Grapevine, Texas - More than 100 Grapevine High School students walked out of class Friday morning in protest of new district policies that limit how teachers talk about race, gender and sexuality, impact which bathrooms transgender students can use and give trustees a greater say over what books are available in libraries. The teenagers left class during third period as a stand against ideas they decry as transphobic and amount to a “gag” on teachers. “We are here to show that the school board cannot get away with treating our education, our lives, as a playground for politics,” one of the organizers, Marceline Temple, said in written remarks. “We will not let this school board treat the existence of minorities as a controversy.”
For several days, buses have been dumping refugees from Texas in New York City, along with buses that have been going to Washington D.C. for months. Mutual aid groups are receiving these refugees and providing them with mental health, legal support, and other resources. This mutual aid has formed in the absence of a citywide policy to welcome refugees. In recent years, more and more refugees from Latin America are migrating to the United States. This increase in migration is a direct result of the climate crisis and centuries of imperialism ravaging and underdeveloping the Global South. Wealthy countries in the Global North are responding with callous disregard for the basic right to migrate, even as they create the conditions for it. For example, many of the refugees are migrating from Venezuela, a country being economically devastated by some of the most intense U.S. sanctions regimes.
Texas is known for fiercely promoting its oil and gas industries, but it’s also the No. 2 renewable energy producer in the U.S. after California. In fact, more than a quarter of all the wind power produced in the United States in 2021 was generated in Texas. These projects benefit from a lucrative state tax incentive program called Chapter 313. That incentive program expires on Dec. 31, 2022, and the rush of applications for wind and solar energy projects to secure incentives before the deadline is providing a rare window into a notoriously opaque industry. By reviewing the applications and ownership documents, we were able to track who actually builds and owns a large portion of the nation’s renewable energy, when and how those assets change hands, and who ultimately benefits from the tax incentives.
Dallas, Texas - Over 40 people delayed the sweeping of a South Dallas homeless encampment on Friday morning, blocking off the camp with their bodies and cars. Some were armed with rifles. “We’re just trying to move people, trying to minimize any risk coming up,” said Jonathan Guadian, who was unarmed and frequently volunteers to help residents of the camp. City staff, which included city marshals, homeless solutions and code compliance, stood at the camp’s edge negotiating with residents and activists before deciding they’d give them more time to move people’s belongings. “We’re here just in peace, we’re not going to use force…it’s never the intent to harm,” said Clifton Knight, a chief deputy with the Dallas Marshal’s Office.
While Harris County is spending millions of dollars on mental health services and service-providing agencies to reduce the number of mentally ill people entering its county jails, activists on the ground are tackling the problem from another angle—by providing direct support to the county’s homeless population. “We don’t have the best safety nets in Texas, and from the mental health standpoint, there really aren’t the mental health services available that people need,” Catherine Villarreal, director of communications at the Coalition for the Homeless, told TRNN. But Villarreal also stressed that, for people experiencing homelessness and/or mental health crises, the lack of healthcare resources and social support is a crisis unto itself: “when someone ends up homeless, often that didn’t happen overnight.”
The Center For Constitutional Rights And Palestine Legal Filed An Amicus Brief In The Fifth Circuit Court Of Appeals In Support Of A Lawsuit Seeking To Strike Down A Texas Law That Requires Government Contractors To Pledge Not To Engage In Boycott, Divestment And Sanctions (BDS) Campaigns For Palestinian Rights. After A Court Blocked An Earlier Version Of Texas’s Anti-Boycott Law Following Lawsuits From Individuals With State Contracts, Texas Amended The Law To Exclude Companies With 9 Or Fewer Full-Time Employees And Contracts Under $100,000. While The Revised Law Mooted The Previous Lawsuits, Its Underlying First Amendment Challenges Remained. The Center For Constitutional Rights And Palestine Legal’s Brief States That The New Texas Law Still Violates The First Amendment And Unconstitutionally Targets Protected Political Speech In Support Of Palestinian Human Rights.
For so long, the people of South Texas have been expected to sacrifice their communities to a border security apparatus. Drones, helicopters, and agents have saturated cities and towns where residents have gone without health insurance and send their children to underfunded schools. It was this apparatus that responded in late May when a gunman rampaged through an elementary school classroom in Uvalde, killing children—19 in all—and two teachers. Hundreds of state troopers, federal immigration agents, sheriff’s deputies, U.S. Marshals, and local police quickly descended on a town of 15,000, set among ranchlands 80 miles southwest of San Antonio and 60 miles from the border with Mexico. That rapid influx reflected the deep penetration of the border security apparatus in the region.
Austin, Texas - A local Starbucks location celebrated victory Friday, becoming the state's first unionized store. KVUE first learned about the 45th Street and Lamar Boulevard location's attempts to unionize in March. The location had sent a letter to the CEO of Starbucks after another local store also announced its plans to attempt a union. At the time, Starbucks provided KVUE with the following statement: We are listening and learning from the partners in these stores as we always do across the country. From the beginning, we’ve been clear in our belief that we are better together as partners, without a union between us, and that conviction has not changed.
I changed my flight back home to Hawai’i so I could be at the protest of the National Rifle Association (NRA) in Houston on Friday, May 27 following the mass murder of 19 kids and 2 teachers at the Uvalde, Texas elementary school earlier in the week. The NRA callously refused to postpone its annual gun-selling convention in Houston despite the call for the organization to stand down in wake of yet another mass killing, the third in a period of three weeks with ten killed at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York and one person killed and five wounded in shooting at a church in Laguna Woods, California. Thousands of angry people of all ages jammed into Discovery Park across the street from the massive George R. Brown convention center in downtown Houston.
The mass shooting of 19 children and two teachers, and the wounding of 17 more people, at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday was a genuinely horrific event. The students killed were 9, 10 and 11 years old, in the second, third and fourth grades. The adults killed, both women, were fourth-grade teachers. The perpetrator of the crime barricaded himself inside a classroom and opened fire with a lightweight semi-automatic rifle that he had obtained a day after his 18th birthday, one week earlier. In the most immediate and direct sense, hundreds if not thousands of people will never recover from the damage done in this one incident alone. The American ruling elite, its politicians and its media outlets, have nothing insightful or useful to say about this most recent calamity.
Houston, Texas - After two sleepless nights wondering what, if anything, she could do, Nancy Harris, 73, decided to drive four hours to Houston. Before she left, she pulled out a piece of paper and wrote down 12 names. Each name was someone she knew had been shot. She put an asterisk next to the ones who had died, including her own daughter. She says she didn’t know the National Rifle Association, one of America’s most powerful lobbyist groups, was meeting in Houston this weekend until after the horrific shooting in Uvalde on Tuesday. She is a gun owner but stood across the street from the NRA’s convention to share her story with anyone who would listen. “I have no children left,” Harris said.
When a group of Texas workers started discussing job problems and what to do about them a few months ago, their list of complaints would have been familiar to Starbucks baristas, Amazon warehouse staff, or restive young journalists at new and old media outlets. With little notice, their employer changed work schedules and transferred employees to a new job location. Some of those adversely affected applied for hardship waivers, based on family life disruption, but many requests were denied. Meanwhile, access to a major job benefit—tuition assistance—was sharply curtailed. Even paychecks were no longer arriving promptly or at the right address. When a few brave souls called attention to these problems, management labelled them “union agitators” who were trying to “mislead” their co-workers.
On April 4 and 5, the University of Texas at Arlington held its semester student elections. In addition to these elections was a referendum brought forth by the administration of UTA to justify raising tuition and fee costs related to the school. This fee increase would be a four-fold increase, from $39 per semester to $150, making it more expensive than most of the UT system schools student union fees. The caveat was that this fee increase would not take place until “significant construction” had been completed on the New UC. What had not been properly conveyed is that the UT Systems Board and UTA administration reached an agreement whereby the UT Systems would grant a loan to help construct this ‘New UC’ which would approximately cost $100 million – but with the collateral that the student union fee increase be tied to it via a referendum in order to begin paying back the New UC the moment of its technical completion. Progressive Student Union (PSU) kept an eye on the issue, and resolved to be the bulwark of the ‘No’ vote when the referendum came.
When a Canadian company started drilling for oil and gas near Jim and Sue Franklin’s ranch in a small Permian Basin town called Verhalen, Texas, it didn’t bother the couple too much at first. But Sue suspects that it was the third well that started causing problems. “They put up these big signs that said, ‘H2S gas, danger, keep out, blah blah blah,’” she says. The well was being drilled in what’s called a sour-gas field, an oil field that naturally has a high concentration of a deadly gas called hydrogen sulfide (H2S). The company promised the Franklins that the gas — which can cause headaches, irritate respiratory systems, and even be fatal in high concentrations — would never get into their home, despite the fact that it was barely a mile away.