AUSTIN, Texas — The federal government has distributed more than $1 billion in housing assistance for Hurricane Harvey victims, Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday.


Pence came to Austin to meet with Gov. Greg Abbott for a briefing from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Along with housing assistance, the federal government has also approved $2.26 billion for small businesses across Texas and dedicated more than $490 million to public assistance programs. The National Flood Insurance Program has paid out more than $4.4 billion to Texans after Harvey, Pence said.


“We’ve made the full resources of the federal government available,” Pence said. “And to the people of Texas, I’m told at this point we still have 3,600 federal officials on the ground in Texas.”


Abbott mentioned his Monday meeting with Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, during which he requested $61 billion.


“I anticipate that the OMB will be issuing some suggested amount of funding later on this week,” Abbott said. “I know the House is eager to take it up, as well as the U.S. Senate. These are steps along the way as we’ve continued the rebuilding process.”


—The Dallas Morning News


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Baltimore homicide detective shot near violent West Baltimore corner


BALTIMORE — A Baltimore homicide detective was shot near a notoriously violent intersection in West Baltimore on Wednesday, according to a police source familiar with the investigation.


The officer was not immediately identified, nor was a condition given. The police department said only that a “police-involved” shooting had occurred in the 900 block of Bennett Place, in the city’s Harlem Park neighborhood, about 4:30 p.m.


The shooting was the second of a law enforcement officer in West Baltimore this month.


An off-duty Washington, D.C., police officer, Sgt. Tony Anthony Mason Jr., 40, who lived in Baltimore, was fatally shot on Nov. 4.


The location, just northwest of Route 40 and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, is a particularly violent one. More than a dozen people have been shot or killed there in recent years.


—The Baltimore Sun


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Florida city to rename Confederate streets


HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — City commissioners put an end to a long-running debate Wednesday, voting 6-0 to rechristen three Hollywood streets named for Confederate commanders.


Those names belong in history books, not on streets, they say.


Instead, the streets named for John Bell Hood, Robert E. Lee and Nathan Bedford Forrest will be known as Hope, Liberty and Freedom streets.


“I want to thank you commissioners for doing the right thing,” activist Benjamin Israel told commissioners Wednesday. “This is for future generations. Twenty years from now, I won’t be here.”


Commissioner Peter Hernandez, who thinks residents on all three streets should have been given a say in the decision, did not vote.


The battle over the street names prompted three protests — two backing the name change and one against — six arrests, one lawsuit and lots of headlines.


All three streets extend through the entire city, but only two — Forrest and Hood — run through the predominantly black Liberia neighborhood.


—Sun Sentinel


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Hariri gets French invitation as Lebanon seeks his return


WASHINGTON — Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, whose sudden resignation in Saudi Arabia sparked fears of an escalating regional conflict between the kingdom and Iran, may travel to France after receiving an invitation from President Emmanuel Macron.


Hariri, who hasn’t returned to Lebanon since his announcement on Nov. 4, will arrive in France in the “coming days,” Agence France-Presse reported, citing a source in the Elysee palace. Macron added a stop in Saudi Arabia to an international trip late last week in a sign of growing international concern over Hariri’s surprise move and its implications for regional peace.


Lebanese President Michel Aoun called Hariri a Saudi “hostage” on Wednesday and said the developments are “an act of aggression against us and our independence.”


In limited public comments and on Twitter, Hariri has sought to dispel speculation that Saudi Arabia demanded he resign because he wouldn’t confront Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Shiite Muslim group that plays a key role in Lebanon’s fragile government. The group is considered a terrorist organization by countries including Israel and the U.S., and it has provided crucial military support to President Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria’s civil war.


Oqab Saqr, a lawmaker representing Hariri’s Future Movement, said Hariri had sent him a message saying he and his family haven’t been detained and that the kingdom doesn’t harbor hostile intentions toward Lebanon.


Earlier on Wednesday, Hariri reiterated on Twitter his intention to return to Lebanon “as I have promised you,” a pledge he first made on Sunday in a television interview with his family’s Future TV.


—Bloomberg News


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