BG Note | News - What We're Reading (April 18, 2018)


[Austin Metro]

Dockless scooters and bikes zip through Mobility Committee (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY

City Council’s Mobility Committee learned on Tuesday afternoon that when it comes to dockless bikes and scooters, the last foot is the technology’s biggest problem.
That was the message at least from Jason JonMichael, assistant director of smart mobility with the Austin Transportation Department.
Along with Austin Transportation Director Rob Spillar, JonMichael briefed the committee on the department’s request for an accelerated process to tweak local law and authorize permits by May 1 for companies that provide free-floating electric shared-use mobility services, otherwise known as dockless bikes and scooters...

High-intensity, mixed-use redevelopment of IBM Broadmoor Campus gets initial Austin City Council approval (Community Impact) LINK TO STORY

A high-intensity, mixed-use redevelopment of the IBM Broadmoor Campus in North Austin is poised for final approval by Austin City Council following an initial thumbs up at the April 12 City Council meeting.
IBM has occupied the roughly 66-acre tract at 11501 Burnet Road since the campus’s development in 1991. Future plans for the campus include a mixed-use development with a new Capital Metro Rail Station, at least 2,000 housing units and building heights of up to 360 feet.
The plan has the full support of the nearby Gracywoods Neighborhood Association, and the zoning change request that would allow the development to double its height earned first-reading approval from Austin City Council on April 12. City Council will conduct a public hearing before the final two readings of the zoning change sometime around May...

Alex Jones facing four lawsuits calling him to account for “fake news” (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

The parents of children killed in the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn., have filed suit against Alex Jones and InfoWars for suggesting the death of their children was a “hoax,” setting the stage for what could be a landmark Austin trial on where to draw the line between free speech and libel in the era of fake news. “We’re not settling; everything is going to come out,” Bill Ogden, one of the Houston attorneys who filed two suits Monday on behalf of Sandy Hook parents, told the American-Statesman on Tuesday.
“There’s not a financial interest in filing these lawsuits. It’s personal.” “We have filed for in excess of $1 million in damages, but we’re going to let the great citizens of Travis County, Texas, decide the actual number to show the consequences of Mr. Jones’ actions,” Ogden said of the lawsuits filed on behalf of Sandy Hook parents Neil Heslin, Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa...

Study finds serious shortcomings in Travis County indigent defense (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

Travis County officials may increase pay for indigent defense lawyers, in response to a recent study that found that poor defendants are receiving worse representation in low-level felony drug cases than those who hire their own lawyers.
County Judge Sarah Eckhardt will announce a proposal Tuesday at the Commissioner’s Court to discontinue a flat-fee schedule that she says discourages quality courtroom advocacy.
For example, Eckhardt said it is not uncommon for a defendant with a court-appointed attorney to be nudged into pleading guilty by a lawyer who gains nothing by fighting to get the case dismissed. A lawyer is paid $550 if a case ends in a plea deal and is paid that same amount if the case ends in a dismissal...


Texas bump stock maker halts production amid Las Vegas massacre backlash (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY

Texas-based bump stock maker Slide Fire will stop sales on May 20, the company announced on its website Tuesday. Slide Fire is the country's largest manufacturer of the device, which allows a semi-automatic rifle to fire at nearly automatic rates. Bump stocks were found on multiple guns in the hotel room used as a sniper’s perch during a Las Vegas rampage on Oct. 1 that left nearly 60 people dead. Some lawmakers demanded a federal ban. President Donald Trump last month ordered the Justice Department and Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to revisit an Obama-era ATF decision classifying the device as an accessory the agency had no authority to regulate...

Texas is resettling almost 80 percent fewer refugees (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY

Texas has resettled dramatically fewer refugees in the past year, figures from Refugee Services of Texas show. The organization said 3,518 people were resettled between October 2016 and March 2017. Between October 2017 and March of this year, only 736 were resettled. That’s a 79 percent decrease. ... Simone Talma Flowers, executive director of Interfaith Action of Central Texas, said the past year has been difficult. Her group provides services like English classes to refugees in Austin. “We know that there is a world refugee crisis happening,” she said. “This is the worst refugee crisis since World War II, and yet we are seeing such a harsh decline in the numbers of refugees that are new arrivals.”...


Barbara Bush, Former First Lady And Literacy Advocate, Dies At 92 (KUT) LINK TO STORY

Barbara Pierce Bush, matriarch of the Bush family and former first lady of the United States, died Tuesday at 92.
"Barbara Bush was a fabulous First Lady and a woman unlike any other who brought levity, love, and literacy to millions," her son, former President George W. Bush, said in a statement. "To us, she was so much more. Mom kept us on our toes and kept us laughing until the end." 
Bush had recently been hospitalized with complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and the family decided earlier this month to focus more on “comfort care.” Bush was a fixture in the White House  from 1981 through 1993 during her husband’s tenure first as vice president and later as president...

Supreme Court divided on whether states should tax all online sales (Washington Post) LINK TO STORY

More than 40 states, the Trump administration and three justices have criticized the Supreme Court’s 1992 decision that keeps states from collecting sales tax from retailers without a physical presence in those states, saying it is obsolete in an era of e-commerce. But it was unclear after an hour of oral arguments Tuesday whether a majority of the court is ready to reverse the decision, or whether the issue of sales tax on online purchases is best left to Congress and the marketplace. [Supreme Court considers whether states may tax all online sales] South Dakota has passed a law requiring retailers with more than $100,000 in annual sales or 200 transactions in the state to pay a 4.5 percent tax...

IRS to extend tax deadline after Tax Day computer glitch prevented filings (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY

The Internal Revenue Service announced Tuesday that the agency experienced technical issues with its e-File and Direct Pay systems and extended the tax deadline for last-minute filers. Taxpayers were unable to access the system earlier in the day, but just after 5 p.m. the sytem appeared to be working properly. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who oversees the IRS,  announced the agency would offer an extension for those affected by the outage, and said a “technical issue” caused the problem...

CIA Director Pompeo Met With Kim Jong Un: 'Good Relationship' Formed, Trump Says (NPR) LINK TO STORY

CIA Director Mike Pompeo made a secret visit to North Korea earlier this month and met with leader Kim Jong Un — a meeting that "went very smoothly," President Trump said on Wednesday.
Saying that "a good relationship was formed," Trump added that the direct contact with North Korea — a rare step for the U.S. — was made to work out details of a possible Trump-Kim summit...

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