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September 10, 2019

President Trump might not want to look at a new poll conducted by Univision and the University of Houston.

The survey shows six Democratic presidential candidates leading the incumbent in Texas. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has the healthiest lead over Trump — a 48 percent to 42 percent edge. Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden has Trump beat 47 percent to 43 percent, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is ahead 44 percent to 42 percent. Those three, frequently considered the front-runners in the Democratic primaries, don't come as a huge surprise, but Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) also hold slight advantages. Former Housing Secretary and homegrown Texan Julián Castro is the sixth candidate that Texas would seemingly support over Trump; he has a three point lead over the commander-in-chief.

Those are the only six candidates highlighted in the survey for this particular question. Oddly, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) is not pitted against Trump, though among the Democratic candidates, he finished second only to Biden in the survey, and led all other candidates by seven points or more among Texas Latinx voters. So it appears the El Paso native is doing pretty well in his home state at the moment.

The poll also revealed that 40 percent of voters would vote for any Democratic candidate over Trump, compared to just 33 percent who are committed to voting for the president. The poll was conducted between Aug. 31 and Sept. 6 on the phone and online. It consisted of 1,004 voters and the margin of error was 3.1 percent. See the full results here. Tim O'Donnell

12:11 p.m.

Exposure to air pollution during pregnancy can result in pollution particles reaching the fetus through the placenta, a new study suggests.

This could negatively impact the baby's health throughout their lifespan, per the study, published this week in Nature Communications, as adult diseases may originate in the fetal stage as the result of in utero environmental exposures.

The placenta was previously thought to be impenetrable, reports CNN, and any miscarriages or premature births linked to pollution were thought to be the result of impacts on the health of the mother.

But researchers from the study detected black carbon particles from air pollution breathed in by the mother had made their way to the placenta. Black carbon pollution stems from diesel-powered cars and the burning of coal, CNN reports.

The study analyzed 25 non-smoking women in Belgium, and studied the fetus-facing side of their placentas after birth. More black carbon exposure during pregnancy led to more black carbon found in the placenta, which may be "at least partially responsible for detrimental health effects from early life onwards," per the study. Read more at CNN. Taylor Watson

12:06 p.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) unveiled a new plan to tackle America's affordable housing crisis Wednesday, just one day after President Trump made headlines when he criticized the problem of homelessness in California.

Sanders, who hopes to challenge Trump in 2020 as the Democratic presidential nominee, laid out a series of ideas to rehabilitate America's public housing, make rent more affordable, strengthen tenant rights, end homelessness, and make it easier for people to purchase a home. He also carved out a section dedicated to combating gentrification.

"While we expand and build new housing, we must ensure that current tenants and homeowners are not forced out of their homes or neighborhoods," the plan reads. "We must also ensure that wealthy and exclusionary neighborhoods do no not prevent new development, forcing gentrification and displacement in low-income and minority areas."

Some of the ways Sanders would go about this, if elected, include instilling new zoning ordinances that encourage "racial, economic, and disability integration that makes housing more affordable." But there are also more specific proposals aimed at speculators within the plan. That includes a 25 percent "House Flipping tax" that would be levied against people who sell a non-owner occupied property at a profit within five years of purchase, and a two percent "Empty Homes tax" on the property value of vacant, owned homes in the hopes of bringing more units into the market and discouraging speculative real estate investments. Read the full plan here. Tim O'Donnell

11:32 a.m.

President Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski went almost right from testifying that it's fine to lie to the media to doing an interview with the media, and you can probably imagine the result.

Lewandowski appeared on CNN's New Day Wednesday after speaking in a House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing Tuesday, during which he said, after being confronted with an admittedly incorrect statement he made in an interview, that he has "no obligation to be honest with the media."

CNN's Alisyn Camerota, naturally, confronted Lewandowski about this admission, although he mostly evaded her questions by repeatedly bringing up former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a CNN contributor, allegedly lying to federal investigators. What Lewandowski never said was that he does not, in fact, lie to the media on a regular basis, instead claiming that he is "as honest as I can be as often as I can be."

Even when Camerota directly asked Lewandowski whether he is currently lying in this very interview, Lewandowski dodged and offered the exact same answer, repeating, "I'm as honest as I can be with you, Alisyn." CNN faced criticism Wednesday for booking Lewandowski for this mostly unproductive interview immediately after his defense of being dishonest in interviews, with The Daily Beast's Sam Stein writing the decision "left me feeling intense despair." Brendan Morrow

10:59 a.m.

Most polls indicate South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is in the tier just below the frontrunners in the Democratic presidential primary race. But he's first in the hearts and minds of his fellow mayors.

In an open letter published by USA Today on Wednesday, more than 50 mayors across the country — including from cities like Austin, Texas; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Dayton, Ohio — threw their collective weight behind Buttigieg. "We endorse him from heartland towns, coastal cities, suburban communities, and every other corner of our great country," the mayors wrote.

But the mayoral cavalry is reportedly not just sitting at their desks, hacking away at their keyboards. "What's more, in the spirit of the community of mayors, we are already offering Pete our best ideas and helping engage grassroots supporters all across the country," the letter continues.

The mayors also laid out their argument for why their job is the perfect stepping stone for the presidency. They can't afford to deal with inaction and gridlock that result from partisan squabbles because their residents "expect electricity when they flip on the switch, clean water from their taps, and trash picked up regularly." It would be "unthinkable," they claim for a mayor like Buttigieg to shut down the government "because of a petty ideological disagreement." Mayors, in other words, just get things done.

Who knows if the endorsements will help rally voters for Buttigieg in the mayors' cities, but it's always nice to see some solidarity across a profession —though Buttigieg's fellow Democratic candidate New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio would probably disagree. Read the letter at .. Tim O'Donnell

10:31 a.m.

Citing alarming U.S. data about the dangers of vaping, India is banning e-cigarettes.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the ban Wednesday, saying it covers "e-cigarette production, manufacturing, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, storage, and advertisement," reports CNN.

An emergency ordinance will be issued in a few days, and will be converted into law during the next Parliament session, per CNN. Those who violate the ban could face one year of prison time, a $1,400 fine, or both.

Sitharaman said the move was an effort to control the potential "epidemic". Vaping is slowly gaining popularity in India, NDTV reports.

Seven people in the U.S. have died from vaping-related illnesses, and hundreds are being treated for lung illnesses that may be linked to e-cigarettes, CNN reports. Sitharaman said the U.S. deaths had compounded local fears about the devices, contributing to the decision to ban them outright to reduce risk. Read more at CNN. Taylor Watson

9:50 a.m.

President Trump officially has his new national security adviser.

A week after announcing the exit of John Bolton, Trump said Wednesday his new national security adviser is Robert O'Brien, who currently serves as U.S. hostage envoy. Trump in July sent O'Brien to Sweden amid rapper A$AP Rocky's assault trial.

Trump last week said he asked for Bolton's the resignation because he "disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions," although Bolton disputed Trump's characterization of his exit and said he offered his resignation. O'Brien, who now replaces Bolton, will be Trump's fourth national security adviser in fewer than three years.

In his tweet announcing the news, Trump said he has "worked long & hard with Robert," although The New York Times' Maggie Haberman reports Trump "didn't really know him" but "liked his portfolio." The Wall Street Journal previously reported that Trump "liked the look of" O'Brien, which the Journal wrote is a "key condition for many Trump appointments."

Trump himself, however, has downplayed the importance of the national security adviser job.

"It's a lot of fun to work with Donald Trump," Trump said last week. "And it's very easy, actually, to work with me. You know why it’s easy? Because I make all the decisions. They don't have to work." Brendan Morrow

9:47 a.m.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is expected to announce a radical new plan Wednesday that would make tuition at public universities and colleges free for all state residents, The New York Times reports.

The proposal, which will require legislative approval, would apply to all 29 of the state's two- and four-year higher education institutions. Family income wouldn't be a factor, and the proposal also includes funds for adults looking to return to school at community colleges. Similarly, there would not be any restrictions regarding a student's immigration status. It's projected to benefit around 55,000 students per year and cost somewhere between $25 million and $35 million annually, Carmen Lopez-Wilson, the deputy secretary of New Mexico's Higher Education Department, told the Times.

"This program is an absolute game changer for New Mexico," Lujan Grisham said in a statement. "In the long run, we'll see improved economic growth, improved outcomes for New Mexican workers and families and parents."

The plan, however, will strictly cover tuition, not living expenses, and funds would be available only after students draw from existing state aid programs and federal grants, the Times reports. Lujan Grishman's office is also not anticipating any easy path to the proposal's passage — even though the both New Mexico chambers are controlled by Democrats, fiscal conservatives throughout the state reportedly still have a hefty amount of bargaining power. "This will take some high-quality politicking from the governor and others to make it happen," Tripp Stelnicki, a spokesman for the Democratic governor, said.

But the Times reports that state legislators have recently shown a willingness to increase spending on public education. Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

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