• Sanctuary campusesAbbott vows to cut funding for "sanctuary campus" schools

    By Patrick Svitek

    Rebuking a growing movement aimed at protecting undocumented students under incoming President Donald Trump, Gov. Greg Abbott vowed Thursday to cut funding for any Texas school that declares itself a “sanctuary campus.” The definition of a “sanctuary campus” is murky, but Abbott  made it clear they are not welcome in Texas.

  • Immigration & businessLawmaker wants to crack down on illegal hiring by state contractors

    By Julián Aguilar

    The federal E-Verify system, operated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, screens for undocumented workers by comparing the information that job applicants submit to an employer with records maintained by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration. A measure filed Monday in the Texas Senate would beef up punishment for employers that hire undocumented workers and seek to do business with the state.

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  • Muslim registryNYC mayor said city would sue U.S. government over Muslim registry

    New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said that the city would sue the U.S. government if Muslims were required, under a Donald Trump administration, to sign up to a “registry.” “We will use all the tools at our disposal to stand up for our people,” he said. The Muslim registry plan advanced by Trump supporters like Kris Kobach, the secretary of state of Kansas, would require all Muslims in the United States sign to a registry in which they would reveal their identity, religious beliefs, and political affiliations. In its original form, the registry requirement would apply to Muslim visitors to the United States – students, business people, and tourists – as well as to Muslim citizens of the United States.

  • U.S. Muslims Georgia lawmakers mull bill prohibiting wearing hijabs, niqabs, and burqas in public

    A Georgia lawmaker wants to prohibit Muslim women from wearing hijabs, niqabs, and burqas in public. The proposed law would modify the original 1951 anti-masking law which targeted Ku Klux Klan members. The purpose was to prevent them from committing violence while preserving their anonymity by wearing their Klan hoods. The bill’s sponsor said the law would be expanded to women driving on public roads, making it a misdemeanor to wear a Muslim traditional headwear while driving. The language of House Bill 3, however, suggests the prohibition would apply to any public property, not only public roads.

  • Border securityMost border arrests by Texas troopers are not for drug smuggling

    By Josh Hinkle

    Officers with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) have recorded 31,786 law violations along the Texas-Mexico border from late June 2014 through September 2016. Just 6 percent of the offenses were felony drug possession by “high-threat criminals,” or HTC — the criminals troopers were largely sent to stop. The other HTC priority is supposed to be human smugglers, but they made up just 1 percent of offenses. DPS has added more troopers to the border under the assumed objective that they are going after drug and human smugglers — but a close examination shows that most of their arrests are for drunk driving and misdemeanor drug possession.

  • GunsFlorida's Stand Your Ground law linked to rise in homicide rates in the state

    Before 2005, Florida’s so-called “Castle doctrine” allowed the use of lethal force in situations where individuals believed there was an imminent threat of death or serious physical harm from an intruder within their own home. In 2005 Florida enacted the Stand Your Ground law, extending the “no duty to retreat” clause of the Castle doctrine, giving individuals immunity for using lethal force to defend themselves in public places, as well as on private property. Anew analysis shows that thechange in Florida’s self-defense laws has been linked with the state’s homicide rates going up by nearly a quarter.

  • CrimeLess crime, and fewer incarcerations: As New York became a safer city, prisons closed too

    By Sibella Matthews

    Overflowing prison populations and high rates of violent crime once made New York City a metaphor for the urban decay confronting America’s cities. But over the last two decades crime in the nation’s largest city has declined steeply, with murders plummeting from 2,200 in 1990 to 350 in 2015. New York City’s crime decline was coupled with a sustained and dramatic reduction in incarceration, allowing the state to close more than a dozen prisons and save tens of millions of dollars. New York is now not only the safest big city in the United States, but also one with the fewest incarcerations for its size.

  • Gun safetyLoophole in Rhode Island law allows domestic abusers to keep firearms, despite risks

    Courts in Rhode Island rarely require abusers to turn in their firearms, even when orders prohibit them from possessing firearms under federal law and there is evidence they pose a lethal risk to victims, according to new research. examined 1,609 case files of protective orders filed in Rhode Island Family and District courts from 2012 to 2014. “In Rhode Island, domestic abusers are rarely required to turn in their firearms — even when they are federally prohibited from possessing them,” said one researcher. “Addressing this gap in the state’s law could help prevent risk of gun violence to potential abuse victims.”

  • U.S. electionsHow hard is it to rig an election?

    By Rachael V. Cobb

    How do you rig an election? Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump claims our system of elections are rigged – asserting that widespread voter impersonation exists, that large numbers of dead people vote, and that many noncitizens have successfully registered to vote and regularly do so. Don’t believe it. One roadblock to rigging the elections is the fact that the American system of election administration is hyper-localism. More than 5,000 municipal and county election officials administer elections across more than 8,000 local jurisdictions across the United States. Another roadblock is the sheer number of votes involved. Presidential elections generally prompt higher turnout than any other election — in the 2012 presidential election, 130 million people cast their ballots. The sheer size of the electorate, and the sheer number of different local jurisdictions, suggest that attempting to “rig” the system would require a level of coordination even greater than the coordination needed to “get out the vote” on Election Day itself. Such a vast conspiracy cannot possibly be concealed. All of this adds up to a system of election administration that is virtually impossible to penetrate in the name of massive fraud that would shift the results of an election. So don’t believe it when someone tries to tell you the vote is rigged.

  • EarthquakesSome early 20th century L.A. earthquakes might have been man-made

    Some early twentieth century earthquakes in southern California might have been induced (man-made) by past practices that were used by the oil and gas industry. During the early decades of the oil boom, withdrawal of oil was not balanced by injection of fluids, in some cases leading to dramatic ground subsidence, and potentially perturbing the sub-surface stress field on nearby faults.

  • Manmade earthquakesWastewater disposal induced 2016 Magnitude 5.1 Oklahoma earthquake

    Distant wastewater disposal wells likely induced the third largest earthquake in recent Oklahoma record, the 13 February 2016, magnitude 5.1 event roughly thirty-two kilometers northwest of Fairview, Oklahoma. at the time, the Fairview earthquake was the largest event in the central and eastern United States since a 2011 magnitude 5.7 struck Prague, Oklahoma.

  • Public healthTexas must reduce nonmedical exemptions to vaccinations

    In Texas, approximately 45,000 nonmedical exemptions were filed across all age groups during the 2015-16 school year, a record high in the last decade and a figure that is only increasing. Vaccines are one of most cost-effective public health measures, the authors of a new study write, and Texas should make the process of obtaining nonmedical exemptions more rigorous to avoid the public health risks and costs associated with preventable diseases.

  • Water securityAssessing 100 years of Los Angeles groundwater replenishment

    A new study offers the most sophisticated analyses to date on how Los Angeles-area groundwater supplies are replenished. The analyses provide water managers with a clearer understanding of the sources and amount of available groundwater in the region — information that is important for planning and management of the vital resource.

  • Water securityAmbitious Baltimore water pollution clean-up project

    Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and the urban rivers that flow into it are important sources of water to Chesapeake Bay, popular recreation sites for residents and tourists, and the targets of an ambitious clean-up plan to make the harbor swimmable and fishable by the year 2020. In a first for Baltimore and the nation, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Environmental Protection Agency will soon be installing a suite of sensors that will provide the public and scientists with the first comprehensive, real time look at water quality in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

  • GunsReport finds strong link between strength of states’ gun laws and rates of gun violence

    A new report has found a strong correlation between the strength of state gun laws and levels of gun violence. The report, which analyzes ten specific indicators of gun violence in all fifty states, found that the ten states with the weakest gun laws collectively have levels of gun violence that are more than three times higher than the ten states with the strongest gun laws. The ten states with the weakest gun laws collectively have three times more gun violence than the ten states with the strongest gun laws.