodist University distributed a survey last fall that asked students to rate how much they wanted answers to such questions as "Why are black people so loud?" and "Do black people hate America?" The survey, distributed by SMU's Cultural Intelligence Initiative and posted online, was taken down Thursday after a link to it was posted in a tweet and non-SMU students began answering. Maria Dixon Hall, who heads the initiative, said the survey launched in November 2017 and until this week, there had been no complaints from students or faculty members. Before Thursday, about 30 students had weighed in on it.

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National Stories

Washington Post - May 17, 2018

Phillips: The House GOP’s internal immigration battle, laid bare

We are witnessing a pretty surprising bucking of House leadership from a group of House Republicans who typically don't pull this sort of thing. Nearly 20 House Republicans have signed a petition to try to force an immigration vote that Republican leaders have so far refused to have. “Obviously we don't like the discharge petition,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said at an event Thursday. “It would guarantee [whatever we vote on] would not go into law.” Behind closed doors, Ryan and his team have even warned their colleagues that this petition could cost Republicans the majority. Yet more lawmakers keep signing on. Hours before receiving that warning Wednesday, two more moderates signed the petition.

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Washington Post - May 17, 2018

Why Robert Mueller probably won’t — and perhaps shouldn’t — indict Trump

Rudolph W. Giuliani is not the most credible messenger. But he seems pretty sure that Robert S. Mueller III has guaranteed that President Trump won’t be indicted. Giuliani says Mueller's team informed Trump's lawyers that such a thing wasn’t even on the table because the special counsel will follow existing Justice Department guidelines that say presidents can’t be indicted. This has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. Those anxiously waiting for Mueller to take down Trump cried foul. “My own view is that [the president] can be indicted,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) told MSNBC on Thursday. Some see this as a clear abdication of Mueller’s responsibility in holding Trump accountable — or worse, an admission that a president is “above the law.” Here’s what we can say about this: It seems eminently plausible — if not likely — that Mueller's team actually provided this assurance. Mueller may be setting expectations for what will come of all this. Indicting Trump would be a recipe for huge political unrest.

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New York Times - May 17, 2018

'Bigger Than Watergate’? Both Sides Say Yes, but for Different Reasons

President Trump and his critics actually agree on something. If a column he read in a magazine is correct, he wrote on Twitter on Thursday, “this is bigger than Watergate!” Never mind that he was thinking of something different than his adversaries when they use the same phrase. Mr. Trump was referring to what he deems a deep-state conspiracy to get him. His detractors are referring to the various scandals swirling around Mr. Trump. Watergate has long been the touchstone for modern American scandal, the mountain of misconduct against which all others are judged. In the 44 years since Richard M. Nixon resigned, virtually every political investigation has been likened to the one that brought down a president, the suffix “gate” applied to all sorts of public flaps, no matter how significant or trivial.

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Politico - May 17, 2018

Inside Mueller’s FBI team

President Donald Trump has repeatedly hurled insults at the FBI agents working on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 campaign. Rudy Giuliani, a former U.S. attorney who’s now Trump’s lawyer, has attacked them as “stormtroopers.” The vitriol is unsurprising. The agents are powering an investigation that has shadowed Trump’s entire presidency — and they are mostly unknown to the public, making them easy targets. They are a mix of bureau veterans and relative newcomers handpicked by Mueller and his prosecutors to handle the highest-profile and most sensitive federal investigation in a generation. To assemble this portrait of Mueller’s FBI team, POLITICO scoured court records, news accounts and press releases and conducted more than two dozen interviews with defense lawyers and witnesses as well as with current and former FBI agents.

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CNN - May 17, 2018

Koch-backed group gives boost to Democrats on immigration

An immigration-overhaul advocacy group backed by the influential Koch brothers is sending out a series of political mailers aimed at backing pro-immigration members of Congress -- including a handful of Democrats. The billionaire Koch brothers are some of the most prolific political donors, and they traditionally back politically conservative causes and candidates. But among the group of lawmakers being supported by the mailers from the LIBRE Initiative are five Democrats, including the chairman of the Democrats' House campaign arm and the chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. The LIBRE Initiative is a Koch-backed group, technically nonpartisan, that advocates for conservative principles specifically among Hispanic Americans.

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Houston Chronicle - May 17, 2018

Trump administration to tie health facilities’ funding to abortion restrictions

The Trump administration plans to announce on Friday a new policy barring Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health organizations from providing or mentioning abortions at any facility that receives federal family planning funds, according to two White House officials and others familiar with the matter. The change, a top priority of social conservatives, is the latest move by President Donald Trump to impose curbs on reproductive rights, in this case by walling off government money from any facility that offers women the option of terminating a pregnancy. Federal family planning laws already bar direct funding of organizations that use abortion as a family planning method. But conservative activists and Republican lawmakers have been pressing Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, to tighten the rules further so that abortions could not occur in the same place, or be performed by the same staff, where federally funded reproductive health services were provided.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express-News

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Dallas Morning News - May 17, 2018

DMN: Cornyn offers smart prison reform, even if more work is left to be done

The short answer to what's wrong with America's criminal justice system is that we put too many non-violent offenders in prison for too long. And, when they get out, most are unprepared to rejoin society in a way that keeps them from going back. Texas saw the problem back in 2007 and enacted reforms that have trimmed billions in prison expenses and coincided with falling crime rates. Texas now stands as a national example for how to be, as Sen. John Cornyn recalled last week during a stop at the federal prison in Seagoville, tough on crime and smart on crime. Other states have made similar reforms, and for years conservatives and liberals in Congress have tried to change the federal system, too.

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New York Times - May 17, 2018

Senate Confirms Gina Haspel to Lead C.I.A. Despite Torture Concerns

The Senate confirmed Gina Haspel on Thursday to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, elevating a woman to the directorship for the first time despite bipartisan misgivings about her role in the agency’s brutal detention and interrogation programs in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Ms. Haspel, the current deputy director and a career clandestine officer, takes the helm at a time of shifting alliances and intelligence threats from Iran to North Korea to Russia, and after President Trump tried to cast doubt on the intelligence community’s judgment as part of his broader attack on the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. But it was Ms. Haspel’s past that transfixed senators — if only for a few weeks — as they grappled anew with the aggressive interrogation policies of the George W. Bush administration in the years after the terrorist attacks.

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Live Science - May 17, 2018

US Birth Rate Hits All-Time Low: What's Behind the Decline?

Last year, about 3.8 million babies were born in the U.S., which is 2 percent lower than the number born in 2016, and the lowest recorded number of births in 30 years, according to the report. What's more, there were about 60 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, which is 3 percent lower than the rate in 2016, and the lowest recorded rate since the government started tracking birth rates in 1909. ... Part of the reason for the decline in U.S. birth rates may be that people are in a general state of economic uncertainty, said Karen Benjamin Guzzo, associate director of the Center for Family & Demographic Research at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Even though the Great Recession technically ended in 2009, people may still feel uneasy about their economic situation; they may be employed but working part time, or going to school and working, or trying to pay off student loans, Guzzo said.

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Dallas Morning News - May 17, 2018

Immigrants now make up 17.1 percent of U.S. labor force

The number of foreign-born workers in the U.S. labor force has reached 27.4 million, or 17.1 percent of the total number of workers, according to figures released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The annual report includes foreign-born workers who are in the country legally and illegally, as well as students, refugees and those who may be temporary workers. The data does not separate out the number of undocumented workers in the country. The numbers also show the share of immigrants in the labor force continues to grow. In 2016, there were 27 million foreign-born workers in the U.S. or 16.9 percent of the labor force. In 2000, by comparison, the percentage of of foreign-born workers was at 13.3 percent.

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Houston Chronicle - May 14, 2018

Tomlinson: Who is middle class, and where are they going?

The current shortage in affordable housing has come about because homebuilders cannot generate sufficient margins on single-family homes for the middle class. In thousands of ways, our consumer-based economy relies on middle-class purchasing power, and when it slips, all of us feel it. Experts have recommended solutions that include a higher minimum wage, a tariff on foreign manufactured goods and greater union participation, but all of these could raise inflation. The best solution is a better-educated workforce that engages in life-long learning. But sadly, too many Americans are reluctant to make that investment.

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Dallas Morning News - May 16, 2018

DMN: As NAFTA negotiations drag on, the Trump administration faces political test on trade

International agreements have a way of coming back to life even after being officially declared dead, so we're not willing to write NAFTA 2.0's obituary any time soon. But the rewrite of the North American Free Trade Agreement is reaching an important inflection point this week. House Speaker Paul Ryan set Thursday as a deadline for striking a deal. The seemingly arbitrary date was meant to press negotiators into hammering out their differences before congressional re-election season heats up, when politics can trump trade talks. What has been left unsaid is that this deadline can also be seen as a test of sorts for the Trump administration. Will it now see the value of staying in NAFTA even if that means pushing negotiations into the fall or next year? Or will it push to withdraw?

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Washington Post - May 11, 2018

Cecile Richards offers advice for professional troublemakers

Making trouble may have come naturally to Cecile Richards, born to a father who was a civil rights lawyer and a mother who would make the great leap from housewife to governor of Texas. Richards traces her first act of speaking out to a dramatic day at her Dallas elementary school when she told her teacher that she did not want to recite the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of class. Her teacher was horrified. Cecile was 11 years old. Now Richards, who is stepping down as president of Planned Parenthood, has written a memoir of her life of activism called “Make Trouble,” with the inevitable subtitle “Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead.”

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Washington Post - May 16, 2018

Someone, somewhere, is making a banned chemical that destroys the ozone layer, scientists suspect

Emissions of a banned, ozone-depleting chemical are on the rise, a group of scientists reported Wednesday, suggesting someone may be secretly manufacturing the pollutant in violation of an international accord. Emissions of CFC-11 have climbed 25 percent since 2012, despite the chemical being part of a group of ozone pollutants that were phased out under the 1987 Montreal Protocol. “I’ve been making these measurements for more than 30 years, and this is the most surprising thing I’ve seen,” said Stephen Montzka, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who led the work. “I was astounded by it, really.” It’s a distressing result amid what is widely seen as a global environmental success story, in which nations — alarmed by a growing “ozone hole” — collectively took action to phase out chlorofluorocarbons.

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