US 59 Bridge Over I-20 to be Replaced and Raised — 831/2021
ATLANTA – The US 59 overpass crossing Interstate 20 in Marshall will be replaced during the next three years, according to plans approved in August by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).
“The current overpass will be demolished and replaced one half at a time with a higher structure,” said Wendy Starkes, Area Engineer for TxDOT in Marshall. “We will also be raising the new structure about three feet to allow for more than 19 feet of clearance over the I-20 traffic lanes.”
The construction work will be done one side at a time so traffic can continue to use the route. Traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction.
East Texas Bridge of Longview was awarded the contract for the construction on the project with a bid of $11.9 million.
Work on the project should begin in October of this year and take about 30 months to complete, Starkes said.
Recovery of missing person — 8/20/2021
Harrison County sheriff’s deputies along with Texas Game Warden‘s, Marshall Police Department Investigators, and Longview Fire Department Rescue, have located the missing person, Rayah Hicks, 24 of Marshall, Texas. Hick’s vehicle was located in Shadowood Lake on Thursday afternoon at approximately 3:30 PM by Marshall PD Investigators.
Ms. Hicks was reported missing on Tuesday morning by her mother with the Marshall Police Department. Ms. Hicks was last seen on Sunday evening at a social gathering at Shadowood Lake. The vehicle was discovered after Marshall PD investigators reviewed the security camera video from Sunday evening showing the vehicle driving into the Shadowood area but not leaving later in the evening. Marshall investigators discovered what appeared to be an area where a vehicle’s tire marks left the roadway as it crossed the lake dam and then into the lake. Longview fire department divers located the vehicle approximately 40 feet from the roadway and submerged in the lake. Texas Department of Public Safety assisted in consulting with the accident reconstruction that confirmed her death was caused by the vehicle accident.
Sheriff Fletcher extends the Department’s heartfelt condolences to the family due to this tragic accident, and applauds the multi-agency cooperation that provided closure in this case.
Census — 8/13/2021
The US Census Bureau has released the first local-level results from the 2020 Census. The big takeaways? The country is more diverse and more multiracial than ever, with people of color representing 43% of the total US population in 2020. That’s up from 34% in 2010. (Remember, the census is a once-in-10-years deal.) Americans are also getting older. The adult population has grown from 237 million to 261 million, and the proportion of adults is now 78%, up from 76% at the previous count. Population growth mostly occurred in metropolitan areas, while about half of US counties saw their populations shrink. Overall, the US population grew by 7%. This could all have deep implications for the future of the US electorate. Not to mention, fresh census information will guide policymakers in distributing more than $675 billion each year in federal funding among state and local governments.
The Delta misinformation loop — 8/10/2021
As coronavirus cases soar, so too are online lies about Covid-19 and the vaccines designed to stop it.
Misinformation experts told our colleague Davey Alba, who covers technology, that people who peddle in untruths have seized on the spike in cases from the Delta variant to spread new and rehashed false narratives.
Some of the most prevalent pandemic falsehoods, according to a company that tracks misinformation: vaccines don’t work (up 437 percent); they contain microchips (up 156 percent); and that people should rely on their “natural immunity” instead of getting vaccinated (up 111 percent). Some of the most prominent purveyors of misinformation include Andrew Torba, the chief executive of the alternative social network Gab, and Joseph Mercola, an osteopathic physician.
“We’ve seen the same names over and over in the past year,” Davey said. “A lot of them shifted from virus misinformation to election misinformation, and then to virus misinformation again. They often seize on news events to elevate themselves and get their names in the conversation.”
Texas Republican who promoted mask burning dies of COVID-19 — August 9, 2021
On Aug. 4, the Galveston County Republican Party of Texas posted a sad tribute to H. Scott Apley, a Texas Republican Executive Committeeman who passed away after an acute case of COVID-19. “It is with an extremely heavy heart that we share the news of the death of H. Scott Apley, our friend, our Patriot in Arms, our State Republican Executive Committeeman, Precinct Chair, Dickinson City Council Member. A tragedy. Please pray for Melissa and Reid and their family. God remains in control although this is yet another tough one to swallow.”
Less than one week before this announcement, Apley himself posted an image of an anti-vaccination sentiment on his Facebook feed, mocking people for worrying about COVID-19. The post read: “In 6 months, we’ve gone from the vax ending the pandemic, to you can still get Covid even if vaxxed, to you can pass Covid onto others even if vaxxed, to you can still die of Covid even if vaxxed, to the unvaxxed are killing the vaxxed.” It was the last post he made. Two days later, H. Scott Apley was admitted to the hospital with “pneumonia-like symptoms,” and put on a ventilator.
According to a GoFundMe campaign set up for Apley and his family, H. Scott was admitted to a local hospital on Aug. 1, and was then quickly put on a ventilator. He died in the early hours of Aug. 4. According to KTRK, Apley’s wife Melissa and 5-month-old son Reid also tested positive for the virus. The surviving Apleys have not been hospitalized.
Apley’s political worldview seems to have been a typical Christian right-wing conservative one. Apley’s Twitter presence was made up of mostly Christian aphorisms and quotes from both Testaments, with some political posts scattered about. The general tenor of his politics had to do with keeping the federal government from what he perceived to be an infringement on citizens’ constitutional rights, extending to all of the standard conservative talking points, such as the need to lower taxes on corporations.
H. Scott Apley was 45 years old. He leaves behind a wife and an infant son. This is tragic, in no small part because it was preventable.
City officials discuss changes to 2021 Wonderland of Lights — 8/7/2021
From the Marshall News Messenger
With last year’s Wonderland of Lights canceled due to COVID-19, the excitement surrounding this year’s festivities is bigger than ever. With some changes being made to the annual celebration, city officials confirmed that this year will look a lot more like the Wonderland of Lights the community remembers.
“This is my first Wonderland working with the city,” said Main Street Manager Véronique Ramirez. “I want to make sure it has everything, and that it is done right.”
A decision was made on Wednesday by the Wonderland of Lights Committee in a closed meeting to hold the festival for 22 days. This is after a preliminary schedule was released prematurely on the city’s Wonderland of Lights Facebook page by someone outside of the Main Street office.
Jasmine Rios, city communication coordinator, said that while the confusion surrounding the release of the non-finalized schedule caused some issues, it allowed the city to receive feedback from community members before the final decision was made.
Ramirez said that this feedback, on top of surveys filled out by Main Street stake holders, allowed the groups to best determine what the community and business owners wanted to see done. This led to the group extending the festival an additional five days from the originally posted schedule.
“We wanted to know what our stake holders thoughts were before we started making changes, that’s why we had a survey sent out before hand,” Ramirez said.
She explained that the drop from 27 days in 2019 to 22 days in 2021 is following a regular trend with the festival, with Wonderland of Lights running for 34 in 2017 and 2018.
The budget for this year’s Wonderland of Lights is $190,000, with $278,000 set aside in 2019 and $338,000 set aside in 2018. This decline in city funding, according to Ramirez, shows a need for the city to allocate money elsewhere, leaving less left over for the annual celebration.
This budget, as well as the consideration of city staff, who usually have to work both Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, have been just one portion of a complicated puzzle that have led to Wonderland of Lights being shortened each year.
Additionally, Ramirez said that the historical carousel, a staple of the downtown festivities, is in need of thousands of dollars worth of repairs.
“A lot of people don’t realize that we have a lot of costs, a lot of small costs that add up the longer we run the event,” she said. “The ice skating rink alone costs $1,500 a week to maintain, we have to have someone out there at 4 a.m. to clear out the ice.”
Along with loss in funding, and an increase in cost over time, Ramirez said that in the past four festivals volunteer numbers and sponsorship and donation dollars have also been shrinking.
In 2018 the festival had 178 volunteers, with only 125 people volunteering to assist in 2019.
“We are hoping, also, that this extra interest in the festival this year will encourage more people to come out and support during the event, as well as donate their time and financially to the event,” Ramirez said.
Rios said that as of now, the event is planned to run as it has in the past, with COVID-19 restrictions to be based off of state guidelines at the time of the festival.
She also confirmed that community members can expect to see all of their favorites back this year, including the carousel, ice skating rink, Santa’s village, opening lighting ceremony and more.
More information on Wonderland of Lights can be found on the city’s Facebook page for the event at http://www.facebook.com/WonderlandOfLightsTX. Additional information will also be published in the Marshall News Messenger.
Burglary suspects — 7/30/2021
Harrison County deputies working closely with Longview PD officers were actively looking for a vehicle
that had been captured on a video surveillance during a series of burglaries. The vehicle burglaries had occurred in the Hallsville area during the night of July 28. Longview Police department officers had been advised of the vehicle description and an officer observed a vehicle that matched the description at a
motel on Highway 80. As Harrison County deputies were enroute to the motel, the vehicle began leaving
the parking lot with 2 occupants. Deputies attempted a traffic stop and the driver of the vehicle
increased the speed of the vehicle and attempted to flee toward I-20. The vehicle driver exited from the Interstate at Liberty City and attempted to re-enter the highway. The vehicle struck a tree, then drove into a culvert, thereby ending the pursuit. Deputies and Longview officers removed the driver and passenger from the vehicle. Inside the vehicle were several items that had been allegedly taken during the reported burglary the previous night. As the deputies continued the investigation, it was discovered that the truck had been stolen from Kaufman County a few days earlier.
The driver is identified as Anthony Ray Estess of Bossier City, Louisiana and the passenger is identified Alison Berry of Springhill, Louisiana. They have been charged with numerous theft charges and drug posseion.
Barricaded Subject — 7/22/2021
Harrison County 911 dispatch received a call at approximately 3:45 PM on July 22, 2021 regarding a person armed with a weapon and making threats to commit suicide in a home. Multiple Harrison County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the location at 3300 Lansing Switch and established a safety perimeter around the mobile home. The barricaded subject was armed with a pistol and stated “I just want to die and I don’t want to live, anymore.” In the home with him, was a 15 year old female and his wife. Both were removed from the home, safely. A sheriff’s office negotiator established a phone line with the subject and began discussions with him to get him to come out of the home, safely, and get him medical and mental health assistance. After 4 hours of discussion, he voluntarily came out of the residence and was transferred to Good Shepherd Hospital in Longview for medical and mental evaluations. No injuries were sustained by any person during this incident.
Sheriff Fletcher stated “Once again, we have seen the dedication of the Harrison County deputies to bring a very dangerous situation to a safe and peaceful resolution. The training and cooperation of all of our deputies is displayed every day and more especially in situations like this.”
“You’re Gonna Have a Fucking War”: Mark Milley’s Fight to Stop — 7/17/2021
Inside the extraordinary final-days conflict between the former President and his chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
The last time that General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke with President Donald Trump was on January 3, 2021. The subject of the Sunday-afternoon meeting, at the White House, was Iran’s nuclear program. For the past several months, Milley had been engaged in an alarmed effort to insure that Trump did not embark on a military conflict with Iran as part of his quixotic campaign to overturn the results of the 2020 election and remain in power. The chairman secretly feared that Trump would insist on launching a strike on Iranian interests that could set off a full-blown war.
There were two “nightmare scenarios,” Milley told associates, for the period after the November 3rd election, which resulted in Trump’s defeat but not his concession: one was that Trump would try “to use the military on the streets of America to prevent the legitimate, peaceful transfer of power.” The other was an external crisis involving Iran. It was not public at the time, but Milley believed that the nation had come close—“very close”—to conflict with the Islamic Republic. This dangerous post-election period, Milley said, was all because of Trump’s “Hitler”-like embrace of the “Big Lie” that the election had been stolen from him; Milley feared it was Trump’s “Reichstag moment,” in which, like Adolf Hitler in 1933, he would manufacture a crisis in order to swoop in and rescue the nation from it.
Arizona ballot audit shows signs of backfiring on GOP — 7/17/2021
Independent voters oppose the controversial recounting of ballots by a wide margin.
When Arizona Republicans first pushed for a partisan audit of the 2020 presidential ballots cast in the Phoenix metropolitan area, they argued that they needed to know if any irregularities or fraud caused President Trump to lose this rapidly evolving swing state.
But the audit itself could be damaging Republican prospects, according to a new Bendixen & Amandi International poll, which shows roughly half of Arizona voters oppose the recount effort. In addition, a narrow majority favors President Biden in a 2024 rematch against Trump.
Coronavirus – Children May Pay The Price — 7/14/2021
Children could pay the price when vaccination rates lag, a US vaccine expert says. Young children are not yet eligible for Covid-19 vaccinations, Dr. Peter Hotez explained, so they rely on older vaccinated people for protection from the virus. As the return to school approaches, some states are prohibiting public schools from requiring Covid-19 vaccinations or proof of vaccination for students. These efforts have public health officials worried about the limitations they could place on efforts to control the coronavirus and emerging variants. Meanwhile, Norwegian Cruise Line is suing Florida’s surgeon general over a state law barring companies from requiring customers and employees to provide documentation of Covid-19 vaccination status. The cruise line says such a ban will keep it from safely resuming operations.
Exxon activist captures board seats in historic victory for climate change advocates — 5/26/2021
The result is an embarrassment for the Irving oil giant and a sign that institutional investors are increasingly willing to force corporate America to tackle climate change.
A first-time activist investor with a tiny stake in Exxon Mobil Corp. scored a historic win in its proxy fight with the oil giant, signaling the growing importance of climate change to investors.
Engine No. 1 — the little-known firm that vaulted into the spotlight in December when it began agitating Exxon to come up with a better plan to fight global warming — won two seats on the company’s board at Wednesday’s annual shareholders meeting, according to a preliminary tally.
The result is an embarrassment for Exxon, unprecedented in the rarefied world of Big Oil, and a sign that institutional investors are increasingly willing to force corporate America to tackle climate change. That Engine No. 1, with just a 0.02% stake and no history of activism in oil and gas, could win even a partial victory against a titan like Exxon, the Western world’s biggest crude producer, shows how seriously environmental concerns are now being taken in the boardrooms of the country’s largest companies.
Texas is considering a toothless weatherization bill that won’t prevent another power outage — 5/22/2021
The penalty for failing to weatherize should more be more costly than actually weatherizing equipment.
This op-ed is part of a series published by The Dallas Morning News Opinion section to explore ideas and policies for strengthening electric reliability. Find the full series here: Keeping the Lights On.
A bill that is supposedly about forcing Texas energy operators to weatherize their equipment and protect us from deadly winter storms like one we endured in February will soon be debated on the floor of the state House of Representatives.
Unfortunately, the legislation is all talk and no teeth.
Since 1950, parts of the Texas grid have failed 14 times due to freezing weather. Time after time, the failure of energy producers and suppliers to prepare for severe winter weather has been cited as the cause. That’s because time after time, utility company lobbyists wielding big campaign checks have persuaded legislators and regulators to look the other way. As result, they’ve ignored opportunities to beef up state law and force utilities to prepare for these dangerous storms or set penalties when they fail to get the job done.
Senate Bill 3 does require regulators to develop rules that spell out the steps energy producers must take to winterize their plants and equipment. But the legislation fails to set deadlines for action or establish penalties that exceed the cost of actually investing in adequate protections against freezing weather.
When a winter storm is looming, responsible Texans — especially those who have suffered through a previous winter deep freeze — check the antifreeze in their car radiators and wrap pipes in their homes that are vulnerable to freezing. And, indeed, responsible energy producers weatherize their plants. But the bad actors don’t.
Texas and the Census — 5/2/2021
Editors note: An interesting take on what happened with the 2020 census
Both Democrats and Republicans across the country are scratching their heads over the U.S. Census data released this week, and the one thing everyone knows is that there’s a better-than-decent chance that Donald Trump and his bumpkins messed it up.
First off, the news that just 13 states stood to gain or lose seats seemed weird. As The Washington Post’s Philip Bump notes, it was “an unusually low number,” which also means that “the House will look to a large extent in 2023 the way it does now.” In the end, Republicans are clearly poised to net several more seats than Democrats, but it’s not the shakeup many had expected, and California, despite losing one seat, will maintain the nation’s largest congressional delegation.
But the biggest surprises by far came in the Sun Belt states of Texas, Florida, and Arizona, where many political strategists expected a gain of six seats total—three in Texas, two in Florida, and one in Arizona. Instead, each state gained one seat less than expected: Texas (2), Florida (1), and no pick up in Arizona.
For now, the Census Bureau has only released the top line numbers, with a release of some of the more granular demographic data still several months away. But many demographic experts and statisticians are already zeroing in on an undercount of Latino voters as potentially being responsible for lagging gains in these Sun Belt states.
On the one hand, Latinos and other underserved communities are often more difficult to count from the get-go. But then Trump and his bumpkins had the stellar idea of trying to force a citizenship question into the census, which could have very well suppressed responsiveness in these communities even further.
The costs of such an undercount are both human and political. For next decade, “undercounted communities could lose out on an untold amount of federal funding that uses census data as a base,” reports Politico.
Rep. Tony Cárdenas of California, who previously led the Congressional Hispanic Caucus PAC, told Politico, “An undercount means that there’s less money for the kids in your neighborhood, there’s less money coming your way for the seniors who need support in your neighborhood. That is the ultimate cost to a community.”
But politically speaking, it likely hurt Republicans more than Democrats. GOP strategists had been salivating over the idea of gaining five seats between Texas and Florida alone. In Texas, in particular, they could have drawn two safe Republican districts and created a third as a Democratic “vote sink.” So much for that.
In Arizona, where a nonpartisan commission would have overseen redistricting, Democrats may have missed out on an opportunity. The ever-growing Phoenix suburbs might have been a natural fit to locate a brand new seat.
Some observers are also attributing the anemic pick ups in the Sun Belt to a lack of investment from state legislatures in the region. California, for instance, invested nearly $200 million in an outreach program that sought to increase the Census response rate in the state.
“Three of the states with large Latino populations — Arizona, Texas, Florida — who underperformed in the apportionment gains, were also three states that virtually invested nothing in outreach to complement what the Census Bureau was doing,” said Arturo Vargas, the CEO of NALEO Educational Fund, an organization for Latino politicians. “Texas did something at the very last minute, but Florida and Arizona did not invest the kind of resources that you saw, for example, New Mexico put in, or New York or California.”
That was also the assessment of Michael Li, a redistricting expert at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice.
“We’ll have to wait for more granular data, but it certainly looks like the Texas Legislature’s decision not to budget $ to encourage census participation combined with the Trump administration efforts to add a citizenship question cost Texas a congressional district,” Li tweeted Monday.
Census — 4/27/2021
The US Census Bureau has released the results of the 2020 census, including new population totals used to reapportion and redistrict seats in the House of Representatives. There are 331 million people living in the US, according to the data. As far as representation goes, Texas is the only state to gain two House seats in the count. Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon will each gain one seat. California, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia will each lose a congressional seat. So will New York, which fell a mere 89 residents short of retaining its current number.
Lansing Switch Road Overpass Replacement — 3/25/2021
ATLANTA – Lansing Switch Road overpass crossing Interstate 20 will be replaced during the coming year, according to plans approved in March by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).
“The current overpass will be demolished and replaced with a wider and taller structure,” said Wendy Starkes, Area Engineer for TxDOT in Marshall. “The current overpass has only two 10-foot traffic lanes. The new one will have two 12-foot traffic lanes divided by a 14-foot flush median with10-foot shoulders and sidewalks on each side. We will also be raising the structure about five feet to allow for more than 19 feet of clearance over the I-20 traffic lanes.”
The construction work will require the closure of Lansing Switch Road over the interstate. Traffic will be detoured to Loop 281 in Longview to the west and to Farm to Market Road 450 in Hallsville to the east.
East Texas Bridge of Longview was awarded the contract for the construction on the project with a bid of $3.4 million.
Work on the project should begin in May of this year and take about 14 months to complete, Starkes said.
Newspaper Carrier shot in Marshall — 3/19/2021
On Friday, March 19, 2021, at approximately 5:32 am, a Marshall Police Department patrol lieutenant reported hearing several gunshots somewhere north of his location. Immediately after his report, multiple 911 calls were received in the Marshall Emergency Communications center from residents in the area of the 500 block of Oak Street stating that they were hearing gunfire in their neighborhood. The callers stated they could hear a female screaming for help.
The female victim also called 911 and stated that she believed she had been shot.Marshall Police Department patrol officers responded to the scene and secured the location allowing Marshall Fire Department personnel to treat and transport the victim to the hospital. The preliminary investigation revealed that the shooting victim is a 34-year-old newspaper carrier who was delivering newspapers. She did not know who shot her or why.
This is an active investigation and a person of interest has been identified and detained. The victim has been transported to Longview for surgery. More information will be released as it becomes appropriate.To hear from Marshall Police Chief Cliff Carruth, tune into KMHT’s local news at noon and 5 pm.
In-Person Inmate Visitation at Harrison County Jail — 3/22/2021
On March 2, 2021, Texas Governor Gregg Abbott issued governors order GA-34, which will once again allow for in-person visitation at all county jails throughout the state of Texas.
The Texas Commission on Jail Standards required the sheriff to develop a plan that continues to ensure the safety of the public, staff and inmates at their facilities. This plan included the
frequency and duration of visits, if scheduling is to be required and what safety measure will be implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within their jails.
Harrison County Jails In-Person visitation will resume, beginning April Pt, 2021. Harrison
County Jail will follow its regular visitation plan that is already approved by the Texas
Commission on Jail Standards. This addendum and its restrictions are in addition to that
approved plan and shall remain in effect, until such time that the DSHS health
recommendations, County Judge or the Texas Commission on Jail Standards deem it no longer necessary due to public health concerns.
The facility lobbies, due to square footage constraints, shall be limited to no more than ten (10) visitors inside at any given time. Only one (1) adult visitor shall be allowed per inmate visit.
While in the visitation area of the facility, only every other visitation station will be utilized.
This should allow for social distancing to be maintained. Visitors entering the facility lobbies
shall be required to wear a mask at all times, have their temperature taken and complete a
Covid-19 screening form. Should a visitor not have a mask, one will be provided. Hand
sanitizing stations will also be available to visitors in the facility lobbies. Visitors refusing to
comply with these requirements will be denied entry into visitation areas.
nmates will be required to wear a mask at all times while out of their housing assignments and keep the mask on until returned to their housing assignment. Inmates that have lost or need a mask replaced, one will be provided. Inmates refusing to comply with this requirement will be denied the visit. Inmates in medical isolation or restriction are prohibited from in-person visitation. Hand sanitizing stations will also be available to the inmate before entering the visitation area.
Even though the governor has resumed in-person visits by rescinding all previous orders. Local health authorities and Harrison County Jail still strongly recommend video visitation as a safer viable alternative to in-person visits until such time that DSHS deems Covid-19 no longer a public health concern
Two arrested in assault on police officer Brian D. Sicknick, who died after Jan. 6 Capitol riot — 3/15/2021
Federal authorities have arrested and charged two men with assaulting U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian D. Sicknick with an unknown chemical spray during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot but have not determined whether the exposure caused his death.
Julian Elie Khater, 32, of Pennsylvania and George Pierre Tanios, 39 of Morgantown, W.Va., were arrested Sunday and are expected to appear in federal court Monday.
“Give me that bear s—,” Khater allegedly said to Tanios on video recorded at the Lower West Terrace of the Capitol at 2:14 p.m., where Sicknick and other officers were standing guard behind metal bicycle racks, arrest papers say.
About nine minutes later, after Khater said he had been sprayed, Khater is seen on video discharging a canister of a toxic substance into the face of Sicknick and two other officers, arrest papers allege.
Immigration — 3/15/2021
More than 4,000 unaccompanied migrant children are in Border Patrol custody, the latest uptick in the number of children held at border facilities. After children are taken into Border Patrol custody, the Department of Health and Human Services typically takes over their care. But the coronavirus pandemic has strained the department’s efforts to accommodate the influx, since shelters had until recently been operating under capacity limits. FEMA was called in to help over the weekend. And though the current situation at the border may seem alarming, it’s been building for a while. CNN’s Catherine Shoichet has more on how we got here and what’s missing from the debate.
Coronavirus — 3/15/2021
We’re not out of the woods yet. Though daily new cases of Covid-19 in the US have dropped since January, case numbers over the past week still averaged more than 50,000 per day. That puts the nation in a vulnerable position to experience another surge, says Dr. Anthony Fauci — which is precisely what is happening in Europe. The good news is that people in the US are getting vaccinated relatively quickly. The bad news is that highly contagious variants are still a threat. Until then, the US shouldn’t be easing restrictions before Covid-19 case numbers fall to at least below 10,000 per day, Fauci has said.
2020 election — 3/15/2021
Officials have found a December recording of then-President Trump’s phone call to a Georgia investigator in a trash folder on her device. In the call, Trump encouraged the investigator to look to uncover “dishonesty” in absentee ballot signatures in the state’s most populous county. The audio offers yet another example of Trump’s efforts to push false claims of widespread voter fraud and to influence Georgia election officials as they certified results. Meanwhile, Republicans in several swing states are touting false fraud claims to advance measures that would make it tougher to vote. Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams called a similar effort in her state “a redux of Jim Crow in a suit and tie.”
Coronavirus — 3/9/2021
The CDC has released highly anticipated new guidelines for people fully vaccinated against Covid-19, saying it is safe for them to gather together without masks indoors and to visit with unvaccinated people in certain circumstances. The new guidance was met with joy and renewed hope that a return to normalcy is around the corner. However, ex-CDC chief Dr. Tom Frieden cautioned that we shouldn’t give up on safety measures yet, saying, “You don’t declare victory in the third quarter.” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus gave a similar worldwide warning, saying, “There are no shortcuts” to recovery. After all, one coronavirus variant is now spreading exponentially through the US, experts say. Meanwhile, it looks like the House will now vote tomorrow on the massive coronavirus relief package.
Supreme Court Rejects Final Trump Appeal — 3/8/2021
Today the Supreme Court, without comment or dissent, refused to hear a Trump appeal challenging his election loss in Wisconsin. If you are wondering what that sort of thing looks like, I have attached a picture of it above. This is the final Trump challenge that was pending before the Supreme Court.
Trump filed the lawsuit after the election claiming decisions made by administrators of Wisconsin’s elections, to make voting during Covid easier, were unconstitutional. The judge who heard the case, Judge Brett Ludwig, is a Trump appointee. Judge Ludwig dismissed the case on the merits (those claiming no cases were decided on the merits are wrong). This judge appointed by Trump wrote:
“This Court has allowed plaintiff the chance to make his case and he has lost on the merits. In his reply brief, plaintiff ‘asks that the Rule of Law be followed.’ It has been.”
Trump appealed to the United States Court of Appeals. The three judge panel unanimously rejected Trump’s appeal writing, “Wisconsin lawfully appointed its electors in the manner directed by its Legislature.”
The judge who wrote that decision, Judge Michael Scudder, is also a Trump appointee. Another judge, Llana Rovner, was appointed by George H. Bush. The third judge, Joel Flaum, is a Reagan appointed. So that’s three Republican appointed appellate judges, to include a Trump appointee (who wrote the unanimous decision) who ruled against Trump. Plus the Trump appointee on the District Court.
With three Trump appointees on the Supreme Court the request for cert there was denied without dissent.
Besieged chairwoman of Texas’ top utility regulator resigns in wake of state power outages — 3/1/2021
A growing chorus of lawmakers, including Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, had sought PUC chair DeAnn Walker’s resignation. Patrick and others have also called for the ouster of ERCOT CEO Bill Magness.
Updated at 2:55 p.m. to include statements from ERCOT and office of House Speaker Dade Phelan and at 3:49 p.m. to reflect Walker’s resignation.
AUSTIN — The chairwoman of the state’s utility regulator resigned Monday following calls for her ouster from a growing number of lawmakers including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the most powerful officeholder in the Legislature, who blamed her for the days-long power outages in the state last month.
DeAnn Walker, who led the Texas Public Utility Commission and was heavily criticized last week during legislative hearings for failing to prepare utility providers for last month’s power failures, notified Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday of her resignation, which is effective immediately.
Walker, who made $201,000 as chairwoman, said she accepted responsibility for her role in the power outages, but called on other responsible parties to do the same. She said the electric grid’s failure was not caused by one individual or group and that many people and companies contributed to the situation the state faced during the winter storm.
“I believe others should come forward in dignity and duty and acknowledge how their actions or inactions contributed to the situation,” Walker said in her resignation letter. “The gas companies, the Railroad Commission, the electric generators, the transmission and distribution utilities, the electric cooperatives, the municipally owned utilities, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, and finally the Legislature all had the responsibility to foresee what could have happened and failed to take the necessary steps for the past ten years to address the issues that each of them could have addressed.”
Walker lamented the harsh treatment she received from lawmakers while testifying at hearings but said she acted with the best of intentions and used her best judgment to prepare for and respond to the crisis.
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