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July 29th, 2018:

Weekend link dump for July 29

The kids are all right, no matter what the haters say.

“For infertility advocates, the Arizona law is less a Solomonic decree than a portent of a borderline-dystopian future wherein the government can compel people to become parents long after they decide they don’t want to be.”

“For almost a decade the internet has quietly maintained an obscure Futurama joke”.

“The Russian hackers, in other words, are the modern equivalents of the Watergate burglars in 1972. The only difference is the technology.”

Meet Nicole Maines, who will be the first transgender superhero on next season’s Supergirl.

“Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh suggested several years ago that the unanimous high court ruling in 1974 that forced President Richard Nixon to turn over the Watergate tapes, leading to the end of his presidency, may have been wrongly decided.” I’m sure this has nothing at all to do with our current political situation.

“Victims of tragedies like the Sandy Hook shooting and their families, however, have been largely left out of the conversation. Ryan Graney, who leads a group of volunteers spearheading efforts to pull Sandy Hook conspiracy content, said there is no formal way for such families to reach a human being at Facebook.”

RIP, Don Sanders, longtime fixture on the Houston music scene. As I wrote on Facebook, my roommate and I moved into Sanders’ former house in Montrose after he and his wide sold it to their next-door neighbor after having a kid. He was a genuinely nice guy and very talented, and I’m happy to have known him and saddened by his death.

Here’s the story of an iconic television house that may not be long for this world.

Banishment is totally still a thing in some states. It’s probably unconstitutional at the federal level, being exiled from America probably violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. (Somebody PLEASE tell Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions that.) But there are a number of states that still have exile statutes on the books.”

Did you miss your chance to buy the Dick Cheney autographed waterboard kit?

“How Warner Brothers Resisted a Hollywood Ban on Anti-Nazi Films in the 1930s and Warned Americans of the Dangers of Fascism”.

“We stopped keeping statistics on the number of Native moms and babies that are lost in our region; it was just too upsetting.”

“Before we lose our minds entirely, let’s try to remember that approval among partisans used to be something no one took seriously. No one. Why? Because they’re your people. Of course, they approve of what you’re doing! Anyway, even when your people like you, that doesn’t help when faced with an election favoring the out-party. Seth Masket pointed out this morning that George W. Bush and Barack Obama were hella-popular among partisans in 2006 and 2010, and look how much good it did them.”

“Identity theft protection firm LifeLock — a company that’s built a name for itself based on the promise of helping consumers protect their identities online — may have actually exposed customers to additional attacks from ID thieves and phishers. The company just fixed a vulnerability on its site that allowed anyone with a Web browser to index email addresses associated with millions of customer accounts, or to unsubscribe users from all communications from the company.”

“Roseanne who?”

“We tend to think of American history as a slow unfolding of rights over time – with the imposition of Jim Crow in the 1880s and 1890s, a major step backwards, as a sort of historical anomaly. As we’ve discussed elsewhere, that’s simply not the case. But what I took from Down’s article is that in many ways voting restrictionism focused on immigrants is the most consistent through-line to the battle over the vote through our history. It predates the Civil War, which in some way interrupts it. It returns with a vengeance after the Civil War. And it both inspires and assists the disenfranchisement of Southern blacks after the withdrawal of federal troops from the South in the late 1870s.”

“On two separate but related matters that converge with this new allegation, the president and his team have been caught repeatedly lying. First, the White House in July 2017 offered false stories about the Trump Tower meeting, only to have to promptly admit they were incorrect. Second, the Trump team repeatedly insisted that the president was unaware of payments to Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels, two women who allege affairs with him. But a tape released by Cohen shows Trump was aware of the plan to buy McDougal’s story and suffocate it, while Trump acknowledged reimbursing Cohen after his payment to Daniels.”

Checking in on SD19

Election Day is Tuesday.

Carlos Uresti

Long before the seat opened up here in Texas Senate District 19, state Rep. Roland Gutierrez was traveling the massive district, making friends as far west as Big Bend National Park’s Brewster County in anticipation of the fate that would ultimately meet the embattled incumbent, Carlos Uresti.

Late Thursday morning, though, Gutierrez found himself much closer to home, knocking on doors in the heart of his House district on San Antonio’s southeast side, where he encountered a number of familiar faces. He reminded them he has represented them for 13 years — three as their City Council member, 10 as their state representative.

Gutierrez is going to need all the support he can get in the area Tuesday, when voters head to the polls in the eight-way race to replace Uresti, who resigned last month after being found guilty of 11 felonies including securities fraud and money laundering. Gutierrez’s toughest opponent is fellow Democrat Pete Gallego, who entered the abbreviated special election with loads of name recognition as a former congressman and longtime state lawmaker from West Texas.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt in anyone’s mind that we’re the underdog in this thing,” Gutierrez said in an interview, noting the millions of dollars that have been spent in Gallego’s congressional races building his name ID in the area. “At the end of the day, you need more than that. You need certainly all of the elements of character and integrity and desire, but you’ve got to put in the work.”

Complicating the dynamic between Gallego and Gutierrez is a growing Republican effort to unify behind a single candidate — Pete Flores, who ran against Uresti in 2016 — and send him to a runoff in the Democratic-leaning district. That movement became clearer than ever Thursday when Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick jumped into the fray, endorsing Flores over his two lesser-known GOP rivals.

“We feel like we’re likely in the range and we have a good chance to be in a runoff,” said Matt Mackowiak, a Republican strategist working for Flores. “We’re doing more this week than we’ve ever done.”

[…]

Gutierrez outspent Gallego more than 2 to 1 in the first 21 days of July — $251,000 to $97,000 — working to overcome his disadvantages, according to their latest filings with the Texas Ethics Commission. Part of Gutierrez’s spending went toward a TV buy attacking Gallego as a “career politician,” telling voters they “fired him from Congress, and now he wants to bring his tired ideas to our Texas state Senate.”

Gallego, for his part, is more than okay with being the known entity in the race, a steady presence after the stormy waters of the recent Uresti era. The former state senator was sentenced to 12 years in prison last month in the fraud case, which stemmed from his work with a now-defunct oil field services company that was found to have perpetrated a Ponzi scheme.

“The experience, the roots, the knowledge — all of those, I think, make me the best candidate,” Gallego said in an interview. “I think people want a familiar face. These are really difficult times.”

See here for some background. Carlos Uresti won re-election over Pete Flores in 2016 by a 55.9 to 40.4 margin, and Uresti was the best performer among Democrats. It’s entirely plausible to me that Flores will make it to the runoff, and honestly I’m a little surprised that Republicans hadn’t lined up behind him before now; Patrick’s endorsement came after the end of early voting. A Pete Gallego-Roland Gutierrez runoff is also possible – I’d very much prefer that – but as is always the case with special elections it depends on who shows up. As has been the case with the other two specials so far, this one has felt pretty quiet so far, but a D-versus-R runoff would change that. If you’re in the district, how has this race looked to you?

Census lawsuit proceeds

Good.

A federal judge in New York on Thursday allowed a lawsuit challenging the addition of a citizenship question to the Census to move forward. U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman’s decision rejected the Trump administration’s request to dismiss the lawsuit, which was brought by numerous states and localities.

The judge said that the court has jurisdiction to review Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s decision to add the question, rejecting the administration’s arguments that Ross could be insulated from judicial review.

Furman said that while Ross indeed had the authority under the Constitution to add the question, the judge concluded that the exercise of that authority in this particular case may have violated the challengers’ constitutional rights.

At this stage of the proceedings, Furman is required to assume the challengers’ allegations are true, and he must draw any inference from those allegations in the challengers’ favor. In doing so on Thursday, Furman said that the challengers “plausibly allege that Secretary Ross’s decision to reinstate the citizenship question on the 2020 census was motivated by discriminatory animus and that its application will result in a discriminatory effect. ”

See here, here, and here for the background. Nothing really new here, just another chance for me to say that this absolutely was motivated by discrimination and that it would be very nice to have it halted by the time the counting actually begins. Daily Kos and NPR have more.

The Prairie View cricket complex

I love stories like this.

Growing up, Tanweer Ahmed’s mother, Kalsoom, always discouraged him from playing cricket. They were a poor family. His mother sold vegetables and milk from the few cows they had in his hometown of Sialkot in Punjab, Pakistan.

“Cricket doesn’t cost that much, but every penny matters when you don’t have anything,” Ahmed said.

Kalsoom put those pennies toward getting him and four siblings through the best school in the city. He had one school uniform, one pair of shoes, and one pair of clothes to wear at home.

“That’s all we could afford,” he said.

Today, Ahmed is owner of more than 150 franchise restaurants in four states, plus an energy company and half of a medical research venture. And he is busy pouring millions of his own dollars into building one of the nation’s largest cricket complexes. It will serve children and adults when it opens in early September, and later it could host professional international matches.

The project is rising from the plains of Prairie View, less than a 15-minute drive from the Grand Parkway on the outskirts of Houston, in prominent view of drivers on the newly refurbished U.S. 290.

Plans for 10 to 12 fields on 86 acres have raised eyebrows among some locals who question the viability of such a facility in the rural expanse around a college town of about 6,000. But this is no quixotic attempt to recapture some piece of a lost childhood far from home. Houston has been waiting for this, observers say. If he builds it, players will come.

“There’s certainly a large demand” in Houston, said Eric Parthen, U.S. project manager for the International Cricket Council, which is not involved in the project. “It will immediately be one of the larger facilities in the country, if not the largest.”

A recent study by the council, in concert with the market research firm Nielsen, found 200,000 people playing the game in the United States, and it counted millions of fans.

“It’s untapped potential in the youth market,” Parthen said. “The U.S. has the largest immigrant population in the world, a lot of those coming from South Asian cultures, and these are children growing up in families passionate about cricket.”

I would assume this venue will be of great interest to the nascent Houston Cricket League, as well as the US cricket team. It’s not hard to imagine Ahmed’s venture becoming not just the premier location for cricket in the US, but also a major attraction for the region. I wish him all the best with this project.