Don't Mess with Texas, Texas
April 29, 2014
CC by: Texas State Library

In lots of ways, Texas has been a huge success story under the watch of Gov. Rick Perry (R). Perry has gotten some sharp elbows for his job-poaching tours of other states, but on Monday Toyota announced it is moving its U.S. headquarters to Plano, outside Dallas, from the Los Angeles suburbs. It isn't the first company to leave California, or another state, for Texas. The Lone Star State added 1.3 million residents from 2010 to 2013, according to U.S. Census data. That's more than any other state.

Perry, the state's Republican-dominated legislature, and many analysts attribute this growth and low unemployment rate to the combination of low taxes, lax regulation, few public services, and tracking-related gas boom. What's indisputable is that most of the people are headed to Texas' already sizable cities: Houston (pop. 2.2 million) added 34,625 people from July 2011 to July 2012, while Austin (pop. 843,000) expanded by 25,395 residents. Austin, which still thinks of itself as a funky college town, is now the 11th largest city in the U.S., adding about 100 new people each day. Here's what Texas' growth looks like in graph form, via The Wall Street Journal:

But the Texas system, like every other governing philosophy in the world, has weak points, and the two big ones in the Lone Star State are water and transportation infrastructure. Texas is in a multi-year drought, and the population growth is putting a further strain on water resources. And then there's the aging and inadequate roads and public transportation: Texans, like many Americans, really like their cars and don't particularly like traffic. Austin has the fourth worst traffic in the U.S.

There are other growing pains, too. "We are already straining our systems for water, power, schools, and roads," Texas State Demographer Lloyd Potter, a Perry appointee, tells The Wall Street Journal. "And they'll continue to be stressed unless we invest more heavily."

Most of the problems are fixable with money, but Texans — most lawmakers and residents — don't want to raise the money to fix them. There's no state income tax in Texas, so all those poached jobs add money to the state coffers only indirectly, through things like sales and property taxes and service fees. Instead of raising taxes to build new roads, Texas lawmakers prefer to let private companies build an incompatible array of toll highways.

The problems aren't going away. By 2040, demographers predict that Texas will have 40 million residents, from more than 26 million today. If the water becomes scarce and roads semi-permanent parking lots, that prediction probably won't come to fruition. Peter Weber

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3:11 a.m. ET

If you're wondering how Jimmy Kimmel Live got to air the first trailer for Captain America: Civil War, it helps to remember that both the Avengers movie franchise and ABC are part of the Disney universe. In this new clip, Captain America (Chris Evans) has to choose between his evidently most-wanted friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and his Avengers allies, especially Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and War Machine (Don Cheadle). The whole gang is there, and it looks like it gets ugly. "Sometimes I want to punch you in your perfect teeth," Downey's Tony Stark tells Cap, and by the end of the trailer, he gets his chance. Wired has a more detailed breakdown of the trailer, but you can also just watch below. Peter Weber

By the numbers
2:38 a.m. ET

The U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State sends off two bombing sorties every hour, and has for more than 450 days. That can be hard to visualize, so BBC News added an audio component in this fascinating look at how the anti-ISIS bombing campaign compares with previous wars. If two bombing raids an hour "sounds relentless," says the BBC's Neal Razzell, "listen to what Serbia faced during the 1999 NATO bombing campaign," or Iraq faced in the 2003 U.S. invasion. All of those pale to the number of bombs the U.S. alone dropped each hour during World War II — though it should be noted that bombs before 1945 were generally neither as precise nor as powerful as the ones being deployed against ISIS, and WWII was fought on a much larger stage. Still, the comparison is eye-opening as the world tries to figure out the best way to defeat ISIS. Watch below. Peter Weber

Late Night Antics
2:13 a.m. ET

Can't keep track of what Donald Trump has been up to this week? Seth Meyers is here to help you catch up, with his Late Night segment "A Closer Look." Meyers breaks down the Republican presidential candidate's claims that he saw American Muslims cheering in New Jersey following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks; his inability to understand how television works; and his retweeting of a chart with incorrect data on crime statistics. "The source of this was the Crime Statistics Bureau San Francisco, which it turns out isn't a real thing," Meyers said. "It doesn't exist. It's one of those names that sounds less like a government agency and more like a police drama on CBS." Watch the clip below. Catherine Garcia

Voting Rights
1:45 a.m. ET
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) issued an executive order granting voting rights to about 140,000 nonviolent felons who have completed this sentences. "Once an individual has served his or her time and paid all restitution, society expects them to reintegrate into their communities and become law-abiding and productive citizens," Beshear said at a news conference. "A key part of that transition is the right to vote."

Beshear noted that Governor-elect Matt Bevin (R) or some future governor can reverse his order, and urged the state legislature to amend the state constitution. Bevin has been supportive of restoring some felon voting rights, but his transition team said it had no prior warning of Beshear's order and needs to study it. Kentucky was one of three states, along with Iowa and Florida, where felons were barred from voting for life unless they received a special exemption from the governor. These restrictions disproportionately affect African-Americans, and in Kentucky, more than 22 percent of black voters are disenfranchised, three times the national average and among the highest rates in the nation, according state Sen. Gerald Neal (D).

Beshear's order automatically restores voting rights for newly released felons who were not convicted of violent or sex crimes, bribery, or treason. Felons already out of prison will have to fill out a form available online or at parole and probation offices. Eligible felons will also get back the right to hold public office but not possess a firearm and are not pardoned of their crimes.

"This disenfranchisement makes no sense," Beshear said. "It makes no sense because it dilutes the energy of democracy, which functions only if all classes and categories of people have a voice, not just a privileged, powerful few. It makes no sense because it defeats a primary goal of our corrections system, which is to rehabilitate those who have committed crimes." Peter Weber

what a gift
1:22 a.m. ET
Ty Wright/Getty Images

Donald Trump revealed on Tuesday he has a secret weapon when it comes to national security: He has the ability to foresee all kinds of terrible things way before they happen.

"Another thing I predicted is terrorism," the Republican presidential candidate said during an event in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. "Because I can feel it. My father always used to say... everything you touch just turns to gold, and he's got a great sense of location and business and things." The modern-day Nostradamus said that before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, he predicted the rising threat of Osama bin Laden in a book, The Washington Post reports. If someone had actually read that book, he believes the World Trade Center would never have been hit. "I saw he was making trouble," Trump said. "He had a big mouth, and he was talking. Not that I know, but I watch, and I see, and I wrote.... That's what it's about: It's about vision, folks.... If we took him out, we would have two beautiful buildings standing there instead of one okay building, all right?"

He reiterated other familiar talking points, including his new claim that he saw American Muslims cheering in New Jersey after the attacks. He insisted there is coverage of the celebrations but the "liberal media" is hiding the evidence, and said he's received "hundreds of phone calls" from people saying they too saw people cheering. Trump also brought onstage a man in the audience dressed like him, saying, "This is what I call a real supporter." Speaking to the man's wife, Trump then asked: "Are you happy with your husband? She said yes! She fantasizes that he's really the real Donald Trump." If Trump predicted that comment would make everyone uncomfortable, he'd be right. Catherine Garcia

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12:13 a.m. ET

Maybe Adele should have started off "Hello" with a ukulele. On Tuesday night, The Tonight Show posted a video of Monday's guest, Adele, singing her hit song in a small greenroom with Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, using a dinky drum machine and a bunch of instruments you might find in a grade school music class. These "classroom instrument" sessions are almost always a great way to show off a singer and the song, and "Hello" suffers little or nothing from being stripped down to, in some cases, acoustic toys. Still, it would be nice if The Roots left the kazoos at home next time. Watch below. Peter Weber

12:11 a.m. ET

President Obama presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to several notable names in entertainment, sports, and politics Tuesday, including filmmaker Steven Spielberg, baseball legend Willie Mays, singer and actress Barbra Streisand, and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md).

Obama said the recipients contributed "to America's strength as a nation," and pointed out the different ways they made a difference in the country. Mays, he said, "helped carry forward the banner of civil rights. It's because of giants like Willie that someone like me could even think about running for president." Spielberg creates films that are "marked by a faith in our common humanity," and NASA mathematician Katherine G. Johnson had the task of calculating trajectories for the first U.S. mission in space and the Apollo 11 moon landing. "If you think your job is pressure-packed, hers meant that forgetting to carry the one might send somebody floating off into the solar system," Obama said.

Other honorees include composer Stephen Sondheim; conductor and violinist Itzhak Perlman; singer Gloria Estefan; music producer Emilio Estefan; veterans activist Bonnie Carroll; singer James Taylor; former Indiana Rep. Lee Hamilton; and former EPA head William Ruckelshaus. Baseball great Yogi Berra; Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress; Indian treaty rights advocate Billy Frank Jr.; and civil rights activist Minoru Yasui were all honored posthumously. Yasui took a stand in 1942 by ignoring the military curfew for Japanese Americans and going for a walk in Portland, and Obama said his legacy has "never been more important. It is a call to our national conscience, a reminder of our enduring obligation to be the land of the free and the home of the brave, an America worthy of his sacrifice." Catherine Garcia

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