QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Is it likely that Texas is going to be competitive in 2016? No [ . . .] but this is a funny year. Texas is trending. When and where it will become a purple state is a source of conjecture. We’re in uncharted waters here.”
—David Axelrod to the Dallas Morning News. President Barack Obama’s former senior adviser and chief political strategist was commenting on Hillary Clinton’s recent remarks that the Democratic presidential candidate could conceivably win Texas. He apparently doesn’t see us turning blue this November.
Houston is hosting a big semi-final matchup in the Copa America, a men’s soccer tournament that brings together the top international teams in the Americas. Argentina and the United States are slated to face off tonight in NRG Stadium, and Houstonians are understandably excited. Not only is Argentina the top-ranked team in the world, it is also captained by perhaps the best soccer player of all time: Lionel Messi. The last time Messi was in Houston, in September for an exhibition game, he caused such a frenzy that “people hiked from a highway, trudged through brush, circumvented a bayou and scaled fences just to glimpse” him during a training session, writes the Houston Chronicle. The diminutive four-time world player of the year has even reduced Houston Texans superstar J.J. Watt to just another awe-struck autograph seeker, according to the Chronicle. Meanwhile, the underdog U.S. team is led by a Texan, Clint Dempsey, a Nacogdoches native. Dempsey’s no Messi, but he’s still had a great tournament, scoring three goals so far and leading the competition in assists. He’s so American that he has a bald eagle tatted on his chest, and he’s so Texan that he’s got the Lone Star State inked on his elbow. If you’re considering getting down to H-Town, don’t bother. The game is sold out. “Something is clearly amiss when you’re browsing the ticket prices for the semi-finals and wondering if you’ve stumbled on the site for the Broadway musical, Hamilton,” the Guardian wryly observes. “Actually, that’s probably being unfair on Hamilton.” As of Sunday, a front-row seat at midfield was $1,300, and the average ticket price topped $200. You’re probably better off rooting from your couch, wrapped in a Stars-and-Stripes themed snuggie with a six-pack of Lone Star in tow. ‘Merica!
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
U.S. Senator John Cornyn’s attempt to make it more difficult for people on the FBI’s terrorist watch list to buy guns was shot down Monday, according to the Texas Tribune. Cornyn’s bill, put forward in response to the recent massacre at an Orlando nightclub that left 50 people dead, would have given the attorney general 72 hours to prove there was a probable cause for blocking a possible terrorist from purchasing a gun. Democrats criticized Cornyn’s bill for having no teeth, claiming that the 72-hour investigation period was too short. Cornyn defended his position, asserting his gun control bill was the only one that protected “due process.” But it didn’t matter in the end. Even though the powerful National Rifle Association backed Cornyn’s bill, it still fell seven votes short and was one of four gun control bills rejected by the Senate.
Deer Breeder Drama
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission decided at a public meeting Monday to tighten regulations on the deer breeding industry prompting “a few dozen” deer breeders to walk out of the meeting in protest, according to the Austin American-Statesman. The commission voted to limit movement of breeders across the state and increase testing for chronic wasting disease, a neurological condition that effects deers but not humans. Chronic wasting disease was recently discovered in Texas, and deer advocates say it’s a major threat to the deer population. Before these new regulations mandating live testing, the state’s policy was to kill all deer suspected of having the disease before testing for it postmortem, according to Texas Public Radio. Members of the state’s largest deer breeding group, the Texas Deer Association, were peeved at the outcome of the vote. They claimed they were left out of the decision-making process and felt the vote unfairly favored the state’s bigger breeding companies. Breeders have already filed a lawsuit challenging the vote.
A recently released study says Texas is the seventh-worst state in the country for children, due in large part to the state’s poor healthcare situation, high poverty rate, and sky-high rate of teen moms, the Austin American-Statesman reported. According to data procured by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, eleven percent of Texas kids don’t have health insurance (we share last place in that category with Alaska), a quarter of Texas kids live in poverty (the nationwide number is 22 percent), and there are 38 childbirths per 1,000 girls aged 15 to 19 here (the national rate is 24 per 1,000). Not great. But there is some good news: there was a three percent drop since 2008 in the number of kids who used or abused drugs, and 84 percent of high school students graduated on time, up from 73 percent. Although Texas continues to lag behind the rest of the country in the amount of uninsured kids, it’s improving on that front, too. Since 2008, the number of children without health insurance has declined by 400,000.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Inside the weird world of Hope Hicks, the SMU grad who became Trump’s top PR lackey. GQ
Art Briles apparently broke his promise to say sorry to a Baylor rape survivor. Waco Tribune
Zika threat be damned, Kawhi Leonard looks like a lock for the Olympics. San Antonio Express-News
Texans can now buy an important anti-overdose drug at Walgreens. Texas Tribune
A Fort Worth pastor said some shockingly horrible things about the Orlando shooting victims. KDFW