46 Migrants Found Dead In Trailer Truck In Texas

A first responder walks through the scene where a tractor-trailer was discovered with migrants inside-outside San Antonio, Texas on June 27, 2022.  (Photo by Sergio FLORES / AFP)

 

 

 

At least 46 migrants were found dead Monday in and around a large trailer truck that was abandoned on the roadside on the outskirts of the Texas city of San Antonio.

The grim discovery was one of the worst disasters involving migrants in the United States in recent years — and came five years after a similar deadly incident in the same central Texas city, a few hours from the Mexican border.

“At this time we have processed approximately 46 bodies that have been triaged and tagged and declared deceased,” San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood told reporters.

He said that 16 people had been transported to hospital alive and conscious — 12 adults and four children.

There were no initial details on the age or nationalities of the deceased.

“The patients that we saw were hot to the touch, they were suffering from heat stroke, heat exhaustion, no signs of water in the vehicle, it was a refrigerated tractor-trailer but there was no visible working A/C unit on that rig,” Hood said.

Officials said three people were in custody over the incident.

“Tonight we are dealing with a horrific human tragedy,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg told a press conference.

“So I would urge you all to think compassionately and pray for the deceased, the ailing, the families,” he said.

“And we hope that those responsible for putting these people in such inhumane conditions are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

San Antonio, which lies about 250 kilometers (150 miles) from the border, is a major transit route for people smugglers.

It has also been gripped by a record-breaking recent heat wave, and temperatures in the area hit 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.5 degrees Celsius) on Monday.

The vehicle was found on a road near Highway I-35, a major US artery that stretches all the way to the border with Mexico.

A large-scale emergency operation was underway at the scene involving police, firefighters and ambulances.

According to San Antonio police chief William McManus, authorities were first alerted by an emergency call at about 5:50 pm local time (2250 GMT).

“A worker who works in one of the buildings up here behind me heard a cry for help,” he told reporters. “(He) came out to investigate, found a trailer with the doors partially open, opened them up to take a look, and found a number of deceased individuals inside.”

He said the probe had been turned over to the federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

In a statement, the DHS said it had initiated an investigation after receiving the call from San Antonio police “regarding an alleged human smuggling event”.

Dozens of emergency responders who had worked at the scene underwent a stress debriefing following the operation.

“We’re not supposed to open up a truck and see stacks of bodies in there, none of us come to work imagining that,” Hood said.

– ‘A better life’ –
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican who advocates a tough line on immigration, hit out at President Joe Biden over the disaster — blaming the Democrat’s “deadly open border policies.”

“These deaths are on Biden,” Abbott tweeted. “They show the deadly consequences of his refusal to enforce the law.”

Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic party’s candidate to run against Abbott in November, called for “urgent action” following the incident.

“Dismantle human smuggling rings and replace them with expanded avenues for legal migration that reflect our values and meet our country’s needs,” he said.

Mexico’s foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, called the incident a “tragedy” and said the Mexican consul was headed to the site.

Ebrard said the nationalities of the victims were not yet known, but that two Guatemalans were among the survivors.

San Antonio was the site of a similar migrant tragedy in 2017, when 10 people suffocated to death in a sweltering trailer with broken air conditioning and clogged ventilation holes as they traveled into the United States.

Dozens more had been hospitalized with heat stroke and dehydration — with the truck believed to have been holding as many as 200 people, most of whom fled when it stopped in a parking lot. The truck driver later pleaded guilty to charges related to the deaths.

After news broke of Monday’s discovery, the archbishop of San Antonio, Gustavo Garcia-Siller tweeted “Lord have mercy on them. They hoped for a better life.”

“Once again, the lack of courage to deal with immigration reform is killing and destroying lives.”

‘Do Something Now:’ Mourners Demand Action After US School Shooting

The mother of Alithia Roidriguez (C) speaks with the press about her daughter who died in the mass shooting, during a vigil for the victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 25, 2022. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP)

 

A distraught Texas grandmother of a girl killed in the massacre in Uvalde pleaded Thursday for urgent action by US authorities to prevent future school shootings, as the country plunges again into the roiling debate over guns.

Ten-year-old Amerie Garza — a fourth-grader who loved her classes, drawing, and playing with clay — was one of 19 children murdered by a teen gunman at Robb Elementary School in an act of evil that has forever changed this small Texas town.

“My granddaughter was in there. She was an innocent little girl, loving school and looking forward to summer,” Dora Mendoza told reporters after paying respects at a makeshift memorial outside the school.

But the 63-year-old, who lived with Amerie and saw her at an end-of-year ceremony Tuesday just hours before she was killed, quickly made clear she wanted US officials such as President Joe Biden and Texas Governor Greg Abbott not to shy away from working together on reforms.

READ ALSO: Canada Police Shoot Man Seen With Rifle In Toronto

Biden, who is due to visit Uvalde on Sunday, and Abbott are polar opposites regarding restrictions on gun sales. Like many in the Democrat versus Republican divide, the two also differ on the path to take to curb the nation’s surging gun violence.

“They shouldn’t just wait for… tragedy to start,” she said.

“They need to do something about it. They need to not forget us, the babies… Don’t forget them, please,” Mendoza, speaking in a mix of English and Spanish, pleaded through her tears.

“Do something about it, I beg you. I beg you!” she wailed. “All the cries and all these little innocent babies… we don’t know what they went through.”

Amerie’s “abuela” was among several Uvalde residents who came to pray or leave flowers at the school memorial, where 21 small white wooden crosses have been erected bearing names of the 19 children and two teachers who were killed.

Among the mourners was Yaritza Rangel, 23, who brought her four children to lay flowers.

‘What If It Happens Again?’

A woman cries as she attends the vigil for the victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 25, 2022.  (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP)

 

“We’re all hurt. We never thought this would happen here,” where most town residents know each other, she said.

But Rangel, while avoiding politics, did point to three reforms she wants enacted: an expansion of background checks for gun purchases, tightening of security in schools and raising the minimum age for buying firearms.

“It doesn’t make sense,” she said. “You have to go and wait until you’re 21 to go and buy alcohol. Why are they letting 18-year-olds be able to buy rifles?”

Rangel, whose young nephew was in a Robb Elementary classroom that the shooter tried but failed to enter, is now worried about her own children and says she has been traumatized by the attack.

Her son will be going to elementary school soon, and the prospect of violence keeps her awake at night.

“What if it happens again?”

Dozens of relatives, students, and friends have been placing flowers, stuffed animals, candles, and jewelry at a second memorial in Uvalde’s town square, which has become a gathering place for residents to unite in their anguish.

Like the first memorial, it features white crosses with the names of the victims. Meghan Markle, the wife of Britain’s Prince Harry, visited the site on Thursday.

The 40-year-old Duchess of Sussex — wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and a blue baseball cap — reached down with her head bowed and placed flowers between two of the crosses.

Some mourners added messages on the crosses, including a young girl who wrote one for victim Jackie Cazares.

“Love you cousin ’till we meet again,” it said.

AFP

Husband Of Teacher Slain In Texas Massacre Dies ‘Due To Grief’

The late Imma Garcia and hubby. Photo: [email protected] MelissaVega

 

The husband of a heroic fourth-grade teacher who was killed protecting her students during a massacre at a Texas elementary school has died of an apparent heart attack.

A GoFundMe page set up by Debra Austin, who said she was the cousin of teacher Irma Garcia, said that Irma’s husband Joe “has tragically passed away this morning (5/26/2022) as a result of a medical emergency.”

“I truly believe Joe died of a broken heart and losing the love of his life,” she added.

John Martinez, who identified himself as Garcia’s nephew, also tweeted: “EXTREMELY heartbreaking and come with deep sorrow to say that my Tia (aunt) Irma’s husband Joe Garcia has passed away due to grief.”

READ ALSO: Canada Police Shoot Man Seen With Rifle In Toronto

Ernie Zuniga, a news anchor for local station KABB FOX San Antonio, tweeted that Garcia had died from a heart attack.

The couple, who were married for 24 years, according to the website of the Robb Elementary school, leave behind four children.

Both Irma Garcia and her co-teacher Eva Mireles, who had connected classrooms, died in the mass shooting.

The shooter, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was inside the building for about 40 minutes before police entered and fatally shot him.

AFP

Pope ‘Heartbroken’ Over Texas Shooting, Condemns Arms Trade

Pope Francis speaks during the open-air general audience in St.Peter’s square at the Vatican on May 11, 2022. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)

 

 

Pope Francis on Wednesday said he was “heartbroken” over the school shooting in Texas which left at least 19 children and two teachers dead, and condemned the arms trade.

“I am left heartbroken by the massacre in the elementary school in Texas. I pray for the children, for the adults killed and for their families,” the Argentine pontiff said after his weekly general audience.

“It is time to say enough to indiscriminate arms trafficking. Let us all commit to ensuring such tragedies can no longer take place.”

The attack in Uvalde,  a small community about an hour from the Mexican border, was the deadliest US school shooting in years, and the latest in a spree of bloody gun violence across America.

More than a dozen children were also wounded in the attack at the school, which teaches more than 500, mostly Hispanic and economically disadvantaged students.

UPDATED: Gunman Kills 19 Children, Two Teachers At Texas Elementary School

FILE PHOTO: A Bryan police officer blocks access to an industrial park near the scene of a mass shooting in Bryan, Texas on April 8, 2021.  Sam Craft / AFP

 

A teenage gunman killed at least 19 young children and two teachers at an elementary school in Texas on Tuesday, prompting a furious President Joe Biden to denounce the US gun lobby and vow to end the nation’s cycle of mass shootings.

The attack in Uvalde — a small community about an hour from the Mexican border — was the deadliest US school shooting in years and the latest in a spree of bloody gun violence across America.

“It’s time to turn this pain into action for every parent, for every citizen of this country,” Biden said, his voice heavy with emotion.

“It’s time for those who obstruct or delay or block common-sense gun laws — we need to let you know that we will not forget,” he said.

“As a nation, we have to ask when in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? When in God’s name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, addressing an earlier news conference, named the suspect as Salvador Ramos, an 18-year-old local resident, and a US citizen.

“He shot and killed, horrifically and incomprehensibly,” Abbott said.

Texas Department of Public Safety officials told CNN the gunman is believed to have shot his grandmother before heading to Robb Elementary School around noon where he abandoned his vehicle and entered with a handgun and a rifle, wearing body armor.

READ ALSO: Two Years After George Floyd’s Murder, Biden To Sign Executive Order On Police Reform

More Than Dozen Children Wounded 

The gunman was killed by responding officers, the officials said, adding later two teachers also died in the attack.

“Right now there’s 19 children that were killed by this evil gunman, as well as two teachers from this school,” DPS spokesman Lieutenant Chris Olivarez told NBC News.

More than a dozen children were also wounded in the attack at the school, which teaches more than 500, mostly Hispanic and economically disadvantaged students.

Uvalde Memorial Hospital said on Facebook it had received 13 children while University Health hospital in San Antonio said on Twitter it had received a 66-year-old woman and a 10-year-old girl, both in critical condition, and two other girls aged nine and 10.

At least one Border Patrol agent responding to the incident was wounded in an exchange of gunfire with the shooter, Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Marsha Espinosa tweeted.

Footage showed small groups of children weaving through parked cars and yellow buses, some holding hands as they fled under police escort from the school, which teaches students aged around seven to 10 years old.

It was the deadliest such incident since the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut, in which 20 children and six staff were killed.

The White House ordered flags to be flown at half-mast in mourning for the victims — whose deaths sent a wave of shock through a country still scarred by the horror of Sandy Hook.

 ‘Happens Nowhere Else’ 

Ted Cruz, a pro-gun rights Republican senator from Texas, tweeted that he and his wife were “lifting up in prayer the children and families in the horrific shooting in Uvalde.”

But Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, where the Sandy Hook shooting took place, made an impassioned appeal for concrete action to prevent further violence.

“This isn’t inevitable, these kids weren’t unlucky. This only happens in this country and nowhere else. Nowhere else do little kids go to school thinking that they might be shot that day,” Murphy said on the Senate floor in Washington.

“I’m here on this floor to beg, to literally get down on my hands and knees and beg my colleagues: Find a path forward here. Work with us to find a way to pass laws that make this less likely.”

The deadly assault in Texas follows a series of mass shootings in the United States this month.

On May 14, an 18-year-old man shot 10 people dead at a Buffalo, New York grocery store.

Wearing heavy body armor and wielding an AR-15 rifle, the self-declared white supremacist livestreamed his attack, having reportedly targeted the store because of the large surrounding African American population.

The following day, a man blocked the door of a church in Laguna Woods, California, and opened fire on its Taiwanese-American congregation, killing one person and wounding five.

Despite recurring mass-casualty shootings, multiple initiatives to reform gun regulations have failed in the US Congress, leaving states and local councils to strengthen — or weaken — their own restrictions.

The National Rifle Association has been instrumental in fighting against stricter US gun laws. Abbott and Cruz are listed as speakers at a forum that is being held by the powerful lobby in Houston, Texas later this week.

The United States suffered 19,350 firearm homicides in 2020, up nearly 35 percent compared to 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in its latest data.

AFP

13-Year-Old Boy Kills Nine While Driving Truck In Texas

In this file photo, a Bryan Police Department officer maintains a perimeter near the scene of a shooting at Kent Moore Cabinets on April 8, 2021, in Bryan. Tamir Kalifa/Getty Images/AFP

 

A 13-year-old boy was driving a pickup truck that collided with a van carrying a college golf team in west Texas, killing nine people, officials said Thursday.

Six members of the New Mexico-based University of the Southwest golf team were killed in Tuesday night’s crash along with their coach, according to police.

The 13-year-old boy and his 38-year-old father who was riding in the pickup truck also died in the accident, which occurred near Andrews, Texas.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Dodge 2500 pickup veered into the oncoming lane, colliding head-on with the van.
Both vehicles caught fire.

READ ALSO: Russian Missiles Destroy Aircraft Repair Plant In Ukraine’s Lviv – Mayor

Bruce Landsberg, the vice-chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, was quoted by KWES TV in Odessa, Texas as saying the minor was behind the wheel of the pickup truck at the time of the accident.

The 13-year-old was violating Texas law. A resident may obtain a learner’s permit in the state beginning at the age of 15 which allows them to drive with a licensed adult over 21.

Landsberg was also quoted by KWES TV as saying the pickup’s left front tire appears to have blown out before the crash, which occurred with both vehicles traveling at high speed.

Two University of the Southwest students, both Canadians, are in hospital in critical condition.

AFP

Eight Killed As Crowd Rushes Stage At Texas Rap Concert

Houston police chief Troy Finner speaks as Chief of the Houston Fire Department Sam Peña (2r), Mayor of Houston Sylvester Turner (L) and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo (R) listen, at a press conference outside of the Wyndham Houston Hotel near NRG Park in Houston, Texas on November 6, 2021, the day after a concert accident killed 8 people. François Picard / AFP

 

Authorities in Texas opened a criminal investigation Saturday into a tragedy in which the crowd at a huge Travis Scott rap concert surged toward the stage in a crush that killed eight people and sent dozens to the hospital.

Around 50,000 people were in the audience at Houston’s NRG Park Friday night when the crowd started pushing toward the stage as Scott was performing, triggering chaotic scenes.

“People were being pushed, people were being trampled, and then as I fought my way out of there, I saw people on the ground,” Logan Morris, a Dallas native who was at the show, told AFP.

Raul Marquez, 24, said he saw a lot of drinking and drug use in the crowd.

“And they got hot and just dancing and it all caved in and just, they couldn’t breathe, and passed out left and right,” he said.

“Some people didn’t care and just stomped on them or ignored them. It was intense,” Marquez said.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner told reporters Saturday afternoon that the crush left eight people dead, from ages 14 to 27, with one person’s age unknown. The chaos also resulted in 25 people being transported to the hospital, including 13 who were still there.

Turner said that authorities are looking at video footage, talking to witnesses, concert organizers and people who were hospitalized.

“This is a very, very active investigation, and we will probably be at it for quite some time to determine what exactly happened,” he said.

The criminal investigation will involve both homicide and narcotics detectives, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner told reporters.

Houston is known for staging high-profile events, but the city had never experienced anything “of this magnitude that any of us can recall,” Turner added.

More than 300 people were treated on the scene for minor injuries in the first night of the two-day Astroworld Festival, which Scott helped organize, authorities said.

Scott halted his act several times when he saw fans in distress near the stage.

Scott ‘Absolutely Devastated’

Survivors described chaotic scenes of people squeezed up against one another with many struggling to breathe.

Gavyn Flores, 18, said he was standing on the edge of the crowd near a barricade and could not move, for hours on end. He said he tried to hoist people over that wall.

“People were trying to get out, but you can’t move. So there kind of wasn’t a point of trying to get out, because they couldn’t. But if they could, we were trying to help them get thrown over,” Flores told AFP.

“I am absolutely devastated by what took place last night,” Scott tweeted Saturday. “My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at Astroworld Festival.”

More than 520 police officers and 750 security guards were on hand for the festival.

Finner discouraged speculation about rumors that a concertgoer had injected other attendees with drugs. However, he confirmed that one security officer who was restraining an individual felt a prick in his neck before passing out. He was administered NARCAN, used to treat opioid overdoses, and medical staff noted a mark similar to an injection site on his neck.

‘Some Type of Cardiac Arrest’

Houston police said the tragedy, which began escalating around 9:30 pm local time (0230 GMT Saturday), unfolded quickly.

“Over the course of just a few minutes, suddenly we had several people down on the ground experience some type of cardiac arrest,” assistant police chief Larry Satterwhite said.

Videos shared on social media showed paramedics resuscitating unconscious fans in the audience as the concert continued.

Astroworld organizers canceled the rest of the festival, which had been scheduled to continue on Saturday.

Other footage on social media showed scores of people rushing the gates at NRG park, with security unable to contain the flow.

Several people could be seen falling over, bringing down the metal detectors at the arena entrance.

Scott launched the Astroworld music festival in 2018.

The 29-year-old rapper, a Houston native who has a child with celebrity socialite Kylie Jenner, made his breakthrough in 2013 and has had six Grammy nominations.

Other performers scheduled to play at the festival over the weekend included the rappers Chief Keef and 21 Savage, as well as the Australian rock band Tame Impala.

During Scott’s headline set late Friday, he was joined onstage by Canadian rap superstar Drake.

US Justice Dept Asks Supreme Court To Block Texas Abortion Law

A view of the U.S. Supreme Court on September 1, 2021 in Washington, DC.  AFP

 

US President Joe Biden’s administration, in the latest move in the battle over reproductive rights, asked the Supreme Court on Monday to block a Texas law that bans most abortions in the state.

The Texas law is “clearly unconstitutional” and violates the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, which enshrined a woman’s legal right to an abortion, the Justice Department said.

Allowing the Texas law to remain in force would “perpetuate the ongoing irreparable injury to the thousands of Texas women who are being denied their constitutional rights,” the department said in its request to the nation’s highest court.

The Justice Department filing is the latest legal maneuver in the fight over the controversial Texas law known as Senate Bill 8 (SB8), which bans abortions after six weeks, before many women even know they are pregnant.

Calling it “flagrantly unconstitutional,” US District Judge Robert Pitman issued a preliminary injunction earlier this month halting enforcement of the Texas law, which took effect on September 1.

“This court will not sanction one more day of this offensive deprivation of such an important right,” Pitman said in a blistering decision.

Days later, however, the New Orleans-based Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the Texas law pending a full hearing in December.

In its filing on Monday, the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to vacate the appeals court decision.

The conservative-leaning Supreme Court last month cited procedural issues when it decided by a 5-4 vote against intervening to block the Texas law, which makes no exceptions for rape or incest.

It did not rule on the merits of the case brought by abortion providers.

 ‘Texas Heartbeat Act’ 

The “Texas Heartbeat Act” allows members of the public to sue doctors who perform abortions, or anyone who helps facilitate them, once a heartbeat is detected in the womb, which usually occurs at around six weeks.

They can be rewarded with $10,000 for initiating cases that lead to prosecution, prompting charges that the law encourages people to act as vigilantes.

The Texas law is part of a broader conservative drive to restrict abortions across the United States that has prompted a public backlash.

Laws restricting abortion have been passed in other Republican-led states but were struck down by the courts because they violated Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed a woman’s right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, which is typically around 22 to 24 weeks.

The Supreme Court is to hear a challenge on December 1 to a Mississippi law that bans nearly all abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy.

It will be the first abortion case argued before the court since the nomination of three justices by former Republican President Donald Trump, giving conservatives a 6-3 majority on the panel.

Advocates of a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy have called on Congress to enshrine the right to an abortion in federal law to protect it from any possible reversal by the Supreme Court.

A bill to that effect was adopted recently in the Democratic majority House of Representatives but has no chance of passing the Senate, where Republicans have enough votes to block it.

 

450,000 Homes In Texas Without Power As Storm Nicholas Weakens

HOUSTON, TEXAS – SEPTEMBER 14: Debris and damaged road construction are left after Tropical Storm Nicholas moved through the area on September 14, 2021 in Houston, Texas. Brandon Bell/Getty Images/AFP

 

Tropical storm Nicholas weakened as it moved inland Tuesday, lashing Texas after flooding coastal towns with dangerous storm surges in the southern US state and leaving nearly half a million homes without power.

Nicholas barreled ashore overnight and raked the coastline as a Category One hurricane, and then quickly set its sights on Houston, Texas’s largest city.

Electricity provider CenterPoint reported more than 450,000 customers in the area were without power early Tuesday, although that number had dropped below 380,000 by late morning.

Other than widespread outages, the city of 2.3 million people largely dodged a bullet.

“This storm could have been a lot worse for the city of Houston,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said at an emergency operations meeting, noting there were no recorded storm-related deaths in the area.

“I think we fared fairly well,” he added.

Parts of Houston were devastated by Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Perhaps mindful of the damage four years earlier, Turner put the city on high alert Monday, erecting barricades, activating an emergency management office, closing the Houston ship channel at its busy port, and warning residents to take extra safety precautions.

Some 400 flights in and out of Houston were cancelled, but the city’s airports were set to resume full service later Tuesday, Turner said.

As of 10:00 am (1500 GMT), the storm’s maximum sustained winds had dipped to 45 miles (75 kilometers) per hour, with higher gusts, and was expected to dump five to 10 inches (125-250 millimeters) of rain over the Texas coast and Louisiana, the National Hurricane Center said.

However, the NHC warned that even as Nicholas was forecast to downgrade to a tropical depression by Tuesday night, there could be isolated instances of 20 inches of rainfall in parts of southern Louisiana.

“Life-threatening flash floods (are) expected across portions of the Deep South during the next couple of days,” the NHC reported, adding that urbanized metropolitan areas were also at risk.

At Surfside Beach south of Houston, Nicholas blew off roofs and sent a storm surge through town, knocking out power to the community.

“We took a pretty strong hit,” Mayor Gregg Bisso told AFP.

“We are cleaning up in order to reopen closed roads,” he said, adding: “We don’t let anyone in unless you are a resident.”

Videos shared on social media showed vicious winds — in one clip, a Citgo gas station roof tips over — and lashing rain as the storm moved up the coast towards Houston and beyond.

The NHC also issued a storm surge warning for much of the Gulf coast, meaning “there is a danger of life-threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline.”

State Of Emergency

Late Monday, President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in Louisiana, authorizing the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate all disaster relief efforts.

Texas is no stranger to hurricanes, but scientists warn that climate change is making the storms more powerful, posing an increasing risk to coastal communities.

Coastlines are already suffering from flooding, which has been amplified by rising sea levels.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott had urged residents to take precautions and “remain vigilant” in the face of the severe weather.

On Tuesday, he said emergency shelters had been set up for residents who might be displaced by Nicholas.

AFP

US Supreme Court Refuses To Block Texas Law Banning Most Abortions

WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 01: A view of the U.S. Supreme Court on September 1, 2021 in Washington, DC. A new Texas law that prohibits most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy went into effect on Wednesday. (Photo by Drew Angerer via AFP)

 

 

 

The US Supreme Court handed a major victory to abortion opponents late Wednesday, denying an emergency request to block a new law effectively banning most abortions in the southern state of Texas.

The court, which had received the emergency request from abortion rights advocates on Monday, did not rule on the constitutionality of the law, which went into effect 24 hours earlier, but cited “complex and novel antecedent procedural questions” for leaving it in place while the court battle continues.

The decision was reached with a narrow majority of five justices in favor, three of whom were appointed by former President Donald Trump, who cemented a conservative-leaning 6-3 majority on the nine-member panel during his time in office.

Chief Justice John Roberts, a moderate conservative, like the three liberal justices, indicated that he would have blocked the “unprecedented” law, pending a substantive review.

More bluntly, liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor called the court’s order “stunning,” saying her colleagues had “opted to bury their head in the sand” over a “flagrantly unconstitutional law engineered to prohibit women from exercising their constitutional rights.”

Senate Bill 8, or SB8, signed in May by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, bans abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is usually in the sixth week of pregnancy — before many women even know they are pregnant — and makes no exceptions for rape or incest.

The only exemption is if there is a danger to the woman’s health.

While similar laws have passed in a dozen Republican-led conservative states, all had been stymied in the courts.

The Supreme Court declined to rule on the request from rights groups and abortion providers to block the law by midnight September 1.

 

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 01: People make signs as they join others for a reproductive rights rally at Brooklyn Borough Hall on September 01, 2021 in Downtown Brooklyn in New York City. NOW-NYC and Planned Parenthood of Greater New York Action Fund organized a rally for reproductive rights after a Texas law that has been dubbed the “Heartbeat Bill” went into effect.  (Photo by Michael M. Santiago  via AFP)

 

The other states that have sought to enact restrictions on abortion in the early stages of pregnancy have been barred from doing so by rulings that cited protections granted in Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case that legally enshrined a woman’s right to an abortion.

That decision guaranteed the right to an abortion in the US so long as the fetus is not viable outside the womb, which is usually the case until the 22nd to 24th week of pregnancy.

But Texas’ law is different from those of other states because it allows the public — rather than state officials such as prosecutors or health departments — to bring private civil suits to enforce the ban.

For procedural reasons, this provision makes it more difficult for federal courts to intervene, and they have so far refused to take up appeals against the law.

The Supreme Court has now followed suit, while noting that other challenges to the law could be filed, including in state courts.

Judge Dismisses Vaccine Lawsuit From Texas Hospital Workers

Logo of a court gavel

 

 

A US judge has thrown out a lawsuit by more than 100 employees of one of Texas’s largest hospitals, who sued after being required to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

They argued Houston Methodist Hospital’s demand was illegal so long as the available shots have received only emergency use authorization from US health authorities — though that authorization has cleared the way for millions of Americans to be vaccinated.

The hospital set a June 7 deadline for workers to prove they had received at least one dose or face termination.

Federal court Judge Lynn Hughes ruled against Jennifer Bridges and 116 other workers on Saturday, saying the vaccines’ safety was not at issue and Texas law only protects employees from refusing to commit a crime.

“Receiving a Covid-19 vaccination is not an illegal act, and it carries no criminal penalties,” Hughes wrote.

She also reprimanded Bridges for the analogy that the threat of being fired for not getting vaccinated was like “forced medical experimentation during the Holocaust.”

“Equating the injection requirement to medical experimentation in concentration camps is reprehensible,” Hughes wrote.

Houston houses the largest medical complex in the world, the Texas Medical Center, a sprawling district that includes hospitals and research universities. The center employs more than 106,000 healthcare workers in all and sees some 10 million patients a year.

Across the United States, more than 173 million people — over 50 percent of the population — have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine so far.

And yet, surveys show that healthcare workers have been among the greatest vaccine skeptics.

Downtown Shooting in Austin, Texas Injures 14

An ATF K9 unit surveys the area near the scene of a shooting on June 12, 2021 in Austin, Texas. Sergio Flores/Getty Images/AFP
An ATF K9 unit surveys the area near the scene of a shooting on June 12, 2021 in Austin, Texas. Sergio Flores/Getty Images/AFP

 

Gunfire erupted in a busy entertainment district in the Texas city of Austin early Saturday, injuring 14 people, according to authorities who were still searching for a suspect.

Police said they responded to multiple shots fired just before 1:30 am in bustling downtown Austin, where a large crowd began to disperse.

“Our officers responded very quickly,” Austin’s interim police chief Joseph Chacon told a news conference.

“They were able to immediately begin life saving measures for many of these patients,” he added.

Police said they had received a description of a suspect, a Black male, but that it was still unclear whether one or multiple suspects were involved.

They added that the shooting appeared to be an isolated incident, although an investigation was ongoing.

“I don’t have any information right now that the victims were intentionally targeted,” a police spokesman said.

 

AFP