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Failures in Corruption Investigations at the Border: Wednesday’s Show (December 16, 2015)

On Tuesday (Dec. 15 2015), Gov. Greg Abbott announced Texas National Guard troops would remain at the Mexico border. Their nearly 18-month mission — prompted by an influx of unaccompanied children pouring into the country — was supposed to end this month, but it will now continue amid another wave of arrivals. Of course, it’s not just […]

On Tuesday (Dec. 15 2015), Gov. Greg Abbott announced Texas National Guard troops would remain at the Mexico border. Their nearly 18-month mission — prompted by an influx of unaccompanied children pouring into the country — was supposed to end this month, but it will now continue amid another wave of arrivals.

Of course, it’s not just the National Guard working at the border. Customs and Border Protection is there, too. It’s the largest federal law enforcement agency under the Department of Homeland Security. CBP enforces trade, customs and immigration. Last week, the Austin-based Texas Observer, in partnership with The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institutepublished a report examining failures to properly investigate corruption within CBP, including a few hundred cases alleging either bribery or smuggling. According to the Texas Observer article, when the Bush Administration placed a variety of departments under DHS in 2002 as a means to (as President Bush put it then) “unite essential agencies,”  the move instead created what the Observer calls a “complex web of internal affairs bodies” in “one mega-bureaucracy.”

On this edition of Houston Matters, we talk with Texas Observer reporters Melissa del Bosque and Patrick Michels about how that organizational structure may have helped motivate one office of investigators with too many cases and too few agents to try to cover up its own inaction.  

Also this hour: Environment Texas has released a report charting the progress of wind power in Texas since 2001. The environmental group is hoping to spur Congress to pass another round of wind production tax credits. Such PTCs are given to utilities based on how much electricity they generate from wind. Congress renewed the wind incentive last year, but has not done so for 2015. We talk with Luke Metzger of Environment Texas about why he wants to see the wind production tax credit renewed. Then we hear from Mark Mills from the conservative think tank the Manhattan Institute, who explains why he opposes the credit.

Then: Dr. Elaine Ecklund directs Rice University’s Religion and Public Life Program. She also recently conducted a survey of scientists worldwide to examine their views on religion. The results defy long-held assumptions among some that scientists are all, by definition, atheists. We talk with Ecklund about her survey and its findings.

Plus: Chef and restaurateur Ronnie Killen grew up in Pearland. And while he travelled the world, and studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and London, when it came time to open his own restaurants, he returned home. In fact, one of his restaurants is located across the street from his high school. Houston Matters’ Edel Howlin talks with Killen about what drives him, and why Pearland has such a hold on him.

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