Texas Monuments Under Assault
Texas GOP chairman candidate and former Congressman Allen West stood alongside the Texas Freedom Force to “Remember the Alamo!” and stand guard to protect it from anarchists who have gathered to desecrate the historical monument. READ MORE
Oh Joe, Please Say It Ain’t So
Vice president Joe Biden may have had one of his biggest senior moments yet when he attacked President Donald Trump for stating in an interview that he would be open to meeting with Venezuelan Dictator Nicholas Maduro, forgetting that he had previously hugged it out with the Venezuelan drug overlord. MUST READ
“Trump To Sign Executive Order Extending Visa Restrictions” by Texas Politics’ Mona Salama – President Trump is expected to sign an executive order on Monday to temporarily suspend certain temporary worker visas through the end of the year and expand on the foreign-worker restrictions by those heavily used by multinational corporations and the technology industry. The White House just announced the new order extending restrictions that were originally enacted in late April amid the coronavirus pandemic that blocks most people from receiving a permanent residency visa — or green card. It will also expand on prohibiting visas for most guest workers looking for temporary or seasonal work, but exempts farm workers and individuals who are determined by the federal government as “entry would be in the national interests” such as health care workers who were critical to the coronavirus response. Certain visas will extend to pause will impact visas including expanding H-1B visas that are commonly used by tech companies, H-2B visas for nonagricultural seasonal workers, H-4 visas that are given to spouses that hold H-1B visa holders, L-1 visas used for executives transferring to the United States from positions abroad and certain J-1 visas that are given to researchers and scholars. The new restrictions won’t apply to visa-holders already in the United States and the restrictions are set to remain in place until the end of 2020 with the possibility the president extending the order.
“Trump Says AOC Should Challenge Schumer For Senate Seat: ‘She Would Win!’” by Texas Politics’ Mona Salama – President Trump tweeted that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) “would win” a Senate primary election against Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), predicting not only would she win, but “would be a big improvement.” “Actually, that would be a big improvement – and she would win!” Trump quote tweeted in response with the recent Washington Times article about liberals raising the prospect of a potential Ocasio-Cortez vs Schumer showdown in 2022. The Washington Times story published Sunday cited a recent tweet from David Sirota, a senior adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) 2020 presidential campaign, that urges the freshman Democrat to mount a primary challenge against Schumer in 2020. “Just going to say something out loud that should be obvious: The fastest way to speed up the process of changing the corrupt, do-nothing, status-quo-protecting culture of the national Democratic Party is for @AOC to defeat @ChuckSchumer in a Democratic primary in 2022,” Sirota wrote. The Times’ article said that the sacking of Rep. Joe Crowley and the possibility that Rep. Eliot Engel might be thrown from the New York Democratic primary this week could clear the way for AOC. Trump has made a similar prediction about Ocasio-Cortez’s primary Schumer. He also reportedly made this claim first during a White House lunch with reporters.
“Texas Governor Greg Abbott: ‘Stiffer measures will be required’ if COVID-19 surge persists” by KSAT’s Fares Sabawi – Texas Governor Greg Abbott is urging Texans to continue following social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which has surged in the past two weeks. Abbott discussed the state’s response during KSAT’s Q and A segment on Monday. “All of these metrics — hospitalizations, the positivity rate and the number of people testing positive — they’ve all pretty much doubled since the latter to middle part of May,” Abbott said. “People need to understand COVID-19 is spreading far faster.” Despite the rise, Abbott has not added any restrictions to the state’s reopening efforts. During a news conference on Monday, he said closing businesses would be a last resort. Instead, Abbott said he is counting on Texans to adhere to distancing guidelines and wear masks when they’re around other people. He also said the state’s increased enforcement on bars should help slow the spread. “If the voluntary participation or the types of established rules in San Antonio don’t bend the curve, if the crackdown on the bars or other places where there’s overcrowding, if they don’t help bend the curve, then yes, stiffer measures will be required,” Abbott said.
“Oil Forecasting Technique May Cut Shale Operator Costs” by Texas A&M’s Vandana Suresh – Porous rock containing oil and natural gas is buried so deep inside the earth that shale operators rely on complex models of the underground environment to estimate fossil fuel recovery. These simulations are notoriously complex, requiring highly-skilled operators to run them. These factors indirectly impact the cost of shale oil production and how much consumers pay for their fuel. Researchers at Texas A&M University have now developed an analytical procedure that can be used in spreadsheets to predict the amount of oil and gas that can be recovered from newly-drilled wells. By modeling the pattern of oil and gas flow from older wells in the same drilling field, the researchers said they can now accurately forecast the rate of oil and gas flow for newer wells, a framework that is quicker and easier to use than complicated reservoir simulations. “In the oil and gas industry, professionals use sophisticated reservoir simulators to get a sense of how much hydrocarbons can be recovered from the layers below the Earth’s surface. These simulations are very useful but extremely time-consuming and computationally intense,” said Ruud Weijermars, professor in the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering. “We can now do the same kind of predictions as these simulations in a spreadsheet environment, which is much faster, saving a lot of time and cost for shale operators, without loss of accuracy.”
“Alcohol to-go could become permanent in Texas, governor supports measure” by Valley Central’s Karina Vargas – Texas allowing alcohol to-go was intended to be temporary, but it could be here to stay even after the pandemic is over. Governor Greg Abbott tweeted Saturday night, expressing his support to keep alcohol to-go permanently. “There’s talks of a legislative solution to make it permanent. That would of course require the legislature, which doesn’t convene until January to pass the bill, so that’s certainly on our radar,” said Kelsey Erickson Streufert, Texas Restaurant Association’s Vice President for Government Affairs and Advocacy. Streufert said while they wait, they propose that Governor Abbott expands the waiver to allow mixed drinks. “A restaurant has to mix the beverage on sight under their existing TABC license or permit and then they also have to seal it before it’s been handed over for delivery or take out,” said Streufert. Under the current guidelines, restaurants can only sell do-it yourself kits, but restaurants want the state to know they can do more. “We’ll work with TABC and restaurants across the state to make sure it’s implemented exactly as intended and safely and that both customers and restaurants know what the expectations are,” Streufert said.
“Texas students will return to school campuses this fall, Gov. Greg Abbott tells lawmakers” by Texas Tribune’s Aliyya Swaby and Kassandra Pollock – Texas students will be returning to public schools in person this fall, Gov. Greg Abbott told state lawmakers Thursday morning. Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath has determined it will be safe for students to return to their campuses this fall. School districts will not be required to mandate students wear masks or test them for COVID-19 symptoms, confirmed Frank Ward, a spokesperson for the Texas Education Agency. The TEA will release additional guidance for school districts next Tuesday. According to state lawmakers on the 11 a.m. call with Abbott, school districts will be able to also offer instructional alternatives for students. National surveys have shown many parents do not feel safe sending their students back to the classrooms. The decision comes as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise statewide, and local officials begin to put firmer restrictions in place to tamp down the spread in their cities and counties.
“Some Texas voters more fearful as coronavirus-delayed runoff nears” by Texas Tribune’s Alexa Ura – When the coronavirus threat was newer and seemed more immediate, Texas postponed its May elections to pick winners in several party primary runoffs, fearing the health risks of exposing voters and poll workers. With those statewide elections about to take place, the health risks voters face are now arguably greater than when the runoffs were initially called off. The virus appears to be in much wider circulation than the original May 26 runoff date, with the state coming off a full week of record highs for COVID-19 hospitalizations and several consecutive days of record highs for daily reported infections. But voters won’t be required to wear masks at polling places. Gov. Greg Abbott, who earlier expressed concerns about exposing Texans “to the risk of death” at crowded polling sites, has forbidden local governments from requiring people to wear them in public. And Texas Republicans, led by state Attorney General Ken Paxton, have successfully fought off legal efforts by Democrats and some voters to let more people vote by mail if they are fearful of being exposed to the virus at polling places. With early voting starting Monday and election day July 14, voters are largely left on their own to balance exercising their right to vote against the health risks that come with going to the polls in a pandemic. Some fear endangering themselves, while others fear bringing the virus back into homes they share with immunocompromised loved ones.
“Woman arrested for illegal voting says it was “honest mistake”” by CBS 7’s Jakob Brandenburg – A Howard County woman who was arrested after voting twice in the 2020 primary election says that her crime was just an honest mistake. Isabel Calderon was arrested by Texas Rangers and charged with illegal voting, but she says she didn’t know that she was voting multiple times in the same election. “I voted early,” Calderon told CBS7. “Then I voted again, which I didn’t realize I was voting twice. I thought it was kind of like when you vote once, and then you have to vote again for the ones who made it to the second round. That’s what I felt it was.” According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, illegal voting is a 2nd degree felony. If convicted, Calderon would face a minimum of two years in prison, and a fine up to $10,000. “I have an elderly father I take care of,” Calderon said. “I have an 8-year-old son. Why would I want to end up in prison and take a felony charge to do something that doesn’t even benefit me.” When she went in to vote for the second time, Calderon said election administrators checked her ID and voter registration, but didn’t tell her that she’d already voted, or that she couldn’t do it again. “Some of the people that work there need to be fired or reprimanded or something,” Calderon said. “Because it should have been caught. It shouldn’t have led to this.”
“Travis County reports near record-breaking number of Ballot by Mail applications” by KXAN Staff – The Travis County Elections Division says it has received over 28,000 applications for Ballot by Mail (BBM) for local primary runoff elections — which is near the record-breaking level of applications submitted for the 2016 Presidential election. Early voting for the July 14 primary runoff elections begins next week. Travis County says applications may break the 2016 record of 31,000 Ballot by Mail requests. The Travis County Clerk’s Office is sending out mail ballots daily. As of June 19, Travis County reports 17,247 ballots have been mailed to voters — who are over the age of 65, disabled or out of the county. To meet the deadline for BBM requests, Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir increased capacity by adding additional temporary staff and additional scanning equipment. Travis County says, under normal circumstances, it would have received around 1,000-2,000 requests for the primary runoff elections. Travis County says it also met the deadline for responding to requests for overseas and military voters 45 days prior to the election. The Travis County Clerk’s website has more information on how to apply for a BBM and who can qualify under the Disability category. Applications must be received by the Clerk’s office by July 2 to qualify for the July 14 election.
“Seattle will move to dismantle ‘CHOP’ zone after shootings, mayor says” by Fox News’ Louis Casiano – Seattle will move to end the police-free zone known as the “Capitol Hill Organized Protest,” or “CHOP,” after two recent shootings, one of which was deadly, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Monday — signaling that a stunning chapter in the city’s history could be drawing to a close. The mayor said the violence was distracting from changes sought by thousands of peaceful protesters seeking to address racial inequity and police brutality. Activists set up “CHOP” in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood about two weeks ago, barricading off the area after police evacuated a ransacked precinct building there. “The cumulative impacts of the gatherings and protests and the nighttime atmosphere and violence has led to increasingly difficult circumstances for our businesses and residents,” Durkan said at a news conference. “The impacts have increased and the safety has decreased.” City leaders have faced mounting criticism — including from President Trump — over the protest zone amid reports of violence inside the area and how police can respond to such incidents. Police had not been able to go inside the zone. The dismantling of the CHOP followed the death of a 19-year-old man in a Saturday shooting in which another person was injured.
“Some public health officials are resigning amid threats during the Covid-19 pandemic” by CNN’s Cheri Mossburg, Theresa Waldrop and Naomi Thomas – During a live public briefing on Facebook last month, “someone very casually suggested” the Los Angeles County’s public health director should be shot, the director said. “I didn’t immediately see the message, but my husband did, my children did, and so did my colleagues,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer said Monday in a statement. It’s just one of the many threats of violence public health workers are facing across the nation “on a regular basis” as the Covid-19 pandemic rages on, Ferrer said. Whether it’s advising people to avoid large groups or encouraging people to wear face coverings in public, health officials — both at the local and federal level — have spent the last few months updating Americans on how to remain safe during the pandemic and avoid spreading the virus. There are more than 2.3 million reported Covid-19 cases throughout the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University data. There have been at least 120,393 virus-related deaths. Yet across the US, many people have taken issue with guidance from health officials — as the act of wearing a mask to protect others during a pandemic has become a political and cultural flashpoint. The backlash toward health officials has taken its toll: At least 24 public health officials across the country have either resigned, retired or been fired from the positions during the Covid-19 pandemic, the National Association of City and County Health Officials (NACCHO) said Monday.
“Trump Moves to Temporarily Suspend New H-1B, Other Visas Amid Covid-19 Pandemic” by WSJ’s Michelle Hackman – President Trump signed an order Monday temporarily barring new immigrants on a slate of employment-based visas, including the H-1B for high-skilled workers, from coming to the U.S. amid the coronavirus pandemic. The restrictions, which are set to take effect June 24 and last through the end of the year, will prevent hundreds of thousands of new immigrants who were expected to rely on the visas to work in industries ranging from tech and consulting to landscaping and seasonal jobs at resorts. Administration officials say the move will safeguard jobs for unemployed Americans as the economy sputters—and joblessness has soared—because of lockdowns designed to contain the pandemic. Tech-industry officials and other business leaders warned the decision would cramp companies’ ability to recruit top talent to the U.S. and bar immigrants who fill unique skill sets or take jobs most Americans won’t perform. Colleges said it would discourage top students abroad from studying in the U.S. The order is likely to be challenged in court by business groups. “This is a full-frontal attack on American innovation and our nation’s ability to benefit from attracting talent from around the world,” said Todd Schulte, president of Fwd.us, a pro-immigration group that advocates on behalf of American businesses. The restrictions expand on a temporary immigration ban Mr. Trump introduced in April that blocked some family members of U.S. citizens with newly issued green cards from moving to the U.S. for the time being.
“DC protesters try tearing down Andrew Jackson statue at Lafayette Park, set up ‘BHAZ’ near White House” by Fox News’ Louis Casiano – Protesters on Monday tried toppling a statue of Andrew Jackson near the White House, while sealing off an area in an act of defiance similar to events in Seattle by declaring off-limits an area dubbed the “Black House Autonomous Zone,” or “BHAZ.” Police intervened as chants of “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Andrew Jackson’s got to go” were heard while a rope was put around the bust of the seventh president riding a horse, the Washington Post reported. Hundreds of protesters locked arms around the statue before police officers removed the crowd in a chaotic scene. U.S. Park and D.C. police used a chemical irritant to disperse the crowd and officers were hit with objects. Jackson, who has faced ire in the present day for his severe treatment of Native Americans, was the latest historical figure targeted by protesters demanding monuments and memorials to those with racist pasts be taken down. Fox News has confirmed that the U.S. Secret Service asked reporters to leave the White House grounds nearby. The specific reason wasn’t clear. Nearby, videos circulating online showed people around Lafayette Park carrying wooden boards and fencing in an attempt to declare the autonomous zone. Orange and white barricades — originally erected by police — were moved from a church and added to others to make them longer. Protesters were seen overturning trash bins and dragging a chain-link fence across a road to erect more barricades. A Fox News crew was escorted from the area and told by protesters to stay away.
“Secret Service tells press to leave White House grounds in highly unusual move” by CNN’s Paul LeBlanc – The US Secret Service on Monday evening told members of the White House press corps to immediately leave the White House grounds, a highly unusual decision that did not immediately come with an explanation. The decision came during an ongoing demonstration in Lafayette Square, across the street from the White House where protestors were trying to bring down a statue of former President Andrew Jackson that stands in the middle of the park. Those protesters were eventually pushed back out of the park by police.
Protesters spray painted “BHAZ” on the pillars of St. John’s Episcopal Church, which sits across the street from Lafayette Square. The acronym stands for “Black House Autonomous Zone,” an apparent reference to the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) in Seattle where protesters have taken over a six-square-block area of the city and kept out police in order to set up their own self-governing space. The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone had been a relatively peaceful protest until this past weekend. Two men were shot in the zone early Saturday morning and one of them later died. Police said a “violent crowd” prevented them from getting to the wounded individuals. In the nation’s capital, tensions between groups of protesters and law enforcement outside the White House have been a focal point for the nation in recent weeks as protests continue to play out over the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died while in police custody in Minneapolis last month.
“Supreme Court Upholds SEC’s Ability to Recover Ill-Gotten Gains From Financial Fraud, With Limits” by WSJ’s Dave Michaels and Brent Kendall – The Supreme Court upheld the Securities and Exchange Commission’s ability to recover ill-gotten gains from those who commit financial fraud, but said there were limits to how far the government could go. The court, in an 8-1 opinion by Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Monday, said the SEC’s attempted recoveries couldn’t exceed a wrongdoer’s net profits and should be done with an aim of benefiting investors who were victims of an alleged fraud. Traditional legal principles allow the SEC to seek disgorgement of unlawfully obtained gains under those circumstances, Justice Sotomayor said. Lower courts at times have allowed the SEC to seek broader recoveries, and to deposit the money in the federal Treasury. Those practices are “in considerable tension” with what the law allows, she said. Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, saying the court should have barred the SEC from seeking disgorgement remedies altogether. The SEC annually obtains orders, through court proceedings and administrative actions, that require wrongdoers to disgorge billions of dollars generated by fraud and other types of wrongdoing, but its enforcement practices have come under attack, especially after a 2017 high-court ruling placed time limits on the commission’s efforts. The case involved a California couple who operated a program offering the prospect of permanent residence to immigrants who invested in certain U.S. business enterprises. They argued that federal district courts lacked express authority to order the type of fine, known as disgorgement.
“Peter Navarro walks back statement implying trade deal between Trump, China is ‘over’” by Fox News’ Yael Halon, Samuel Chamberlain – White House trade adviser Peter Navarro indicated on “The Story” Monday that President Trump had decided to terminate the China trade deal before claiming his comments were taken “wildly out of context” as stock market futures tumbled more than 300 points. Navarro and host Martha MacCallum were discussing claims in a forthcoming book by former National Security Adviser John Bolton that Trump delayed imposing sanctions on China over its policy of interning Uighur Muslims so as not to jeopardize a trade deal with Beijing. “Do you think that the president — he obviously really wanted to hang on to this trade deal as much as possible and he wanted them [China] to make good on the promises because there had been progress made on that trade deal,” host Martha MacCallum told Navarro. “But given everything that’s happened … is that over?” “It’s over,” Navarro told host Martha MacCallum. “Here’s, I think, the turning point,” he explained. “They came here on January 15th to sign that trade deal, and that was a full two months after they knew the virus was out and about. “It was a time when they had already sent hundreds of thousands of people to this country to spread that virus, and it was just minutes after wheels up when that plane took off that we began to hear about this pandemic.”
“House Judiciary chairman planning to subpoena attorney general, source says” by CNN’s Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb – House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler is planning to subpoena Attorney General William Barr, a House Democratic source told CNN. The ranking Republican on the committee, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, said in a letter obtained by CNN that the New York Democrat’s staff indicated he could subpoena Barr for a hearing in July. The planned subpoena comes after a weekend of drama over the job status of Geoffrey Berman, the powerful prosecutor who led the Manhattan US attorney’s office, which has pursued President Donald Trump and his allies. Berman said he would exit his post Saturday, ending a standoff after Trump and Barr fired him. Berman’s departure came a day after he had refused Barr’s request that he resign. In a curt letter to Berman on Saturday, Barr told him Trump had agreed to remove him and conceded that Berman’s deputy would succeed him. Nadler told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” Sunday that he thinks impeaching Barr over the move would be a “waste of time” and instead would look at withholding $50 million from the Department of Justice in an effort to punish the attorney general. “I don’t think calls for his impeachment are premature any more than calls for the President’s impeachment were premature, but they are a waste of time at this point,” Nadler told Tapper of Barr, whom he criticized for removing Berman. “We’ve seen a pattern of … Barr corruptly impeding all these investigations, so this is just more of the same,” Nadler said.
“U.S. Imposes Restrictions on More Chinese Media Outlets” by WSJ’s William Mauldin – The Trump administration is placing restrictions on four more Chinese media organizations controlled by the government, part of a broader conflict over the press in both countries that has resulted in U.S. reporters being expelled from China. The U.S. State Department on Monday said China Central Television (CCTV), China News Service (CNS), People’s Daily and Global Times would be put on a list of “foreign missions” that require additional scrutiny. While not aimed at curtailing their operations, the designation under the Foreign Missions Act requires that they report all personnel to the State Department and register any property holdings, whether leased or owned. “These aren’t journalists,” said David Stilwell, the assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific. “These are members of the propaganda apparatus” for China. A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington said the U.S. action was arbitrary and that the country’s news outlets are grounded in “objectivity, impartiality, truthfulness and accuracy.” “This is totally unjustified and unacceptable, and once again exposes its double standards and hypocrisy of the so-called freedom of press,” the spokesman said. In February, the State Department said Xinhua News Agency, China Radio International, China Global Television Network and the distributors of China Daily and People’s Daily would be considered foreign missions. Those outlets also face a personnel cap that will force them to reduce their Chinese employees in the U.S. to 100 in total, from 160.
President Donald Trump @realDonaldTrump– Cases are going up in the U.S. because we are testing far more than any other country, and ever expanding. With smaller testing we would show fewer cases! Speaker Nancy Pelosi –The President and his cronies have chosen to protect Trump’s personal & political interests over those of the American people by interfering in numerous criminal investigations involving the President & his associates