Rex Tillerson Says the U.S. is at Fault for Mexico’s Drug Violence: Your Roundup
Plus: The Texas House kills a bill that would improve access to public records, UT lands a huge basketball prospect, and United Airlines has another Texas-connected scandal.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“So anyway, it’s a romper for guys and it’s called the RompHim and I just ordered two.”
—Senator Ted Cruz (or whoever runs his social media accounts) on Twitter. Cruz was weighing in on a caption contest for a photo of Senators Ben Basse and Chuck Schumer, implying the New York Senator just bought a few RompHims, a fashion item geared toward men that blew up on the internet earlier this week for some odd reason. Shortly after Cruz’s tweet, the men’s style gatekeepers over at GQ promptly asserted that Cruz had just “ruined rompers for men.” The RompHim is dead, and Ted Cruz killed it. RIP, RompHim.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly met with Mexican officials on Thursday to discuss border security, and the pair emerged from the discussions with a pretty strong indictment of the U.S.’s role in violent drug wars in Mexico. “We Americans must own this problem,” Tillerson, a Wichita Falls native, told reporters, according to the Associated Press. “It is ours. There is no other market, it is all us. But for us, Mexico wouldn’t have a transnational organized crime problem.” As the AP notes, this admission is a similar stance taken by the Barack Obama administration, which drew criticism from conservatives. But on Thursday Tillerson and Kelly appeared to take a key step toward improving U.S. relations with Mexico, which have been fraught since Donald Trump was elected president. It also may signal a shift in the U.S. toward cracking down on the demand side of the drug problem—drug users and addicts—rather than producers and distributors. “We have to develop a comprehensive drug demand reduction program in the United States that involves everybody—involves professional sports, Hollywood; involves governors, mayors; involves parents, priests; involves everybody,” Kelly said. CNN reported that the Trump administration promised on Thursday to implement “fresh strategies” to combat drug abuse and drug-related violence and to work more closely with Mexico on those efforts. Tillerson, meanwhile, called for a major campaign against drug addiction in the U.S. that combines improved intelligence and information sharing with Mexico to crack down on drug traffickers by hitting production sites, transportation networks, and their cash flows, according to the AP.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
Open And Shut
With several amendments attached aimed at plugging major loopholes in Texas’s open records laws, House Bill 2328 would have made it a lot easier for everyone to access publicly available records and information. But according to the Texas Tribune, House parliamentarian ruled on Thursday that the amendments simply weren’t relevant to HB 2328, a piece of legislation authored by Representative Eddie Lucio that would expedite open records requests at some state agencies. The biggest thing the amendments would have done is reversed two Texas Supreme Court rulings that have helped private companies keep secret parts of contracts with government agencies. An amendment also called for cracking down on public officials who violate open records laws by refusing to turn over public information contained on personal electronic devices. Business groups opposed the amendments, claiming they raised privacy concerns. Transparency advocates, meanwhile, view the defeat of these amendments as a loss for open government. “Forces that sought to keep the public in the dark appear to have won out,” Kelley Shannon, executive director of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, told the Tribune.
There’s a new big man on campus at the University of Texas at Austin, and he’s not a lineman on the football team. The men’s basketball team scored a huge recruiting win on Wednesday, nabbing Mo Bamba, a seven-footer from Harlem who’s ranked as the third-best player in the class of 2017, according to ESPN. Texas edged out Kentucky for Bamba, who said a big part of his decision was seeing the success last year of Texas forward Jarrett Allen, who is expected to be a first round pick in the upcoming NBA draft. “I saw his confidence grow throughout the season as he distinguished himself as a possible lottery pick,” Bamba said in his announcement in the Player’s Tribune. “I’m thankful for the blueprint he laid down and I hope to follow in his footsteps.” Head coach Shaka Smart was understandably pretty thrilled to learn Bamba chose Texas. “He’s as unique a person and player as I’ve been around,” Smart said in a statement. “Mo’s combination of talent, intellect and ability to impact others will make him a catalyst in our program and on our campus from day one.”
Airline scandals are so hot right now, and the most recent horror story comes to you straight from Texas. National Guard First Lieutenant John Rader was boarding a United Airlines flight in El Paso on his way home to Kyle after serving a 21-month tour of duty in Afghanistan when he was told he couldn’t bring a large bag on the Houston-bound flight for free. According to the Houston Chronicle, Rader’s bag was filled with a Kevlar vest, helmets, and two pairs of boots he wore in Afghanistan. United allows active military personnel to check up to five bags for free so long as each bag weights less than 70 pounds. Rader’s bag was right at 70 pounds, and United apparently couldn’t cut him a break—he was told he’d have to pay a $200 fee if he wanted to bring his bag on board. “There was no empathy to the situation,” Rader told Austin’s KTBC. “I’m not looking for sympathy, but some form of empathy in the situation. There was none of that. It was just cold. I had to either pay or leave the bag.” After Rader took his situation public, United had second thoughts. The airline said in a statement Thursday that it has offered to refund Rader’s $200 as a goodwill gesture.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.
Trump is beginning the process to renegotiate NAFTA New York Times
A Portland community neighboring an iron manufacturing plant is completely covered in black dust Corpus Christi Caller-Times
The “whistleblower” in a Dallas voter fraud investigation is under investigation himself for that same fraud Dallas Morning News
Gavels are out of control in the Texas Lege Austin American-Statesman
Brownsville’s Gladys Porter zoo has a bunch of pangolins and they are very good McAllen Monitor