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The Brief: Nov. 25, 2015

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday afternoon that he's traveling to Cuba next week at the head of a trade mission intended to promote trade between Texas and the island nation.

Gov. Greg Abbott is on a three-day visit to Cuba.

The Big Conversation

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday afternoon that he's traveling to Cuba next week at the head of a trade mission intended to promote trade between Texas and the island nation.

As the Tribune's Aman Batheja reported, Abbott's itinerary includes stops at Cuba's Ministry of Foreign Trade and Investment, the Port of Mariel as well as Cuba's Chamber of Commerce and two Cuban state companies, Cimex and Alimport.

This is Abbott's second international trip since taking office. In early September, he led a trade mission to Mexico. The Cuba trip, though, could generate more headlines because of the long, antagonistic history between the communist country and the U.S.

But, as Batheja reports, "Texas was once a leading exporter to Cuba in a quiet partnership that helped produce hundreds of jobs and millions in revenue for the Lone Star State. Even following the implementation of the U.S. trade embargo more than 50 years ago, the relationship continued to thrive for decades."

The cost of the trip is being covered by TexasOne, "a quasi-governmental agen­cy that Abbott's predecessor, Rick Perry, launched in 2003, in large part to fund the governor's promotional trips. TexasOne CEO Tracye McDaniel will join Abbott on the trip, along with 'various business and economic leaders,' according to Abbott's office."

Abbott leaves for Cuba on Monday and is expected to be there for three days.

Trib Must Reads

In Texas, Turkey Hunting is On the Decline, by Miles Hutson – On your Turkey Day, take a gander at Texas' biggest game bird — from population trends to record-setting hunts.

Analysis: The Final Punishment is Up to the Voters, by Ross Ramsey – It’s odd that one officeholder could be convicted, exonerated, re-indicted, convicted and sentenced without completely endangering his political career while another could get knocked out of contention while blaming an indictment.   

Some Birth Certificates Issued, But Battle Continues, by Julián Aguilar – At least nine undocumented immigrant families have obtained Texas birth certificates for their U.S.-born children recently, but the trickle has done little to quell a legal battle over the state's strict policies on issuing the documents.

Feds Counter Texas Bid to Delay Immigration Appeal, by Julián Aguilar – A procedural game of chess continued Tuesday between the White House and Texas over the timing of a possible U.S. Supreme Court ruling on President Obama's controversial immigration plan.

With Clinton on Ballot, Texas Backers Look to Next Phase, by Patrick Svitek – With Hillary Clinton officially on the ballot for the Texas primary, her backers here are starting to look to the next stage of a Democratic campaign that has paid special attention to the deeply red state.

Environmental Groups Sue State Over Lapsed Permits, by Kiah Collier – A coalition of environmental groups sued the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Tuesday, claiming the state is dragging its feet in approving operating permits for several major industrial plants. 

Cruz Criticized For Vote to "Gut" Intelligence Programs, by Patrick Svitek – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is facing increasing scrutiny for his vote five months ago to place new limits on national intelligence programs, legislation that is being cast in a new light following deadly terrorist attacks in Paris. 

Elsewhere

Regardless of Canadian birth, Ted Cruz survives ballot challenge in New Hampshire, The Dallas Morning News

Abbott woos, rewards Dallas pipeline magnate Kelcy Warren, his wife, with state board seats, The Dallas Morning News

AG gets 5th request to clarify gun laws, San Antonio Express-News

Martinez Fischer reveals law firm ties to lobbyist, San Antonio Express-News

4 crew members dead after helicopter crashes at Fort Hood, The Associated Press

Austin takes first step toward changing schools named for Confederates, Austin American-Statesman

Texas GOP official wants secession on the primary ballot, Houston Chronicle 

Judge: Rep. Reynolds can't practice law while appealing barratry conviction, Houston Chronicle 

Councilman assures refugees they’re welcome in S.A., San Antonio Express-News

Houston Zoo reinstates 'no gun' signs despite controversy, Houston Chronicle

Reusable rocket makes round trip into history, touching down in West Texas, The Dallas Morning News

Quote to Note

“Now safely tucked away at our launch site in West Texas is the rarest of beasts — a used rocket."

Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, a Texas-based space company that built the first reusable rocket

Today in TribTalk

As the face of Texas changes, it's time to rethink how we see diversity, by Mustafa Tameez – As a majority-minority state, Texas gives us a unique picture of what our country faces in the future. How Texans overcome lingering prejudice and de facto segregation in the face of this shifting sense of diversity will be the model for the rest of the country.

News From Home

We're taking the rest of the week off for the Thanksgiving holiday. Our sincerest thanks to you for reading this year and our best wishes for meaningful time with family and friends. We'll see you again on Monday.

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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