QUOTE OF THE DAY
“We couldn’t get him to agree to a fifteen-year deal, so this is the best we got.”
—Texas A&M University Chancellor John Sharp, to the Houston Chronicle on Monday. Sharp jokingly responded to a question about whether he had any concerns about new football coach Jimbo Fisher’s massive ten-year, $75 million contract.
The U.S. Supreme Court allowed President Donald Trump’s revised order to go into effect on Monday, banning residents from eight countries, including six which are majority Muslim, from traveling to the United States. The decision has major implications in Texas, which has the largest Muslim population in the U.S. and is a national leader in refugee resettlement. Rulings by lower courts had restricted Trump’s order, exempting travelers who had grandparents, aunts, uncles, or other “bona fide” relations or connections to institutions in the United States, but in an unsigned opinion Monday, the justices lifted the injunctions, which had been issued by federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland, according to the Washington Post. The justices did not disclose the court’s reasoning in the opinion. People from predominantly Muslim nations Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Chad, and Somalia, as well as North Korea and Venezuela, are now mostly barred from entering the United States. Federal appellate courts could rule soon on the decisions made by the federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland, so the legal battle isn’t over yet, but until then, at least, it appears the travel ban will be in full effect. When the ban first went into effect in January, there was chaos at airports across Texas, where attorneys, protesters, and family members gathered to try to secure the release of people who were detained, including children and the elderly. The ban also tore apart Texas families, stranding spouses and parents overseas while their loved ones were in America. And it could also impact Texas’s oil and medical industries, which are particularly dependent on global fluidity and draw workforce talent from across the world.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
Pay It Back
U.S. Representative Blake Farenthold announced on Monday that he plans to pay back $84,000 in taxpayer funds that he used to settle sexual harassment allegations in 2015, according to the Texas Tribune. “I want to be clear that I didn’t do anything wrong, but I also don’t want taxpayers to be on the hook for this,” Farenthold told Corpus Christi’s KRIS-TV. Farenthold’s sudden generosity comes days after Politico reported the details of the sexual harassment complaints made against the Republican from Corpus Christi, revealing for the first time that Farenthold is the only known sitting member of Congress in the last five years who has pulled from a secret Treasury Department fund created to cover workplace settlements involving lawmakers. He used the funds to settle a claim from former communications director Lauren Greene, who sued him in December 2014, alleging that another Farenthold aide told her the representative said he had “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams” about her, that Farenthold “regularly drank to excess” and told her that he was “estranged from his wife and had not had sex with her in years.” Farenthold told KRIS-TV that he’s taking out a personal loan to repay the $84,000, and will present a check to House Speaker Paul Ryan this week.
On Monday afternoon, Kenneth Copeland became the first San Marcos police officer to be killed in the line of duty, according to the Austin American-Statesman. He and several other officers were serving a warrant at a home at the El Camino Real subdivision when a man started shooting at them, “much like an ambush-style situation,” according to San Marcos Police Chief Chase Stapp. Copeland was shot multiple times and rushed in a patrol car by a fellow officer to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The suspected shooter eventually exited the house and surrendered, and officials have not yet released much information about him. Copeland, 58, was a nineteen-year-veteran of the force and leaves behind a wife and four children. “Ken was a hero,” Stapp said, according to the Statesman. “Today was his day off. He worked just about every day off. To provide for his kids and because he knew we were short-handed and we need the help. There are pictures (of him) hanging in different parts of this department because everybody loved him.”
Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and Houston Astros second baseman José Altuve were both named winners of Sports Illustrated‘s Sportspersons of the Year award on Monday, according to the Houston Chronicle. Both players were honored for a combination of on-field performance and civic contributions after Hurricane Harvey. The announcement was made on NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where Watt made an appearance. The show donated $1 million to Watt’s fundraising efforts for Harvey relief efforts, which have totaled $37 million so far, though there’s been some controversy over how that money has been distributed. Watt’s been out with an injured back for most of this year and hasn’t done much on the field for the Texans. Altuve, on the other hand, was the spark plug behind the Astros’ World Series championship run this fall and was recently named MVP of the American League.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.
Five non-students have been caught posting neo-Nazi banners and fliers on campus at Texas State Austin American-Statesman
A Pearland substitute teacher called the police to report a six-year-old Muslim child with Down’s syndrome as a possible terrorist Houston Chronicle
Animal control officers found a dead fifteen-foot albino python in the streets of DeSoto Dallas Morning News
About 3,750 people in Harvey’s affected areas haven’t had clean drinking water since late August Beaumont Enterprise
The FBI doubled its reward for information on a Border Patrol agent who died on duty near Van Horn last month El Paso Times