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Texas Senate Approves State Music Museum in Austin

BY JEREMY BURCHARD

A contentious bill establishing a new Texas state music museum in Austin just passed through the Texas Senate this week. The bill will now go to the House for approval.

Austin Democratic Sen. Kirk Watson drafted the bill in hopes of establishing the museum right near the state capitol building. Since the state plans to put in a new building close to the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum and Blanton Museum of Art, supporters of the bill argue putting a new music museum there makes perfect sense.

But others see the bill as an affront to other ongoing efforts. Several museum curators believe a state music museum rightfully belongs in Houston. And that the state has money to pay for it.

But Sen. Watson says this bill establishes a music museum at no cost to the state. Which, of course, garners support from across the aisle, too. In fact, the museum would effectively rent space from the state to operate.

In the immediate future, that sounds like an appealing plan for a state that rarely incentivizes or invests in art. But it could also create problems down the road for a museum to not have permanent space and fixture in the Live Music Capital of the World.

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Barricaded man pulls gun on Austin firefighters after fire

By: Casey Claiborne

A frantic caller reported a house fire to the Austin Fire Department a little before 9 p.m. Monday night.

When firefighters got to the house on the 2300 block of Willow in East Austin they saw no fire on the outside so they went in.

“Found a small fire in a room and what they described as a subject barricaded by some furniture and cushions in the backroom,” said AFD Division Chief Palmer Buck.

Buck says they put a hose line in the house and put out what fire they saw.   Then firefighters tried to get the barricaded man out of the house but he didn’t want to go anywhere.

“He pointed a gun at them.  At that point the fire department backed out of the house and APD was already in route,” Buck said.

That’s when SWAT took over.

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Texas Senate Approves Closing State Refugee Office

The Texas Senate has approved shuttering a state agency that had overseen a federal program resettling refugees in Texas — a symbolic move that comes months after Gov. Greg Abbott said the state would stop cooperating with the process.

Dallas Republican Sen. Don Huffines’ bill passed 20-10 on Monday. It now heads to the state House.

Last year, Abbott said Texas would stop helping the U.S. government provide aid and services to refugees, citing security concerns about people coming from countries like Syria. Refugees are still arriving in Texas, though, since the program is fully federally funded.

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See what a cow has to say about plastic bag pollution in Texas

Asher Price American-Statesman Staff

11:30 a.m. update: In the pre-dawn darkness Tuesday, 11 year-old friends Lila Mankad and Caoilin Krathaus piled into a car in their Houston neighborhood with each of their fathers to deliver a message to lawmakers in Austin: Ban single-use plastic bags.

The two kids, part of an organization called Bag-free Bayous, were at the Capitol on Tuesday to discourage lawmakers from striking down bag bans in about a dozen cities around Texas, including Austin.

The persistent problems of bags hanging from trees and washed into waterways “give our bayous a bad reputation,” Caoilin said.

She and Lila regularly clean their neighborhood park of plastic bags — only to see them soon reappear. For about a year now, they have gathered petitions to push Houston to ban plastic bags.

At a press conference, they were surrounded by adults dressed as a cow, a goat and a sea turtle — wildlife that environmentalists say are at risk from plastic bags blowing into waterways or rangeland.

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Lawmaker on farmworker housing bill: Inaction is ‘inexcusable’

By Jeremy Schwartz – American-Statesman Staff

In emotional testimony Tuesday, Texas farmworkers and advocates urged a House committee to pass a bill that would strengthen inspections of housing for agricultural workers, increase penalties on violators and require state regulators to look for unlicensed facilities.

Justino De Leon, a longtime farmworker from Pharr, told members of the House Committee on Urban Affairs that he often was forced to live in unlicensed facilities with appalling conditions. “We slept on the floor, on cardboard, with a broken air conditioning,” he said. “Some had to sleep in their trucks. There were lots of mosquitoes.”

Daniel Dwyer, head of the farmworker program at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc., showed the committee photos taken at an unlicensed housing facility in Premont last week with broken windows, large insects and no furnishings. Many such facilities are suspected to exist across the state, out of the reach of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, which is tasked with inspecting farmworker housing facilities.

In 2015, the department spent less than $2,500 to conduct about 40 inspections of housing facilities provided by growers and labor contractors, most clustered in cotton-growing regions of the Panhandle. As a result, an estimated 9 in 10 Texas migrant farmworkers lack access to licensed housing that meets minimum health and safety standards required by state and federal law.

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NORTH CAROLINA’S SOBER ILLUSTRATION OF THE NEED FOR VOTER ID LAWS

By Susan Wright 

Four months before the 2016 general election, activist judges with the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned voter ID laws in the state of North Carolina.

North Carolina lawmakers insisted that the laws were put into place to prevent voter fraud. The three-judge panel, however, exercised the soft bigotry of low expectations that liberals tend to extend to minorities, who, for all their posturing, they still see as incapable of competing on the same level as their Caucasian counterparts. They determined that by asking minorities to show ID, the state of North Carolina was trying to suppress the minority vote.

After the election, the state saw nearly every Republican in the running win their races, including Donald Trump, who won the state easily.

However, the very successful one-term governor, Pat McCrory, saw a 52,000 vote lead suddenly dwindle and give way to a skin-tight loss at the very end of the night, when Democrat stronghold, Durham County turned in 94,000 votes with only a few minutes before the midnight hour.

McCrory asked for a recount, and the reports of foul play began to pop up all over the state.

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Meet the court on the Mexican border where illegal immigrants are shown no quarter – and which Trump might use as model

One by one, the Mexican men stood in the jury box, shackles rattling as they fidgeted slightly and pleaded guilty to crossing the U.S. border illegally.

They had come for better jobs, many to earn more money to help raise their children, their defense lawyer told a federal magistrate in a quiet west Texas courtroom about 3 miles north of the Mexican border.

The magistrate, Collis White, warned that a guilty plea would mean jail time and they couldn’t return to the United States legally for years.

Speaking in Spanish, each of the 15 men said they understood and took their chances. They faced up to six months in jail, but most were sentenced to just a few days.

One by one, the Mexican men stood in the jury box, shackles rattling as they fidgeted slightly and pleaded guilty to crossing the U.S. border illegally.

They had come for better jobs, many to earn more money to help raise their children, their defense lawyer told a federal magistrate in a quiet west Texas courtroom about 3 miles north of the Mexican border.

The magistrate, Collis White, warned that a guilty plea would mean jail time and they couldn’t return to the United States legally for years.

Speaking in Spanish, each of the 15 men said they understood and took their chances. They faced up to six months in jail, but most were sentenced to just a few days.

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Man Pointing Rifle At Officers Fatally Shot By Police

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – A 53-year-old man was shot and killed by officers in Fort Worth Tuesday after police say he pointed a rifle toward them in the 4000 block of E. Lancaster.

According to police, officers were responding to a domestic disturbance call at a residence in the 3900 block of Mt. Vernon Avenue. As two officers were on their way to the home, they encountered the man walking on a parking lot at the intersection of 4000 East Lancaster and 2600 block of Newark Avenue and carrying the weapon.

The officers ordered the man to the drop the weapon, but he instead pointed the rifle towards the officers, police say.

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State rep. proposes bill to hold DOIs accountable for finances, academics

Laredo child fatally chokes on grape

By César Rodriguez, LMTonline.com

A 3-year-old boy died after a grape lodged in his throat while watching television with his grandmother, according to Laredo police.

Zoe Lamar Castillo was pronounced dead Thursday at a San Antonio hospital, where he had been in intensive care since Monday.

First responders were dispatched to reports of a child choking on a grape at 1:23 p.m. Monday in the 2100 block of Okane Street. Castillo was in the care of his grandmother. She stated she had given him grapes.

“The relative realized that the child was choking on the grape,” said Investigator Joe E. Baeza, LPD spokesman.

She pat him on the back trying to dislodge the grape. After several failed attempts, she picked up Castillo and ran to the neighbor’s home seeking help.

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