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Must Read Texas: August 28, 2018

Below is Must Read Texas subscriber email from August 28, 2018. This is a typical example and shows the variety and amount of content our email communicates every weekday morning. Note: formatting and styles might be off due to copy and pasting. 

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MustReadTexas.com – @MustReadTexas
BY: @MattMackowiak
TUESDAY – 08/28/18
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Tips, comments and suggestions: MustReadTexas@gmail.com

Subscribe to the daily email here
 

Good morning from Austin, TX.
Thank you for being a paid subscriber.

   TOP NEWS    

“Something to look forward to: A 'stinging' cold winter coming to Texas according to Farmers' Alamanc,” The Laredo Morning Times' Craig Hlavaty -- “The 2019 Farmers' Almanac, using a formula developed 200 years ago in 1818, is predicting "stinging cold, average precipitation" for the state of Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and New Mexico this coming winter. It's not much to go on but if it distracts us from triple-digit temperatures during afternoon rush hour and cookies baking inside hot cars we'll take it. 

Generations have looked to the Farmers' Almanac for weather predictions. The handy books have helped farmers and other agriculture workers plan gain perspective on the year of weather ahead.

The 2019 Farmers' Almanac, using a formula developed 200 years ago in 1818, is predicting "stinging cold, average precipitation" for the state of Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and New Mexico this coming winter.

With Texas still in the midst of record summer heat, the prediction of bitter cold to come in a few months time is a welcome thought. The almanac further predicts heavy rain in Texas by early October along with cold along the Gulf Coast. For those transplants wondering when they can start breaking out the fall weather clothing here in Houston, that usually comes by mid to late October.

It's not much to go on, but if it distracts us from triple-digit temperatures during afternoon rush hour and cookies baking inside hot cars, we'll take it.

Additionally the Farmers' Almanac is predicting above-average snowfall for the Midwest, the Great Lakes area, and New England. The Mid-Atlantic and Pacific Northwest will have its usual ice and snow.

Published every year since 1818, the Farmers' Almanac was a one-stop shop in the decades' past for recipes, farming tips, articles, and even homemade remedies." Laredo Morning Times

“AUSTIN, COTA in the running for IndyCar race,” The Austin American-Statesman’s Kevin Lyttle -- “An IndyCar race in Austin appears to be edging closer to reality. The U.S.-based open-wheel circuit, whose cars scream down straightaways at up to 230 mph, is considering Circuit of the Americas for a future race, possibly as early as next year, according to published reports.
 
COTA Chairman Bobby Epstein’s take? Bring it on. “It would become one of our crown-jewel events,” he told the American-Statesman. “I think it would be special for the series, too, with this city and this track.” Epstein said he had two discussions with IndyCar officials in a recent 10-day stretch.
 
“We’re super interested,” he said. “We’ve had productive conversations. We’re talking to them. It would be exciting to see IndyCar come to Austin. “They have choices. They have three or four places to fill a hole for next year.” The Phoenix race was scratched from next year’s 17-event calendar for financial reasons.
 
IndyCar CEO Mark Miles told the Indianapolis Star the series is in talks with three tracks, declining to name them. COTA is widely speculated to be in that mix. There also has been some talk about a street-course race in San Antonio or Oklahoma City.” Austin American-Statesman

“Texas National Guardsman accused of stealing meth from CBP,” via AP -- “A Texas National Guard soldier part of the state's border protection buildup has been accused of stealing from U.S. Customs and Border Protection methamphetamine that federal agents had seized.

Pvt. Edwin Baez had been deployed to Laredo to help CBP agents with their workk at the World Trade Bridge from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. A federal affidavit says the 30-year-old Houston-area man stole 1.5 kilograms of meth from a CBP stash on Aug. 1.

A federal judge has ordered that Baez remain in custody pending a Friday detention hearing in Laredo. Baez is charged with theft of government property, conspiracy and possession of methamphetamine with the intention of distributing it.

Jail records list no attorney for the soldier." AP

“Bodycam video captures cop rescuing family from burning home,” via AP -- “Dramatic video from a police officer's body camera captures the rescue of a North Texas family from their burning home.

The video from Seagoville Police Officer Sam Click's camera records him spotting and arriving at the burning home early Saturday. Click is heard asking for backup but sees the fire is spreading into the home and decides to take immediate action.

Joined by neighbor Jeremy Giblaint, Click broke into the backdoor of the burning duplex unit attached to Giblaint's, awakened Giblaint's brother-in-law and carried out Giblaint's six nephews.

Seagoville police say no one was injured. The mother of the children was at work at the time of the fire.

Seagoville is a town of about 17,000 residents 18 miles southeast of Dallas." AP

“Austin American-Statesman publisher, editor accept buyouts,” via AP -- “Austin American-Statesman Publisher Susie Biehle and Editor Debbie Hiott have announced that they are accepting buyout offers from owner GateHouse Media and will be leaving the paper.

Hiott announced Monday that she will depart Sept. 30, while Biehle said she will leave Nov. 30.

Buehle has been the Statesman's publisher since November 2012 after having advanced to vice president and general manager of USA Today. Hiott, who joined the Statesman as an intern 28 years ago, has been editor since November 2011.

The announcement comes five months after GateHouse finalized its purchase of the paper from Cox Enterprises, which had owned the paper for 41 years. The American-Statesman recently extended voluntary buyout offers to all employees but hasn't revealed how many employees have accepted buyouts."AP

“Texans star JJ Watt's Hurricane Harvey effort raises $41.6M,” AP's Kristie Rieken -- “Houston Texans star J.J. Watt said Monday that he has distributed the $41.6 million his foundation raised to help rebuild the Texas Gulf Coast after Hurricane Harvey.

An online fundraiser Watt launched after the storm hit Texas last year went viral and far exceeded his original goal of raising $200,000.

"It's incredible to see just the generosity of strangers and what it's able to do and what it's able to accomplish, and the fact that that's just year one," Watt said. "We still have more to do and we still have a lot going on moving forward."

Watt routed the money to eight groups actively involved in Texas' rebuilding and recovery. According to the Texans, the funds have already been used to clean up and rebuild more than 600 homes, distribute more than 26 million meals and provide health care to more than 6,500 people." AP

 STATE AND LOCAL OFFICIALS    

“TEXAS WINS OBAMACARE Tax Lawsuit,” Empower Texans’ Brandon Waltens -- “Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is celebrating a court ruling that will recover over $300 million for Texas taxpayers. The original lawsuit, filed by Texas and five other states against the federal government in October of 2015, fought against an Obama-era regulation that penalized states who didn’t force their taxpayers to pay the Health Insurance Providers Fee to help fund Obamacare. States who refused to pay the fee had their Medicaid funds reduced.
 
A decision by the Northern U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled that the fee was unconstitutional, ordering the IRS to reimburse the states for the fee.
 
“Obamacare is unconstitutional, plain and simple,” Paxton said. “We all know that the feds cannot tax the states, and we’re proud to return this illegally collected money to the people of Texas.” In total, over $839 million was recouped by the states that brought the suit, which include Texas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Wisconsin, and Nebraska.
 
The decision is just the latest in a series of executive and judicial moves to dismantle the failed experiment of Obamacare. Next month, Paxton will join Wisconsin in another court hearing arguing that the Affordable Healthcare Act in its entirety is unconstitutional.” Empower Texans

   2018    

DEBATES: “Valdez agrees to debate Abbott on Sept. 28 in Austin,”The Texas Tribune’s Patrick Svitek -- “Lupe Valdez, the Democratic candidate for governor, has agreed to debate the Republican incumbent, Greg Abbott, on Sept. 28 in Austin, ending weeks of uncertainty over whether the two would face off.
 
Earlier this summer, Abbott announced his RSVP for the Austin debate, which is being hosted by Nexstar Media Group. A week later, Valdez accepted an invitation to a different debate — Oct. 8 in Houston — balking at the timing of the Austin debate, which falls on a Friday evening in the middle of high school football season.
 
While the timing of the Austin debate has not changed, Valdez claimed victory Monday in getting a Spanish-language media partner — Telemundo — for the debate. Valdez's campaign said Telemundo "will broadcast the debate live across the state on television and online, and provide a moderator and instantaneous Spanish translation for their viewers." … Abbott's campaign disputed the notion it had made any concessions.” Texas Tribune
--“Beto O’Rourke says he isn’t debating Ted Cruz this Friday,” The Texas Tribune’s Cassandra Pollock -- “U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, the El Paso Democrat challenging Republican incumbent Ted Cruz in Texas' U.S. Senate race, says a proposed Aug. 31 debate between the two "is not going to happen."
 
"Friday in Dallas is not going to happen, but I'm convinced we will debate," O'Rourke said Monday during an appearance at the 2018 Texas Disability Issues Forum in Austin. "I'm convinced there will be a number of debates."
 
In July, Cruz challenged O'Rourke to five debates – sending a detailed plan with proposed dates, cities and topics. The first was to be on Aug. 31 in Dallas and to focus on "Jobs/Taxes/Federal Regulations/National Economy." O'Rourke accepted Cruz's proposal for five debates but suggested some revisions — including having a sixth debate in O'Rourke's hometown of El Paso.
 
In April, O'Rourke's campaign kicked off the debate negotiations by proposing six debates, including two in Spanish. O'Rourke said Monday that Cruz's campaign has "attempted to dictate" different aspects of the debate schedule, such the time, the moderators and which subjects the candidates could speak about.” Texas Tribune

“Democrats question $50k in books and collectibles that Rep. Culberson bought with campaign funds,” The Houston Chronicle's Kevin Diaz -- “Texas Democrats targeting Republican Congressman John Culberson in Houston are challenging nearly $50,000 in campaign spending since 2004 on books, coins, Civil War memorabilia and other collectibles, some reported as “donor gifts.”

Draft copies of complaints to the Federal Election Commission and the independent Office of Congressional Ethics question the expenses in light of Culberson’s personal interest in military history.

Culberson has reported selling as much as $1.3 million in antiques and collectibles since 2010, something he says he does as a hobby. Because he considers his collection a personal rather than an investment asset, he has not been required to publicly detail his purchases or holdings in congressional disclosure reports.

Culberson’s campaign said Monday said that all of the spending in question was either for research material or modest gifts to campaign contributors and volunteers over the 19 years he’s been in office.

His campaign dismissed the allegations as an “obvious partisan attack.”

The complaints, drafted in the name of Houston Democratic activist Daniel Cohen, a resident of Culberson’s 7th Congressional District, seek investigations into whether the congressman used campaign funds to build his personal collection, something Culberson denies.

“There are questions about whether he’s using his campaign funds as a bank,” Cohen said. “That’s a classic thing people are tired of.”

Cohen said the allegations were brought to him by state Democratic party officials in Texas, based on research compiled by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the political arm of the House Democrats.

Nevertheless, Cohen said he is bringing the complaints forward as a private citizen. “I’m filing as a constituent,” he said.

Officials from the Texas Democratic Party did not respond to requests for comment about the timing of the complaints, which had not yet been submitted to the two agencies on Monday.

Either way, analysts say their complaints are unlikely to be resolved before the Nov. 6 election in which Culberson faces a forceful challenge from DemocratLizzie Pannill Fletcher, a Houston attorney.

Culberson spokeswoman Catherine Kelly questioned the motives and the timing of the leaked complaints, coming several days before Culberson and Fletcher meet with the newspaper’s editorial board.

“The documents drafted by Texas Democrats against Congressman Culberson are an obvious partisan attack and ripped directly from the DCCC, are purely speculative, without merit, and have been curiously leaked to The Houston Chronicle fewer than three days before a joint appearance between the Congressman and his opponent,” she said.

Democrats consider the Seventh District, which was narrowly won by Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, as one of their best pickup opportunities in the midterm elections as they seek to win control of the U.S. House.

The allegations follow recent Democratic attacks surrounding Culberson’s investment in an obscure Australian biotech stock at the center of insider trading charges filed against New York Republican Chris Collins earlier this month. Culberson was one of a half-dozen lawmakers who bought into the company at around the same time in early 2017. He eventually sold at a loss before the company’s share price plummeted to pennies on the dollar.

Culberson said he learned about the bio-tech company, Innate Immunotherapeutics, on his own. ...

Democrats have made no specific allegations or provided evidence of any criminal conduct by Culberson. Instead, they have questioned the legitimacy of his campaign’s frequent purchases on Amazon.com, Borders and Barnes & Noble.

In all, they document $32,981 in expenses reported as “books” and “research materials” since 2009, as well as $17,000 on gifts, including antiques and military collectibles, since 2004. More than $5,000 was spent on Civil War memorabilia since 2010." Houston Chronicle

   TEXANS IN DC    

Ted Cruz & John Cornyn joint guest column: “A year later, we’ve still got Texas’ back,” Ted Cruz and John Cornyn via The Houston Chronicle -- “Nearly one year ago on these pages, we made a commitment to Texans reeling in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Long-term assistance and resources were needed, and we pledged a vigorous response in Washington. Twelve months later, the painful memories linger — with some still flinching at the sound of pelting rain — and the recovery isn’t finished. But together we’ve made progress.
 
After crashing into the Coastal Bend community of Rockport, Harvey wreaked havoc up and down our Texas Gulf Coast. It shattered records and stole 68 lives, a goliath that experts said comes perhaps only once every thousand years. …
 
The destruction was on a scale our state had never seen. But Texans rose to the occasion. Good Samaritans rescued stranded neighbors and opened businesses to the displaced. A boy in Philadelphia sold lemonade and sent the proceeds to the American Red Cross on behalf of the Bayou City, his old hometown.
 
Following the emergency response, our job in Washington was just beginning. Communities along the Texas coast needed rebuilding. In the weeks and months following landfall, Congress passed three separate aid bills totaling $147 billion for Harvey and other disasters. Debris was cleared and ports reopened. The National Flood Insurance Program expedited homeowners’ claims, while the Small Business Administration approved disaster loans.
 
The two of us worked to pass a new law allowing Texans to receive tax deductions for hurricane-related expenses — providing more than $5 billion in emergency tax relief — and we pushed FEMA to reverse a policy that prevented houses of worship from accessing disaster relief funds. Afterward, we codified this change into law. Meanwhile, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced plans to use $5 billion of the disaster funds we appropriated to help Texas homeowners and small businesses rebuild. These resources will pay for buyouts, rental property construction and reimbursements for repair costs incurred in the wake of the storm. And HUD recently announced an additional $5 billion for Texas to help primarily with Texas mitigation efforts. …
 
As your U.S. senators, at times of tragedy, we’ve found ourselves in living rooms, churches and gymnasiums across this great state — looking for the right words and then the right policies to address them. Few catastrophes, however, have affected so many Texans, and in such a devastating way, as Hurricane Harvey. Over the last year, working together, Texans have begun to heal and rebuild. But the job isn’t finished — which is why we’re here to say: Houston, we’ve still got your back.” Houston Chronicle

Beto O'Rourke guest column: “Texas should lead the way on true criminal justice reform,” Beto O'Rourke via The Houston Chronicle -- “Twenty-three years ago I was arrested for attempted forcible entry after jumping a fence at the University of Texas at El Paso. I spent a night in the El Paso County Jail, was able to make bail the next day, and was released. Three years later, I was arrested for drunk driving — a far more serious mistake for which there is no excuse.

But those mistakes did not ultimately define me or stop me from what I wanted to do in my life or how I wanted to contribute to the success of my family and my community — as a father, small business owner, city council member, and congressman. The chance that I had, and which I have made the most of, is denied to too many of our fellow Texans, particularly those who don’t look like me or have access to the same opportunities that I did.

On Wednesday, I toured the Harris County Jail with Sheriff Ed Gonzalez and met men from this community who have made a mistake from which they may or may not recover. Men who don’t have the resources to post bail. Some of whom got arrested on purpose to get the treatment and care they need, care they won’t be able to afford or access on the outside. In fact, the Harris County Jail is the largest provider of mental health services in our state, a state that is the least insured in the nation. Of the 10,000 inmates in the Harris County Jail, one quarter of them are being prescribed at least one psychotropic medication. The jail has more people receiving psychiatric treatment every day than the nine state mental hospitals in Texas combined.

But beyond those who need health care, there are many more languishing behind bars for nonviolent crimes — sixty percent yet to even be convicted. Unable to work, to pay taxes, to raise their kids, to contribute to our society, to realize their full potential. And it’s happening at the average cost of $87 per person, per day, and more than $400 per person, per day for prisoners requiring medication or medical treatment. That tab is ultimately picked up by the taxpayers of Harris County.

The jail I visited is not an outlier. Rather, it is part of the world’s largest prison population. One that is disproportionately comprised of people of color, though we know that people of all races use illegal drugs at roughly the same rate. Many have called this the New Jim Crow, and for good reason. One in four black children have had a parent in the criminal justice system, compared to just four percent of white children. That rate is nearly two times what it was in the 1980s. And it begins with a school-to-prison pipeline that starts as early as kindergarten, where a black child is four to five times as likely to be suspended or expelled as a white child.

Following my visit, I am more convinced than ever that Texas can and must take the lead in building a criminal justice system that is more fair and that urgently puts our country closer to the words written above the highest court in our land: equal justice under law. This is how I propose we do it.

First, we should eliminate private, for-profit prisons from our justice system. Locking someone up is a power that should be reserved for our government, not outsourced to corporations that have the perverse incentive of getting more people behind bars so that there are more profits for their shareholders. Second, we need to end the failed war on drugs that has long been a war on people, waged on some people over other people. Who is going to be the last man — more likely than not a black man — to languish behind bars for possessing or using marijuana when it is legal in more than half of the states in this country? We should end the federal prohibition on marijuana and expunge the records of those who were locked away for possessing it, ensuring that they can get work, finish their education, contribute to their full potential and to the greatness of this country.

Third, we must stop using mandatory minimum sentencing for non-violent drug offenses — a practice that costs taxpayers dearly and destroys lives in the process by locking up people who could safely re-enter society. And we replace this practice with policies that begin treating addiction like the public health concern it is.

Fourth, we can end the current use of bail bonds that punish people for being poor. This is a tactic that wastes resources on incarcerating those who are not a threat to anyone, not a flight risk, not likely to be repeat offenders. In the Harris County Jail, it’s estimated that 500 to 600 of the inmates at any given time fit this description — in for misdemeanors but without the resources to post bail as I did more than twenty years ago.

Finally, we should provide meaningful reentry to help cut down on recidivism for those who committed non-violent crimes. That starts with strong rehabilitation services, counseling and access to preventative health care. It continues by banning the box on job applications so those formerly incarcerated can work and pay taxes, returning drivers licenses so they can get to that place of employment, allowing them to apply for loans that can unlock skills trainings, and ensuring their constitutional right to participate in civic life by voting is protected.

And because I have worked with my colleagues — Republicans and Democrats alike — on legislation to achieve these things, I know that they are fully within our capacity to change.

At the end of the day, this is about ensuring that every single one of us can live to our full potential and contribute to our maximum capacity. Giving low-level offenders a second chance no matter the color of their skin or the economic status they hold can create opportunity for all of us. It will help build a future that is more just, more fair, and more prosperous for every single person in this state and this country. It is time for Texas to lead the way." Houston Chronicle

   TRUMP ADMINISTRATION    

“Trump cuts deal with Mexico, raising hopes for NAFTA,” The Houston Chronicle's James Osborne -- “The United States and Mexico reached a preliminary deal on the future of North American Free Trade Agreement and their trade relations, a breakthrough in the yearlong negotiations that came as a relief to businesses and political leaders across Texas.

The deal is far from done. Canada has yet to sign on. Lawmakers in both the United States and Mexico have to approve the agreement. But in Texas, where trade with Mexico and Canada accounts for more than 1 million jobs, the development was greeted with muted optimism.

Much of the past year has been marked by tense exchanges between U.S. President Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Trump’s threats to to withdraw from the free trade pact. Public officials and business leaders feared a breakdown in negotiations that would unravel a quarter-century of increasingly intertwined cross-border commerce.

“We knew this was going to be a bucking bronc,” said Jeff Moseley, president of the Texas Association of Business, “and we just needed to strap in and hold on.”

For months the talks seemed to be going nowhere as Trump pressed his nationalist agenda, calling NAFTA the worst trade deal ever, claiming that Mexico and Canada were taking advantage of the United States and imposing tariffs on steel from the two countries. Canada and Mexico retaliated with their own tariffs on U.S. goods.

But momentum for a deal — at least with Mexico — picked up in recent weeks following the election of a leftist president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who pledged a more confrontational approach to the Trump administration. Trump's and Peña Nieto’s negotiators pushed to strike a deal in time to get congressional approval before López Obrador takes office Dec. 1.

Although details of the deal remained sketchy on Monday, Trump called the agreement with Mexico “a big day for trade” and “a big day for our country.”

“It’s been a long time, and this is something that is very special for our manufacturers and our farmers,” Trump said from the Oval Office. “It makes it a much more fair bill.”

Trump came into office on the promise of renegotiating NAFTA, which was approved by Congress in 1993 and went into effect in 1994. His trade officials negotiated on a wide range of issues, from car manufacturing and the sale of agricultural products to setting up a mechanism for periodic reviews of the agreement itself.

But after a final round of negotiations in Washington over the weekend, U.S. and Mexican trade officials came to terms on a deal that appeared significantly different from the existing pact but still fell far short of what the Trump administration had initially sought.

Details of the agreement have not yet been made public, but according to senior White House officials the deal would operate in 16-year terms — not the five years pushed by Trump — with mandated reviews every six years. Also, the existing investment protection rules — known as Investor State Dispute Settlement, or ISDS — was kept largely in place.

The investment protection provision allows companies to challenge the rulings of a foreign government using an independent arbiter. It is a particularly sensitive topic for U.S. oil and gas companies, which have used such provisions to gain compensation after their assets were nationalized. For example, the Houston oil company ConocoPhillips recently won a $2 billion award from Venezuela’s national oil company after ConocoPhillips assets were expropriated more than a decade ago by the socialist government of the late Hugo Chavez.

White House officials said certain industries, including energy, would see no change in their international protections, but industry attorneys worried that some segments of the diverse energy sector — which includes oil and gas as well as pipelines and power — could be left out.

“Right now, I think there’s more uncertainty than there is confidence on anything ISDS related,” said Josh Zive, a Washington attorney with the law firm Bracewell.

Following the announcement by Trump and Peña Nieto, both Democrats and Republicans expressed optimism that NAFTA would survive — even if it was renamed the “United States-Mexico trade agreement,” as Trump said he would prefer.

“This is a positive step, and now we need to ensure the final agreement brings Canada in to the fold and has bipartisan support,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

The Trump administration plans to submit the deal with Mexico to Congress by Friday. Getting it through would likely require Democratic votes, and the White House is already trying to drum up support among labor unions that have traditionally opposed free trade deals as hurting domestic workers.

“It’s good news there’s an agreement. We’re going to look at the details,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, a longtime NAFTA proponent who is traveling to Mexico this week to meet with trade officials there. “We still got the big vote at the end of the year, and that’s going to be very interesting. I’ve never seen (the unions) look at a trade agreement they like.”

With the required 90-day review period, U.S. lawmakers could theoretically complete the review and approve the pact before Peña Nieto leaves office Dec. 1. But getting the agreement past the Mexican Congress could disrupt that timeline, said Tony Payan, director of Rice University’s Mexico Center at the Baker Institute.

Newly elected representatives are scheduled to take their seats in Mexico City on Saturday, with López Obrador’s National Regeneration Movement set to assume control.

“There is a strong nationalist element there, and they might not see this as favorable to Mexico,” Payan said. “The big question is whether Mr. Peña Nieto is trying to rush something through he can still send to Mexico this week.”

Trump has expressed ambivalence on whether Canada ultimately joins the deal with Mexico, but he is facing pressure from all sides, not only from Congress but also members of his administration, to strike a deal with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. On a phone call with Trump on Monday, broadcast live on television, Peña Nieto urged Trump to bring Canada in.

Trump said he planned to begin negotiations with Canada “immediately” to either add the northern neighbor to the agreement with Mexico or to sign a bilateral agreement. If that failed, Trump said, then he would increase tariffs on Canadian cars imported into the United States.

“One way or another we’ll have a deal with Canada,” he said. “It’ll either be a tariff on cars or it’ll be a negotiated deal.”" Houston Chronicle

“Law firm criticizes ICE for toddler's death after release,” via AP -- “A law firm representing the family of a toddler reported to have died after being released from an immigration detention facility issued new information Monday about what it called a "needless and devastating loss."

Washington-based Arnold & Porter's statement Monday identifies the child by her first name, Mariee, and says she was 21 months old when she died in May. A Vice News story also released Monday said Mariee arrived with her mother, Yazmin Juarez, at the detention center in Dilley, Texas, in March, and died about six weeks after her release.

According to Vice News, Mariee began to develop a cough and had a fever that reached 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The baby's health improved, but then worsened until she and her mother were released.

The law firm released a timeline that says Juarez sought medical treatment for Mariee six days after they entered Dilley because the baby had congestion and a cough. Ten days after they arrived, Mariee had lost two pounds, nearly 8 percent of her body weight.

Mariee was still coughing and vomiting clear liquid two days before she and her mother were released, the law firm said.

They were released March 25, and took a flight to New Jersey, where Juarez's mother lives. The next day, they went to an emergency room, the law firm said. The baby was hospitalized over the next several weeks and eventually transferred to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

On May 10, Mariee suffered a hemorrhage that led to irreversible brain and organ damage.

Vice News reports that Juarez "watched Mariee's skin turn from purple to black," and the baby's doctors asked if they could take the child off the ventilator. She died shortly afterward.

Citing hospital records, Vice News reported the baby died of viral pneumonitis, an inflammation of lung tissue.

Reports circulated online this month of a child dying after being released from the Dilley facility, which holds hundreds of immigrant mothers and children. Initial reports that the child died at Dilley were erroneous. The law firm had refused to release information about the case for several weeks until Monday.

Advocates for immigrants have long complained about problems with accessing medical care in immigration facilities like the one at Dilley, one of two family detention centers in Texas.

Arnold & Porter blames U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for detaining Mariee and her mother in a facility "with unsafe conditions." The law firm also accuses ICE of releasing a "gravely ill" child "without medical treatment or guidance," and said it was considering a lawsuit.

But Vice News says five pediatricians who reviewed details of Mariee's care say that after contracting the illness, she received treatment that was consistent with what they would have done. The story says all five doctors believed Mariee's "recommended course of treatment would have been the same had she not been in ICE custody."

"It's reasonable care," said Dr. Ewen Wang, associate director of pediatric emergency medicine at Stanford University Medical Center. "It didn't sound like she was in the best of health, but not something you anticipate dying from."" AP

   REMAINDERS    

“Manu Ginobli, a 4-time champion with Spurs, retires at 41,” AP's Tim Reynolds — “Manu Ginobili has played his final game, and with that a new era awaits the San Antonio Spurs.

Ginobili announced his decision to retire Monday, the 41-year-old wrapping up what he called a "fabulous journey" in which he helped the Spurs win four NBA championships in 16 seasons with the club.

The smooth left-handed guard from Argentina came to San Antonio in 2002, forming what quickly became a powerful "Big 3" alongside Tim Duncan andTony Parker. Now, they've all moved on: Duncan retired two years ago, Parker left San Antonio earlier this summer as a free agent to sign with the Charlotte Hornets, and Ginobili has worn Spurs colors for the last time as well.

"Today, with a wide range of feelings, I'm announcing my retirement from basketball," Ginobili wrote on Twitter in making the announcement. "IMMENSE GRATITUDE to everyone (family, friends, teammates, coaches, staff, fans) involved in my life in the last 23 years. It's been a fabulous journey. Way beyond my wildest dreams."

The image Ginobili chose to accompany that tweet: a photo of him walking off the floor, away from the camera, with four fingers aloft — signifying his four titles." AP

“Bregman powers Astros to 6th straight win, 11-4 over A's,” AP's Kristie Rieken — “With their lineup at full strength for the first time in more than two months, the Houston Astros put on an offensive show against the Oakland Athletics on Monday night.


"When we're healthy, we're the best team in baseball," third baseman Alex Bregman said.

Bregman and Tyler White homered and drove in four runs each, and the Astros rallied for an 11-4 win over the Athletics. It was the sixth straight win for the first-place Astros, who moved to 2 1/2 games ahead of Oakland in the AL West." AP