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Newsclips - June 21, 2018

State Stories

Dallas Morning News - June 14, 2018

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

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

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Dallas Morning News - June 19, 2018

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

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

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Dallas Morning News - June 16, 2018

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

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

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Dallas Morning News - June 19, 2018

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

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

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Kansas City Star - June 15, 2018

O'Rourke liquidated assets before launching Senate bid

Democrat Beto O’Rourke and his wife, Amy O'Rourke, liquidated between $1.25 million and $5.5 million of personal assets shortly before the Congressman launched his Senate bid last year. The 45-year-old O'Rourke, who is challenging Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, this November, reported assets estimated to value between $3.5 million and $16.3 million in the 2017 calendar year, according to his most recent financial disclosure. Cruz applied for and received an extension on filing that report, which is required of all members of Congress, until August 13. Cruz applied for and received an extension on filing that report, which is required of all members of Congress, until August 13. Cruz's most recent financial disclosure, covering the 2016 calendar year, showed the senator much less wealthy than his Democratic opponent, with assets ranging between $2.2 million and $5.1 million.

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Dallas Morning News - June 20, 2018

Gov. Greg Abbott calls July special election to fill Texas Sen. Carlos Uresti's seat

Gov. Greg Abbott called Wednesday for a special election to fill the Senate seat left vacant by the resignation of San Antonio Democrat Carlos Uresti. In a Facebook post Monday, Uresti announced that his resignation would go into effect Thursday, about four months after he was found guilty on felony fraud charges. He had asked the governor to schedule the special election for Nov. 6 to save taxpayers money, but Abbott set it for July 31, saying it was imperative to fill the vacancy to ensure the district has full representation as soon as possible. ... But Brandon Rottinghaus, a University of Houston political science professor, said the move could be a strategy to flip the seat red. "There's a chance that the Republicans can steal the seat in a low-turnout election in the middle of the summer," Rottinghaus said.

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Dallas Morning News - June 20, 2018

Company that runs immigration detention centers is top donor for two Texas congressmen

One of the country’s largest operators of private immigration detention facilities has made significant contributions to several Texas members of Congress. The GEO Group’s PAC and executives have given $32,900 to Houston Republican Rep. John Culberson’s campaign this election cycle, according to Federal Election Commission documents and OpenSecrets.org. GEO is Culberson's largest donor. In Texas, GEO operates detention centers for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Karnes City, Laredo, Pearsall and Conroe. ... Culberson received the most funding from GEO out of Texas members of Congress. U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, received $500 less at $32,400. GEO is also Cuellar’s largest campaign donor this cycle.

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Texas Tribune - June 20, 2018

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott urges congressional action on separated immigrant families: "This disgraceful condition must end."

Gov. Greg Abbott is asking Texans in Congress to take bipartisan action to address the crisis of thousands of immigrant children being separated from their parents. "This disgraceful condition must end; and it can only end with action by Congress to reform the broken immigration system," he wrote in a letter to all members of the Texas delegation, including Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn. Abbott called family separations, which are the result of a Trump administration policy announced earlier this year, “tragic and heartrending.” But he also called the separations the “latest calamity children suffer because of a broken U.S. border” — and urged members to “seize” the opportunity to work across the aisle and finally fix the problem.

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Corsicana Daily Sun - June 15, 2018

Austin: In Alamo City, Texas GOP makes a stand against “blue wave” threat

Republicans may have a lock on state political leadership but you could be forgiven for thinking they’re at the edge of extinction to hear the 2018 Texas GOP Convention talk. “If Texas goes blue, the Republican Party is dead,” said Brian Ruddle, a trainer at Abbott University, which on Thursday began schooling volunteers in opposition research and other techniques that GOP activists can use to turn back what the party fears is an insurgent Democrat onslaught. “There aren’t enough Ohios and Michigans to make up for Texas.” The training sessions were just one part of the menu — speeches, caucus meeting and glad handing on the part of elected officials and Republican Party of Texas honchos — that drew a reported 9,925 delegates and alternates to the event’s first day at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center near the historic center of downtown San Antonio.

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City Stories

Dallas Morning News - June 20, 2018

Dallas community leaders will visit 'tender age' detention centers in South Texas

Dallas faith leaders and Latino advocates announced Wednesday they will visit three “tender age” detention centers in South Texas, where toddlers who have been separated from their parents are being held. Domingo García, president of the local chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens, will lead a caravan of activists to McAllen on Saturday to protest the separation of families, ahead of the national rally to free immigrant children planned for July 4. "This is affecting the future and the emotional state of children and their parents, and why is this happening?" García asked Wednesday during a news conference at Dallas City Hall.

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Dallas Morning News - June 19, 2018

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

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

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National Stories

Dallas Morning News - June 18, 2018

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

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

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San Antonio Express-News - June 19, 2018

Chasnoff: Policy at border not a surprise

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

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Associated Press - June 19, 2018

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

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

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Charlotte News & Observer - June 19, 2018

Inside the Trump-Kim summit: What it really means

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

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New York Times - June 20, 2018

Fewer Births Than Deaths Among Whites in Majority of U.S. States

Deaths now outnumber births among white people in more than half the states in the country, demographers have found, signaling what could be a faster-than-expected transition to a future in which whites are no longer a majority of the American population. The Census Bureau has projected that whites could drop below 50 percent of the population around 2045, a relatively slow-moving change that has been years in the making. But a new report this week found that whites are dying faster than they are being born now in 26 states, up from 17 just two years earlier, and demographers say that shift might come even sooner. “It’s happening a lot faster than we thought,” said Rogelio Sáenz, a demographer at the University of Texas at San Antonio and a co-author of the report. ... Of the 26 states where deaths now exceed births for whites, 13 voted for Mr. Trump and 13 voted for Hillary Clinton. Four are states that flipped from President Barack Obama in 2012 to Mr. Trump in 2016 — Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida. But it is not clear how demographic change will affect politics in the future. ... “People say demographics is destiny and there’ll be more people of color — all that is true,” said Jennifer Richeson, a social psychologist at Yale University. “But they also say the U.S. is going to become more progressive, and we don’t know that. We should not assume that white moderates and liberals will maintain current political allegiances, nor should we expect that the so-called nonwhite group is going to work in any kind of coalition.”

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The Hill - June 20, 2018

Women speak of pervasive harassment in DC lobbying culture

On K Street — the term for Washington’s cadre of lobbyists, political operatives and people working in public relations — deals are often done over dinner or drinks, on business travel or retreats. Much like Capitol Hill, the influence industry remains dominated by men, creating an environment where women say they are often subject to harassment and worse. Unlike in other industries, however, few women have been willing to come forward to talk about it. The Hill began reaching out to women on K Street last year, asking whether they had similar stories to those surfacing as part of the “Me Too” movement. More than a dozen women spoke about instances of sexual harassment or assault they say they have faced while working in the influence industry.

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New York Times - June 20, 2018

Trump Retreats on Separating Families, but Thousands May Remain Apart

President Trump caved to enormous political pressure on Wednesday and signed an executive order meant to end the separation of families at the border by detaining parents and children together for an indefinite period. “We’re going to have strong — very strong — borders, but we are going to keep the families together,” Mr. Trump said as he signed the order in the Oval Office. “I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated.” But ending the practice of separating families still faces legal and practical obstacles. A federal judge could refuse to give the Trump administration the authority it wants to hold families in custody for more than 20 days, which is the current limit because of a 1997 court order.

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New York Times - June 20, 2018

On Mexico’s Migrant Trail: Confusion and Tough Choices

Elid Turcios sees only dangerous — potentially disastrous — options for his family. They cannot return to Honduras, where he says gang members murdered his parents, nor do they feel safe in Mexico. But he has heard that ahead lies the new threat that the United States will prosecute him and his wife. “My son and wife are the only thing I have,” Mr. Turcios said gloomily on Wednesday. Even so, the question is not whether to forge ahead and enter the United States, he said, but how best to do it. “I want to get to the border,” he said. “Because what else can we do?” As the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy for illegal entry to the United States dominates debate in Washington and draws international attention and condemnation, it is also sowing turmoil and confusion on the long migrant trail through Central America and Mexico.

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New York Times - June 20, 2018

Michael Bloomberg Will Spend $80 Million on the Midterms. His Goal: Flip the House for the Democrats.

Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, has decided to throw his political clout and personal fortune behind the Democratic campaign to take control of the House of Representatives this year, directing aides to spend tens of millions of dollars in an effort to expel Republicans from power. Mr. Bloomberg — a political independent who has championed left-of-center policies on gun control, immigration and the environment — has approved a plan to pour at least $80 million into the 2018 election, with the bulk of that money going to support Democratic congressional candidates, advisers to Mr. Bloomberg said. By siding so emphatically with one party, Mr. Bloomberg has the potential to upend the financial dynamics of the midterm campaign, which have appeared to favor Republicans up to this point.

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The Hill - June 20, 2018

Opioid crisis sending thousands of children into foster care

The opioid epidemic ravaging states and cities across the country has sent a record number of children into foster and state care systems, taxing limited government resources and testing a system that is already at or near capacity. An analysis of foster care systems around the country shows the number of children entering state or foster care rising sharply, especially in states hit hardest by opioid addiction. The children entering state care are younger, and they tend to stay in the system longer, than ever before. Among states hardest hit by the epidemic, the populations of children in foster or state care has risen by 15 percent to 30 percent in just the last four years, The Hill’s analysis shows. In other states, the number of children referred to child welfare programs has ballooned, even if those kids do not end up in foster care.

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Salon - June 15, 2018

Federalism gone wild: How Republicans seized power in state capitals — and reshaped America

The system of federalism in the United States has shifted over the past generation. States have become more important in shaping the policies that affect our day to day lives. This wasn't always the case. From the 1930s through the 1970s, the national government passed important laws that restricted what states could do. The Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act fundamentally changed life and politics in the South. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid raised standards for retirement and health care across the states. National environmental laws like the Clean Air Act meant that coal and oil states couldn't just let fossil fuel companies do whatever they wanted. But since the 1970s a generation of conservative politicians, judges and activists championed what they called "New Federalism," which would limit national policy and return power to the states -- and in many ways they succeeded. In 2012, for example, the Supreme Court ruled that state governments should have the choice whether to accept or reject Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). This allowed for big differences in health insurance coverage between states.

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Dallas Morning News - June 20, 2018

John Cornyn to Trump on family separation: 'Yes, we do need more immigration judges, Mr. President'

A day after President Donald Trump rejected calls to hire more immigration judges to cut court backlogs and solve the family separation crisis, Texas Sen. John Cornyn chided him for failing to grasp how the system works. "I would argue with the president that yes, we do need more immigration judges, Mr. President," Cornyn, the deputy Senate majority leader, told Texas reporters after meeting with Trump at the White House on Wednesday. Cornyn and fellow Texas Sen. Ted Cruz filed legislation Wednesday to speed processing of asylum claims, in part by expanding the number of judges who hear such cases and in part, by putting families with asylum claims at the head of the line.

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Dallas Morning News - June 20, 2018

As Trump's trade war drags on, John Cornyn has one big question: 'How does this end?'

Texas Sen. John Cornyn has one big question for President Donald Trump as the White House's growing trade war shows no sign of abatement: "How does this end?" "The president has great confidence that it will end well," Cornyn, the Senate's No. 2 Republican, said on a call with Texas reporters. "But in the meantime, there is a lot of disruption and anxiety over its impacts on the economy and on jobs and on consumer prices." That nudge capped off a day in which senators in both parties once again urged the Trump administration to reconsider its snarling trade agenda.

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Dallas Morning News - June 20, 2018

Commerce secretary denies insider trading after selling shipping stock

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross Jr. has denied any wrongdoing in connection with the sale of stock in a shipping firm linked to the Kremlin. Ross, a longtime investor who years ago had a large stake in a Dallas-based oil and natural gas drilling company, was accused of shorting shares of shipper Navigator Holdings days after learning that reporters were preparing a potentially negative story about his dealings with the Russian company, according to a report inThe New York Times. Stock shorting is an investment tactic that allows shareholders to profit if a stock's price falls. It involves borrowing shares and selling them at the lower price.

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The Hill - June 20, 2018

20 weeks out from midterms, Dems and GOP brace for surprises

Twenty weeks before November’s midterm elections, Democrats and Republicans are cautiously eyeing a fluid political landscape, one that is likely to be dramatically altered by outside forces in the weeks and months ahead. In interviews with about two dozen Democratic and Republican strategists, pollsters and political scientists, most agree on a few things: House Democrats are almost certain to pick up seats, and Senate Republicans are likely to add to their slim majority. But a host of what Donald Rumsfeld might call "known unknowns" looms large over the midterm elections. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into President Trump shows no indication of nearing an end. The booming economy may be blunting Democrats’ advantage right now, but a burgeoning trade war with allies and competitors alike could dampen growth.

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Newsclips - June 20, 2018

Lead Stories

Dallas Morning News - June 19, 2018

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

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

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Houston Chronicle - June 19, 2018

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

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

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The Hill - June 19, 2018

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

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

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Politico - June 19, 2018

Democrats dodge campaign finance law

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

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State Stories

Dallas Morning News - June 19, 2018

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

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

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Dallas Morning News - June 19, 2018

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

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

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Dallas Morning News - June 19, 2018

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

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

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Dallas Morning News - June 19, 2018

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

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

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Dallas Morning News - June 18, 2018

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

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

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Dallas Morning News - June 19, 2018

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

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

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Houston Chronicle - June 19, 2018

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

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

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Austin American-Statesman - June 19, 2018

Oklahoma subpoena for Austin consultant and wind executive blocked

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

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Austin American-Statesman - June 19, 2018

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

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

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Austin American-Statesman - June 19, 2018

Herman: The Texas GOP’s platform, by God

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

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Austin American-Statesman - June 19, 2018

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

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

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Austin American-Statesman - June 19, 2018

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

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

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San Antonio Express-News - June 19, 2018

Caterpillar plant shows stakes of growing trade conflict

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

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Texas Tribune - June 19, 2018

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

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

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Austin American-Statesman - June 19, 2018

Texas Republicans defend, criticize Trump over family separations

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

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Los Angeles Times - June 19, 2018

'Freedom city'? Going beyond 'sanctuary,' Austin, Texas, vows to curtail arrests

Ever since the Texas legislature last year passed one of the country’s most aggressive “anti-sanctuary city” laws, some enclaves have fought officials over the extent to which police can ignore federal immigration law. The state regulation known as Senate Bill 4 has been described by opponents as the “show your papers” law for allowing officers to ask about the immigration status of anybody arrested or detained. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed the law in May 2017, and Austin was among the first cities to challenge it in federal court. The law is currently in effect while a case against it proceeds. The Trump administration, in the midst of legal battles against some states and cities for their sanctuary policies, has cheered Texas even as officers in cities such as Houston and Austin have rarely used the law to ask immigration questions. Some cities have indeed followed a part of the Texas law that calls for police to hold detainees believed to be in the country illegally.

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County Stories

Associated Press - June 19, 2018

DA fires prosecutor who provided information to FBI

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

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express-News

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Austin American-Statesman - June 19, 2018

Austin, Travis County fail sexual assault victims, lawsuit claims

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

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City Stories

Houston Chronicle - June 19, 2018

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

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

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Austin American-Statesman - June 19, 2018

Austin trustees approve plan to leave some schools without nurses

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

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San Antonio Express-News - June 19, 2018

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

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

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Houston Chronicle - June 19, 2018

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

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

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Houston Chronicle - June 19, 2018

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

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

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San Antonio Express-News - June 19, 2018

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

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

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San Antonio Express-News - June 19, 2018

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

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

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San Antonio Express-News - June 19, 2018

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

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

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National Stories

Associated Press - June 18, 2018

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

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

This article appeared in the San Antonio-Express News

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The Hill - June 19, 2018

US pulls out of UN Human Rights Council

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

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Politico - June 19, 2018

Embattled agent Peter Strzok escorted from FBI headquarters

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

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New York Times - June 19, 2018

Commerce Secretary Shorted Stock as Negative Coverage Loomed Image

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

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Politico - June 17, 2018

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

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

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McClatchy Newspapers - June 19, 2018

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

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

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Dallas Morning News - June 18, 2018

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

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

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Dallas Morning News - June 19, 2018

Jaramillo: Where are the undocumented girls in shelters?

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

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National Review - May 28, 2018

Lowry: The Truth about Separating Kids

When a migrant is prosecuted for illegal entry, he or she is taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals. In no circumstance anywhere in the U.S. do the marshals care for the children of people they take into custody. The child is taken into the custody of HHS, who cares for them at temporary shelters. The criminal proceedings are exceptionally short, assuming there is no aggravating factor such as a prior illegal entity or another crime. The migrants generally plead guilty, and they are then sentenced to time served, typically all in the same day, although practices vary along the border. After this, they are returned to the custody of ICE. If the adult then wants to go home, in keeping with the expedited order of removal that is issued as a matter of course, it’s relatively simple. The adult should be reunited quickly with his or her child, and the family returned home as a unit. In this scenario, there’s only a very brief separation. Where it becomes much more of an issue is if the adult files an asylum claim. In that scenario, the adults are almost certainly going to be detained longer than the government is allowed to hold their children. That’s because of something called the Flores Consent Decree from 1997. It says that unaccompanied children can be held only 20 days. A ruling by the Ninth Circuit extended this 20-day limit to children who come as part of family units. So even if we want to hold a family unit together, we are forbidden from doing so.

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Politico - June 19, 2018

House GOP: Trump's immigration plea may fall short

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

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Politico - June 19, 2018

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

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

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Washington Post - June 19, 2018

House GOP plan would cut Medicare, Medicaid to balance budget

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

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New York Times - June 18, 2018

Krugman: Fall of the American Empire

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

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Austin American-Statesman - June 19, 2018

Amid outcry, Ted Cruz pivots on family separation issue

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

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Austin American-Statesman - June 19, 2018

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

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

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Dallas Morning News - June 13, 2018

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

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

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Dallas Morning News - June 19, 2018

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

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

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Newsclips - June 19, 2018

Lead Stories

Washington Post - June 18, 2018

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

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

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Houston Chronicle - June 18, 2018

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

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

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New York Times - June 18, 2018

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

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

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Daily Caller - June 18, 2018

Comey under investigation for handling of classified information

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

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State Stories

Dallas Morning News - June 18, 2018

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

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

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Dallas Morning News - June 18, 2018

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

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

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Dallas Morning News - June 18, 2018

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

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

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Dallas Morning News - June 18, 2018

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

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

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Dallas Morning News - June 18, 2018

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

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

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Houston Chronicle - June 18, 2018

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

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

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Houston Chronicle - June 19, 2018

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

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

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Houston Chronicle - June 18, 2018

Tropical disturbance moving into Texas, bringing rain

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

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Austin American-Statesman - June 18, 2018

Sen. Carlos Uresti to resign days before his sentencing

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

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Austin American-Statesman - June 18, 2018

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

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

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Austin American-Statesman - June 18, 2018

Herman: Schumer, leave the Texanisms to Texans

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

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Austin American-Statesman - June 13, 2018

Beck: What ‘equal opportunity’ in education really means

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

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Austin American-Statesman - June 18, 2018

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

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

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San Antonio Express-News - June 18, 2018

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

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

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San Antonio Express-News - June 18, 2018

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

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

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Texas Tribune - June 18, 2018

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

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

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Texas Tribune - June 19, 2018

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

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

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Politico - June 18, 2018

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

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

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New York Times - June 18, 2018

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

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

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KSAT - June 16, 2018

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

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

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City Stories

Austin Chronicle - June 15, 2018

Point Austin: The Struggle Continues

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

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The Eagle - June 18, 2018

Texas A&M swimmer files Title IX lawsuit against university

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

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Dallas Morning News - June 18, 2018

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

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

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Austin American-Statesman - June 18, 2018

Austin nonprofit under fire for housing thousands of migrant children

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

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National Stories

Houston Chronicle - June 18, 2018

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

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

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Politico - June 19, 2018

Generation Pickleball: Welcome to Florida’s Political Tomorrowland

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

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Dallas Morning News - June 15, 2018

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

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

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Houston Chronicle - June 18, 2018

Ted Cruz introducing legislation to keep migrant families together

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

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Washington Post - June 18, 2018

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

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

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Associated Press - June 18, 2018

Recording of crying children at border adds to outrage

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

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express-News

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Washington Post - June 18, 2018

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

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

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Daily Beast - June 14, 2018

Defense Contractors Cashing In On Immigrant Kids’ Detention

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

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Yahoo! News - June 18, 2018

Americans grapple with recognizing facts in news stories: Pew survey

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

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Politico - June 18, 2018

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

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

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The Hill - June 18, 2018

Supreme Court sidesteps partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin, Maryland cases

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

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Washington Post - June 18, 2018

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

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

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The Hill - June 15, 2018

‘Three Californias’ plan would give Dems more seats

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

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Wall St. Journal - June 18, 2018

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

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

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