Follow Live: Texas Muslim Capitol Day rally

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Photo by Jay Janner/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Muslims are set to meet at the Texas Capitol today at 10:00 a.m. to rally and lobby lawmakers, as part of Texas Muslim Capitol Day. The event is organized by the state’s chapters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and aims to teach Muslims about the political process.

Follow American-Statesman reporters Mark Wilson, Sean Walsh, Chuck Lindell and Forrest Milburn for live updates out of the rally below, and read more about today’s event here.

It’s the 10th anniversary of Molly Ivins’ death

On Jan. 31, 2007, Molly Ivins died. The Texas political writer who championed liberal causes was nationally famed for acerbic wit. She was 62 when she died at her Austin home after battling breast cancer.

Syndicated columnist Molly Ivins finds inspiration from the cozy confines of her ninth floor office in the State Capitol bureau office of the newspaper at 1005 Congress Ave. June 7, 1999. (Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman)
Syndicated columnist Molly Ivins finds inspiration from the cozy confines of her ninth floor office in the State Capitol bureau office of the newspaper at 1005 Congress Ave. June 7, 1999. (Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman)

From the American-Statesman’s obituary, written by PolitiFact Texas reporter W. Gardner Selby:

In Texas, Ivins was celebrated as a fearless storyteller, whether it was in her recollection of late nights jawing with Democratic politicians or in her moving account of a woman (surely Ivins) visiting the Vietnam memorial in Washington and remembering a man (surely a boyfriend) who had died in that conflict; she did not reveal his name.

The humor that laced her work did not deter her from forceful opinion. In the last column, dated Jan. 11, that her syndicate posted from her, Ivins urged readers to act against President Bush’s plans to send more troops to Iraq.

“We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders,” Ivins wrote, employing one of the president’s self-descriptions. “And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we’re for them and trying to get them out of there. Hit the streets to protest Bush’s proposed surge. . . . We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, ‘Stop it, now!’ ”

The obituary also contained parting sentiments from many of the figures Ivins wrote about:

  • Rick Perry, then governor of Texas: Ivins’ “clever and colorful perspectives on people and politics gained her national acclaim and admiration that crossed party lines.”
  • Democratic politician Boyd Richie: Ivins spoke “her mind about the complicated and sometimes humorous world of Texas and national politics. . . . Texas was a better place.”
  • Former President and Texas Gov. George W. Bush:  Molly Ivins was a Texas original. She was loved by her readers and by her many friends, particularly in Central Texas.”

And of course, it’s only right to end with a few quotables from Ivins:

  • “I’m sorry to say (cancer) can kill you, but it doesn’t make you a better person.” — as quoted in the San Antonio Express-News in September 2006, the same month cancer claimed her friend Ann Richards
  • “If you think his daddy had trouble with ‘the vision thing,’ wait’ll you meet this one.” — on George W. Bush in ‘The Progressive,’ June 1999
  • “If left to my own devices, I’d spend all my time pointing out that he’s weaker than bus-station chili.” — on Bill Clinton, from the introduction to her book “You Got to Dance With Them What Brung You”
  • “I love Texas, but it is a nasty old rawhide mother in the way it bears down on the people who have the fewest defenses.” — from a September 2002 Texas Observer article

Central Austin church to host refugee vigil Monday evening

A Central Austin church is hosting an interfaith vigil called “Refugees Welcome” from 6-7:15 p.m. Monday.

The event will be held inside First English Lutheran Church, 3001 Whitis Ave. Organizers say the event will show the community’s support for refugees and opposition to President Donald Trump’s executive order banning refugees, migrants and foreign nationals from seven mostly Muslim countries from entering the United States.

The sanctuary can only seat about 300, and people are welcome to arrive any time after 5:30 p.m., organizers said. Parking is available at the church.

The Facebook event says they are gathering for the following reason: “Faith leaders, refugee resettlement agencies, refugee leaders, immigrants’ rights advocates, and community members will join together to denounce the Trump administration’s executive action on refugee resettlement, which turns our backs on Syrian refugees and refugees from around the world at the very time when they are most in need of safety.”

Donations to help rebuild Texas mosque destroyed by fire surpass $1 million

UPDATE: Donations that will go toward rebuilding a mosque in Victoria that burned down Saturday have now surpassed $1 million, according to the cause’s GoFundMe page. At this point the donations have passed their initial goal of $850,000 by nearly $200,000.

EARLIER: Nearly $900,000 has been raised to help rebuild the mosque that was destroyed by a fire in Victoria Saturday, according to a GoFundMe page.

Victoria firefighters respond to a fire at the Islamic Center of Victoria on Saturday, Jan. 28 in Victoria, Texas. The early-morning fire Saturday destroyed the mosque that was a target of hatred several years ago and experienced a burglary just a week ago. (Barclay Fernandez/The Victoria Advocate via AP)
Victoria firefighters respond to a fire at the Islamic Center of Victoria on Saturday, Jan. 28 in Victoria, Texas. The early-morning fire Saturday destroyed the mosque that was a target of hatred several years ago and experienced a burglary just a week ago. (Barclay Fernandez/The Victoria Advocate via AP)

The page, which was created the same day as the fire, had estimated the total rebuilding costs “based on rough engineering estimates and the original cost of construction” to be around $850,000. In just one day that amount was met and surpassed by donors. The page has been shared nearly 89,000 times on Facebook.

The Facebook account for the mosque posted asking for recommendations for demolition companies earlier today.

According to the Victoria Advocate, the cause of the fire remains undetermined but is being investigated. The mosque’s spokesman asked that the public not “politicize the situation.”

READ: Release of findings in Lake Travis Islamic center fire delayed by Victoria case

Follow live: Texas Senate Finance Committee hearing on CPS funding

The Department of Family Protective Services operates a state-wide intake call center in north Austin for the initial contact for reports of abuse, neglect and/or exploitation in Texas. 12.30.2014 LAURA SKELDING/AMERICAN-STATESMAN 011115 CPS
The Department of Family Protective Services operates a state-wide intake call center in north Austin for the initial contact for reports of abuse, neglect and/or exploitation in Texas.
12.30.2014 LAURA SKELDING/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
011115 CPS

Follow American-Statesman reporter Andrea Ball as she live tweets from the Texas Senate Finance Committee hearing concerning Child Protective Services funding.

10 scenes out of the protests at the Austin airport

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Austin-Bergstrom International airport Sunday afternoon to collectively protest President Donald Trump’s executive order banning immigrants from several predominately Muslim countries from entering the U.S.

Immigration protest at Austin Bergstrom International Airport, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017. (Stephen Spillman / for AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
Immigration protest at Austin Bergstrom International Airport, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017. (Stephen Spillman / for AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

READ: Hundreds protest #MuslimBan at Austin airport

Take a look at some of the scenes out of the event, which organizer Shane Terenzi estimated between 300 and 400 people came out for, below:

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Worldwide survey ranks Austin one of the most expensive cities to move to

If you have money, want to move somewhere hip and spend time stuck in traffic, then come on down to Austin! A study from online moving platform Movinga ranks Austin No. 25 on a list of most expensive cities to move to, which includes more cosmopolitan destinations such as New York, San Francisco and Tokyo.

The Austin skyline as seen looking east over the Mopac highway Wednesday morning as fog and mist rise over Lady Bird Lake April 20, 2016. (RALPH BARRERA/AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
The Austin skyline as seen looking east over the MoPac highway Wednesday morning as fog and mist rise over Lady Bird Lake April 20, 2016. (RALPH BARRERA/AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

The ranking is based on the first month’s moving costs, which Movinga places at $1,533.39 in Austin. That’s more than the cost for cities like Berlin, Germany and Vienna, Austria. Movinga says they calculated this figure from the average distance of a move, 155 miles for one person. It doesn’t get much better after that expensive honeymoon period, though. An average Austin-area monthly rent of $871.76 bumps Austin up to the 22nd most expensive place to live in the world on this list.

RELATED: Check out Austin’s “most obnoxiously rich suburb”

If you’re now feeling antsy about moving here, don’t despair. Transportation around Austin only costs an average of about $40 a month, according to Movinga, which is less than the cost of getting around Lagos, Nigeria.

READ: Austin, San Antonio tie for No. 1 most overvalued housing market 

Honestly, driving to and from work everyday probably costs more than two $20 tabs for gas, but if you like to bike and walk to work everyday, then our guess is that $40 or less is totally doable.

[h/t CultureMap Austin]

But seriously — what do we get from Mexico?

According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, Mexico is our country’s third largest supplier of imported goods. But it’s not all Topo Chico and avocados.

TIJUANA, MEXICO - JANUARY 26: Bottles of tequila are displayed on a shelf at a convenience store on January 26, 2017 in Tijuana, Mexico. U.S. President Donald Trump announced a proposal to impose a 20 percent tax on all imported goods from Mexico to pay for the border wall between the United States and Mexico. Mexican President Enrique Pea Nieto canceled a planned meeting with President Trump over who would pay for Trump's campaign promise to build a border wall. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Bottles of tequila are displayed on a shelf at a convenience store on January 26, 2017 in Tijuana, Mexico. U.S. President Donald Trump announced a proposal to impose a 20 percent tax on all imported goods from Mexico to pay for the border wall between the United States and Mexico. Mexican President Enrique Pea Nieto canceled a planned meeting with President Trump over who would pay for Trump’s campaign promise to build a border wall. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Following Thursday’s news that President Donald Trump intends to impose a 20 percent tariff on all goods imported from our southern neighbor, you might be curious to know what makes up the some $295 billion worth of stuff we get from Mexico.

The top import from Mexico to the U.S. (as of 2015) was cars, totaling $74 billion, followed by electrical machinery with $63 billion. Another top import was $12 billion worth of optical and medical instruments.

READ: A Trump Mexico tax could carry sting for Texas, Austinites

Texas, with the longest stretch of the Mexican border of any other U.S. state, is heavily influenced by its neighboring country’s culture — especially its food. The U.S. imported $21 billion worth of agricultural products from Mexico in 2015, making it America’s second largest supplier of agricultural imports. That consists of some $4.8 billion worth of fresh vegetables, $4.3 billion of fresh fruit and $2.7 billion of wine and beer.

READ: Congressman Beto O’Rourke says Trump’s wall is ‘racist’

And (because we know you’re worried), what about avocados? According to the Washington Post, more than 98 percent of America’s avocados come from just three countries: Chile, Peru and, Mexico — the last of which provides the vast majority of those perfect little green fruits you love so much. In fact, 78 percent of Mexico’s avocado exports wind up in the hands (and guacamole) of Americans. What else goes in guacamole that’s at risk to be negatively affected by the tax? Not peas — go home,  New York Times —  but tomatoes, NBC reports.

According to CNN Money, the Mexican government has already warned Trump against tariffs, promising to “respond immediately” by “neutralizing” imposed taxes.

Trump’s Mexican border wall executive order: What Texans are saying

President Donald Trump’s executive order Wednesday calling for the U.S. to build a Mexican border wall while simultaneously de-funding sanctuary cities predictably drew a lot of reactions from Texas politicians and citizens alike.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 25: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks during a visit to the Department of Homeland Security with Vice President Mike Pence (R) January 25, 2017 in Washington, DC. While at the department, Trump signed two executive orders related to internal security and to begin the process of building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 25: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks during a visit to the Department of Homeland Security with Vice President Mike Pence (R) January 25, 2017 in Washington, DC. While at the department, Trump signed two executive orders related to internal security and to begin the process of building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“Beginning today, the U.S. will get back control of its border,” Trump said during a speech at the Department of Homeland Security. “We’re going to save lives on both sides of the border.” A few hours later, Trump said he will stop accepting Syrian refugees and will also suspend the United States’ broader refugee program for 120 days, according to the Associated Press.

Many Texas Republicans were supportive of the measures, with Gov. Greg Abbott leading the charge.

“Gov. Abbott is pleased with the immediate action President Trump has taken to fulfill his promise to secure the border,” Abbott said in a statement released Wednesday. “The governor looks forward to working with the Trump administration to keep Texans safe and protect our sovereignty.”

Senator Ted Cruz also issued his support: “President Trump took action that will launch the process of securing our southern border and effectively enforcing our nation’s immigration laws.”

U.S. Rep. Mike McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, voiced his approval: “I applaud the president for moving swiftly to put in place the multi-layered barrier defenses we need to keep criminals, drugs, and potential terrorists out of our country.”

However, many Texas Democrats were not in favor of the president’s executive order.

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett said Trump’s speech was indicative of a broken campaign promise. “He is not building a wall that Mexico will pay for. Now he demands that American taxpayers pay for his folly with the false hope that someday he can eventually extort the money from Mexico,” Doggett said.

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, of Laredo, said the move was “disappointing:” “This is a 14th century solution to a 21st century problem; and a decision I cannot support.”

Then there’s this, on the financial implications of the wall, from San Antonio’s Joaquin Castro:

And it wasn’t just politicians who sounded off about the executive order. Throughout Wednesday, “The Wall” stayed trending on Twitter, and many Statesman readers made a point to share their opinion. Below are some of the highlights.

Some questioned the wall’s effectiveness, if it even gets built.



Some wondered if Americans would be forced to pay for the wall out of their own tax dollars, or if Texas’ work force would even participate.


Some were worried about the federal power of the executive order.

(A 2016 poll found that 59 percent of Texans surveyed were not in favor of the wall.)

And some were in favor of a more secure border and praised the executive order.


What about you? What do you think?

Website: Cedar Park among best U.S. cities for families

A crowd of green- and black-shirted fans filled Cypress Creek Road and Sun Chase Boulevard in Cedar Park during a parade Saturday honoring the 2012 football state champion Timberwolves. Photo by Peter Seesselberg, gamenightphotos.com
A crowd of green- and black-shirted fans filled Cypress Creek Road and Sun Chase Boulevard in Cedar Park during a parade honoring the 2012 football state champion Timberwolves.
Photo by Peter Seesselberg, gamenightphotos.com

Cedar Park is among 4 Texas cities in the Top 10 of the “2017 Best Cities for Families” list compiled by ApartmentList.com — an apartment-hunting site.

The Williamson County city was ranked No. 6 on the list, which rated more than 500 American cities based on safety, housing affordability education quality and child friendliness. Dallas suburbs Flower Mound and Frisco were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 on the list, and Houston suburb Pearland was No. 10.

The City Hall complex on Cypress Creek Road. Photo by Mike Parker
The Cedar Park City Hall complex on Cypress Creek Road. Photo by Mike Parker

Among the largest U.S. cities, El Paso was the highest-ranked, coming in at No. 25. Among Central Texas cities, Round Rock was rated No. 26, and Austin fell all the way to No. 209 — based on low scores for safety and child friendliness.

In its conclusion, ApartmentList.com said “With a strong mix of safety, affordability, and good public schools, Texas has some of the best choices for families trying to decide where to settle.”

The No. 1 town on the 2016 list — Allen, TX — fell to No. 11 this year.

RELATED: Cedar Park Council votes to reconsider design for unpopular new flag