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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Kanye West Calls Slavery "A Choice" in TMZ Interview

In a “TMZ Live” interview Tuesday, Kanye West caused another stir, calling American slavery “a choice.” After the comment, he went on to ask the employees in the room whether they thought he was thinking and feeling free. TMZ’s Van Lathan responded quickly, telling Kanye he didn’t think Kanye was “thinking anything.” After the comments, an “anti-West chorus” ensued on Twitter, led by CNN contributor Symone D. Sanders. Kanye has also been sharing his love of Donald Trump over Twitter.

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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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Missile Strike in Syria

Missile strikes in Syria killed at least 16 people late Sunday. The strike hit Iranian military bases causing what felt like an earthquake. The state news in Syria confirmed the strikes Sunday, but a monitoring group announced the death toll Monday. Most of the dead were Iranians according to the regional alliance of Iran, Syria and the group Hezbollah. No one has claimed responsibility for the strikes yet.  Reports suggest the strikes are attributed to Israel. If so, this would be an escalation in the shadow war between Israel and Iran. The Israeli military has not confirmed or denied its involvement in the strikes on Sunday. 

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Investigation Reveals 100+ Uber Drivers Accused of Sexual Misconduct

CNN exclusively revealed yesterday that an investigation into Uber drivers across the country found over 100 drivers accused of either sexual assault or abuse in the past four years. Charges include forcible touching, false imprisonment and rape, and drivers have either been arrested, are wanted by the police, or have been named in civil suits. CNN explained that while this information is not available to the public, they were able to find the trend by reviewing “police reports, federal court records and county court databases for 20 major U.S. cities.” CNN also found that in the past, Uber has advocated for a “safe ride home” and has created campaigns around designated drivers, urging users to avoid drinking and driving. The network’s investigation reported that many of the victims had been drinking at the time of the incidents.

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Rising Death Rate from Cocaine Overdoses

Cocaine overdoses are spiking, and researchers at the Center for Disease Control have said this rise is due to the growing presence of fentanyl-laced cocaine in America. From 2015 to 2016, deaths from cocaine increased 52%. This puts the drug on track to rival painkiller pills and heroin. Fentanyl, the opioid sometimes laced in cocaine, is fifty times stronger than heroin and extremely addictive. It is the same drug that killed Tom Petty and Prince. In 2012, fewer than 200 cocaine overdoses reported by the CDC were related to fentanyl, but in 2016, that number had risen to 4,100.

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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.

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Sprint and T-Mobile Agree to Merge

If Trump’s administration’s antitrust regulators let the $26.5 billion merger agreement between T-Mobile and Sprint, the U.S. wireless industry will be reduced to three major players. The two have been considering combining for years, but a 2014 attempt fell apart because of resistance from the Obama administration. If the companies are combined, it will be called T-Mobile and will have about 127 million customers. The combination would allow them to compete with both AT&T and Verizon better. The deal with have to be reviewed by both the FCC and Justice Department.

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Amazon to Raise Price of Prime

Amazon announced that they will raise the annual cost of their Prime membership from $99 to $119 annually during a call with investors on Thursday.  The new price will go into effect on May 11 and will begin applying to Prime renewals on June 16.  Amazon cited the increase in value of Prime due to new services such as Prime Video as reason for the change.  Earlier in the month, Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, told shareholders that the company has increased Prime membership to over 100 million paying members. 

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Southlake Couple Charged For Forced Labor

Mohamed Toure and Denise Cros-Toure, both 57 and of Southlake, Texas, were charged with forced labor on Thursday after a young woman they had allegedly enslaved for over 16 years escaped from their home with some help from neighbors.  The couple has deep political connections to the country of Guinea, as Mohamed Toure is the son of the first president of the African country.  The couple allegedly brought the victim from Guinea to Texas 18 years ago when she was just 5 years old, and has since subjected her to emotional and physical abuse.  The couple faces up to 20 years each in prison.

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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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Big Changes to Come to NCAA Basketball

The NCAA’s Commission on College Basketball recommended major changes to the NCAA in an attempt to fix some major issues. The commission recommended an end to the one-and-done rule, potential lifetime bans as punishment and changes to the relationship between the NCAA and clothing companies as sponsors. The commission chairman and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the NCAA needs to put “college back in college basketball.” The NCAA Board of Governors and Division I Board of Directors endorsed the recommendations Wednesday. This means the NCAA will begin to craft regulation and rules. This commission was formed due to the FBI’s investigation on bribery and fraud.

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Bill Cosby Found Guilty in Retrial

Bill Cosby was found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault on Thursday for sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his Philadelphia home in 2004. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 10 years, leaving Cosby with the possibility of spending 30 years in prison. The announcement of the guilty verdict prompted an outburst by Cosby in the court room, who had some choice words for the prosecutor. For now, Cosby is permitted to go home but must stay in the state of Pennsylvania and will be monitored through GPS. He has stated he plans to appeal the verdict.

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Snapchat's Struggles Continue

As Snap continues to make adjustments within its Snapchat app, its stock continues to take a nosedive. Snap (SNAP) stock closed down 7% yesterday, putting it more than 15% below the price when it went public last year. These recent adjustments have drawn criticism from different celebrities as well, including Kylie Jenner and Rihanna. Investors have doubts that Snapchat will ever reach Instagram's user count, especially with Instagram continuing to roll out many similar features of Snapchat. However, Snapchat isn’t the only social media platform drawing skepticism from investors, as Twitter stock fell yesterday despite the company reporting revenue and profit that topped projections.

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Meek Mill Released from Prison

Rapper Meek Mill, who spent nearly five months in prison for violating probation on a 2008 gun and drug case, was released Tuesday. After being arrested twice in 2017, Mill received a two-to-four year prison sentence last November. The Philadelphia District Attorney’s office recommended a new trial for Mill, but a judge denied him bail. The case made it to the Philadelphia Supreme Court who ultimately ordered an immediate release for Mill on unsecured bail. The case is currently being appealed. Mill tweeted his gratitude to his supporters and stated he was looking forward to being with his family and resuming his music career.


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Three Shot, One Officer Dead After Dallas Shooting

Almost two years after the deadly ambush that killed five Dallas officers in 2016, the Dallas Police Department will have to say goodbye to another member. Rogelio Santander, a 27-year-old Dallas officer, died in an encounter with Armando Juarez at a Home Depot in Northwest Dallas. Crystal Almeida and Scott Painter, another officer and Home Depot employee respectively, were also shot and are in critical condition at a nearby hospital. After the shooting, Juarez was chased through the streets of downtown Dallas where he continued to fire shots at police. The chase ended when Juarez, who had been driving through yards in the nearby wealthy suburb of Highland Park, crashed and was surrounded by police. Juarez is currently set on $1 million bail. Local and State politicians have offered their condolences to the Santander family and posted supportive messages of the Dallas Police Department.

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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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