All in Political

Record Turnout During Early Voting in Texas

Early voting for this midterm election ended in Texas on Nov. 2 and several counties registered record-high turnout for in-person voting. In Tarrant County, this early voting period saw more voters than the 2014 midterm election and 2012 presidential election, where more than 432,700 out of 1.1 million registered local voters had already showed up in person to cast their ballots. More than 15.7 million Texans are registered to vote state-wide. The main race in Texas for this midterm is the battle between incumbent Republican candidate Ted Cruz against Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke for U.S. Senate.


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Candidate Profile: Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz (R) is running against Beto O’Rourke (D) in the Texas race for the U.S. Senate.

Cruz was born to a mother of Irish and Italian descent and a father who was born in Cuba but fled to the United States. Cruz’s interest in public service was influenced by his observation of the pursuit of freedom and opportunity in America. Cruz has previously served in private practice, as Solicitor General for the State of Texas, and on the United States Senate. He also ran for president in 2016.

Cruz has focused on issues such as: the economy, healthcare, immigration, the Constitution, and national security.

  • On the economy, Cruz wants to reform Social Security but does not plan on altering benefits for people who already receive checks

  • On healthcare, Cruz is an outspoken critic of the Affordable Care Act and still wants the law off the books

  • On immigration, Cruz supports Trump’s border and believes that Americans have witnessed harmful effects of an unsecure border and believe’s that former President Barack Obama’s encouraged drug smugglers, child abusers, murderers, and other dangerous criminals

  • On education, Cruz supports school choice as he believes it gives students more opportunities and opposes Common Core

For more information, visit his campaign website.

Candidate Profile: Beto O'Rourke

Beto O’Rourke (D) is running against incumbent Ted Cruz (R) in the Texas race for U.S. Senate.

O’Rourke, a fourth-generation Texan, was born and raised in El Paso. He graduated from Columbia University and worked in the Northeast for a few years before deciding to move back to Texas to start a small technology company. Outside his work, O’Rourke became heavily involved in his community and ran for U.S. Congress in 2012, beating an eight-year incumbent.

O’Rourke, who is known affectionately by supporters at Beto, has focused on issues such as: disability rights, economy, education, equality, gun safety, immigration, and women’s health.

  • On education, O’Rourke supports an increase in federal aid to public schools low-income communities

  • On immigration, O’Rourke opposes Donald Trump’s plan for a border and has rallied to protest the administration’s family separation policy

  • On equality, O’Rourke the Equality Act and believes DOMA should be repealed; he also supports closing the gender pay gap

  • On gun safety, O’Rourke supports a requirement for background checks for all gun sales and opposes selling weapons of war and high-capacity magazines

To read more, visit his campaign website.

Trump's Former Doctor is Throwing Shade

Dr. Harold Bornstein, President Trump’s former doctor of nearly thirty years, is back in the news. Bornstein first came to fame in December 2015 when he released a glowing review of then candidate Trump’s health, claiming he would be the “healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” At the time, Bornstein declared the statement was comprised of his own words, but now he’s claiming otherwise. The doctor disclosed to CNN Tuesday that the entire statement was dictated by President Trump himself. Additionally, Dr. Bornstein said that shortly after the election, Trump’s former bodyguard entered his office and confiscated all of the president’s medical files without permission. President Trump has yet to comment on these claims.

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Trump Pushes for Congressional Term Limits

President Donald Trump tweeted his support for instituting Congressional term limits on Monday, echoing his campaign promises to drain the swamp.  The tweet reads “I recently had a terrific meeting with a bipartisan group of freshman lawmakers who feel very strongly in favor of Congressional term limits. I gave them my full support and endorsement for their efforts. #DrainTheSwamp.”  Conflicting reports have surfaced as to the actual substance of the meeting.  As a candidate in October 2016, Trump called for six year term limits for members of the House and twelve year limits for Senators.

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Update: Progress with North Korea, But Caution Ahead

This weekend marked the first time a North Korean leader stepped foot in the South. At a peace summit, North Korean leader Kim Jung-Un and South Korean President Moon announced a public closure of North Korea’s main nuclear test site, as well as a joint-declaration to formally end the Korean War. The easing of tensions between the two countries, as a result of North Korea’s nuclear program, has shown measurable progress, though skeptics urge caution over how symbolic these actions could be. North Korea has previously deceived the international community over its nuclear weapons program and experts argue there is little chance the North plans to give up its weapons entirely, despite what Kim has proposed. In a statement at the summit, Kim Jung-Un said that if the United States guarantees not to attack North Korea, it would have no reason to acquire them. Concerns are also mounting over a possible break down in the peace process as the United States and North Korea face tough negotiations surrounding denuclearization and economic relief. President Trump will travel to North Korea next month to discuss these issues with Kim Jung-Un.

To read more about the situation, click here.  

Pompeo Confirmed as Secretary of State

America officially has a new Secretary of State. The Senate confirmed Mike Pompeo, the director of the CIA before this nomination, on Thursday as the Secretary of State for Trump’s administration. After Trump fired Rex Tillerson, Pompeo was nominated as he had become a trusted advisor to Trump during his time at the head of the CIA and agrees with Trump on foreign policy issues. Many Democrats opposed Pompeo’s nomination because of his “hawkish foreign policy views,” but he ended up getting enough support to be confirmed. Pompeo’s first act as secretary of state will be a trip to Brussels, Belgium, for a NATO military alliance meeting. Gina Haspel has been promoted to replace Pompeo as CIA director.

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Accusations Curse the VA Nominee

Ronny Jackson, President Trump’s nomination for head of the Veterans Affairs Department, has run into a few unfavorable allegations in his approval process. The accusations include that in the past Jackson has created hostile working environments, drank alcohol while on duty and improperly prescribed drugs to staff during his time as White House doctor to two administrations. Mr. Trump has recently “doubted” whether Jackson should stay as the nominee but has left the decision to Jackson himself and blamed Democratic obstruction and scrutiny. Jackson has not yet denied the allegations, but is waiting to address them in the official hearings.

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DACA Ruling: US Must Accept New Applications

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the government must continue to implement the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals program in the U.S. and accept new applications. The program protects undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. Despite the Trump administration’s efforts to eliminate DACA, many federal judges have ruled that the program must continue as the Department of Homeland Security has failed to defend its position that the program is unconstitutional. The ruling regarding DACA on Tuesday is noteworthy because, in addition to requiring the continuance of the program, the judge also required that the US begin taking new applications. DHS has 90 days to argue its position on the issue or the ruling will go into effect.

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Former President George H.W. Bush Hospitalized

George H.W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States, was admitted to Houston Methodist Hospital on Sunday morning, just a day after former First Lady Barbara Bush’s funeral service.  A spokesman for Bush told reporters that he was admitted “after contracting an infection that spread to his blood,” but he was recovering.  However, another source close to the former president told CNN that he had contracted sepsis and is in critical condition. 

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Four Dead in Tennessee Shooting

At a Waffle House near Nashville, Tennessee, four people were killed in a shooting early Sunday morning.  As of Sunday afternoon, the shooter, who is suspected to be 29-year-old Travis Reinking, is still at large and has been placed on Tennessee’s Top 10 Most Wanted list.  Around 3 AM on Sunday, the gunman exited his truck carrying an assault rifle and fatally shot two people before walking into the Waffle House and continuing to fire.  Two more were killed inside the waffle house and several others were injured.  The shooting ended when a customer, James Shaw Jr., wrestled the rifle out of the gunman’s hands, causing him to flee. 

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Trump's New Legal Team

Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, joined President Trump’s legal team as Trump and his administration look to finish the investigation and inquiries into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election. Giuliani served as a chief federal prosecutor previously. He will join Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow as well as former federal prosecutors Serene and Marty Raskin. The addition of these three comes a month after the resignation of attorney John Dowd.

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Cuba's President is No Longer a Castro

Miguel Díaz-Canel is officially Cuba’s president. This transition marks the first time in over 40 years that the country has not been led by a Castro. Fidel Castro served as president from 1976 to 2008 and his brother Raúl from 2008 until Thursday, when he stepped down. Raúl will remain the head of Cuba’s Communist Party, leaving many to wonder how much power the new president will truly have. Díaz-Canel served as the minister of education and then as the first vice president before being unanimously elected as Castro’s successor by Cuba’s National Assembly.

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Barbara Bush Dies at 92

Former First Lady Barbara Bush died Tuesday at the age of 92, a spokesperson for the family announced. Mrs. Bush was the only woman in history to live to see both her husband and son serve as president. In addition to her role as First Lady, mother to 6, and grandmother to 17, Bush adopted literacy as a cause, eventually founding the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and raising over $1 billion to support widespread literacy across the nation and world. 

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Sean Hannity Named Client of Michael Cohen

Judge Kimba Wood ordered that Stephen Ryan, Michael Cohen’s attorney, disclose his client’s third client, which until Monday had been kept in secret.  Ryan named him as Sean Hannity, the Fox News host and prominent Trump supporter.  Cohen’s other two clients, who were already known, are Trump and Republican donor Elliot Broidy, for each of which Cohen paid women to sign non-disclosure agreements regarding their affairs with these men.  When Hannity’s name was revealed, audible gasps could be heard throughout the courtroom.   The hearing was held to determine whether Cohen’s attorneys will be able to review the documents seized in the FBI’s raid of Cohen’s home and office before being examined by prosecutors.  Judge Wood ruled in favor of Cohen. 

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Airstrikes on Syria: What You Need to Know

A collation of American, British, and French forces carried out a series of airstrikes on the Syrian capital of Damascus early Saturday morning. The strikes, which targeted chemical weapon facilities, were in response to the Assad regime’s widely-condemned decision to use chemical weapons on civilian populations in rebel held territory. Syria, as well as Russia and Iran, were quick to denounce the coalition airstrikes and moved to have the United Nations Security Council label the move as an illegal act of aggression on Syria. The Security Council rejected the resolution condemning the airstrikes, as it was unable to garner necessary support within the chamber. The strikes, which targeted three facilities, were intentionally intense but brief, as to not drag the West into war with Russia and Iran, both of whom have troops deployed in Syria. The United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Hayley, indicated that new sanctions on Russia for their armed support of the Assad regime were likely coming this week.

To read more about the airstrikes, click here. To read The Hop’s initial coverage of the chemical attacks, click here

Plot Twist: Trump and the TPP?

President Trump proposed rejoining the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership on Thursday, a pact he dubbed a “horrible deal” on the campaign trail. The TPP aimed to encourage trade between twelve countries that border the Pacific Ocean by reducing tariffs and forming deep economic ties among the nations in hopes of one day creating a common market. One of the president’s core campaign promises was to get the US out of the TPP, which he did days after entering office. Now Trump is reconsidering his stance as a result of complaints from Republican lawmakers. Although the future of U.S. involvement in TPP is uncertain, the presidential Twitter account should bring clarity to the situation in the days to come.

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Federal Reserve Eyes Interest Rate Increases

The economy is just about as strong as it has ever been since the financial meltdown of 2007-2008, and the Federal Reserve has taken notice and plans to act accordingly.  According to the minutes from their March meeting, the Federal Reserve plans to continue their raising of target interest rates, this time from 1.5% to 1.75%.  The target rate helps determine rates for mortgages, credit cards, and other borrowing which in effect slows down or speeds up the growth of the economy.  Worries of an American trade war with China also came up in the meeting of top economic authorities, which coupled with the inflation rate will likely determine the Federal Reserve’s future decisions.

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Ryan Won’t Run for Re-election, Will Retire After 2018

On Wednesday, Paul Ryan announced his decision not to run for re-election in 2018 and retire from politics after finishing his term. The Wisconsin representative reluctantly took the position of Speaker of the House in 2015 after former speaker John Boehner was ousted by more conservative members of the House GOP. Ryan was widely considered a rising star in the GOP and potential Presidential candidate after climbing from Member to Vice Presidential Candidate to Speaker, all by 45. He told a room of Republicans that his proudest accomplishments were strengthening the US military and passing the GOP tax plan. The timing of Ryan’s announcement was surprising as the House GOP faces increasingly stiff competition from Democrats in the 2018 midterms. Ryan’s likely successors are Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California or Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, both of whom are reportedly jockeying for his position.

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Bank of America Says Goodbye to Certain Gun Makers

Bank of America, one of America’s largest financial institutions, announced that it will stop giving loans to gun manufacturers that make military grade firearms for civilian use. In light of the series of mass shootings that have been carried out with AR-15-style guns in the last decade, the bank said that it wanted to contribute in any way they could to “reduce these mass shootings.” Bank of America did not name any specific customers it has worked with, but the decision nevertheless stands as the latest statement by an American business in the gun-control debate. The bank will continue to service firearm retailers, but military grade firearm manufacturers for civilians are off the table.

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