Bill To Legalize Recreational Marijuana Use In Texas Clears House Committee
May07

Bill To Legalize Recreational Marijuana Use In Texas Clears House Committee

ABC A proposal seeking full legalization of marijuana on religious grounds has cleared an unlikely legislative hurdle. Republican state Rep. David Simpson of Longview argues marijuana comes from God and therefore shouldn’t be banned by government. The tea party stalwart has repeatedly championed what he calls the “Christian case” for legalization. Simpson’s bill languished for weeks before the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. Three committee Democrats and two Republicans surprisingly voted to support it Wednesday, though, and it passed 5-2. That makes Simpson’s bill eligible for consideration to reach the House floor before the legislative session ends June 1, although that’s still highly unlikely. “It’s hard for people to take a stand on something that so controversial,” Houstonian Kaitlyn Swonke said. Swonke, who suffers from epilepsy, says she’s undergone five brain surgeries. Medicine hasn’t helped her pain, but she thinks marijuana could. “It’s clear that legislatures want to have this conversation. They’re fed up with these failing federal drug policies,” said Heather Fazio with the Marijuana Policy Project in Austin. State law currently makes no exceptions even for medical marijuana, making outright legalization unthinkable. Still, advocates hailed the committee vote as “unprecedented progress” for Texas marijuana rights. Republicans in Houston disagree. “The Republican Party is opposed to it. Constant with our party platform, I think it’s dead on arrival if it reaches the House or Senate floor,” said Former Rep Party Chairman Jared...

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Clinton Patches Up Relations With Liberals During Beginning Of Campaign
Apr20

Clinton Patches Up Relations With Liberals During Beginning Of Campaign

AP This time, Hillary Rodham Clinton wants to be on liberals’ good side. As a presidential candidate in 2008, she opposed gay marriage, equivocated on granting driver’s licenses to people who were living in the U.S. illegally and endured heavy criticism from rival Barack Obama over her stance on campaign finance. During the opening week of her second presidential campaign, Clinton showed she had retooled her positions to line up with the views of progressive Democrats. On Monday, she called for a constitutional amendment that would limit “unaccountable money” in politics. Days later, she said through her campaign that she supports same-sex marriage being recognized as a constitutional right in a pending Supreme Court case. After that, her campaign said she now supports state policies awarding licenses to people in the country illegally. Such do-overs are part of an effort by Clinton to rectify past missteps and assure the liberal wing of her party that in 2016, she will be change they’ve been waiting for. While Clinton enters the race in a dominant position, she faces skepticism from some Democrats who question her commitment to tackling income inequality. “Equal opportunity and upward mobility have been very central to her political ideals from the start,” said Robert Reich, who was President Bill Clinton’s labor secretary and has known Hillary Clinton since college. “I just don’t know how courageous she will be in fighting for them.” Clinton devoted the first week of her campaign trying to put such concerns to rest. She visits New Hampshire on Monday and Tuesday, returning to the state that handed her a 2008 primary victory early in the bruising nomination struggle won by Obama. Aides spent much of the first 72 hours reaching out to union leaders, party officials and other interest groups. But for some who have met with her campaign staff, they wonder not about whether Clinton will tack to the left, but how far her proposals will go. “There’s a big difference between a $9 or $10 minimum wage versus a $15 wage,” said Adam Green, a liberal activist who has talked with the campaign over the past months. “The big question we anticipate is, will they go big or will they go small?” So far, at least a few are encouraged. At her opening event in Iowa, Clinton took on CEOs and hedge fund managers, saying the “deck is still stacked in favor of those already at the top.” At the Statehouse, her support for universal pre-K earned some of the biggest applause from Democratic lawmakers, according to people in the room. When she returned to New York, Clinton had words of...

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Rep. Cuellar Announces Affiliation Agreement Between TAMIU And AFAZ
Apr06

Rep. Cuellar Announces Affiliation Agreement Between TAMIU And AFAZ

Special to the Laredo Sun LAREDO, Texas – Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX28) has announced an agreement between Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) and the Assembly of Friends of Azerbaijan (AFAZ), an educational and cultural organization which aims to build bridges between the United States and the Republic of Azerbaijan, located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe. The affiliation agreement signed today at the TAMIU Killam Library will allow these two instructions to collaborate on research, sponsorship of conferences and symposia exchanges of faculty and students, and education materials related to the international oil and gas industry. Pictured above from left to right: TAMIU president Dr. Ray Keck, Mr. Kemal Oksuz, Congressman Henry Cuellar, TAMIU provost and VP for academic affairs Dr. Pablo Arenaz “As an alumnus and former professor of TAMIU, I’m pleased to see the university staying true to its international commitment by bringing together world-renowned scholarship and academia in order to examine and gain a better understanding of the petroleum industry world-wide,” said Congressman Cuellar. “South Texas has been blessed with an oil and gas boom and it is important that we provide a framework for our students in this important and growing industry.” “Our students and faculty are looking forward to this new collaborative and the robust opportunities for both research and study in this important part of our world.  As an international university, we are enormously interested in expanding our world of study for all and most appreciative to Cong. Cuellar for his leadership in this initiative with the Assembly of the Friends of Azerbaijan.”  –  Dr. Ray Keck, TAMIU President   “My thanks to Congressman Cuellar for his playing a very instrumental role for this affiliation. He is the cause of this TAMIU-AFAZ Affiliation Agreement. This agreement will give a very ample opportunity to TAMIU faculty and students not only they will study international energy law, politics of energy, environmental impacts and strategy management, but also they will meet and network with people from public and private sectors.” – Dr. Kemal Oksuz This partnership’s initial project will allow students and faculty at both TAMIU and Laredo Community College to participate in the Baku Summer Energy School, an annual two week certificate program held in July in Baku, Azerbaijan. Participants will be issued a certificate by the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy...

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Rudy Giuliani: Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson Should Be ‘Commended’ For Shooting Michael Brown
Mar14

Rudy Giuliani: Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson Should Be ‘Commended’ For Shooting Michael Brown

The Huffington Post Citing a section of the Justice Department’s scathing report of racial bias within the Ferguson Police Department, Rudy Giuliani said former Officer Darren Wilson should be commended for shooting unarmed teenager Michael Brown in August. During an interview on Thursday, the former New York City mayor said Wilson acted dutifully and was vindicated by the report’s findings that there was not enough evidence to conclude that Brown had his hands up before he was shot. “What happened in Ferguson is that a man committed a robbery, attempted to assault a police officer, and the police officer — to save his life — shot him,” Giuliani told Fox News. “The police officer did his duty. The officer should be commended for what he did.” Far from embracing the report, Giuliani attempted to cast doubt on the more damning sections, claiming that there was little evidence to prove racism within the department. “It’s an allegation. There’s no proof yet,” Giuliani said. The former mayor has become an outspoken defender of law enforcement in various controversial police shooting cases in the past year. He’s appeared on Fox News numerous times, defending embattled police officers and blaming violence in black communities for sparking harsh police actions. In December, Giuliani implied that both Brown and Eric Garner, who died after a New York City police officer placed him in a chokehold, were responsible for their own deaths because they had broken laws. “Mr. Brown had committed at least two felonies, possibly three during that incident. So the police officer was dealing with a criminal,” Giuliani told Fox News last year. “And in [Garner’s] case, the police officer was dealing with a criminal who was resisting arrest. Maybe if Mr. Brown hadn’t committed his crimes and this gentleman hadn’t resisted arrest, they wouldn’t be dead...

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Bill Clinton’s Portrait Artist Secretly Includes Monica Lewinsky
Mar03

Bill Clinton’s Portrait Artist Secretly Includes Monica Lewinsky

  AP Here’s one issue the Clintons may — or may not — not want to brush off. The artist who painted the official portrait of President Bill Clinton that hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. has revealed a surprise — the portrait “subtly” incorporatedMonica Lewinsky. Artist Nelson Shanks says that the shadow on the left side of the portrait was cast by a mannequin in a blue dress — a nod to the president’s affair with his 22-year-old intern.“The blue dress itself doesn’t appear in the painting,” Shanks told ABC News. “Only the shadow, which is symbolic of a shadow across the administration.” Shanks, who described Clinton to the Philadelphia Daily News as “probably the most famous liar of all time,” says the former president never saw the shadow when he posed for the portrait in the Oval Office. Shanks added the shadow in the painting later, in his Philadelphia studio. “It was meant to be subtle and I think it is subtle,” he said. “I mean, I am doing historical documents in a way.” At the time of the portrait’s unveiling, Clinton thanked Shanks for the portrait, calling him a “great talent.” The portrait is one of 55 Clinton portraits that are rotated at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. The portrait is currently not on display, but it is in the museum’s gallery of collection. A museum spokesperson told ABC News that they have not received any requests from the Clintons to remove the portrait. The portrait originally stirred controversy when it was released in 2006 for the notable absence of a wedding ring on the President’s...

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Federal Judge In Texas Blocks President Obama’s Executive Action On Immigration
Feb17

Federal Judge In Texas Blocks President Obama’s Executive Action On Immigration

ABC News A federal judge in Texas has blocked President Obama’s executive action on immigration, giving Texas and 25 other states time to pursue a lawsuit that aims to permanently stop the orders. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen’s decision comes after a hearing in Brownsville, Texas, in January and puts on hold Obama’s order, which could protect millions of immigrants who are here illegally from being deported. Hanen wrote in a memorandum accompanying his ruling that the lawsuit should go forward and that without a preliminary injunction the states will “suffer irreparable harm in this case.” “The genie would be impossible to put back into the bottle,” he wrote, adding that he agreed with the plaintiffs’ argument that legalizing the presence of millions of people is a “virtually irreversible” action. The ruling will remain in place until a trial before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. The White House released a statement Tuesday criticizing the judge’s decision. “The Supreme Court and Congress have made clear that the federal government can set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws—which is exactly what the President did when he announced commonsense policies to help fix our broken immigration system. Those policies are consistent with the laws passed by Congress and decisions of the Supreme Court, as well as five decades of precedent by presidents of both parties who have used their authority to set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws,” the statement reads. “The Department of Justice, legal scholars, immigration experts, and the district court inWashington, D.C. have determined that the President’s actions are well within his legal authority. Top law enforcement officials, along with state and local leaders across the country, have emphasized that these policies will also benefit the economy and help keep communities safe. The district court’s decision wrongly prevents these lawful, commonsense policies from taking effect and the Department of Justice has indicated that it will appeal that decision.” Cesar Vargas and Erika Andiola, co-directors of the Dream Action Coalition, a political and lobbying voice in immigration issues, also issued a statement saying they weren’t surprised by the judge’s decision. “The injunction is clearly based more on politics than law, and is now part of an aggressive effort by the rightward fringe of the GOP to scare Dreamers and parents from applying,” the statement reads. “Nevertheless, we will not let this temporary obstacle stop us from holding forums, encouraging people to collect their paperwork and eventually apply; this injunction is only temporary after all.” The first of Obama’s orders protecting young undocumented immigrants was set to start taking effect...

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