US Mexico Border

Texas Governor Orders National Guard To Assist With Arrests At US-Mexico Border

Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered the state’s national guard members to help assist the Department of Public Safety in arresting undocumented immigrants at the US-Mexico border. 

Abbott’s order was a part of a letter sent to Major General Tracy R. Norris of the Texas Military Department. The order itself expands upon Abbott’s June declaration which directed the DPS to enforce all federal and state criminal laws. These laws include anything involving criminal trespassing, smuggling, and human trafficking. 

Embed from Getty Images

“That declaration had allowed the use of all available state resources to assist state and local law enforcement in protecting Texans from criminal activity and property damage,” according to news reports. 

“To respond to this disaster and secure the rule of law at our Southern border, more manpower is needed,” Abbott wrote in the letter

“DPS needs help in arresting those who are violating state law. … I hereby order that the Texas National Guard assist DPS in enforcing Texas law by arresting lawbreakers at the border.”

The order comes after the Biden Administration announced its plans to tackle the surge of migration and illegal contraband coming into the country through the border. 

Embed from Getty Images

“President Biden’s open-border policies have paved the way for dangerous gangs and cartels, human traffickers, and deadly drugs like fentanyl to pour into our communities,” Abbott said in a statement.

In June, border authorities stopped around 188,800 crossings, which was the highest for the entire year. The previous high of about 180,000 was set in May of this year. 

“People think that this is a border-related issue and it is, but this is also an issue that affects counties across the entire state of Texas.”

Abbott held a security briefing at the Texas state house in Austin this month, where sheriffs from local communities have expressed concern over a lack of manpower, jail space, and judges on the local level. So while the governor is focusing on combating illegal activity at the border, local authorities are struggling to protect their own communities.

Texas State Capitol

Texas Lawmakers Present Permit-Free Gun Carrying Law To Governor 

Texas legislators approved the final version of a bill that will allow residents to openly carry a handgun without a permit. Now, the bill is making its way to Governor Greg Abbott’s desk for his review and signature. 

House Bill 1927 would allow any individual who is legally allowed to possess a firearm in the state to carry a handgun in public spaces without a permit. Texas isn’t the first conservative state to pass measures such as this this year either. Meanwhile President Joe Biden has been taking action to strengthen gun restrictions in wake of the multiple mass shootings that have occurred this year. 

Once signed, the bill will go into effect in September, making Texas the largest state to allow its gun owners to carry weapons in public without a license. Abbott already claimed that he would be signing the bill once it made it through the legislature. 

Embed from Getty Images

“I’ll be signing it. I support it and I believe it should reach my desk and we should have ‘constitutional carry’ in Texas.”

The bill itself passed through Texas legislative chambers earlier this month but was later sent to a separate conference committee to negotiate changes from both parties. The committee reached a final agreement on the bill this past Friday, and the Texas Senate approved the bill on Monday after the Texas House passed it on Sunday. 

Texas already allows citizens to carry rifles openly without a license, but the current law states that residents must have a license in order to carry an open or concealed handgun. Part of the licensing process includes residents submitting a fingerprint, undergoing a background check, participating in a training course, and passing a shooting proficiency test. 

Embed from Getty Images

The Texas Department of Public Safety will now be required to also post a free online course on firearm safety and handling on its website as a part of the new bill. 

Many republican supporters of the bill refer to it as a “constitutional carry,” and have always argued that the licensing requirement to carry a gun should be removed as it represents an “artificial barrier” to residents’ second amendment right to bear arms. 

Democrats and law enforcement officials, however, have been adamant about the fact that the bill also eliminates mandatory firearms training that works to help protect the public. Additionally, law enforcement are worried about how much more difficult it’s going to be to determine who’s unlawfully carrying a weapon. 

Iowa, Tennessee, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming have all passed legislation this year that allows residents to carry without a permit. Nineteen states currently allow permitless carry as well.

Matthew McConaughey Is Apparently ‘Making Calls’ About Running For Texas Governor

According to reports, Matthew McConaughey is seriously considering a run for Texas Governor after sources claimed that the “‘Dallas Buyers Club’ star has been quietly making calls to influential people in Texas political circles as he mulls a run for governor.”

McConaughey was born in Uvalde, Texas, and currently lives in the state capitol of Austin with his wife and children. Last year he hinted at a run for governor after an appearance on a podcast following the release of his autobiography where he claimed running for governor was something he was “truly considering.” 

Embed from Getty Images

“I’m looking into it now again, what is my leadership role? Because I do think I have some things to teach and share, and what is my role? What’s my category in my next chapter of life that I’m going into?”

Brendan Steinhauser, an Austin-based Republican strategist, told Politico  he was “a little more surprised that people aren’t taking him more seriously, honestly. Celebrity in this country counts for a lot … it’s not like some C-list actor no one likes. He has an appeal.”

This isn’t the first time the entertainment industry has collided with American politics; we all remember who our president was the past four years, additionally Ronald Reagan was an actor before his time in politics, as well as famous bodybuilder and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger who became the governor of California. 

Besides McConaughey, reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner is also considering running for governor in her state of California. This is a part of a major effort from California Republicans who want to recall Gavin Newsom. 

Embed from Getty Images

Current Republican governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, is seeking a third term next year, and is already polling rather successfully despite his mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic and the massive winter storm that cripples the state’s power grid and left 125 dead. 

Karl Rove, a senior adviser to George W Bush, the last governor of Texas who went on to become President, claims that he’s not surprised by McConaughey’s decision to run, and he’s curious to see how he’s going to align himself politically.

“McConaughey running for governor was seen as improbable but never out of the question. So now the real question is will he run as a Republican? Democrat? Independent? Where exactly does he fall on the political scale? He says he has a funny phrase about being a hardcore centrist, but what party would he run under?”

Proggressive and democrat citizens in Texas are hoping McConaughey doesn’t run as independent and instead runs as a Democrat so that the vote would be more evenly split between him and Abbott.

US Covid Vaccine

President Biden Urging Governors To Be Patient With Vaccine Rollouts As Reopenings Begin

Biden warned the nation this week that we must remain vigilant and protect one another from Covid-19 spreading any further while we wait to be vaccinated.

Texas Update: Recovery Projected To Take Months For Some Residents 

Texas officials are continuing to work on turning the power back on for the remaining households still left in the dark while they also navigate widespread water shortages and disruptions. It’s currently expected that some residents could take weeks or months to recover from the excessive damage done by this deadly winter storm. 

“For many people in our city with means, with insurance, this week has been a significant inconvenience, but they have the means and ability to quickly transition and move forward. For many people in our city who are already on the margins … and were fighting every day just to keep a roof over their head and food in their refrigerator, this past week has been a major, major event and has really disrupted their lives. For many of these individuals, many of these families, they will be in crisis mode for weeks and months to come,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner stated. 

Embed from Getty Images

As of Monday this week more than 15,000 individuals are still left without power. Texas Governor Greg Abott said that he expects power to be fully restored to every house by the end of the day. Meanwhile, over 8.8 million Texans are still experiencing water disruptions. These disruptions have impacted more than 1,200 water systems in 199 counties in the state. 

According to Gary Rasp, a media specialist for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, “147 public water systems serving around 120,000 people are non operational. About 258 boil water notices have been rescinded as of this weekend.”

“Customers should flush their water system by running cold-water faucets for at least one minute, cleaning automatic ice makers by making and discarding several batches of ice, and running water softeners through a regeneration cycle,” Houston officials said in a news release.

For residents experiencing excessive property damage, Abbott claims that more plumbers and electrical workers will be deployed to help meet the high demand of customers with broken pipes or faulty wirings. He also recommends documenting all damage before moving to recover. 

Embed from Getty Images

“If you do not have insurance, you may qualify for a FEMA reimbursement. We have had FEMA assistance granted by the federal government and part of that is individual assistance that will assist individuals whose homes or apartments have been harmed because of the winter storm. If so, you’ll need to document any type of loss that you have. Residents should also connect with their local emergency response coordinator to provide that information to be able to receive a reimbursement,” the governor said. 

Turner also spoke to her cities residents and claimed that the government is “Recognizing that there are many families who are in situations where they don’t have insurance, they don’t have the financial means to make the repairs … their ceilings have fallen in, and furniture and other things have been damaged, and they’re really stressing out in terms of how do we move forward … we’re working to put together a relief fund to help assist people.”

Abbott also announced that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits can be used to buy hot food and ready-to-eat meals at all retailers that accept SNAP payments. The government is also working nonstop to combat an increase in energy costs that have come as a result of this storm. However, the lack of preparedness for a disaster of this magnitude has actually exposed just how faulty the energy systems in this country are to handle the drastic effects of climate change. Only time will tell how much longer our government prolonged making the necessary changes to our nation’s infrastructure to better protect from and prevent climate damage.

Texas Storm Exposes Just How Unprepared US Energy Grids Are For Climate Change

Electric grid regulators throughout the US are claiming that the nation must develop new and vast supplies of energy storage to cope with future climate change related incidents.

Netflix on TV Screen

Texas Grand Jury Indicts Netflix For Controversial ‘Cuties’ Film 

A grand jury located in Tyler County, Texas has indicted Netflix on criminal charges that allege the streaming service is promoting “lewd visual material of a child” within their new film “Cuties.” The French film originally premiered at Sundance film festival earlier this year and was meant to be a commentary on the over-sexualization of children in the media and online with influencer culture, however, to a majority of viewers it felt as though the film is more so contributing to that problem, rather than speaking out against it. 

The director of the film, Maïmouna Doucoure, has defended the film multiple times, despite the multiple petitions and calls for Netflix to remove the film from the platforms. According to IMDB, “Cuties” follows an 11-year-old girl named Amy who joins a new group of dancers called the cuties. Amy eventually “grows aware of her burgeoning femininity – upsetting her mother and her values in the process.” 

Embed from Getty Images

“I decided to make this film and sound an alarm and say we need to protect our children. It’s bold, it’s feminist, but it’s so important and necessary to create debate and try to find solutions, for me as an artist, for politicians and parents. It’s a real issue.”

Many individuals didn’t feel the same way as Doucoure, and viewed the film to be a hypersexualization of the young girls that are meant to be seen as empowered. In the official complaint filed, the grand jury claims Netflix knowingly promoted inappropriate visual material which  “depicts the lewd exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of a clothed or partially clothed child who was younger than 18 years of age at the time the visual material was created, which appeals to the prurient interest in sex, and has no serious, literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”

Netflix has already defended the decision to keep the project on the platform, claiming that the film is a “powerful story about the pressure young girls face on social media and from society more generally growing up.” To which the public responded, can’t we have that discussion without further contributing to the problem by advertising a movie about 11-year-olds doing inappropriate dance moves. 

Embed from Getty Images

It’s a major point of contention that has opened a much larger conversation regarding the sexualization of young people in TV and film. This past Tuesday, Netflix released another statement defending the film, stating that it’s a social commentary and they “stand by the film.”

Initially the movie sparked a backlash movement on Twitter with the hashtag #CancelNetflix, and for Tyler County District Attorney Lucas Babin, he knew right away that there was “probable cause to believe it [the movie] was criminal.” 

“The legislators of this state believe promoting certain lewd material of children has destructive consequences. A grand jury found probable cause for this felony, and my job is to uphold the laws of this State and see that justice is done.”

The Parents Television Council also recently called upon president Trump and the Department of Justice to interrogate Netflix about “Cuties” and the alleged “pattern of behavior” the platform has been exuding.

Baseball Player

MLB Postseason Games Will Be Played At Bubble Site

MLB has revealed this week that the World Series will be played entirely at the Texas Rangers new ballpark in Arlington, Texas. The division series, league championship series, and World Series will all be a part of the bubble experience in Texas as a means of reducing the risk of Covid-19 exposure. This is the first time the World Series will be played in its entirety at one location since 1944. 

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was recently interviewed by the Associated Press following the announcement on Tuesday, where he claimed MLB was already happy with the players responses to the health and safety protocols they’ve endured throughout this season, but this will make the entire staff working for the league feel even more secure. 

Embed from Getty Images

“The elimination of travel is obviously positive because it cuts exposure. Less interaction outside with the group that you’re looking to protect is a huge positive.”

After playing the entire season in empty stadiums, MLB is also hoping by remaining in one remote location they’ll be able to reopen their doors to fill the ballparks at 25% distanced capacity. Other adjustments include the elimination of off days for the division and league championship series’. This decision is projected to impact each team’s decision making in regards to how many pitchers they’ll carry out for postseason games. 

The postseason also expanded from 10 to 16 days, and will begin with the top four seeds in each league that’s been hosting a wild-card series in their regular-season home ballparks. The final eight teams will shift to the bubble environments, according to union head Tony Clark. 

Embed from Getty Images

“The agreement attempts to balance players’ experiences and concerns while making the accommodations necessary to best ensure a safe, healthy, and successful conclusion to the 2020 season.”

The AL Championship Series will be at San Diego’s Petco Park, and the National League Championship Series at Globe Life. The AL Division Series will be at Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium, and the NL Division Series at Globe Life and Houston’s Minute Maid Park. There’s no concrete plan to invite fans back into the stadiums for these series, but it is a goal nonetheless. 

MLB deputy commissioner Dan Halem recently sent a memo to all teams where he claimed that the players’ association were “in the process of finalizing details of the agreements” which includes testing players daily during the postseason. 

During the transition period between the regular season and postseason, any player who lives by themselves, or with a spouse/partner who is pregnant or has special medical needs may quarantine at home as long as they receive special documentation from a physician.

Only spouses, domestic partners, children, and child-care providers are allowed to stay with players while they quarantine during the transition period, according to Halem, and family members will not be allowed to enter the bubble site hotels unless they complete a supervised week-long quarantine period. 

Players can, however, have up to 6 family members stay at separate “family hotels” located at four various sites near the stadium.

Infected Covid Patient

Texas And California Among States Reporting Single-Day Record Spikes In Covid-19 Cases, Again

Six states located in the Southern and Western parts of the US have reported one-day records for coronavirus deaths and new infections this past Tuesday. This is not the first time these states have beaten their own one-day records, as for the most part these states have been the ones reopening businesses and public gatherings, leading to a direct spike in cases. 

Texas recently passed 400,000 cases while California reported that Latinx individuals who are living in lower-income areas of the state are accounting for more than half of the cases. Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and Oregon were the other four states that beat their own single-day records for new cases and deaths; again, this is not the first time any of these states have surpassed their own previous records or overall records in the US for new case numbers/death rates. 

Embed from Getty Images

This past Tuesday, the US experienced 1,300 Covid-19 related deaths, which is the biggest one-day increase since May. California specifically reported that 56% of all Covid-19 infections are found in Latinx individuals; they also account for 46% of the deaths. This is mainly due to the areas of the state that these individuals are living in and a major lack in resource distribution among the country. 

Florida reported 191 deaths within 24 hours on Tuesday and Texas added more than 6,000 new cases to their official numbers this Monday. Texas’ total number of infections is now 401,477 and counting; California, Florida, and New York are the only other states that have surpassed 400,000 cases, which makes sense considering those are the four most populated states in America. 

The debate over reopening schools in the fall has been a heated topic of discussion as September gets closer and closer. President Trump and members of his administration have been pushing for schools to reopen, while a majority of teachers, local officials, students, and parents agree that until there’s a vaccine, reopening schools is a bad idea. 

Embed from Getty Images

Randi Weingarten is the president of the American Federation of Teachers and recently spoke at the union’s virtual convention this past Tuesday to discuss how they’ll handle schools reopening in the fall if the administration goes through with their decision. 

“We will fight on all fronts for the safety of students and their educators. It’s the 11th hour; we need the resources now.” 

In Texas, the Texas Education Agency recently stated that they would deny funding to any school that delays in-person classes; a threat that a lot of schools around the country are experiencing. A decision that was surprising for Texans considering how badly they’re being impacted from the virus at the moment. 

Republican members of the US Senate also recently pushed back on a $1 trillion coronavirus relief proposal while Democratic members rejected a $3 trillion relief plan. Both sides claim that they didn’t want to spend trillions of dollars on a public health crisis, a decision that’s been heavily criticized considering the government just gave the Pentagon $738 billion for their 2020 budget.

While we continue to wait for updates from our government and healthcare professionals, it’s imperative that we all continue to listen to the health and safety guidelines that have been imposed within the past few months until this virus is no longer an issue.

Test for Coronavirus

Arizona, California, And Florida Among States With Record-Breaking Coronavirus Case Numbers

Arizona, California, Florida, South Carolina, and Texas have all reported state record-breaking single-day increases in coronavirus cases within this past week alone. The numbers are a result of a multitude of states in the South and West that are reporting an increase in new infections and hospitalizations. Most of the states experiencing record-setting case numbers were the ones who aggressively reopened within the past month. 

In Arizona specifically there’s been 2,519 new cases reported for this Thursday alone, which surpassed their previous single-day high of 2,392. Arizona has reported that many of their hospitals are nearing capacity due to this massive spike, and the patients who are currently in the ICU make up about 84% of all sick patients for the state. 

Embed from Getty Images

Arizona’s Governor Doug Ducey recently announced a slew of new policies that would require things like masks and gloves to be worn throughout certain establishments/when in public in general; something many other states have been continuously doing since this pandemic began. 

Florida officials announced 3,207 new cases of Covid-19 also appeared this Thursday morning; their previous single-day peak was at 2,783 cases, so this is a huge difference for the state. The total number of cases in Florida is around 86,000, making them one of the most infected states in the country. They also were among the first states to reopen, and generally speaking, they never fully adopted social distancing/lockdown procedures for a majority of its cities and residential areas. 

California officials reported 4,084 new coronavirus cases this Thursday, this is the first time the state has reported more than 4,000 cases in a single day. The state itself has reported a total of 161,099 cases, and around 5,200 deaths due to the virus. Los Angeles County is the epicenter of new cases for California, which reported 2,115 of the 4,084 new cases this Thursday. Governor Gavin Newsom announced a statewide restriction on movement and business re-openings, however, he also allowed for the reopening of restaurants and retail stores back in May. 

Embed from Getty Images

South Carolina only reported 987 new cases this Thursday, however, this is the most cases the state has seen in a single week. In total South Carolina has recorded 21,533, but it’s important to note that these drastic differences in case numbers per state are dependent on population size. So 21,000+ cases in South Carolina for them is just as severe as 80,000+ cases in Florida. 

“There is no vaccine for COVID-19. There are only individual behaviors and actions we must all maintain that help stop its spread. This virus does not spread on its own. It’s spread around our state by infected people who carry it wherever they go – their work, the supermarket, the post office, a friend’s house,” said South Carolina state epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell, as she pleaded with residents to continue to wear masks and stay home.

Texas reported 3,516 new cases Thursday, topping their previous record of 3,129. Texas itself is nearing the 100,000 mark for its total number of cases. Governor Greg Abott recently gave a news briefing in which he urged his citizens not to panic and that a majority of this spike likely came from the prison systems in Texas. However, Abott didn’t acknowledge the fact that they ended their stay-at-home order on May 1st, which prompted many residents to return to their normal lives, mask free. 

Case numbers for Covid-19 are continuously rising and that pattern will continue unless everyone agrees to abide by social distancing protocols and personal stay-home orders. Government officials understandably want to reopen so that their economies can begin to recover, however, it’ll be impossible to revive the economy if every citizen is sick in a hospital or worse, dead.