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November 20, 2017: All Newsclips | Early Morning Clips

All - November 20, 2017

State Stories

Austin American-Statesman - November 17, 2017

Wear: Why plans for Texas bullet trains are still mostly a dream

Not yet. Almost four years ago in this column, I raised the question of whether it was time to take seriously the prospects of a high-speed passenger rail line being built in this state. My conclusion at the time: No. Still is. Even with the Texas Department of Transportation’s release this month of a first-level environmental study on rail in the 550-mile corridor from the Red River to the Rio Grande Valley — and the ongoing privately funded study of a 240-mile Houston-to-Dallas line — I remain skeptical. And I am far from alone, at least in the case of that north-south connection between Oklahoma and Mexico.

Austin American-Statesman - November 19, 2017

Repairs continue at Devereux site in Texas damaged by Harvey

Facing more than half a million dollars in damages, Devereux Advanced Medical Health Texas campus administrator Richard Perkins said the destruction left by Hurricane Harvey was not his biggest concern. “We are mainly focused on the well-being of the clients, to get them back into the normalcy of the program,” he said. Since 1958, Devereux has offered residential and vocational programs for children and adults experiencing a wide range of emotional, behavioral, developmental and psychiatric disorders.

Austin American-Statesman - November 19, 2017

Lluveras: How Texans suffer without office of minority health

During the past legislative session, Texas lawmakers canceled funding for the Office of Minority Health Statistics and Engagement (OMHSE) beyond Sept. 1, 2018. In effect, this means Texas could soon become the first state in the nation without an office of minority health. This is a bad decision by our lawmakers because Texas institutions continue to operate inequitably. It may seem that inequity only impacts people of color, but it is important to remember that what affects one part of our state has an effect over all of us. Legislators need to ensure all Texans have access to programs and services that strengthen opportunity and should support initiatives that get people to work together to solve social problems.

Austin American-Statesman - November 19, 2017

Flamm: How NAFTA, immigration influence Texas’ economic future

Future challenges faced by the Texas economy with trade, immigration and border governance policies were the focus of a recent symposium convened by UT Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs and its Texas 2030 Project. Some eye-opening facts emerged. Today’s Texas economy depends heavily on international trade and is built around technology, energy-related goods and professional services. Texas exports more goods than any other state by a large margin — 40 percent more than the next largest exporter, California. Yet the California economy is 50 percent larger than that of Texas. The flashpoint reshaping U.S. trade policy is NAFTA.

Austin American-Statesman - November 17, 2017

Steve Bannon steps aside, but Ted Cruz picks up 2 primary rivals

In October, Steve Bannon, who had left his post as President Donald Trump’s chief strategist to return to the command of Breitbart News, announced that he was declaring war on all Republicans in the Senate who are up for re-election in 2018, with the exception of Ted Cruz, to create a Senate more amenable to Trump’s agenda. But, Bannon’s grace notwithstanding, Cruz not only will have a primary in March but will face two challengers, and Bannon himself might become a campaign issue. “I’ve taken to calling everyone that Bannon is backing ‘Bannon’s barbarians,’ ” said Stefano de Stefano, a Houston energy attorney who in July announced that he was going to leave his job with Diamond Offshore Drilling to challenge Cruz for re-election.

Austin American-Statesman - November 17, 2017

Castillo: How common sense can transcend ideology about guns

It seems outrageous now, but cruising New Mexico streets while tossing back a beer used to be as common as hatch chiles in August. It was the culture, pure and simple, says Doug Fritzsche, who used to live there. Not surprisingly, until the 1990s, New Mexico led the nation in alcohol-related deaths, the New York Times reported back in 2005. Carnage on the highways stirred outrage, which triggered new laws that reduced the number of deaths. Mothers Against Drunk Driving was out front trying to change the culture by latching on to a singular, strategic focus: “They said this behavior is killing people,” Fritzsche told me.

San Antonio Express-News - November 19, 2017

Fikac: Filibuster still making waves, this time with movie script

The leaked movie screenplay based on Wendy Davis’ abortion filibuster has stirred strong reactions on the right and the left, prompting accusations of literary license run wild and drawing condemnation from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who appears to be portrayed as a buffoonish bad guy. The screenplay makes no claim to being a faithful record of the 2013 event that riveted people around the nation and vaulted Davis into a Democratic race for governor, ending with a lopsided loss to Republican Greg Abbott.

Dallas Morning News - November 17, 2017

Garland crime lab analyst's misleading testimony leads to statewide changes

Misleading testimony from a Garland-based state crime lab analyst has led to statewide changes in how forensic testing gets handled in court. Texas Department of Public Safety lab analyst Chris Youngkin's conflicting statements under oath last year about his work jeopardized thousands of North Texas drunken-driving cases. Prosecutors refused to call him as a witness at trial. Any blood alcohol tests he had worked in seven North Texas counties couldn't be used. And cases that had been closed were subject to review.

KXAS - November 19, 2017

Border agent dies after being injured in Texas

An agent with U.S. Border Patrol was killed and another injured when the two came under attack, according to information released Sunday by the agency and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. Border Patrol officials said the agents were on patrol in Culberson County in the Big Bend Sector of the Texas border. Agent Rogelio Martinez died Sunday morning as a result of injuries he and his partner sustained after responding to "activity" while on patrol on Interstate 10 near Van Horn, according to a statement from Border Patrol. It wasn't immediately clear when the incident occured.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express News

Politico - November 19, 2017

Texas AG Paxton rejects Romney standard from Roy Moore case

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton isn't on board with former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's approach to the allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. After Moore supporters said he was entitled to a presumption of innocence regarding claims that he had inappropriate contacts with teenage girls, Romney took to Twitter to say the standard used in criminal cases isn't the correct one to apply in the political realm. "Innocent until proven guilty is for criminal convictions, not elections," he said.

WFAA - November 15, 2017

Illegal voting complaint filed against GOP candidate

Days after Deanna Metzger officially filed to make her first run for public office, she is now on the defensive about whether she lives in the district she is running to represent. Metzger is a Republican who hopes to challenge freshman Democratic state Rep. Victoria Neave. Metzger registered to vote at 321 W. Grubb Drive in Mesquite, according to the online database provided by the Dallas County Elections Department. And on October 28, she cast a ballot in that district.

Washington Post - November 19, 2017

After border agent is killed and partner injured in Texas, Trump renews call for wall

Authorities were searching southwest Texas for suspects or witnesses after a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed and his partner injured Sunday while on patrol in the state’s Big Bend area, officials said. ... President Trump tweeted about the incident, vowing to seek justice for the agents and plugging his plans to build a wall along the Mexico border. "Border Patrol Officer killed at Southern Border, another badly hurt. We will seek out and bring to justice those responsible. We will, and must, build the Wall!"

KVUE - November 18, 2017

Governor Abbott: 'No more tolls in Texas'

No more tolls in Texas. That's the message from Governor Greg Abbott this week after TxDOT revealed plans to add managed toll lanes to 15 of the state’s most congested roadways. That includes Interstate Highway 35. Just two months ago, the Texas Department of Transportation officials, along with Senator Kirk Watson, revealed plans to potentially expand I-35 from Williamson County to Hays County. The plan includes adding two managed toll lanes in each direction.

McAllen Monitor - November 17, 2017

Rep. Oscar Longoria tops list of pro-business Texas legislators

The largest business lobbying group in the state graded all Texas legislators and local state Rep. Oscar Longoria, D-Mission, came out on top. The Texas Association of Business released a report card grading all state senators and representatives based on how they voted on bills during the 85th regular and special called sessions. In calculating the scores, the report looks at how House members voted on 17 bills and how senators voted on 15 bills.

County Stories

Rio Grande Guardian - November 19, 2017

SH 365 to remain a toll project, even though Legislature has changed policy

Even though opposition from state lawmakers and Texas voters to toll roads has grown in recent years, the State Highway 365 project from Mission to Pharr will remain a tollway. This is the view of Pilar Rodriguez, executive director of Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority. Rodriguez spoke about the 365 project at a recent luncheon hosted by the Society for Marketing Professional Services-RGV. Asked by a reporter about Texas Department of Transportation instructions not to proceed with tollway projects in El Paso and Laredo, Rodriguez acknowledged that toll roads were no longer in fashion among state lawmakers.

City Stories

Houston Chronicle - November 19, 2017

'F--- TRUMP' car owner takes on Troy Nehls after arrest

The woman responsible for the "F--Trump" bumper sticker added a new decal on her white truck -- this time referencing Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls, according to her Facebook post. "F--- Troy Nehls and f--- you for voting for him," reads the sticker, which is placed to the right of the initial sticker about Trump and his voters. Karen Fonseca was arrested Thursday, Nov. 16 for a previous outstanding warrant, according to Fort Bend County jail records.

Houston Chronicle - November 18, 2017

Adoptive Families of Houston aims to educate about process, realities of adoption

Each year in November, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, focuses on the more than 6,000 children in foster care waiting to find their forever families and homes. It's a worthy cause during National Awareness Month that leads to many children finding a permanent home. But what happens after the adoption? Kathie Otte, president and founding board member for Adoptive Families of Houston, said the real work for adoptive families begins when the child finally comes home.

Houston Chronicle - November 18, 2017

Houston police to start using new driving tactic to end vehicle pursuits

In an effort to end deadly high-speed chases, the Houston Police Department will begin allowing officers to use a controversial driving maneuver that they hope will stop fleeing motorists before they threaten others on the road. Chief Art Acevedo announced Friday that officers would begin using the Precision Immobilization Technique, or PIT maneuver, which was developed decades ago in Germany as an anti-terrorist tactic. "We're doing this because the safety of our officers matters to us — the safety of our community really matters to us," Acevedo said, "And then the safety of the suspects matter as well."

Austin American-Statesman - November 17, 2017

Frustration mounts as city says there’s no explanation for water spikes

As soon as he saw his September water bill, O.T. Greer knew something was wrong. In the 44 years he’s lived at his house on Aspen Street in North Austin, he’d never seen a water spike like the one this fall when his bill jumped from $22 to $215 in a month. Greer and his neighbors pride themselves on water conservation. His yard is xeriscaped with cacti and rocks. He waters by hand, and he didn’t even do so in September, after he logged more than 10 inches of rain from Hurricane Harvey.

National Stories

Associated Press - November 19, 2017

Many Christian conservatives are backing Alabama's Roy Moore

Alabama's Christian conservatives see Roy Moore as their champion. He has battled federal judges and castigated liberals, big government, gun control, Muslims, homosexuality and anything else that doesn't fit the evangelical mold. The Republican Senate candidate has long stood with them, and now, as he faces accusations of sexual impropriety including the molestation of a 14-year-old girl, they are standing with him. That steadfastness is shocking to many outside Alabama who wonder how any voter who claims to be Christian can stand with a man accused of such acts. The answer is both complicated and deeply rooted in the DNA of a state that prides itself on bucking norms.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express News

Texas Tribune - November 16, 2017

Cordola: Congress should work together to regain healthcare momentum

The debate in Congress over whether to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been put aside, at least for now. It is time for our federal legislators to shift their focus to other pressing health care topics, providing the opportunity for progress and to work together across the aisle. At our facilities, we’ve succeeded by segmenting our challenges into their component pieces. This approach enables us to define and solve major issues step by step.

Houston Chronicle - November 19, 2017

Bobby Baker, protege of Lyndon Johnson felled by influence-peddling scandal, dies at 89

Bobby Baker, a protege of future president Lyndon B. Johnson whose career of wealth and privilege came crashing down in an influence-peddling scandal, died Nov. 12 - his 89th birthday - in St. Augustine, Florida. The death of Baker, once the most influential staffer in the U.S. Senate, was confirmed in an announcement by the Craig Funeral Home in St. Augustine. No cause was reported. ... He would come to be known as "Little Lyndon," and he became the eyes and ears in the Senate for the man he would refer to simply as "Leader." As majority leader, a post Johnson was elected to in 1955, the Texas senator never wanted to be on the wrong side of a vote, and Baker developed an uncanny knack of giving him a precise head count for any upcoming tally.

New York Times - November 18, 2017

Republican Governors’ 2018 Dilemma: What to Do About Trump?

AUSTIN, Tex. — For nearly a decade, meetings of the Republican Governors Association were buoyant, even giddy, affairs, as the party — lifted by enormous political donations and a backlash against the Obama administration — achieved overwhelming control of state governments. But a sense of foreboding hung over the group’s gathering in Austin this past week, as President Trump’s unpopularity and Republicans’ unexpectedly drastic losses in elections earlier this month in Virginia, New Jersey and suburbs from Philadelphia to Seattle raised the specter of a political reckoning in 2018.

San Antonio Express-News - November 17, 2017

Chasnoff: Trump triggered #MeToo tsunami

These days, there’s major cognitive dissonance in watching sexual misconduct allegations ruin the reputations of powerful men on a near daily basis, while President Donald Trump continues to enjoy a position of impunity despite having faced similar accusations from more than a dozen women during his campaign. Why does the president seem to float above the moment? In fact, Trump is more entwined with the ongoing reckoning than he may know. His serial behavior as a sexual predator — and his utter lack of accountability for any of it — likely triggered the intensity of the “#MeToo” tsunami, and sooner or later it will come crashing back on the president.

San Antonio Express-News - November 17, 2017

Trump sends new $44 billion request for hurricane relief

The White House sent Congress a $44 billion disaster request Friday, falling far short of the aid officials in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico have sought to recover from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Though administration officials said they plan to provide additional relief in the coming months as full cost estimates come in, Gov. Greg Abbott and several Texas lawmakers expressed mounting frustration that their requests continue to be reduced or pushed back.

New York Times - November 18, 2017

Trump Wants More Big Infrastructure Projects. The Obstacles Can Be Big, Too.

President Trump says he is frustrated with the slow pace of major construction projects like highways, ports and pipelines. Last summer, he pledged to use the power of the presidency to jump start building when it became bogged down in administrative delays. “No longer will we allow the infrastructure of our magnificent country to crumble and decay,” Mr. Trump said in August. In an executive order, the president directed federal agencies to coordinate environmental impact reviews for major projects with the goal of completing them within two years. Such reviews can often take four years and, in some cases, even longer.

New York Times - November 13, 2017

How the ‘Resistance’ Helped Democrats Dominate Virginia

In the months after Trump’s inauguration, there was no shortage of expressive opportunities for the left — protests, actions — but few electoral conduits for its new resolve. Virginia provided one of them. In what Sorenson unsentimentally called “16,” Hillary Clinton carried the state by more than five points, but the previous year’s election had preserved for the Republicans a considerable edge in the House of Delegates: 66 to 34. Not a single incumbent lost. Now, in advance of 2017, Democrats couldn’t help thinking it auspicious that exactly 17 of those Republican delegates came from Clinton districts. If the party could flip only those seats this year, it would come away with a 51-49 majority. This seemed like a totally fanciful possibility to Sorenson herself, but she wasn’t blind to its inspirational potency: Flip the Hillary districts, flip the house.

Politico - November 19, 2017

The Hidden History of Trump’s First Trip to Moscow

It was 1984 and General Vladimir Alexandrovich Kryuchkov had a problem. The general occupied one of the KGB’s most exalted posts. He was head of the First Chief Directorate, the prestigious KGB arm responsible for gathering foreign intelligence. Kryuchkov had begun his career with five years at the Soviet mission in Budapest under Ambassador Yuri Andropov. In 1967 Andropov became KGB chairman. Kryuchkov went to Moscow, took up a number of sensitive posts, and established a reputation as a devoted and hardworking officer. By 1984, Kryuchkov’s directorate in Moscow was bigger than ever before—12,000 officers, up from about 3,000 in the 1960s. His headquarters at Yasenevo, on the wooded southern outskirts of the city, was expanding: Workmen were busy constructing a 22-story annex and a new 11-story building.

Politico - November 19, 2017

‘I Want This for George’

In December 23, 1990, President George H.W. Bush slept restlessly. The extended Bush family had gathered at Camp David for the holidays as they did every year of his presidency, boosting his spirits, but this year especially, he had a lot on his mind. A ground war in Kuwait looked increasingly likely as Saddam Hussein continued to ignore the warnings of the U.S. and allied nations. ... A dozen years later, during Christmastime of 2002, the extended Bush family once again found themselves at Camp David, as President George W. Bush was faced with the possibility of a war with Saddam Hussein, just as his father had been. But while 41 had unconsciously yearned for his father in 1990, 43 had his own father to lean on—and he was right there.

Washington Post - November 19, 2017

The Supreme Court has emerged as a critical partisan lever for Trump and Moore

On Friday, the White House released, without context, a list of the people whom President Trump might consider should a vacancy open on the Supreme Court. It was an updated version of a list that he has released before, with five new names added for a total of about two dozen jurists. The update was released in conjunction with a convention of the conservative Federalist Society, members of which made up the original list released by the Trump campaign in May 2016. (Neil M. Gorsuch, Trump’s actual Supreme Court pick, wasn’t on that original list.) But Trump’s update to the list served a broader purpose, as well: reminding his base — and Republicans in Alabama — that his presidency, plus a Senate majority, gives him the power to shape the judicial branch for decades to come.

Politico - November 19, 2017

In Democrat-led state capitals, GOP tax reform push could scramble fiscal plans

The Republican tax reform push in Washington is setting off budgetary alarm bells in high-tax states like New York, California and New Jersey, in the latest political skirmish to pit national Republicans against Democratic state and big-city leaders. With Republicans intent on shrinking or repealing the state and local tax deduction, California officials are worried that the House-passed tax bill, and the emerging Senate measure, would force local governments to reduce taxes and make big cuts to schools and social services.

Politico - November 19, 2017

DACA backers move to avert Supreme Court fight over records

Advocates for so-called Dreamers made an unexpected move Sunday to head off a looming Supreme Court battle over their demands for more records on the basis for President Donald Trump's decision to end the program offering quasi-legal status and work permits to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children. The attempt to shelve the records fight came just three days after a federal appeals court panel sided, 2-1, with those seeking more details on Trump's move in September to wind down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA.

New York Magazine - November 13, 2017

Kilgore: How the Democrats Can Make Inroads in the South

The election results on November 7 have reignited Democratic optimism about making big gains at the congressional and state levels in 2018. There are continuing signs of a nationwide pro-Democratic wave, but the Virginia results have renewed a very old debate: Is the South a lost cause for the Donkey Party? There are, of course, pockets of Democratic support across the South that are reflected in Democratic (or competitive) House and state legislative districts. But control of statewide office and legislative chambers is another matter.

Associated Press - November 18, 2017

US general says illegal nuclear launch order can be refused

The top officer at U.S. Strategic Command said Saturday an order from President Donald Trump or any of his successors to launch nuclear weapons can be refused if that order is determined to be illegal. Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of Strategic Command, told a panel at the Halifax International Security Forum on Saturday that he and Trump have had conversations about such a scenario and that he would tell Trump he couldn't carry out an illegal strike. "If it's illegal, guess what's going to happen. I'm going to say, 'Mr President, that's illegal.' And guess what he's going to do? He's going to say, 'What would be legal?'" Hyten said.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express-News

Houston Chronicle - November 18, 2017

Falkenberg: Sexual harassment is an uncomfortable topic

Rape is not the same as a forced kiss. A U.S. Senate candidate and former state supreme court justice propositioning minor girls is not the same as a former president pinching rears. None are OK. All should be discussed and addressed as the victims see fit. But they should not be lumped together. In the past week, I've seen men remain mum in groups where women are discussing harassment. I saw one shot down and criticized when he tried to do so. This is not healthy and it is not productive. Like race, sexual harassment is an uncomfortable topic that requires people to listen to each other's experiences.

All - November 19, 2017

Lead Stories

Dallas Morning News - November 18, 2017

Texans blast Trump's $44B storm relief package as 'inadequate' as White House goes on defense

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and a host of bipartisan congressional lawmakers are slamming the new $44 billion White House disaster relief aid request as "inadequate." The request -- submitted Friday to Congress by the Office of Management and Budget -- is President Donald Trump's third since Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria hit the Gulf Coast and Caribbean. It would bring the total appropriated for hurricane relief this fall close to $100 billion, but it falls well short of the demands made by officials from Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

San Antonio Express-News - November 17, 2017

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

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

The New Yorker - November 15, 2017

Karl Rove Has Seen the Enemy and He Is Steve Bannon

To readers of Breitbart News these days, Karl Rove is a familiar, sinister presence. The Republican strategist who twice helped George W. Bush win the Presidency is now, according to Breitbart, “the voice of the hapless Republican establishment,” “out of touch,” and “wrong in nearly every prognostication for the past ten years.” In one article this summer, Breitbart’s Washington political editor, Matthew Boyle, called Rove President Trump’s “arch-nemesis.” Invariably, the voluminous coverage of Rove on the conservative Web site, which is run by Trump’s former chief strategist Stephen Bannon, notes that the President himself has labelled Rove “such a dishonorable guy,” “a total incompetent jerk,” and a “proven loser.”

Yahoo! News - November 17, 2017

One in three U.S. adults to avoid talking politics over holiday season: Reuters/Ipsos poll

Americans will sit down next week for what has become a holiday tradition in the United States: tiptoeing through a turkey dinner without mentioning the president. Nearly one-third of all adults will actively avoid political conversations when they see friends and family over the Thanksgiving and December holidays, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Friday. About half said they do not expect to discuss politics at all. The Nov. 8-13 poll found that a majority of Americans consider politics to be among their "least favorite" topics to discuss in mixed company over the holidays.

State Stories

San Antonio Express-News - November 18, 2017

PolitiFact: End of immigration protection won’t lead to the big GDP loss that Castro claims

“Ending (Temporary Protected Status) and deporting legal workers would cost the United States ~$164 billion in GDP over a decade.” — Joaquin Castro on Nov. 1, 2017 in a tweet. U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, claimed the U.S. economy would be negatively impacted if the Trump administration eliminated an immigration protection mostly benefiting Central Americans. ... Castro accurately cited a GDP loss reported by the left-leaning Center for American Progress. But at least one other report pegged a GDP loss three times as small, $45.2 billion. The report Castro used calculated lost earnings and impact on industries, the other report only looked at lost wages. We rate Castro’s claim Half True.

San Antonio Express-News - November 17, 2017

$5 billion in housing recovery aid heading to Texas

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will spend $5 billion in Texas to help rebuild damaged homes, businesses and other infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Harvey. The funding, announced Friday, comes from HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program, which received $7.4 billion for disaster relief in September. The remainder of the money will go to other disaster-affected areas, such as Florida and Puerto Rico.

San Antonio Express-News - November 18, 2017

Joint Base San Antonio has worst record of sexual assaults of all joint bases in the country

A new Pentagon study shows that Joint Base San Antonio tallied more sexual assault reports over the past several years than any other joint base installation in the Defense Department, with 881 cases from 2013 through 2016. The report tracks sexual assault claims by installation, which a former Air Force prosecutor said appears to be a first. It examined two types of claims filed by people who say they are sexual assault victims, but it did not break out the statistics by each base in San Antonio. A majority of those lodging complaints at Joint Base San Antonio, which includes Army and Air Force installations, were airmen.

San Antonio Express-News - November 18, 2017

Garcia: GOP chair launches congressional bid, with help from Parscale

Robert Stovall is running for Congress and he has a not-so-secret weapon. Stovall, 54, the chairman of the Bexar County Republican Party, will move from the sidelines onto the playing field by running for the U.S. District 21 seat being vacated by Lamar Smith. His prospects will be boosted by Brad Parscale, the local web-design entrepreneur who served as the digital director for Donald Trump’s victorious 2016 presidential campaign.

San Antonio Express-News - November 17, 2017

Canceling STAAR tests could wipe out federal funding, TEA leader warns

Texas could lose “essentially all” federal funding for public schools — about $6 billion in the past academic year — if state leaders cancel standardized tests in response to the disruption caused by Hurricane Harvey, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath warned. Some parents and advocates have argued that the tests shouldn’t be administered because students are more likely to perform poorly after missing class time and suffering trauma from the hurricane and subsequent flooding. Classes were canceled across the Houston and Gulf Coast region after Harvey, with several districts missing two weeks of instruction. A change.org petition asking state leaders to drop the tests this year has collected about 240,000 signatures. But Morath told state lawmakers this week that unless the state secures a waiver, skipping the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, would put Texas in violation of federal law.

Austin American-Statesman - November 17, 2017

AAS: How Texas should start assessing dam safety across state

Texas has made progress in addressing dam safety — there is no doubt. But more needs to be done to keep Texans who live near dams safe. Twenty years after the Austin American-Statesman reported on widespread shortcomings in dam safety, another Statesman investigation by Ralph K.M. Haurwitz published last week found hundreds of dams in Texas remain at risk of failure. It also found that, as more communities develop near dams, substandard dams increasingly put the lives of people at risk. Meaningful change at the state and local level, however, can ensure Texas has safer dams and that it protects more lives near dams.

Austin American-Statesman - November 17, 2017

Texas leaders unhappy with White House hurricane spending plan

Gov. Greg Abbott and several fellow Texas Republicans in Congress on Friday blasted a $44 billion disaster relief proposal by the White House, calling it inadequate to cover the destruction left by Hurricane Harvey. The White House Office of Management and Budget asked Congress on Friday to sign off on the additional money for states and U.S. territories battered by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria as well as the California wildfires. Congress had already approved $51.8 billion in disaster relief. Calling Friday’s proposal insufficient compared with the federal money East Coast states had received in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in 2012, Abbott said Texas needs the money to help protect against future hurricanes, among other things.

Austin American-Statesman - November 17, 2017

Kuykendall: My family fought for the Confederacy. They were heroes

All of my family fought for the Confederacy. My great uncle R. H. Kuykendall of the 6th Texas Infantry died in a federal prison in Illinois in 1863 at the age of 25. My great grandfather, Will Moore of Matagorda County, fought with the 8th Texas Cavalry and was desperately wounded in the Battle of Murfreeboro, Tenn., on July 13, 1862, when he was shot off of his horse by a Union soldier. He was pulled to safety by an old black man and his mistress of the plantation and hidden until the Union forces vacated the area. They nursed him back to health until he could mount his horse, at which time he sought out and rejoined his unit, then fought with them until the end of the war. My life will not be ruined if all the magnificent Confederate statues around Austin and the capital grounds are removed, but I will be saddened beyond belief because the blood stains of countless Texas families are symbolically sprinkled around the base of those statues.

Austin American-Statesman - November 17, 2017

Governor’s tweet: Inaccurate or a breach of confidentiality?

A tweet sent Wednesday by Gov. Greg Abbott might have violated rules on the confidentiality of workforce numbers prior to their official release. “The Texas unemployment rate is now the lowest it’s been in 40 years & Texas led the nation last month in new job creation,” Abbott said in his tweet. The governor’s office dismissed the notion that the tweet violated any rules, saying its mention of “last month” referred to September, the latest publicly available data as of that day. And a spokeswoman for the Texas Workforce Commission said the agency did not send the governor’s office any “pre-release” data for October until Thursday afternoon.

Austin American-Statesman - November 18, 2017

Herman: Uncertain times in a media industry with an uncertain future

I recently manned a table at career day at North Austin’s Padron Elementary School. It didn’t take me long to confront, in my head, the stark reality that I was talking to kids about a career that (a) might not look like it does now or (b) won’t exist when they age into the labor force. I work at a newspaper, which these days means it also includes a robust online operation delivering news. Coincidentally, a headline leading the newspaper’s website I had on display for the kids as they came by to hear about what I do for a living read: “Statesman’s parent company puts newspaper up for sale.”

Austin American-Statesman - November 18, 2017

PolitiFact: Texas doesn’t have gun checks, but feds do

Actress Alyssa Milano drew attention to gun background checks after the Nov. 5 shooting at a Sutherland Springs church left 26 people dead. “There are no background checks on long guns (AR15s) in Texas,” Milano tweeted, crediting for the information Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, an organization seeking stronger gun laws. ... Federal law does require background checks when a firearm is sold or transferred by licensed gun dealers, importers and manufacturers. That includes long guns. But private, unlicensed sellers are not required to conduct background checks under federal or Texas law, even though other states have added requirements to that effect. Milano noted these distinctions in a follow-up tweet, but her original tweet lacked important context. We rate Milano’s claim Mostly False.

Texas Tribune - November 17, 2017

Texas Republicans spar with White House over latest disaster aid request

Texas Republicans on Friday panned the White House's latest disaster aid request, with Gov. Greg Abbott calling it "completely inadequate" for the state's needs in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. President Donald Trump’s administration was quick to respond, calling on the state to pony up its own dollars to help with the recovery. Unveiled earlier Friday, the request seeks $44 billion from Congress to assist with the Harvey aftermath, as well as the recoveries from other recent hurricanes in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Texas Tribune - November 16, 2017

Lopez: Guns on campus are a lousy idea

On August 1, 2016, the law allowing concealed carry of loaded lethal weapons on all public college campuses in Texas took effect. Since then, those campuses have gone without major incident, if you don’t count the accidental discharge at Tarleton State, the shooting of a police officer at Texas Tech, and the police officer at the University of Texas at Austin shooting himself in the foot. It’s safe to say that we can expect more avoidable “mistakes,” like this one, all these ones, and, yes — probably that one. Excepting the constant threat of a ‘responsible’ 21-year-old gun owner’s .45 stuffed in a backpack accidentally discharging into the right leg of a lecture hall neighbor, it’s been business as usual at UT-Austin — the breeding ground of the infamous “Cocks Not Glocks” protest and faculty-led lawsuits.

Houston Chronicle - November 18, 2017

Texas Republicans fret over possible anti-Trump 'blue wave' in '18

Republicans are beginning to worry that a "blue wave" of Democratic voters angry with the Trump administration could crash into the 2018 election, even in the deep red state of Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott's top campaign adviser and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick are both sounding the alarm: Texas Republicans would be remiss to ignore sweeping Democratic victories on Election Day in Virginia. On Friday, The Cook Political Report, an independent nonpartisan election newsletter, weighed in, declaring Republican Congressman John Culberson's Houston district a toss up.

Houston Chronicle - November 17, 2017

Feud between doctors, insurance companies leave Texas patients with surprise medical bills

Jason Pettit sat at his daughter's hospital bedside awash in fear. His only solace was knowing he had good insurance and was in the right place. Whatever care Ava needed, she would be covered. It happened so fast, a moment of play turned to blood and panic. Just before lunch 7-year-old Ava was on the floor with the family's German shepherd. Pettit held out a pizza roll, but the dog lunged just as his daughter popped it in her mouth. Two holes opened in the little girl's face where the dog's teeth had been and she started to scream.

Dallas Morning News - November 17, 2017

Flawed system let Sutherland Springs shooter buy a gun. A bipartisan bill by John Cornyn aims to stop that

Texas Sen. John Cornyn and Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy introduced a bipartisan bill Thursday they say will improve the federal background check system that allowed the Sutherland Springs shooter to purchase guns, despite his criminal record. Lawmakers say the legislation will penalize federal agencies that fail to report records and incentivize states to send criminal history records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican, and Murphy, the most vocal Democrat on gun control, filed the measure after it was revealed that the Air Force didn't send Devin Kelley's court-martial and conviction for domestic violence to the FBI database used to approve gun buyers. They've dubbed the bill the "Fix NICS Act."

Dallas Morning News - November 17, 2017

Texas’ October unemployment rate of 3.9 percent is lowest in four decades

The Texas unemployment rate was on the rise early this year when it hit 5 percent. Now, at 3.9 percent, unemployment has reached its lowest level in four decades, according to Texas Workforce Commission. This sixth-consecutive monthly drop was fueled by the Lone Star State economy adding 71,500 seasonally-adjusted jobs in October. That’s also the largest number in recent years and comes just after job losses attributed to Hurricane Harvey. The leisure and hospitality sector lost 21,300 jobs in September. But the sector bounced back in October with a gain of 34,700 jobs, nearly half the state’s total.

Dallas Morning News - November 18, 2017

Bill and Hillary Clinton find hordes of supporters during first D-FW visit since election

In the same way music fans attend a live show to hear beloved anthems firsthand, a crowd of "I'm With Her" fans packed into Toyota Music Factory in Irving to soak up Hillary and Bill Clinton's wisdom and war stories. If fans of, say, the Flaming Lips or KISS might've brought raucous energy to the same venue, Hill and Bill fans arrived to dainty thumps of jazz and took their seats with polite excitement. LiveNation executive Danny Eaton introduced the two guests of honor as "not only one, but two, of the most important people in the world." Cheerful "HIL-LAR-Y, HIL-LAR-Y" chants erupted.

Dallas Morning News - November 18, 2017

Gov. Greg Abbott calls for Roy Moore to drop out of Alabama Senate race if allegations true

Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday that the allegations against Judge Roy Moore are "disgusting." Abbott spoke about Moore briefly at the Capitol during a news conference to announce a federal housing department grant of $5 billion for Harvey recovery. The governor did not say he believed the accusations of sexual misconduct against Moore, but if they are true, the Alabama Republican should leave the race, Abbott said. "I don't know the veracity of the allegations," Abbott said. "But I can tell you this: The allegations are disgusting. If they're true, he should not be in the race."

City Stories

Austin American-Statesman - November 17, 2017

Clinton supporters cheer, cry at book signing in downtown Austin

For Lulu Flores, it still hurts. “I really feel for her,” Flores said as her eyes welled. “She did not let anybody down. I felt like we let her down.” On Nov. 8, 2016, Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. His opponent, Hillary Clinton, had been considered the favorite in the race. Clinton won the popular vote, but Trump bested her in the Electoral College. Clinton — who met with hundreds of supporters and readers at BookPeople on Friday to sign copies of her book, “What Happened,” about the 2016 campaign — seems to have moved on. Many of her supporters, though, were shaken again remembering Election Night.

Austin American-Statesman - November 17, 2017

Investigation finds corruption, intimidation at Temple VA campus

Veterans in the work program at the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Temple campus had complained about being assigned to the motor pool for years. The complaints, made by veterans undergoing drug and alcohol treatment as they tried to get their lives back on track, alleged the unit’s boss— who was in charge of the grounds crew at the motor pool — had regularly subjected them to verbal abuse and tirades. Other complaints hinted at possible crimes; VA equipment like lawnmowers and expensive tools regularly disappeared.

Houston Chronicle - November 17, 2017

Holley: Sutherland Springs residents hope tragedy doesn't define their town

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS - Like most Texans who don't live in Wilson County, I had never heard of this little town east of San Antonio until horrific tragedy struck Sunday morning a week ago. Finishing up at the Texas Book Festival in Austin that afternoon, an old reporter's instinct diverted me south on Interstate 35 instead of heading home to Houston. It was dark when I arrived. Knots of people loomed out of the darkness. Huge satellite trucks and police vehicles lined the highway. Rubberneckers clogged the intersection of Highway 87 and FM 539, where the town's one blinking yellow light is supposed to slow traffic. The small white-washed Baptist church, the site a few hours earlier of the worst mass shooting in Texas history, was bathed in lights brighter than day.

National Stories

New York Times - November 18, 2017

Douthat: What if Ken Starr Was Right?

There is a common liberal argument that our present polarization is the result of constant partisan escalations on the right — the rise of Newt Gingrich, the steady Hannitization of right-wing media. Some of this is true. But returning to the impeachment imbroglio made me think that in that case the most important escalators were the Democrats. They had an opportunity, with Al Gore waiting in the wings, to show a predator the door and establish some moral common ground for a polarizing country. And what they did instead — turning their party into an accessory to Clinton’s appetites, shamelessly abandoning feminist principle, smearing victims and blithely ignoring his most credible accuser, all because Republicans funded the investigations and they’re prudes and it’s all just Sexual McCarthyism — feels in the cold clarity of hindsight like a great act of partisan deformation. For which, it’s safe to say, we have all been amply punished since.

New York Times - November 18, 2017

Why a Firm Believer in Tax Cuts Could Derail the Senate Tax Cut Plan

On the eve of the House’s vote to pass a far-reaching $1.5 trillion tax cut, Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin placed a hasty phone call to his state’s senior senator, Ron Johnson, in hopes of resolving an unlikely conflict in his own back yard. Mr. Johnson had become the first Senate Republican to say publicly that he could not vote for the Senate’s version of the tax bill. During the phone call on Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Ryan, who had campaigned heavily for Mr. Johnson in 2016, posed an essential question, according to the senator: “What are you going to need?”

Politico - November 18, 2017

Tax reform: 7 Key players and how they could stop the bill

On Thursday, House Republicans passed their version of tax reform by a 227-205 vote. Now, the Senate is preparing to take up its own version of a bill, but several Republicans — from fiscal conservatives to moderates — are taking issue with several provisions. The bill needs 50 votes to pass the Senate — let’s take a look at what might get in the way. The deficit hawks Conservatives have long lamented the soaring national debt, insisting tax cuts be paid for.

Washington Post - November 18, 2017

A dying vet needed CPR. Hidden video shows his nurse laughing instead.

By the late winter of 2014, James Dempsey had served in a world war, raised children, buried a wife and seen the best of his health behind him. As he prepared for a stay at a nursing home on the outskirts of Atlanta, the 89-year-old began to feel nervous. So his family hid a camera in his room at Northeast Atlanta Health and Rehabilitation, Dempsey’s son later told WSB-TV. His father knew about it, he said, but the nurses didn’t. James Dempsey died in that room Feb. 27, 2014, in front of the secret camera. What his family saw on the video made them sue the facility.

Houston Chronicle - November 17, 2017

Grieder: Politicians work for us, not themselves

For a journalist, Houston offers an embarrassment of riches. Between the size of the city, its diversity, its eccentricities, the experiences it's recently endured; the fact that it's in Texas, and home to so many intriguing Texans from all over the world - you can see why I couldn't resist the chance to join the Houston Chronicle as a metro columnist and thus far, I'm very happy with that decision. My timing, however, could have been more fortuitous. I arrived in Houston in October, to take a job that would give me the opportunity to write about anything under the sun. But the issue that has dominated our national conversation, this past month, is sexual harassment and assault.

Politico - November 17, 2017

Gillibrand remark on Clinton sends shockwaves through Democratic Party

Kirsten Gillibrand is having a moment, whether she meant to or not. Going where no other prominent Democrat had before on Thursday evening by declaring that Bill Clinton should have resigned the presidency during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the New York senator and potential 2020 presidential contender yet again found herself the face of a national conversation with the potential to dominate headlines and divide her party.

Austin American-Statesman - November 17, 2017

Susan Combs hits another roadblock on her way to Washington

Former Texas Comptroller Susan Combs has hit yet another roadblock on the way to a U.S. Senate vote for a top position at the Interior Department. ... Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., has put a “hold” on Combs and another Interior Department nominee — blocking them from getting a Senate vote — until he gets “clarification” of the agency’s plans to re-designate environmentally sensitive public lands known as national monuments. Combs, who also served eight years as Texas agriculture commissioner, was nominated in July by President Donald Trump and was confirmed by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in early August.

Austin American-Statesman - November 17, 2017

Cornyn backs bill for better reporting for firearm background checks

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, joined seven other senators Thursday to introduce a bipartisan bill aimed at improving compliance with existing requirements for reporting background checks on firearms purchases. The Fix NICS Act penalizes federal agencies that fail to report relevant records to the proper authorities, while encouraging states to improve overall reporting. The legislation also directs more federal funding toward more accurate reporting of domestic violence records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

New York Times - November 18, 2017

Dowd: The Hillary Effect

Would the war against preying on women be blazing so fiercely had Hillary Clinton been elected? When I interviewed women in Hollywood about the ugly Harvey Weinstein revelations in The Times and The New Yorker, they told me that feelings of frustration and disgust at having an accused predator in the White House instead of the first woman president had helped give the story velocity. When I talked to Susan Fowler, after her blog post about sexual harassment at Uber that toppled its C.E.O., Travis Kalanick, she said that before Donald Trump’s election, women in Silicon Valley were speaking up but no one was listening.

San Antonio Express-News - November 17, 2017

Jesse Jackson says he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, the civil rights leader and former presidential candidate, announced Friday that he has Parkinson’s disease. Jackson, 76, said he had found it “increasingly difficult to perform routine tasks” and get around in recent years. After initially resisting due to his work, Jackson said, he relented and sought medical testing. “Recognition of the effects of this disease on me has been painful, and I have been slow to grasp the gravity of it,” Jackson said in a statement released through the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, his social change group.

The Hill - November 17, 2017

Trump to take fight over DACA documents to Supreme Court

The Trump administration plans to ask the Supreme Court to take up a case regarding the release of documents pertaining to President Trump's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Politico reported Friday. The decision to seek relief from the nation's highest court comes after a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the Justice Department's attempt to stop a federal judge's order to release emails, memos and other documents considered part of Trump's decision to end the program.

Dallas Morning News - November 17, 2017

Trump's accusers lied but Franken admits groping, says White House in defending president's attack

The White House defended President Donald Trump's aggressive attack on a liberal Democrat who admitted groping a woman a dozen years ago, even as Trump refuses to outright condemn Alabama Republican Roy Moore, the Senate nominee accused of illegal sexual contact with a 14-year-old and sexual assault on a 16-year-old. The selective attacks left detractors enraged. The president has faced sexual misconduct allegations and was caught on tape boasting that he grabs women by the genitals uninvited. But he maintains that his accusers are all lying, and aides insisted Friday that means there's no hypocrisy in him calling out Sen. Al Franken.

PolitiFact - November 10, 2017

PolitiFact: Could Ted Cruz measure have prevented the Texas church shooting? Not likely.

Reacting to the church shootings in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Sen. Ted Cruz said there could have been laws on the books to prevent what happened, had his opponents in Congress not defeated his proposal a few years ago. "The Democrats filibustered the legislation that would’ve resulted in this shooter being in federal prison instead of murdering those innocents in that Texas church," Cruz said on Fox News on Nov. 6. ... The amendment Cruz cosponsored, which was defeated largely by Democrats after failing to reach a 60-vote threshold, strengthened efforts to prosecute people who lied about their criminal histories to obtain firearms. But the shooter in this case wouldn’t have showed up as having lied because of the Air Force’s failure to report his felony. The Cruz proposal also aimed to facilitate reporting to the instant background check system with guidelines and deadlines for federal agencies, including the armed services. While similar action by the Obama Justice Department around the same time didn’t help, Cruz’s clarifications becoming law may have. But it’s impossible to say with any certainty. We rate this statement Mostly False.

The Hill - November 17, 2017

Cook Political Report predicts Democratic 'wave' in 2018

Cook Political Report, a top nonpartisan election handicapper, is predicting a wave of Democratic victories in the 2018 midterm elections. In a new analysis, Cook editor Amy Walter says she feels a similarity to a wave of Democratic congressional victories in 2006, in which the party took control of the House, the Senate and a majority of governorships during former President George W. Bush's second term. “[B]ack in 2006 ... I argued that unlike the last wave election of 1994, the party holding the White House was much better prepared. Republicans in 2006 had significant financial advantages,” Walter writes.