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The Brief: Nov. 23, 2015

Protesters showed up at the Governor's Mansion on Sunday to register their disapproval of Gov. Greg Abbott's stance against allowing refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria to come to Texas.

Group gathers at Wooldridge Park in Austin to protest Gov. Abbott's decision not to accept at Syrian refugees on November 22, 2015

The Big Conversation

Protesters showed up at the Governor's Mansion on Sunday to register their disapproval of Gov. Greg Abbott's stance against allowing refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria to come to Texas.

"Under the watchful eye of dozens of police, the protesters gathered to criticize what they described as xenophobic and misinformed policies aimed at the war refugees," the Tribune's Jay Root wrote.

“Refugees are not terrorists. They’re escaping the terrorists,” said Syrian-born Nour Al-Ghraowi, an English literature student at the University of Texas at Austin who is in the United States on a student visa. “They are human beings like us.”

This protest came a day after a different set of protesters gathered at the Governor's Mansion to take issue with the governor's stance on immigration.

"Some participated in a three-day, 37-mile march from a federal detention center in Williamson County to downtown Austin. After crossing the Capitol grounds their final stop was the Governor’s Mansion — and the target of their ire was the chief occupant inside," Root wrote.

Activist Montserrat Garibay of Education Austin said, “Greg Abbott, we have a message for you... you don’t have the best interest for Texas and for our country.”

Meanwhile, The Dallas Morning News had a report on gun-holding protesters who gathered outside a mosque in Irving on Saturday.

"A protester with a bandana over his face showed off his AR-15 to traffic. A 20-year-old who wants to join the Army and ban Islam in the United States carried a Remington hunting rifle while his mother held the sign," wrote the News' Avi Selk.

“They’re mostly for self-defense or protection,” (rally organizer David) Wright said, eyeing his 12-gauge. “But I’m not going to lie. We do want to show force. … It would be ridiculous to protest Islam without defending ourselves.”

The gathering provoked a negative reaction from one city councilman who showed up to see what was happening.

“My initial impression was they were using them for intimidation,” (Councilman David) Palmer said. “I doubt that they’d be happy if some of the Muslim churchgoers here showed up at their Christian church, their Baptist church, their Methodist church tomorrow morning with rifles slung over their shoulders.”

Trib Must Reads

Analysis: Keeping Voters Happy Now — and Later, by Ross Ramsey – The terrorists attacked at a time when American political races are underway and people whose fates rise and fall with public sentiment look for ways to get some favorable attention.

In Iowa, High Expectations Accompany Cruz's Steady Rise, by Patrick Svitek – Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who has worked for months to manage expectations in the first early voting state, is starting to flirt with top-tier status as his campaign zeroes in on this critical presidential proving ground.

Who Will Be the Next Texas Education Chief?, by Morgan Smith – A look at who might be among Gov. Greg Abbott's choices as he ponders the possibilities to fill the post Texas Education Agency Commissioner Michael Williams will leave in January.

State Rep. Reynolds Guilty of Ambulance-Chasing, by Ross Ramsey – State Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City, was convicted of five counts of illegal solicitation of legal clients Friday and could face jail time and fines, but plans to appeal the verdict and will seek reelection in 2016.

Cruz Makes Wide-Ranging Pitch to Iowa Evangelicals, by Patrick Svitek – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on Friday night offered a wide-ranging appeal to evangelicals in the key presidential proving ground of Iowa.

Cruz Compares UT Football Team to Teenaged Girls, by Abby Livingston – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, son of a Longhorn, took a swipe at the beleaguered University of Texas football team — and junior high female athletes — during a campaign stop in Iowa on Friday.

Investor Objection Threatens Hunt's Oncor Takeover Plan, by Jim Malewitz – A group of minority investors is threatening to derail a plan to lift Texas’ biggest power conglomerate from one of the largest corporate bankruptcies in American history. 

After Outcry, Miller Delays Hikes on Agriculture Fees, by Jim Malewitz – Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller will wait to hike fees on many licenses, registrations and services that his agency provides — a response to widespread concerns from state lawmakers and the agriculture community.  

White House Asks Court to Review Immigration Ruling, by Julián Aguilar – The Obama administration on Friday asked the United States Supreme Court to review a federal appellate court's ruling that struck down the president's controversial immigration program.

Cruz Disagrees With Trump on Muslim Registry, by Patrick Svitek – Ted Cruz on Friday put a bit of distance between himself and arguably his closest ally in the presidential race: Donald Trump. 

The Day Ahead

•    Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht holds an 11. a.m. press conference at the Texas Supreme Court in Austin to announce the creation of a 'Justice Gap' Commission, which will examine how to expand civil legal services.


Fikac: Perry's clout, opportunities depend on outcome of criminal caseSan Antonio Express-News

DPS statistics showing no racial bias in stops are wrong, expert says, Austin American-Statesman

Checkpoints Isolate Many Immigrants in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, The New York Times

At Boulder campus, concealed carry of handguns has faded as an issue, Austin American-Statesman

Second group of Syrians surrenders at Laredo border crossingHouston Chronicle 

For Syrian refugee in Houston, feeling of safety stripped awayHouston Chronicle 

Lamar Smith, a climate-change denier, turns up heat on scientists, San Antonio Express-News

Hidden homeless grow in number in North Texas suburbs, The Dallas Morning-News

Texas taxpayer tab for suing feds tops $5 million, Houston Chronicle 

McClendon reflects on 20 years as state representativeSan Antonio Express-News

Report says wind, solar can't compete for now without tax breakHouston Chronicle 

Quote to Note

“It’s so important that we not fall for every Republican gambit, to give the impression that Democrats don’t care about safety and Republicans do, hence my vote for the bill that … says let’s have the top bureaucrat at each of these agencies assure us that they’ve done as thorough a job as we believe they are already doing, and that refugees don't pose a danger in our communities.”

— Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, who along with five other  Texas Democrats supported a bill that would increase the vetting process for refugees seeking resettlement in the U.S. Hundreds protested at the Capitol on Sunday in response to Gov. Abbott's efforts to block Syrian refugees from coming to Texas.

Today in TribTalk

Syrian refugees are welcome in Austin, by Steve Adler – As Americans, we should either live by the words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty or we should return her to France. And right now, living by those words means finding the strength to put aside our fear and welcome Syrian refugees to Austin in a way that protects both our safety and values

Deferred action gives immigrants a chance at the American Dream, by Javier Gamboa– Today marks the first anniversary of President Barack Obama’s immigration actions. For me, the anniversary is personal.

Setting the record straight on "Ban the Box", by Greg Glod – It is indisputable that proper housing and vocations are paramount in successful re-entry outcomes. However, we must be careful how we accomplish this goal.

Obstacles to pipeline development highlight Texas' conservative split, by Aaron P. Roffwarg and Aaron N. Carpenter – In the wake of President Barack Obama’s announcement that his administration would not support the Keystone XL Pipeline, it is constructive to remember that another Washington influence is already impacting pipeline development in Texas.

News From Home

Tune in for the latest episode of The Ticket, a co-production of the Tribune and KUT. Jay Root and Ben Philpott talk about how the recent terrorist attacks in Paris are already playing a role in the 2016 campaign.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A conversation about Health Care: The Next Five Years on Dec. 2 at the Texas A&M Health Science Center in Round Rock

•    A series of conversations about Bridging the Digital Divide on Dec. 4 at Houston Community College

•    A daylong symposium on Cybersecurity and Privacy on Dec. 9 at the University of Texas at San Antonio

•    A conversation about Houston & the Legislature: What's Next? on Dec. 15 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.

•    A conversation with former White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove on Dec. 17 at the Austin Club

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