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Eight Border Wall Prototypes are Going Into Testing Phases: Your Texas Roundup

Plus: What’s inside the JFK file dump, a familiar rivalry competes in a Los Alamos bid, and a man’s execution is delayed because of a clerical error.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY


“We wanted to see how far she could go. We didn’t want to put a ceiling on her. When she stopped learning and she stopped advancing, that’s when we knew we would have to look for something else. And it never happened.”

—Tracy Walker to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Walker’s daughter Kendall, who has Down syndrome, is a member of the Paschal High School color guard. Kendall, a high school senior, has been on the team for the past four years. She’s earned a solo performance during the team’s halftime routine for the past three years.


BIG NEWS


David McNew/Getty

Trump’s Wall
U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced on Thursday that it has completed eight prototypes for the proposed border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, taking a big step forward in the Trump administration’s long-promised project. According to the Texas Tribune, six companies worked on the prototypes, including Houston-based Texas Sterling Construction. Over the next month or two, the mock-ups—which were built in San Diego—will undergo testing to see which one will be most effective in reducing the number of undocumented immigrants from crossing into the U.S. The federal government outlined a few key features in its call for proposals for the wall design, including withstanding tunneling up to six feet deep, an ability to undergo sustained efforts to breach it, and features that would prevent someone from getting over it unassisted. Although this is a significant move forward for the project, there are plenty of hurdles less physically imposing than the wall. Congress has yet to approve funding for the project, which is expected to cost almost $70 billion to build and $150 million per year to maintain. And as the New York Times notes, the federal government would have to make big private land grabs, primarily in Texas, “where private property is considered sacrosanct.” The Times reports that most of the Texas congressional delegation—made up of mostly Republicans—has voiced opposition to the wall’s construction.


MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS


JFK Files
The Trump administration made good on a promise to release thousands of documents related to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas. The massive file dump release on Thursday night might not be too exciting for the conspiratorially-minded—so far, no one has found any evidence to show that Lee Harvey Oswald wasn’t acting alone—but there’s plenty of interesting facts related to Texas that reporters and editors have found in their initial comb through the documents. The Washington Post found an internal FBI report from May 1964 that links Lyndon B. Johnson to the Ku Klux Klan, though the “documented proof” was not provided. The Hill and multiple other outlets reported that on November 24, 1963, an unidentified man called the FBI office in Dallas to say that he would assassinate Oswald; Oswald was killed in Dallas the next day. USA Today reported that the files included a handwritten document from the CIA tracking Oswald’s movements in Mexico City two months before JFK’s assassination. The document shows that the CIA was watching Oswald’s contact with the Soviet embassy in Mexico City; Oswald once lived in the Soviet Union. You can sleuth through the nearly 2,900 documents released at the National Archives website.

Rivalry Revived
Days after the Longhorns and Aggies met on the basketball court and Governor Greg Abbott called for the the storied rivals to meet on the gridiron again, the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M may have a new way to battle it out. And this time, it’ll be a nuclear matchup. The public universities may soon compete for a major national contract to manage Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, the place responsible for the nation’s nuclear arsenal. According to the Houston Chronicle, A&M University System regents authorized an administrator to look into developing a proposal to operate the lab last week. In September, the University of Texas System regents voted to spend $4.5 million in pursuit of the contract. Bids to manage Los Alamos are due December 11.

Critical Error
Larry Swearingen has avoided four execution dates, which were all stayed by the Court of Criminal Appeals. On Thursday, he eluded it again after a clerical error temporarily halted his execution for the 1998 murder of eighteen-year-old Montgomery College student Melissa Trotter. Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon confirmed to the Houston Chronicle on Thursday that Swearingen’s execution is being reset after the Montgomery County District Clerk’s office sent his execution order to the wrong place. “It’s horrible that Mr. Swearingen’s execution date is forestalled due to a technical defect by the district clerk’s office in failing to provide notice to the Office of Capital and Forensic Writs as per the statue and the judge’s ruling,” Ligon said. “I have spoken frequently with the Trotter family and even though they understand the process, this one hurts even more because Swearingen will live a little longer not based on innocence but upon a clerical mistake.” Reuters reported on Sunday that Swearingen, who has been on death row for seventeen years, may have been plotting to avoid execution by pinning his crime on a serial murderer, which ultimately delayed an execution date set for October 18.


WHAT WE’RE READING


Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.

You can buy T. Boone Pickens’s Dallas mansion Dallas Morning News

Nearly 140 men were caught in a prostitution sting in Houston, including a Houston cop Houston Chronicle

The Miami Heat show love to Manu Ginobili San Antonio Express-News

McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna asked to be recused from the second Twin Peaks biker shooting trial Waco Tribune-Herald

Monarchs are behind schedule to arrive in the Valley McAllen Monitor

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