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The Brief: How a Texas community responded to a destroyed mosque

Tragedy struck the South Texas town of Victoria six days ago when the community's mosque, a 16-year-old spiritual center for roughly 40 Muslim families, went down in flames. Nothing remains but memories and ash — and a community working hard to rebuild what was lost.

Students at St. Joseph's High School in Victoria, Texas gather near the town's fire-ravaged mosque to show support for the l…

 

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In South Texas, fire-ravaged mosque seen as symbol of unity
Victoria's Muslim community is getting a lot of help picking up the pieces of its burned-down mosque, which has emerged as a symbol of unity amid a time of national fear and discord.

Analysis: Rising criticism threatens one-punch voting in Texas
Most states have dropped straight-ticket voting, but not Texas. There's another attempt coming in the current legislative session, and it's got some high-level supporters.

Texas House committee report lays foundation for 'Sandra Bland Act'
The Sandra Bland Act would address race, poverty, mental health and accountability in law enforcement and corrections, its author says. 

Gov. Greg Abbott lays out emergency items (video)
The Texas governor delivered his State of the State address to legislators this week, and he also made good on his pledge to cut funding to the Travis County Sheriff’s Office.

Protesters flood Texas Capitol as committee debates sanctuary cities bill
Hundreds of opponents of a controversial immigration proposal descended on the state Capitol Thursday as senators began the process of getting the bill to the governor's desk.

Global warming skeptic Lamar Smith sets "Make EPA Great Again" hearing
A Texas congressman has scheduled a committee hearing next week “to examine the Environmental Protection Agency’s process for evaluating and using science during its regulatory decision making activities.

Committee sends ethics reform package to Senate floor
The Senate State Affairs Committee approved legislation Thursday that would require lawmakers to reveal more of their private business dealings.

Ted Cruz has $4.2 million for 2018 re-election campaign
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has $4.2 million cash on hand as he prepares for a potentially competitive re-election race in 2018.

What you need to know today 

Tragedy struck the South Texas town of Victoria six days ago when the community's mosque, a 16-year-old spiritual center for roughly 40 Muslim families, went down in flames. Nothing remains but memories and ash — and a community working to rebuild what was lost.   

  • People still don't know what caused the fire. It may take months for investigators to determine if it was accident or arson. "I hope and pray that it's an accident," Dr. Shahid Hashmi, president of the Islamic Center, said after the fire. "I hope it's not a hate crime." 
  • The fire came hours after President Donald Trump's immigration and travel ban. Last Friday, President Trump signed an executive order barring U.S. entry from seven predominantly Muslim countries, sparking confusion and protests at airports across the country. 
  • The outpour of support in Victoria hasn't stopped. An area synagogue offered mosque members its space for daily prayer. The congregation's GoFundMe account has already received more than $1 million in donations. And several architecture firms have offered to design a new mosque for free. 

News from home

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What we're reading

(Links below lead to outside websites; paywall content noted with $) 

Welcoming the stranger: Faces of the refugee crisis, Texas Monthly

Homeland Security chief: Parts of border wall will be transparent, The Hill 

Uber CEO quits Trump panel over ban, The Daily Beast 

State senator files bill to eliminate business franchise tax, The Houston Chronicle ($)

Parscale has plans for San Antonio, San Antonio Express-News ($)

Texas Rep. Michael McCaul: Don't blame me for Trump travel banThe Dallas Morning News ($)

For your calendar

On Tuesday, Feb. 7: Join us online or in person to meet several new legislators, Rep. Briscoe Cain, R-Deer Park, Rep. Justin Holland, R-Rockwall, and Rep. Victoria Neave, D-Dallas.

For a complete list of upcoming events, visit our site.  

Photo of the day

Hundreds of people opposed to Senate Bill 4, a controversial proposal to end "sanctuary cities," arrived at the Texas Capitol on Thursday to testify before the Senate committee on State Affairs. Photo by Marjorie Kamys Cotera. See more photos on our Instagram account

Quote to note

"Today, a concerned parent can upload images of a child's skin condition for evaluation by a dermatologist instead of waiting weeks for an appointment. In areas with few or no psychiatrists, people can get the help they need through telemedicine. And innovative providers are using telemedicine to monitor post-op patients and those with chronic illnesses."

Bill Frist, Teladoc board member and former U.S. senator, on benefits of telemedicine via TribTalk

The Brief is written and compiled by your morning news baristas, Bobby Blanchard and Cassi Pollock. If you have feedback or questions, please email thebrief@texastribune.org. We're a nonprofit newsroom, and count on readers like you to help power newsletters like this. Did you like what you read today? Show your appreciation by becoming a member or making a donation today.

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