The latest clash in a long-running war that threatens the progressive movement in America took place Aug. 13, 2018 in a courtroom in nearby Waxahachie. The Trump administration was not a party to this fight over who would be on the ballot to replace Republican Congressman Joe Barton. In fact, Barton’s former chief of staff, now the Republican nominee for the November general election, referred to the lawsuit as being “like manna from heaven.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: During an Aug. 7 press conference in Waco, Gov. Greg Abbott called for bail reform in the wake of the Thanksgiving 2017 shooting death of Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Damon Allen, 41, during a traffic stop near Fairfield, about 60 miles east of Waco. The suspect in Trooper Allen’s death, 33-year-old Dabrett Black, was out of jail on a $15,500 bond on charges he eluded police and assaulted a Smith County deputy; he already had a previous conviction for assaulting a police officer. Abbott’s call comes more than a year after a Texas Senate bail reform bill was allowed to die in the Texas House, and as litigation and reform across the United States focus on bail for indigent defendants with no history of violence.

PepsiCo announced this month that Indra Nooyi would step down as chief executive in October, ending the 12-year tenure of one of the country’s most prominent female CEOs. A trailblazer who revamped Pepsi’s lineup of sugary sodas and unhealthy snacks to include more wholesome alternatives, Nooyi was also known for her candor about some of the myths faced by women in leadership roles: They cannot, she admitted, “have it all.” Here are five other misconceptions about CEOs that linger.

It was the teenage girls of Trundle who opened up the hearts of Sydney. Their school principal was on the radio last week describing Australia’s devastating drought and the impact it was having on students in this small rural town in the state of New South Wales. Among his examples: Some farms no longer have enough water for showering.

A three-day evidentiary hearing beginning Monday at the Comanche County Courthouse in nearby Comanche could determine if Joe Bryan one day goes free or continues to serve time. For the past 30 years, he has been in prison based on a highly questionable conviction for killing his wife. Once a well-regarded high school principal in Clifton, northwest of Waco, Bryan is now 77. He has never wavered in his innocence.

Today the Texas Education Agency will issue report cards for our schools. We do this for two main reasons. First, parents should know how well our schools are performing so they can better support their children. Second, educators benefit from having clear information about school performance, highlighting successes and challenges, to help improve support for students over time.

It took almost two years for two dozen officials at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to pull together a case against Golden Valley Lending and three other online lenders that were making small short-term loans at interest rates as high as 950 percent, violating laws in at least 17 states that cap interest rates. “The average rate that the infamous Cosa Nostra mob charged in New York City in the 1960s was 250 percent,” said Christopher L. Peterson, a former CFPB attorney now teaching at the University of Utah College of Law. “These firms were charging almost four times as much.”

There are a lot of important things we’re talking about in national politics these days. My law school classmate, Brett Kavanaugh, has been nominated to the Supreme Court and the usual (and appropriate) attention is being given to his record. Trade and international tariffs are a hot issue. So, of course, is the ongoing investigation into Russian influence on our elections.

Like an approaching summer squall over the placid horizon, the confirmation hearings in the U.S. Senate loom large for Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. As a spirited dialogue — debate? — will likely envelop the Judiciary Committee’s public evaluation of his background and qualifications, Americans are likely to hear about competing theories of constitutional interpretation. There may be references to “original meaning,” “textualist” and “living tradition,” among others. But if everyday Americans are lucky they will also hear references to “The Federalist Papers.”

Do you need a license to perform your job? Texas requires individuals in more than 500 occupations to have licenses to be able to engage in one’s job. This affects one in three Texans in our economy. If the state agency regulating your profession decides to deny you a license or determines your license should be revoked, in almost all cases you have a right to an impartial hearing where the agency must prove facts to justify its action. It’s only just that the government should provide you a fair hearing.

A year ago this weekend, carrying tiki torches, Confederate battle flags and banners, tens of thousands of neo-Nazi, alt-right and white supremacists gathered from 35 states across America for a massive rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Anti-Nazi and anti-fascist counter-protestors clashed with them. Many were severely beaten. On the final day of the rally, a white supremacist launched his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one, wounding 20 others.

Much has been said over the past two years about the “coarsening of political discourse” in the United States, lamenting the devolution from discussing policy differences to name-calling and even character assassination. Traditionally, we have looked to our political leaders to inspire and remind us of the higher values of democracy and what it means to universally cherish life, liberty and the pursuit of prosperity — the original meaning of “happiness” in 1776. But few would disagree with the observation that public political conversation has become more polarized and confrontational.

Yellow school buses. Fresh haircuts. Crisp, clean spiral notebooks. New names laminated on old desks. Moms and Dads and tears in elementary school parking lots. Nervous teenagers at awkward lunch tables. The early morning crack of football helmets. Marching bands practicing fight songs. These are the things of August. As memories, they are palpable because of our history, because of the hope we place in education and because of the power of teachers.

A Washington publication on July 19 portrayed Barack and Michelle Obama in a peculiar position on its cover: An illustration of a partially hidden couple peeking around the Washington Monument, with the headline, “How the Obamas became invisible. Longtime Washingtonians hoped the former president and first lady would become unofficial ambassadors for their adopted home city. Instead, they’ve kept largely out of sight.”

It is not much of a reach to say that Texas is the No. 1 gun friendly state in the Union. If not, Texas is certainly near the top of the list. Nonetheless, recent tragic events at the Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs and at Santa Fe High School have proven that even in Texas, the debate over the right to arms enumerated in the U.S. and Texas Constitutions can be animated if not downright hostile.

No more wild-eyed claims that 9/11 was a hoax, that the government was behind the Sandy Hook massacre or that the Parkland kids are “crisis actors.” No more spittle-flecked speculation about “white genocide” or how chemtrails are used for population control. Now, if you want to learn more about how the “New World Order” is bent on corralling us all into prison camps, you’re going to have to type into the address bar yourself.

For the 98 percent of Americans not involved in agriculture, the sparring in Congress every five years over the farm bill may seem like something that doesn’t affect them. But this year’s farm bill has important implications for shoppers: Can states enact trade barriers that ban common items from the grocery store?

President Donald Trump is acting with a desperation I’ve seen only once before in Washington: 45 years ago when President Richard Nixon ordered the firing of special Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox. Nixon was fixated on ending the Watergate investigation, just as Trump wants to shut down the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

America’s health-care debate is entering a new phase. Liberals, inspired by self-described socialists such as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who recently won the Democratic primary in New York’s 14th congressional district, are excited about the possibility of “Medicare for All.” Republicans have at the same time largely abandoned efforts to enact major reforms of health care.

Right-wing commentators had a field day last week with the news that Sarah Jeong, a young Korean American hired to write about technology for the New York Times editorial board, had a history of attacking “white people” on Twitter. She was predictably pilloried as a racist by the usual suspects — Fox News, the Daily Caller, Gateway Pundit, Breitbart, Infowars, etc. And understandably so. As The Washington Post noted, her tweets include: “Oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men”; “White people marking up the internet with their opinions like dogs pissing on fire hydrants”; and “#CancelWhitePeople.”

Among the happiest of prospects for most workers is the annual vacation. It offers, at least in theory, our best opportunity to pass time on our own terms. It’s freedom from the clock, from stressful demands. Some choose to spend that free time in crowded places, others in solitude. One way or another, it is time spent, we hope, just as we — not the boss, client or customer — want it to be.

Much ink has been spilled in the past few weeks — and rightly so — about the imminent threats to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) posed by the Trump administration and its allies in Congress. Critics of recently proposed policy changes — reducing protections for species deemed “threatened,” making it easier to consider economic factors in the decision to list species as endangered and generally clearing the way for faster approval of energy projects — regard them as thinly veiled giveaways to industry lobbyists and interests, rolling back regulations to favor resource extraction and risking extinction of some species.

Full disclosure: I have never seen an episode of the long-running PBS children’s show called “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.” The only reason I went to see “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” the documentary about Mr. Rogers and his show, was because we were visiting friends who very much wanted to see it. Thank you, dear friends! The movie was very special — poignant, profound, elegantly understated and brimming with kindness, warmth and understanding.

The Voting Rights Act, which aimed to abolish discriminatory voting practices, was signed into law on Aug. 6, 1965, by President Lyndon B. Johnson. At the signing ceremony attended by Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders, President Johnson called the act “a triumph for freedom as huge as any victory that has ever been won on the battlefield.”

News reports recently pointed out that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Land Commissioner George P. Bush and Commissioner of Agriculture Sid Miller aren’t planning to debate their Democratic opponents before the upcoming election. In fact, Miller’s spokesman, Todd M. Smith, said, “It’ll be a cold day in Texas before we give our opponent the opportunity to have free name recognition by having a debate.”

Like so many of my colleagues, I have covered this nation’s wars for decades, working side by side with our soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen. I have shared foxholes and flight decks with these brave Americans, and I have felt our mutual respect for the responsibility that each of us holds in our chosen professions. It has been an honor covering them and the families who support them. I am proud that I can tell their stories.

Ordinarily, we’d say it’s time to celebrate last week’s good news about four long-troubled Waco Independent School District campuses’ making sufficient academic progress to forestall threat of state-mandated closure. But Waco ISD Superintendent A. Marcus Nelson is right: The time for celebrating is short with students returning to classes this week — and whatever mix of solution and resolution so wonderfully worked for these campuses and neighborhoods must now be refined (and bottled if possible) as the new school year ensues.


What were we talking about one year ago? Take a look back.

A few weeks ago I attended a welcome and “get to know you” reception for our new Waco ISD Superintendent, Marcus Nelson. The event, sponsored by the Waco NAACP and the local chapter of educator sorority Phi Delta Kappa Inc. was a terrific success. Peaches Henry, NAACP president, told me they had put out 50 chairs before the event — by the time Nelson rose to speak they needed 200. Nelson made some fans for himself that night. His introductory speech was masterful: full of humor, passion, challenge and confidence. His speech wasn’t exactly a sermon, but there were plenty of “amens” from the congregation as he shared key elements of his educational philosophy.

Last Memorial Day, longtime Trib photographer Rod Aydelotte and I visited historic Oakwood Cemetery for a Texas Sons of Confederate Veterans tribute to veterans of the most horrendous of all American wars. A couple dozen folks showed up, including an ensemble of re-enactors who fired a salute near some Confederate figures’ graves and then, with genial apologies to this mostly aging crowd (including me), dutifully trudged onward to another part of the cemetery to do so again.