Politics

2014 Texas Election
3:04 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Davis And State Dems Planning To Monitor For Voter Suppression, Discrimination

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 1:29 pm

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis and the Texas Democratic Party are launching a voter protection program to monitor voter suppression and discrimination on Election Day.

Davis predicts this election will have large voter turnout and she, along with the state party and Battleground Texas, are getting prepared for what could come down to a legal fight at the ballot box.

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Malaysia Airlines
6:18 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Train Carrying MH17 Victims' Remains Arrives In Government-Controlled City

Police officers secure a refrigerated train loaded with bodies of the passengers of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 as it arrives in a Kharkiv factory on Tuesday.
Olga Ivashchenko AP

Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 8:03 am

A refrigerated train carrying the remains of the people who died aboard the downed Malaysia Airlines plane arrived in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Tuesday. That's a city controlled by the central government in Kiev and 17 hours away from the chaos of Hrabove, the eastern city controlled by pro-Russian separatists, where the debris and remains were scattered.

The New York Times sets the scene:

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Middle East
7:18 am
Mon July 21, 2014

A South Padre Man Dies in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Credit David Buimovitch AFP/Getty Images

This past weekend was the deadliest of the two-week-long combat operations in the Gaza Strip. Yesterday, 95 Palestinians were killed in fighting along with 13 soldiers fighting in the Israeli Defense Force, according to the Associated Press.

One of those soldiers killed in the conflict was 21-year-old South Padre, Texas native Sean Carmeli. Carmeli moved to Israel four years ago after finishing high school and was a member of the country's elite Golani Brigade along with California native Max Steinberg, who also died in fighting on the Gaza Strip. Both held American-Israeli citizenship.

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Middle East
6:43 am
Mon July 21, 2014

In Effort To Forge Cease-Fire Between Israel And Hamas, Kerry Heads To Egypt

A Palestinian overcome by emotion watches rescuers carry a body from the rubble of a house which was destroyed by an Israeli missile strike, in Gaza City, on Monday.
Khalil Hamra AP

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 7:26 pm

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is headed to Egypt today in an effort to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

In a statement, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Kerry would meet with Egyptian and other senior officials.

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Politics
2:50 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Downed Malaysian Jetliner: Does Russia Bear Ultimate Responsibility?

A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed near the Ukrainian-Russian border today – reportedly brought down by rocket fire.
Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters /Landov

Both pro-Russian rebels and the Ukrainian government forces are denying any responsibility for downing the Malaysia Airlines jetliner carrying 295 passengers and crew. Multiple reports state the Boeing 777, traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, appeared to have broken up before impact, with the burning wreckage scattered over a wide area. All passengers are believed to have died. 

At a press event in Delaware, President Obama said he has directed national security advisors to stay close contact with the Ukrainian government. Reuters reports that just yesterday, the U.S. administration tightened its sanctions against Russia over the ongoing fighting in Ukraine. Shortly thereafter, Ukraine claimed that Russian had downed one of its war planes.

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Border & Immigration
1:50 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Patrick, Van de Putte Hone Their Immigration Messages

Democratic state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte and Republican state Sen. Dan Patrick, who are facing off in a fiery race to become the state's next lieutenant governor, address delegates at their respective party's state conventions in June.
Bob Daemmrich / Alyssa Banata/Texas Tribune

As the recent surge of Central Americans entering the country illegally through Texas’ border with Mexico has drawn national attention, it has also become a major talking point for the 2014 candidates for lieutenant governor.

And while state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, and state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, have distinct differences on immigration and border security, political observers say they each have advantages as the issue remains at the forefront.

Van de Putte has indicated that the state should secure the border by providing local law enforcement with ample resources to ensure "that troopers can focus on catching criminals, not kids” while calling for immigration reform at the federal level to get to the root of illegal immigration.

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Middle East
8:02 am
Thu July 17, 2014

A 5-Hour Truce Between Hamas And Israel Ends, And Fighting Begins

A Palestinian municipality worker sweeps the street as a United Nations vehicle drives past a damaged money exchange post. Israel and Hamas took a break from fighting Thursday for humanitarian reasons.
Lefteris Pitarakis AP

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 3:12 pm

This post was updated at 4:10 p.m. ET: Ground Offenses Begin

Israel has sent ground forces into Gaza on Thursday, which we are covering in this post.

Update at 1:15 p.m. ET: Hostilities Resume

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Border & Immigration
12:25 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

La Bestia: Hit Song Warning Immigrants Was Made for U.S. Border Patrol

Many Central American immigrants catch freight trains on the way to the U.S.-Mexico border. These trains are commonly known as "La Bestia." A song of the same name refers to the dangerous journey many find aboard such trains.
flickr.com/peterhaden

There’s a new hit song in Central America. It’s called “La Bestia” and people in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador are requesting it from their radio stations.

But guess what? The U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioned it.

“La Bestia” refers to a dangerous train called “The Beast” where thousands of immigrants ride to cross the U.S. – risking assaults, robbery, murder, kidnapping and rape. The catchy, upbeat cumbia song is part of Border Patrol’s multi-million dollar Dangers Awareness Campaign, meant to deter immigrants from entering the U.S.

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Politics
8:17 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Both Abbott & Davis Raise $11 Million in Most Recent Reporting Period

Wendy Davis (left) and Greg Abbott (right) have raised $27 million and $28 million respectively in their gubernatorial campaigns.
KUT

The latest campaign finance numbers are trickling in, and it looks like gubernatorial candidates Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis are neck-and-neck in fundraising. At the end of the reporting period that ended on June 30, both drummed up about $11 million in the weeks following the May primaries, but Abbott's stockpile of campaign cash could give him the leg up come November.

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Politics
6:13 am
Wed July 16, 2014

FCC Extending Net Neutrality Commenting Time After Site Buckles

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Thomas Wheeler.
T.J. Kirkpatrick Getty Images

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 9:32 am

A flood of comments about net neutrality crashed the Federal Communications Commission's commenting site on Tuesday, the original deadline for public comments on the controversial Internet proposal. But the tech problems are buying those who want to weigh in some extra time — the deadline for public commenting is now Friday at midnight.

Of the 780,000 comments submitted to the FCC, 100,000 came on Tuesday alone, which the FCC's outdated electronic comment filing system was not capable of handling.

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Middle East
6:47 am
Tue July 15, 2014

After Peace Deal's Failure, Israel To 'Expand And Intensify' Campaign

An Israeli soldier stands on a military vehicle near Gaza early Tuesday, when a cease-fire was meant to take effect. The deal hasn't been embraced by all of Hamas.
Ariel Schalit AP

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 5:26 am

This post was updated at 5:30 p.m. ET.

A day that dawned with hopes for a fragile peace is closing with hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians appearing to intensify.

Early Tuesday, Israel had accepted the terms of a cease-fire proposed by Egypt, but Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, continued firing rockets.

A Hamas spokesman complained to NPR's Ari Shapiro that Egypt's current government is hostile to the group and its proposal didn't deal at all with Palestinian demands.

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Middle East
7:33 am
Mon July 14, 2014

Israel Shoots Down Drone As Clash With Hamas Continues

A missile leaves an "Iron Dome" battery, Israel's short-range missile defense system, Monday. Israel shot down a drone Monday, using a Patriot missile to take out the unmanned aircraft.
David Buimovitch AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 14, 2014 11:24 am

Exchanges of rockets and airstrikes continue between Israel and militants in Gaza, one week after violence broke out in the area. The Palestinian death toll is being reported at 172; no Israelis have reportedly died in the fighting.

From Haaretz:

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Obama in Austin
3:55 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

President Obama is Back in Austin Today

President Barack Obama addresses a crowd in the Paramount Theater in downtown Austin, Texas on Thursday.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Note: This post initially contained the White House livestream of Obama's speech. As the speech has concluded and is not yet archived, we have removed the embed.

A recap:

President Obama is flying back to Washington DC after spending the night in Austin. This morning, Obama attended a round table discussion at the home of Democratic activist Aimee Boone Cunningham and then drove the Paramount Theater to deliver a speech – the first time a president has spoken at the Paramount since it opened in 1915.

The president's speech focused on economic opportunity and the middle class. Obama attacked Congressional Republicans for not agreeing to increase the minimum wage, extend unemployment insurance benefits or pass equal pay laws. 

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Islamic State
4:30 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

You Only Die Once: How ISIS Recruits Young Muslims

Rebels ride a motorcycle in northern Syria
flickr.com/syriafreedom

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, grabbed international attention of media this year after inciting a rash of violence throughout Iraq, gaining momentum and inspiring young Muslims to take up arms, even some right here in Central Texas. 

Oxford Brookes University modern history professor Roger Griffin tells Texas Standard's David Brown that ISIS, unlike their predecessor al-Qaida, has cultivated an international online brand that glamorizes jihad.

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Politics
12:29 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

GOP Selects Cleveland Over Dallas As 2016 GOP Convention City

The downtown Cleveland skyline on a clear day. The city was selected Tuesday as the recommended location of the Republican National Convention in 2016.
iStockPhoto

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 9:57 am

The Republican Party will hold its 2016 presidential convention in Cleveland, GOP chairman Reince Priebus announced Tuesday.

The GOP chose to locate its nominating event in an expected 2016 battleground state rather than in Dallas, Texas, the sole remaining competitor after Denver and Kansas City were eliminated from consideration in late June.

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Politics
8:10 am
Mon July 7, 2014

Free Tickets Available for President Obama's Speech During This Week's Austin Visit

President Obama during his last visit to Austin for a Civil Rights Summit in April
LBJ Presidential Library and Museum

Update: President Barack Obama will give a public address during his visit to Austin this week.

Obama will be at The Paramount Theater on Thursday for a speech on the economy. Tickets are free and available to the public. They’ll be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 8:30 Tuesday morning at The Paramount (713 Congress Ave). The White House will only distribute a limited number of tickets.

Doors will open for the speech on Thursday at 9:45 a.m. Tickets are required for entry and are not for sale or re-sale. The White House says all attendees will go through airport-like security.

Original Story (July 2, 2014): Austin filmmaker Robert Rodriguez will host a fundraiser for President Obama on Wednesday, July 9, according to a Democratic Party source who wished to speak on background. Tickets for the event will range from $5,000 to the legal limit of $32,400. The proceeds will go to the Democratic National Committee.

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NSA
4:55 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

U.S. Privacy Board Says NSA Internet Spying Is Constitutional

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 4:34 pm

A bipartisan privacy board that was appointed by President Obama following the disclosures made by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has released a report (PDF) that says the security agency's Internet spying is legal and constitutional.

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Civil Rights Act
11:06 am
Wed July 2, 2014

How Twitter and Time Have Helped Americans Reassess LBJ's Legacy

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civil Rights Act as Martin Luther King, Jr., others look on.
LBJ Library photo by Cecil Stoughton

This post has been updated to include portions of an interview with LBJ Library Director Mark Updegrove.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act fifty years ago today.

"It's hard to realize that 50 years ago, people of color in many parts of this country, particularly in the Deep South, would not be accommodated at restaurants or at hotels or at motels, there were separate educational facilities and separate water fountains – we essentially lived in an apartheid state," LBJ Library Director Mark Updegrove says.

Both the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum in Austin and the LBJ Ranch in Stonewall are celebrating the anniversary of the signing.

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Immigration
4:09 am
Wed July 2, 2014

Influx Of Children Creates New Strain On Beleaguered Immigration Courts

Boys in a holding area at a Border Protection center in Nogales, Ariz. Generally, minors are put into deportation proceedings and given a "Notice To Appear" in immigration court, but they have permission to stay in the country while the U.S. decides their fate.
Ross D. Franklin AP

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 9:55 pm

President Obama said over the weekend that he is seeking to fast-track deportations of unaccompanied immigrant children from Central America who cross into the United States.

More than 52,000 have been caught in South Texas since October, and hundreds more arrive daily, overwhelming Border Patrol stations and overflowing temporary shelters.

But once they get here, what happens? Do they just get to stay, as the president's critics charge?

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Immigration
4:32 am
Tue July 1, 2014

Obama's No-Win Immigration Predicament

President Obama, accompanied by Vice President Biden in the White House Rose Garden, lashed out at House Republicans for stalling immigration legislation.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 6:41 pm

President Obama's tough predicament on immigration is only getting worse.

He certainly didn't want to be dealing with an influx of unaccompanied minors illegally entering the U.S. across the Southern border, overwhelming the Homeland Security Department's ability to deal with them during a critical midterm election year.

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