QUOTE OF THE DAY
“The national dog of Highland Park is the Goldendoodle. They’re expensive. I’ve got a cock-a-doodle instead.”
—Milt Strong, of Dallas, to the Dallas Morning News. The 69-year-old is known in his Highland Park neighborhood as Pollo Abuelo because he routinely takes his poultry pet, Summer, for walks along the Katy Trail in a stroller.
Art of the Deal
In a series of unexpected tweets on Wednesday, President Donald Trump implemented a ban on transgender troops serving in the U.S. military. The move was a surprise to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and officials at the Pentagon. According Politico it was a “last-ditch attempt to save a House proposal full of his campaign promises that was on the verge of defeat,” most importantly funding for Trump’s border wall, specifically a larger segment in Texas. Sources in the White House and in Congress told Politico that conservatives in the House and defense hawks this week had threatened to kill the spending bill if a prohibition on Pentagon funding for gender reassignment surgeries was not included, a proposal that more moderate Republicans considered discriminatory. House members took the issue all the way to Trump, who, upon learning that funding for his border wall was among the items on the chopping block, quickly agreed to their suggestions and actually went well beyond what lawmakers were asking for by banning transgender troops entirely. “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.” The proposed border wall funding Trump reportedly banned transgender troops in order to save would pay for just 74 miles of wall—60 miles in Texas and 14 in California.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently took an oddly-timed vacation to Texas, prompting rumors that he was considering quitting his post. CNN reported earlier this week that Tillerson was upset at President Donald Trump’s recent treatment of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who Trump has publicly criticized amid whispers that the AG is on his way out. According to CNN and USA Today, Tillerson is frustrated at being continually undercut by the Trump administration on a wide range of policy issues. “Ultimately, the president is in charge of this country,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters on Tuesday. “He decides. He’s the boss. And I’ll just leave it at that.” But the former Exxon CEO and Wichita Falls native put to rest rumors of a so-called “Rexit” when he returned to work on Wednesday, telling reporters that he’s “not going anywhere,” and adding that he plans to stay “as long as the president lets me.” When asked how his relationship with Trump is, Tillerson responded succinctly: “good.”
Fifteen people were arrested for blocking the street during a protest march for immigrant rights in Austin on Wednesday, including four undocumented immigrants protected by the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. According to the Austin American-Statesman, the protesters were arrested during a sit-in on the north side of the Capitol at the intersection of Fifteenth Street and Congress Avenue. They were charged for obstructing a highway or other passageway, which is a Class B misdemeanor. As the Texas Tribune notes, the arrest roundup was a noticeable test to Travis County’s immigration policy, which has been in the middle of a national controversy over immigrant sanctuaries, in which local governments don’t cooperate with federal immigration authorities and jails won’t immediately turn over undocumented immigrants to federal authorities. “All the DACA beneficiaries are very aware of the risks of this action,” protest organizer Maria Fernanda Cabello told the Tribune. “We’re counting on Travis County not to cooperate with ICE. If they do decide to cooperate with ICE and go against their policy, we’re going to make sure that all the media knows.” All four DACA recipients were released from jail by late Wednesday night.
Texas Rangers star third baseman Adrian Beltre is closing in on a major career milestone: 3,000 hits. The future Hall of Famer is just four knocks away from joining the exclusive 3,000-hit club after going 3-for-3 at the plate on Wednesday, so he has an outside chance to get there during Thursday night’s game against Baltimore. Beltre has told reporters that he wants to get it over with to get the attention off of him and back on baseball, but he also said that he wants to make sure he reaches the mark in front of his home crowd in Arlington. “I really want to get it in this home stand because I think the fans deserve that and I really want to do it in front of them,” Beltre told reporters earlier this week, according to the Dallas Morning News. “At the same time just get it over with and play baseball.” Only thirty players in the history of Major League Baseball have collected 3,000 hits, and no one has ever accomplished the feat while wearing a Texas Rangers uniform.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.
Austin Mayor Adler says transgender people turned down by the military should join the Austin police Austin American-Statesman
And Ag Commissioner Sid Miller calls transgender people in the military “a leftist social experiment” Texas Tribune
International applications at Lamar University have dropped 42 percent since last year Beaumont Enterprise
A veteran committed suicide in front of Amarillo’s VA hospital Amarillo Globe-News
Texas U.S. Representative Will Hurd has a “smart” border wall proposal CNN