US, Mexico eye closer energy ties as NAFTA talks loom

THE WASHINGTON POST — The United States and Mexico are looking to boost energy ties as the two countries prepare for the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, officials said Thursday. U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who met in Mexico with his counterpart, Pedro Joaquin Coldwell, called the United States’ southern neighbor “a very, very important partner” on energy.

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Trump says US-Mexico wall may not need to cover entire border

BBC — President Donald Trump says his proposed border wall may not need to cover the whole US frontier with Mexico because of existing natural barriers. He told journalists travelling on Air Force One to France that it also needed to be transparent, to offer border guards visibility into Mexico. He also reiterated his desire the final design would involve solar panels.

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Let’s Talk About Trump, Border Walls, and Flying Heroin

WIRED — On Thursday, President Donald Trump stressed the importance of a particular feature of his proposed border wall: transparency. His reason? Without it, a 60-pound bag of heroin might fly over, and hit an unassuming passerby on the head, striking them dead. The vivid image invites flashbacks to Chuck Jones cartoons, and more than a few questions. But to take it on its merits: Yes, drugs do fly over the wall. But … not like that. And it has precious little to do with your border wall’s opacity.

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How an Artist from SVA is Trying to Make Crossing the U.S.-Mexico Border Easier

SVA NYC — The art of Peter Svarzbein (MFA 2011 Photography, Video and Related Media) imitated life to such a degree that his life now imitates his art. As a city councilmember in El Paso, Texas, Svarzbein is overseeing the reintroduction of an electric trolley line that ran through the city and across the border into Juarez, Mexico, from 1902 to 1974. In 2018, the old track—complete with the original streetcars, restored with modern amenities—will reopen for public use on the U.S. side of the border. The $97 million endeavor, funded by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), is a result, in part, of Svarzbein’s 2011 MFA thesis project at SVA. Svarzbein had wanted to do a project that blurred the lines of conceptual, fine and performance art. He also wanted to express his identity as a border resident. The light went on in 2010, when a Google search yielded an image of the defunct streetcars. Svarzbein, an El Paso native, had never heard about them before and was intrigued. Employing his skills as an editorial and commercial photographer, he created an advertising campaign to promote a fictional El Paso-Juarez streetcar line, with collateral featuring a character named Alex, the trolley’s conductor and “the border’s newest hero.”

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Border Patrol Hit with Lawsuit for Turning Away Asylum-Eligible Refugees at U.S. Border

SAN ANTONIO CURRENT — Abigail’s husband disappeared in May after he refused to let a Central Mexico drug cartel use his tractor-trailer to transport drugs. When she reported his disappearance to Mexico authorities, the same cartel abducted her and her two small children. If they wanted to live, they told her, her family would have to leave the country. Dinora faced a similar threat in Honduras by gang members who had held her and her 17-year-old daughter hostage for three days, repeatedly raping each of them in front of the other. They were told they’d be killed if they didn’t leave.

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U.S. farm lobby turns up heat on Trump team as NAFTA talks near

REUTERS — With talks to renegotiate the NAFTA trade pact just weeks away, U.S. farm groups and lawmakers from rural states are intensifying lobbying of President Donald Trump’s administration with one central message: leave farming out of it. Trump blames the North American Free Trade Agreement – the “worst trade deal ever” in his words – for millions of lost manufacturing jobs and promises to tilt it in America’s favor.

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AP Exclusive: Senator’s Family Business Uses Mexican Labor

US NEWS — An Indiana senator railed against Carrier Corp. for moving manufacturing jobs to Mexico last year, even as he profited from a family business that relies on Mexican labor to produce dye for ink pads, according to records reviewed by The Associated Press. Joe Donnelly, considered one of the nation’s most vulnerable Democratic senators up for re-election next year, has long blasted free-trade policies for killing American jobs. He accused Carrier, an air conditioner and furnace maker, of exploiting $3-an-hour workers when it announced plans to wind down operations in Indiana and move to Mexico.

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Tensions between Texas legislative leaders show no signs of cooling

CHRON.COM — Five days before the Texas Legislature is scheduled to open a special session, it is clear the relationship between the leaders of the House and Senate remains as strained as it was at the end of the regular session. On Thursday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick used a press conference to blast fellow Republican and House Speaker Joe Straus, comparing his education funding proposals to a “Ponzi scheme,” accusing him of laying the groundwork for a state income tax, and complaining that Straus won’t even meet with him one-on-one to bridge their differences.

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‘Civil liberties’ at center of vaccination debate in Texas

MY STATESMAN — The heart of the vaccine debate is not just about whether vaccines help or hurt children anymore. It’s about civil liberties, at least in Texas. An episode of “VICE News Tonight” that aired Wednesday on HBO focuses on what the program considers a uniquely Texan phenomenon that came to a head during the regular legislative session that ended in May.

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As congressional races draw big interest, Democrats still filling out statewide ticket

TEXAS TRIBUNE — Lillie Schechter, the new chairwoman of the Harris County Democratic Party, has watched in recent months as at least seven candidates have come through the doors of the party headquarters to introduce themselves, eager for their shot at U.S. Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston. That’s seven candidates that she can recall, but she may be forgiven for forgetting: Texas’ 7th Congressional District is one of several that have already drawn a swarm of Democratic candidates for 2018. The bonanza is unfolding not just in districts like the 7th — one of three in Texas that national Democrats are targeting — but also in even redder districts, delighting a state party that is not used to so much interest so early.

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In Mexico, Presidents Come and Go but Cartel Policy Stays the Same

STATFOR — A serious challenge from populist politician Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador awaits Mexico’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in next year’s presidential election. That’s what polling data and the close results of the June 4 gubernatorial election in Mexico state suggest as Lopez Obrador looks ahead to a third presidential run in July 2018 after second-place finishes as the candidate for the Party of the Democratic Revolution in 2006 and 2012. Now leading his own party, the National Regeneration Movement, Lopez Obrador is in a statistical tie in recent polls with the PRI and National Action Party candidates. While a Lopez Obrador victory would be historic, his ability to make sweeping changes in keeping with his populist rhetoric will be greatly constrained. Even if Lopez Obrador wins the presidency, Mexico’s political and economic path will remain relatively stable.

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Want to live in a zero-carbon home? Maybe try Texas

NATIONAL OBSERVER — Austin, Texas — like Vancouver, Toronto, and other Canadian cities — has set itself aggressive targets to stop using fossil fuel-based energy. But unlike many cities in Canada that have aggressive emissions reductions targets but little investment capital to support decarbonization, Austin’s municipal government and property developers are putting their money where their mouths are.

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North Texas immigrants aren’t here ‘just to survive but to thrive’

STAR-TELEGRAM — Immigrants in North Texas are united by their passion to live in America and refuse to let their voices be silenced. While worried about President Donald Trump’s promise to crack down on illegal immigration and the looming “sanctuary cities” law in Texas, they want the people they live and work with to understand the important roles they play in our communities. They build and clean our homes, pave our roads, educate our children, heal the sick and run successful businesses.

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Texas woman who lost family applauds Congressional crackdown on immigration

KWQC — The House of Representatives is making a serious push to address illegal immigration. The House passed two pieces of legislation that severely punish immigrants guilty of crimes and strip funding from so-called sanctuary cities. A Texas woman says her life would be drastically different had these laws been in place. Courtney Hacking endured the unimaginable, and she says it was avoidable. Her husband Peter, 4-year-old Ellie and 22-month-old Grayson, were killed in a car crash. The man who hit them had been deported but made his way back into the country.

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Stop Texas-style immigrant crackdowns. Make California a sanctuary state.

THE SACRAMENTO BEE — In the seven decades I’ve been fighting for social justice and human rights, I’ve never seen a year as scary as 2017. The Trump administration is pushing a xenophobic agenda to deport millions of people and racially profile millions more. White supremacists are marching in public, committing heinous acts, and trying to influence public policy.

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