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Politics


Obama's secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin's election assault

WASHINGTON — Early last August, an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried "eyes only" instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides. Inside was an intelligence bombshell, a report drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government that...
Bloomberg’s next move: $200 million program for mayors

Bloomberg’s next move: $200 million program for mayors

Michael Bloomberg will throw his financial might into helping beleaguered American mayors, creating a $200 million philanthropic program aimed at backing inventive policies at the city level and giving mayors a stronger hand in national politics. Bloomberg intends to announce the initiative Monday in a speech to the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Miami Beach, where he will castigate federal officials...
Trump's agenda: Approving private projects, including those of allies

Trump's agenda: Approving private projects, including those of allies

Just four days after he was inaugurated, President Donald Trump delivered a clear message that he would use his office to help industry friends and political allies. He signed a Jan. 24 executive order that assured completion of the Dakota Access pipeline, which will transport oil fracked by various companies, including one owned by Oklahoma oilman Harold Hamm, his longtime friend and energy adviser...
Key Democrat agrees with Trump: Obama should have acted on hacks

Key Democrat agrees with Trump: Obama should have acted on hacks

Rep. Adam Schiff and President Donald Trump don't agree on much about Russia's meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections, but they agree on this: former President Barack Obama should have done more to stop Moscow from intervening. Obama made a "very serious mistake" in not doing more about Russia's intervention in the presidential election campaign, Schiff of California, the top ranking Democrat...
Can Trump destroy Obama’s legacy?

Can Trump destroy Obama’s legacy?

When the judgment of history comes, former President Barack Obama might have figured he would have plenty to talk about. Among other things, he assumed he could point to his health care program, his sweeping trade deal with Asia, his global climate change accord and his diplomatic opening to Cuba. That was then. Five months after leaving office, Obama watches mostly in silence as his successor takes...
They were smokejumpers when CIA sent them to Laos; they came back in caskets

They were smokejumpers when CIA sent them to Laos; they came back in caskets

Their families didn't know they were in Laos, and didn't know that they'd started working for the CIA in addition to their jobs with the U.S. Forest Service. They were young firefighters-turned-CIA operatives working thousands of miles from home in a remote corner of Southeast Asia. David W. Bevan, Darrell A. Eubanks and John S. Lewis, all in their mid-20s, were on a mission to drop supplies for anti-Communist...
Trump to call for US 'dominance' in global energy production

Trump to call for US 'dominance' in global energy production

President Donald Trump will promote surging U.S. exports of oil and natural gas during a week of events to highlight the country's growing energy dominance. Trump also plans to emphasize that after decades of relying on foreign energy supplies, the U.S. is on the brink of becoming a net exporter of oil, gas, coal and other energy resources. As with previous White House policy-themed weeks, such as...
Democrats field glut of candidates, but remain divided on how to win

Democrats field glut of candidates, but remain divided on how to win

The largest number of Democratic congressional candidates in decades are putting into play dozens of House districts across the country, raising the possibility of a bitterly contested midterm election cycle next year as the party and its activists try to take advantage of President Donald Trump's unpopularity to win a majority in the House. Yet these candidates and their supporters are also waging...
Commentary: Local government is a food foil for Texas GOP leadership

Commentary: Local government is a food foil for Texas GOP leadership

Austin seems to have a time-honored role as a target for the ire of state legislators, but the capital city was hardly alone in a legislative session that saw the clearest and most persistent articulation yet of a sustained attack on the autonomy of local governments. Several Texas cities have been involved in a large number of these skirmishes: sanctuary cities, plastic bag bans, transgender bathroom...
Commentary: Legislature must do more about surprise medical bills

Commentary: Legislature must do more about surprise medical bills

Is there anything more emblematic of our troubled health care system than a patient receiving a “surprise bill” in the mail after receiving emergency care? The most egregious form of surprise medical bills, also known as balance bills, happen when an out-of-network provider bills a patient despite having delivered care at an in-network facility. Often this occurs when a patient goes to...
Business was booming at Mar-a-Lago. Then Trump became president

Business was booming at Mar-a-Lago. Then Trump became president

For eight straight years, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society held its Palm Beach fundraiser gala at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club. But then Trump became president. And, at this year's gala, his security put a damper on the silent auction. "We allow for a cocktail hour — an hour and a half, really [during the silent auction]. And we want people to have time to have a couple of glasses of wine...
How gerrymandering helped the GOP in 2016

How gerrymandering helped the GOP in 2016

The 2016 presidential contest was awash with charges that the fix was in: Republican Donald Trump repeatedly claimed that the election was rigged against him, while Democrats have accused the Russians of stacking the odds in Trump’s favor. Less attention was paid to manipulation that occurred not during the presidential race, but before it — in the drawing of lines for hundreds of congressional...
Two Views: Abbott’s pick-up sticks play politics with a special session

Two Views: Abbott’s pick-up sticks play politics with a special session

With apologies to Joyce Kilmer, the American poet and hero killed in World War I, we might begin a look at the upcoming special session of the Texas Legislature by rudely rewriting a bit of Kilmer’s most famous poem: Laws are made by fools like thee But only God can make a tree. Only the governor can set agenda items for a special session — and Gov. Greg Abbott has used that power to demand...
PolitiFact: Paxton uses old line about Obama that’s no longer true

PolitiFact: Paxton uses old line about Obama that’s no longer true

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, pleased at the revocation of a federal effort to shield some older immigrants from deportation, says that then-President Barack Obama repeatedly acknowledged that his administration’s 2014 immigration order wasn’t legal. In a recent press release, Paxton applauded the Homeland Security Department’s June 5 decision rescinding the Obama-era policy...
Challengers of ‘sanctuary cities’ ban to get their day in federal court

Challengers of ‘sanctuary cities’ ban to get their day in federal court

Challengers of Senate Bill 4, the “sanctuary cities” ban, will have their first day in federal court Monday before a presiding judge who has recently ruled that federal immigration detention requests central to the controversial state law are unconstitutional. Monday’s hearing in San Antonio before U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia will be the first time a coalition of advocacy...
Commentary: On school bonds, it’s time to go in for all of Austin

Commentary: On school bonds, it’s time to go in for all of Austin

When your school district includes 130 buildings with an average age of 46 years, major renovations will be in order. It is time for Austin to go all in for a school bond that declares our commitment to education across the whole city. The current proposed bond package serves some areas well, neglects others, and doesn’t do enough to address the loss of students to charter schools and Austin...
Commentary: The real reason Trump wanted Cuba restrictions

Commentary: The real reason Trump wanted Cuba restrictions

President Donald Trump’s reversal of his predecessor’s Cuban policies proves once again that all politics are local. The White House says that the regime of Raúl Castro should reform its own political structure, become more democratic and release political prisoners. However, the U.S. does not impose these broad internal reforms on other nations such as Russia and Saudi Arabia....
White House frustration grows with Tillerson over jobs for Trump allies

White House frustration grows with Tillerson over jobs for Trump allies

The White House is becoming increasingly frustrated with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and a close-knit circle of aides over the slow pace of hiring and a chokehold on information and access to Tillerson, according to senior Trump administration officials and others familiar with the rift. Tillerson, a former Exxon Mobil chief executive with no prior government experience, gets some of the blame...
PolitiFact: 52% of state spending goes to education

PolitiFact: 52% of state spending goes to education

After Dan Patrick cited a statistic to back his contention that Texas state government spends plenty on education, a reader asked us to check the Republican lieutenant governor’s accuracy. Patrick, in a June newspaper commentary, extolled the state budget signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott, specifying: “Texas spends $60 billion on schools in our two-year budget, including both federal...
Businesses fear more fallout may follow California travel ban to Texas

Businesses fear more fallout may follow California travel ban to Texas

California’s decision to ban its state employees from traveling to Texas on their taxpayers’ dime after Texas lawmakers passed new limits on gay parents adopting and fostering children set off a new round of recriminations Friday between the nation’s two largest states. But with the usual exchange of barbs came a new set of warnings from business groups to Texas lawmakers: passing...
Trump administration to defend ‘sanctuary cities’ ban in Texas lawsuit

Trump administration to defend ‘sanctuary cities’ ban in Texas lawsuit

Trump administration lawyers announced Friday that they will defend Texas’ Senate Bill 4, a state ban on “ sanctuary cities,” from myriad legal challenges when it heads to a federal courtroom next week. “The Department of Justice fully supports Texas’s effort and is participating in this lawsuit because of the strong federal interest in facilitating the state...
Commentary: West Texas figures out why Abbott hates on public schools

Commentary: West Texas figures out why Abbott hates on public schools

My hero this week is Graydon Hicks, Fort Davis superintendent of schools. A West Texas publication published his open letter to Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick raking them over the coals for “the lack of positive legislative action for public schools in Texas” at the most recent session, which adjourned at the end of May without passing a school finance bill. Hicks is a West...
Phillips: Plans for Brackenridge building should look beyond profit

Phillips: Plans for Brackenridge building should look beyond profit

By now, many are aware of the growing research regarding the links between housing security — meaning a dependable, structurally sound and unpolluted roof over one’s head — and good health. The Princeton, N.J.-based Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, one of the nation’s largest philanthropies focused solely on health, has provided policy briefs on the topic since 2008. One of...
Will Georgia's 6th District do this all again in 2018?

Will Georgia's 6th District do this all again in 2018?

Despite initial relief among Georgia's 6th District residents that the barrage of campaign ads has come to an end, the reprieve might not last too long. "Now we know what New Hampshire looks like," said Chip Lake, a GOP consultant based in Georgia. The question is, with 2018 just around the corner, will this year's astronomical spending, much of it on TV, become a pattern in this suburban...
Opioids, a mass killer we’re meeting with a shrug

Opioids, a mass killer we’re meeting with a shrug

About as many Americans are expected to die this year of drug overdoses as died in the Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined. For more than 100 years, death rates have been dropping for Americans — but now, because of opioids, death rates are rising again. We as a nation are going backward, and drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50. “There&rsquo...
Fuel demand slump may have link to US immigrant crackdown

Fuel demand slump may have link to US immigrant crackdown

At this time of year, demand for gasoline in the U.S. is normally rising as people head out for summer vacations in a country that has millions more vehicles than any other. But that's not happening in 2017, and one contributing factor could be that undocumented immigrants are driving less. Part of the blame for the slowdown may be higher pump prices, but Barclays Capital Inc. says another possible...
With first family in Washington, Manhattan tries to recover

With first family in Washington, Manhattan tries to recover

During the months of snarled traffic, choked sidewalks and tightened police checkpoints that clogged the streets of Manhattan around Trump Tower after the building’s best-known resident was elected president, Charelric Lenglain noticed a dismaying change in the foot traffic to his nearby salon. Namely, hardly anyone came for a haircut. This spring, Lenglain, who said he had lost over 40 percent...
Pelosi on calls for new leadership: 'I'm worth the trouble, quite frankly'

Pelosi on calls for new leadership: 'I'm worth the trouble, quite frankly'

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday dismissed calls from some in her party who say it's time for her to step aside. A handful of Democrats have publicly said that after losing four special elections since January, especially a race in the Atlanta suburbs earlier this week, and failing to regain the majority in the House in the last four national elections, their party needs new leadership...
GOP frets about fiscal restraint progress

GOP frets about fiscal restraint progress

Fiscal restraint has long been part of the Republican Party's brand, but GOP lawmakers have made little progress on reducing the amount of money the federal government spends. And frankly, they're sick of it. That's the impetus for what has become a serious push by rank-and-file House Republicans to use the budget reconciliation process to enact mandatory spending cuts. Various targets have been thrown...
History Lesson: How the Democrats pushed Obamacare through Senate

History Lesson: How the Democrats pushed Obamacare through Senate

"Twenty-five days of consecutive session on a bill that was partisan in the sense that Republicans were angry with it, but we still had the courage of our convictions to have a debate on the floor." — Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., remarks on the Senate floor, June 19, 2017 --- To highlight the secrecy of the GOP health-care deliberations, many Senate Democrats...
Commentary: Language barrier shouldn’t be a barrier to democracy

Commentary: Language barrier shouldn’t be a barrier to democracy

Though voting should be a simple process, it’s undeniable that some people face more obstacles at the polls than others. When English is not your first language, the voting process can be especially difficult. Though a controversial voter ID law here has grabbed national headlines, fewer Texans know about the state’s more obscure voting rights battle that’s threatening the right...
Straying from Texas Republicans, Ted Cruz opposes GOP health care bill

Straying from Texas Republicans, Ted Cruz opposes GOP health care bill

Texas conservative firebrand Sen. Ted Cruz and three of his colleagues in the U.S. Senate announced Thursday they oppose the latest proposed Republican health care overhaul — potentially imperiling the bill, which otherwise received widespread support from other officials in this GOP-dominated state. Their announcement came just hours after the Senate’s Republican leader, Mitch McConnell...
Court sets fast pace for possible Texas voter ID penalties

Court sets fast pace for possible Texas voter ID penalties

With the next election season looming, a federal judge has set a fast-paced schedule for determining whether Texas should be penalized for a voter ID law found to have been written to intentionally discriminate against minority voters. Saying no additional hearings will be needed in her Corpus Christi courtroom, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos gave lawyers two weeks to file legal briefs on...
Commentary: How Senate health bill raises health costs for everyone

Commentary: How Senate health bill raises health costs for everyone

As Congress wrestles with replacing the Affordable Care Act, a big question is where they will finally land with Medicaid. Rolling back Medicaid hurts our country’s safety net by taking coverage away from millions of Americans — many of whom are low-income, working adults who aren’t offered health insurance through their employers or who work intermittent, contract jobs — and...
PolitiFact: If it feels hotter than ever, that’s because it is

PolitiFact: If it feels hotter than ever, that’s because it is

A Democrat hot after the U.S. House seat held by Republican climate-science skeptic Rep. Lamar Smith made a searing claim while strolling for support in South Austin, a news story shows. An American-Statesman story captured the scene when a resident told Democratic candidate Derrick Crowe she’s worried about climate change. Crowe responded: “That one actually keeps me up at night.&rdquo...
Commentary: Why Dawnna Dukes’ incumbency is misguiding Democrats

Commentary: Why Dawnna Dukes’ incumbency is misguiding Democrats

I was dismayed to read a broadside from Vincent Harding, chairman of the Travis County Democratic Party, purporting to explain his heavy-handed refusal to allow a vote on a resolution calling for the resignation of state Rep. Dawnna Dukes. That resolution might or might not have passed. That’s why votes are held. I’ve served five terms as a Democratic Party precinct chair: three in Travis...
Commentary: Why Texas should eye gerrymandering cases at Supreme Court

Commentary: Why Texas should eye gerrymandering cases at Supreme Court

On Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Gill v. Whitford, a case involving a challenge to Wisconsin’s Republican-drawn legislative maps. The challengers claim that these maps put Democratic legislators at an unfair disadvantage by preventing them from gaining seats in the legislature despite their popularity among voters. At the heart of the case is a constitutional challenge to partisan...
In the Trump era, Obama nostalgia is a booming industry

In the Trump era, Obama nostalgia is a booming industry

Pat Cunnane spent six years in the White House helping to promote Barack Obama's message. From the outside, he still does: On Tuesday, Cunnane became the latest Obama alumnus to land a contract for a book on his experiences. While much of the world obsesses about the more impetuous musings of President Donald Trump — or perhaps in reaction to that obsession _ a new market for Obama nostalgia...
Democrats seethe after loss: ‘Our brand is worse than Trump’

Democrats seethe after loss: ‘Our brand is worse than Trump’

Democrats seethed, second-guessed and sought to regroup Wednesday after a disappointing special election defeat in Georgia, with the party’s campaign chief in the House of Representatives outlining alternative paths to taking power, and some lawmakers questioning anew the leadership and political strategy of Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic minority leader. By fiercely contesting a congressional...
Health subsidy cuts could hurt middle class the most

Health subsidy cuts could hurt middle class the most

Jane and Abe Goren retired here five years ago to escape the higher cost of living they had abided for decades in the suburbs of New York City. They did not anticipate having to write monthly checks for health insurance that would exceed their mortgage and property taxes combined. Jane Goren, 62, is paying nearly $1,200 a month for coverage through the individual insurance market (her husband, 69...
At site of congressional shooting, community finds normalcy in game

At site of congressional shooting, community finds normalcy in game

The smaller diamond at Alexandria's Eugene Simpson Stadium Park — Little Simpson, to locals — attracted a reported 4,000 people when it opened for the city's Little Major Leaguers in 1953. The field's dimensions were laid out by the head groundskeeper at Griffith Stadium. The diamond had a $9,500 lighting system, attracted major leaguers like Bob Feller and Mickey Vernon, and was, according...
Ironworker wants Paul Ryan's job. He's got great ad, but losing record

Ironworker wants Paul Ryan's job. He's got great ad, but losing record

A Wisconsin congressional campaign ad has politicos buzzing. It opens with footage from President Trump's victory lap news conference in early May, when he and House Speaker Paul Ryan jubilantly celebrated the House vote to repeal and replace Obamacare. Then it cuts to sprawling sunrise shots of open fields and grain silos in southeastern Wisconsin, finally landing in a living room where a woman who...
Survey: Optimism grows among Democratic staffers

Survey: Optimism grows among Democratic staffers

Republican congressional staffers remain hopeful that they'll enact significant legislation in 2017, but their Democratic counterparts are gaining confidence that they can block the GOP agenda, according to the June Capitol Insiders Survey of Hill aides. Two-thirds of the Republican respondents expected it's at least somewhat likely they'll enact legislation to repeal and replace the 2010 health care...
China’s Trump honeymoon: Unexpected, and at risk of ending

China’s Trump honeymoon: Unexpected, and at risk of ending

The short, unexpected honeymoon that China enjoyed with President Donald Trump seems to be in trouble, dashing hopes in Beijing that the two countries had embarked on a new, businesslike relationship. Trump’s assertion that China had failed to pressure North Korea into curbing its nuclear and ballistic missile program means that Beijing must now confront the prospect of a stormier relationship...
Commentary: How Texas stands to lose millions with revised health bill

Commentary: How Texas stands to lose millions with revised health bill

The American Health Care Act now being considered by a Senate committee would result in many disturbing consequences, including an estimated 23 million people losing their health insurance coverage by 2026 and increased premiums and other out-of-pocket costs. An estimated more than 2.5 million Texas would lose insurance coverage, adding to our already high rates of those uninsured. The AHCA would...
Commentary: Why Cuban Miami could influence Trump’s public policies

Commentary: Why Cuban Miami could influence Trump’s public policies

“Cultural politics” is how I describe President Trump’s announcement in Miami last week of the United States’ plan to roll back some measures initiated by the Obama administration in 2015 toward a historic opening of Cuba. Cultural politics takes place when political leaders engage broad ideas to live by — the public philosophy of a community — as a way of gaining...
GOP's health care rollback collides with the opioid epidemic

GOP's health care rollback collides with the opioid epidemic

The Republican campaign to roll back former President Barack Obama's health care law is colliding with the opioid epidemic. Medicaid cutbacks would hit hard in states deeply affected by the addiction crisis and struggling to turn the corner, according to state data and concerned lawmakers in both parties.  The central issue is that the House health care bill would phase out expanded Medicaid...
World leaders wary of Trump may have an ally: Congress

World leaders wary of Trump may have an ally: Congress

President Donald Trump threatens to upend the post-World War II foreign policy order, but Congress is working to ensure that U.S. foreign policy remains rooted in the trans-Atlantic alliance against traditional rivals like Russia. Republicans have been careful not to frame their foreign policy moves as a counterweight to the president, who has doled out insults to foreign leaders on Twitter, bailed...
HELP WANTED: City manager search leaves several top city jobs in limbo

HELP WANTED: City manager search leaves several top city jobs in limbo

As Austin nears a full year since former City Manager Marc Ott left for a job in Washington, D.C., the lack of an official replacement has led to a pileup of vacancies in City Hall’s most senior positions. It has led to more than a quarter of the city’s top executive positions — department heads, assistant city managers and the police chief — being staffed by interim or acting...
Trump’s preferred candidate wins again, this time in Saudi Arabia

Trump’s preferred candidate wins again, this time in Saudi Arabia

President Donald Trump wasted no time Wednesday calling the newly named crown prince of Saudi Arabia. Less than 24 hours after King Salman elevated Prince Mohammed bin Salman, his 31-year-old son, Trump offered congratulations and celebrated the monarchy’s cooperation in rooting out terrorist financing and other issues. Even more than Karen Handel, the Republican who won a hotly contested House...
Ronaldo, under fire, strikes quickly before slipping away

Ronaldo, under fire, strikes quickly before slipping away

There was a collective murmur of surprise on Wednesday night when Cristiano Ronaldo swept into the interview room at Spartak Stadium in Moscow. So many of these journalists had so many questions for Ronaldo, the Portuguese superstar, and now here he was, rather unexpectedly, sitting right in front of them. But the moment was short-lived. “We’re not going to have questions,” the moderator...
Divided Austin City Council grants $7 million favor to state

Divided Austin City Council grants $7 million favor to state

After a closed-door discussion Thursday, Austin City Council members agreed to waive $6.9 million in fees and provide other assistance to the state for a new Capitol Complex — a topic that had drawn wry skepticism during a council workshop earlier in the week. The Capitol Complex is a planned $581 million three-phase project to convert North Congress Avenue between the Capitol and the University...
What we’re watching at Austin City Council on Thursday

What we’re watching at Austin City Council on Thursday

After some feisty comments at a workshop this week, Austin City Council members on Thursday will vote on waiving $6.9 million of fees and giving other assistance for the state of Texas’ Capitol Complex plan. The state aims to transform Congress Avenue north of the Capitol into a pedestrian green space, with office buildings for state workers. But the request for city cooperation comes at an...
Advisory boards may get more time to review CodeNext

Advisory boards may get more time to review CodeNext

The Austin City Council on Thursday might add a new step in the ongoing rewrite of the city’s land use code that some hope will create more clarity as the city marches toward the approval of CodeNext. The resolution asks the team of consultants and city planners to create an additional draft of the code after getting another round of feedback, though city officials say this extra step won&rsquo...
Why Austin officials are looking to snuff out e-cigarettes

Why Austin officials are looking to snuff out e-cigarettes

Through a haze of sickly sweet smoke, in front of a shelf of nicotine-infused juices with flavors like strawberry cream/caramel corn and jam/butter/toast, Kemal Whyte reflected on the clientele shifts he’s seen at his South Austin vape shop in recent years. The faces have gotten older, with fewer recent high school graduates and more 30- and 40-somethings, including some veterans, said Whyte...
In Trump era, mental health experts are rethinking Goldwater Rule

In Trump era, mental health experts are rethinking Goldwater Rule

Since Donald Trump became president, commentary about his public statements, tweeting habits, predilections and even his personality has become something of a national pastime. Some in the professional psychiatric community have been moved to join in, offering their own expert analysis on why the president says what he says and does what he does. But should they? Not according to the American Psychiatric...
At Montpelier, slaves’ lives matter as much as man who owned them

At Montpelier, slaves’ lives matter as much as man who owned them

In 2007, while the restoration of James Madison's Montpelier, in Orange, Virginia, was underway, a group of the estate's African-American stakeholders came to make a visit. Giles Morris, Montpelier's vice president for marketing and communications, found himself on the terrace overlooking the South Lawn with Iris Ford, an associate professor of anthropology at St. Mary's College of Maryland who is...
On the Mexican border, a case for technology over concrete

On the Mexican border, a case for technology over concrete

From a compact, portable shed on the outskirts of this border town, Jonathan Hoyt has an expansive field of vision. His computer is linked to cameras and surveillance equipment that allow him to see rubber rafts on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande nearly three miles away, simply by moving a tiny joystick. Hoyt, a Border Patrol agent, is using equipment that the Defense Department brought back from...
In cattle country, rare wind gusts upend the Texas energy market

In cattle country, rare wind gusts upend the Texas energy market

As attractive a renewable-energy concept as wind power is, it's plagued by a fundamental flaw. It blows the most in the dead of night, precisely when there's the least demand for electricity. That's true for just about every windblown spot nationwide, from the foothills of the Tehachapi Mountains in California to the coastal plains of North Carolina. And then there's South Texas. It is to wind, engineers...
Beer industry's bill on hold until bigger pieces are moved

Beer industry's bill on hold until bigger pieces are moved

The beer industry, from the smallest craft brewers to the giant Anheuser-Bush InBev, is behind a long-awaited rewrite of the federal tax code on beer. More than half the members of the U.S. House have signed on as co-sponsors of a bipartisan bill to do that, and nearly half the U.S. Senate has put its name on that body's version. So why hasn't it happened? Like many other pieces of legislation in...
As Austin and Texas battle, city leaders look warily at partnership

As Austin and Texas battle, city leaders look warily at partnership

On this third week of June 2017, Austin leaders found themselves paused between two legislative sessions seeking to overturn city regulations and curtail efforts to raise taxes, and City Hall is both suing the state and being sued over immigration enforcement policies. So it might be an awkward moment for the state of Texas to ask for a $7 million favor. But that’s exactly what the City Council...
One Ohio town’s immigration clash, down in the actual muck

One Ohio town’s immigration clash, down in the actual muck

Migrant workers arrive here every spring to work in the “muck,” which is what everybody calls the fertile soil that makes this part of Ohio the perfect place to grow radishes, peppers, cucumbers and leafy greens. The temporary workers can be seen planting, weeding and, later in the season, harvesting crops that will be sold at national supermarket chains. But there is trouble in the muck...
EPA chief vows to speed the nation's Superfund cleanups

EPA chief vows to speed the nation's Superfund cleanups

Dawn Chapman had listened with surprise and skepticism as the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency vowed to clean up West Lake, the nuclear waste dump that has filled her days and nights with worry. "The past administration honestly just didn't pay attention to [it]," Scott Pruitt stressed on a local radio show in April. "We're going to get things done at West Lake. The days...
At height of tensions, Manafort met with associate from Ukraine

At height of tensions, Manafort met with associate from Ukraine

In August, as tension mounted over Russia's role in the U.S. presidential race, Donald Trump's campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, sat down to dinner with a business associate from Ukraine who once served in the Russian army.  Konstantin Kilimnik, who learned English at a military school that some experts consider a training ground for Russian spies, had helped run the Ukraine office for Manafort's...
High-stakes referendum on Trump takes shape in Georgia election

High-stakes referendum on Trump takes shape in Georgia election

Taking the stage in a half-filled airplane hangar to rally supporters of Republican candidate Karen Handel, Health Secretary Tom Price could not help but point to the record-shattering surge of liberal money that has flooded into the special House race here. “The out-of-state money is crazy,” said Price, whose vacated congressional seat is up for grabs on Tuesday. Following Price, Sonny...
Donald and Melania Trump give Camp David a good review

Donald and Melania Trump give Camp David a good review

President Donald Trump and Camp David, the presidential retreat in the Maryland mountains, didn't seem like a great fit. Camp David has been described as "rustic," and Trump notoriously loves glitz. It has only a small golf green, while Trump loves to play top courses (those bearing his name, of course). But the Trump family's first foray to the woodsy compound went well, according to the...
Jay Sekulow, President Trump's unlikely lawyer

Jay Sekulow, President Trump's unlikely lawyer

Jay Sekulow had a hectic day Sunday, bouncing from one news show to another to beat back reports that President Donald Trump was under investigation for obstruction of justice. In media blitz through four networks, Sekulow, a new member of Trump's legal team, repeatedly insisted that there was no such probe — an assertion at odds with stories published last week in The Washington Post and elsewhere...

Budget cuts threaten forests' roads, hunting, fishing

The roads to the national forests could get bumpier. Trails could get messier. Maintenance on bridges, dams and recreation sites could become tougher under President Donald Trump's proposed budget for fiscal 2018, which begins Oct. 1. The White House is seeking only about $100 million in funding for capital improvement and maintenance by the National Forest Service, down from $363 million this year...
Supreme Court to hear potentially landmark case on partisan gerrymandering

Supreme Court to hear potentially landmark case on partisan gerrymandering

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court declared Monday that it will consider whether gerrymandered election maps favoring one political party over another violate the Constitution, a potentially fundamental change in the way American elections are conducted. The justices regularly are called to invalidate state electoral maps that have been illegally drawn to reduce the influence of racial minorities...
Q&A: Trump's new guidelines on Cuba

Q&A: Trump's new guidelines on Cuba

It's a policy change President Donald Trump insists will correct what he called a "terrible and misguided deal" by his predecessor. Trump's recent announcement on new travel and trade restrictions with Cuba aim to fulfill a campaign promise. "Easing of restrictions on travel and trade does not help the Cuban people," he said at an event in Miami on Friday. "They only enrich...
Unable to arrest opioid epidemic, red states warm to needle exchanges

Unable to arrest opioid epidemic, red states warm to needle exchanges

Former heroin user Kendra Williams, 24, knows she's lucky. She recalls sharing dirty syringes to shoot up, risking hepatitis C and HIV. More than two years into recovery, she knows about 30 people who have died from drug overdoses — this year. Over the past five, she guesses, it's close to 50. Against that grim backdrop, Williams has joined an unlikely coalition — composed of public health...
Justices could take up high-stakes fight over electoral maps

Justices could take up high-stakes fight over electoral maps

In an era of deep partisan division, the Supreme Court could soon decide whether the drawing of electoral districts can be too political.  A dispute over Wisconsin's Republican-drawn boundaries for the state legislature offers Democrats some hope of cutting into GOP electoral majorities across the United States. Election law experts say the case is the best chance yet for the high court to put...
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