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The Brief: April 16, 2010

The Census deadline, a Texas-style Tea Party and NASA's moon program.

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Don’t shoot! The person approaching your house is only there to ask you how many people live there. Of course, actually interacting with this stranger next month can be avoided if the household’s U.S. Census form, due today, is filled out and returned. That’s right, the day after the federal government demands you declare your income, it wants to know how many people live in Texas and the rest of the country. So, hey, what gives? Well, new congressional maps for starters.

Texas’ participation rate is historically below the national average of 67 percent, and that trend continues this year — at least as of earlier this week. In a last-ditch effort to secure an accurate count — and grab hold of billions in federal dollars for schools, transportation projects and health and human service programs — the U.S. Census Bureau is pulling out the big guns. Census director Robert Groves will be in Houston today urging participation in Texas’ largest city with Mayor Annise D. Parker.

Millions of forms were sent out for a second time last week due to a lackadaisical response thus far, and thousands of census takers will be hitting the streets next month to begin knocking on doors to ask people who lives where. It’s the culmination of a months-long effort to increase participation that’s included some star power, a lot of concern for the Lone Star state, and of course, some political bickering

What it ultimately comes down to is the potential for millions of dollars, perhaps more, doled out to other states that have a better response rate.


  • Tea for many? Thursday marked the one-year anniversary of the Tea Party’s creation, prompting thousands across the state to celebrate the movement’s solidarity and decry big government in the process. The Austin American-Statesman explains that, though less-attended, this year’s local rallies were just as anger-fueled. There was a similar scene in Grand Prairie, reports the Dallas Morning News, and the El Paso Times has its local take on how the Tea Party celebrated tax day in a time zone of their own.
  • A mixed reaction resulted Thursday from President Barack Obama’s scaled-back space program, which included scrapping NASA’s return-to-the-moon program, Constellation, according to the Houston Chronicle. The paper reports the move would save more than $100 billion, but also includes interesting snippets from former astronauts that weigh in on both sides of the debate. U.S. John Cornyn, R-Texas, lambasted the president’s decision, saying in a news release that: “It’s disappointing that our ‘post-partisan’ President puts such a high priority on political deal making when determining our nation’s strategic mission in space.  The direction of our space program shouldn’t be dictated by how many electoral votes are up for grabs.” U.S. Rep. Al Green, D-Houston, said he appreciated the changes, and said there was potential in them to help revive the economy and save some Texans a trip to the unemployment line. ‘I appreciate the President’s decision to develop a $40 million job creation program,” he said. “And (I) look forward to working with the Administration as well as Congress to develop a job retention program that will benefit the dedicated NASA employees at Johnson Space Center who are at risk of losing not only their jobs but also their homes and economic stability.”


Poll Finds Tea Party Backers Wealthier and More EducatedThe New York Times

Women in Mexico continue to be tortured, killed and kidnapped. Why?Houston Chronicle

Gone and QuarteredAustin Chronicle

The Last PopulistTexas Tribune

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