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Children can still be charged with prostitution in Texas after Greg Abbott veto

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Lawmakers praised a bill for protecting victims of human trafficking, but the governor said it it would have “unintended consequences” and could provide an incentive for human traffickers to use underage prostitutes.

Children in Texas can still be charged with prostitution after Gov. Greg Abbott this month vetoed a popular bill prohibiting prostituted minors from being arrested or going to juvenile court.

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House Bill 1771, authored by Rep. Shawn Thierry, D-Houston, would have changed the Texas penal code to not include children in its definition of prostitution. Law enforcement officers would still have the power to apprehend minors they suspected were involved in prostitution, but instead of going to jail, the children would be returned to their parents or the Texas Department of Family Protective Services.

Thierry said she was shocked to learn the Republican governor had vetoed the bill, especially since she had worked with his office throughout the session to craft the legislation. The current system, she said, only further hurts children who have been victims of sexual abuse.

“We are really depriving them of their liberty,” she said. “They can’t even consent to sex.”

In his veto, Abbott said the bill, while well-intentioned, would have had “unintended consequences.”

“The bill takes away options that law enforcement and prosecutors can use to separate victims from their traffickers,” Abbott said. “And it may provide a perverse incentive for traffickers to use underage prostitutes, knowing they cannot be arrested for engaging in prostitution.”

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A major concern around the current law is that it allows children who may have been victims of sexual predators to be punished and victimized by the legal system, Thierry said. Her legislation would have taken victims of child sex abuse to a legal guardian or protective services, not the courts.

“These are pedophiles that are having sex with children,” Thierry said. “And we are further victimizing the children and criminalizing them.”

In his veto, Abbott said efforts to reduce trafficking are to be commended, and he looks forward to working with Thierry on ways to separate victims from their traffickers, both physically and economically.

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Thierry said she is “deeply hurt and disappointed” by the veto but will return to the next session with even greater focus on changing the law.

“It is something I will make my No. 1 priority next session,” she said.

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Michael Steele hilariously shreds the RNC for spending $100K on Donald Trump Jr’s ‘dumb book nobody’s going to read’

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Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, trashed the organization he once led over revelations that donor money was used to boost sales of Donald Trump Jr.'s new book.

The former RNC chair told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that he wasn't a bit surprised by the reports, and said the GOP organization has been absolutely corrupted by President Donald Trump.

"Of course it was the RNC -- SOBs," Steele said. "Oh my god."

"Look, let me just tell you how screwed up this is," he continued. "Before I became national chairman, I had written a book on how the Republican Party can regroup after the 2008 shellacking, after the 2006, you know, bang-up at the polls, and move the party forward, and people looked at me and said, 'How dare you write a book and try to profit off of the RNC.'"

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The end of King Bibi? Indicted Netanyahu fights for future

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Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu's indictment on corruption charges prompted speculation Friday that the end of his decade-long tenure as 'King Bibi' is nigh.

The Jewish state woke up to an indicted sitting prime minister for the first time, after the country's attorney general announced late Thursday he had charged the 70-year-old with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.

After months of speculation Avichai Mandelblit's decision was the worst possible outcome for Netanyahu, hitting him with the most serious charges.

Israel's longest-serving premier swiftly hit back, vowing to fight on and accusing the police and legal system of bias against the right-wing in an often angry speech.

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First Saudi woman driver to race car in kingdom

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Sliding behind the wheel of a sleek electric SUV, Reema Juffali is set to blaze a trail in male-dominated motor sports as the first Saudi woman to race in the kingdom.

Such adrenalin rushes were unimaginable for women in the ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom until June last year, when it overturned the world's only ban on female motorists as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's wide-ranging liberalization drive.

Juffali, a 27-year-old who made her motoring debut just months after the decades-old ban ended, will compete Friday and Saturday in the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY, an all-electric race in Diriyah, close to the capital Riyadh.

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