It’s the Monday Politics Thread Again

How to Help Texans During the Winter Storm Crisis

Winter storm Uri has left Texas in a state of crisis. After days of frigid weather, millions were left this week without heat or electricity as snow, ice, and freezing temperatures “caused a catastrophic failure of the state’s power grid,” according to the Houston Chronicle. As of Feb. 16, more than 4.2 million customers had lost power, per Vox, all while some Texas cities had temperatures as low as four degrees Fahrenheit. In other areas, people have experienced rolling blackouts, where power is shut off for limited periods of time. NPR reported on Feb. 18 that there has been a surge in carbon monoxide poisonings as Texas residents without power seek warmth from dangerous sources, such as barbecue pits, charcoal grills, campfire stoves, portable generators, and car engines.


Support relief efforts in Texas

Nearly 3 million households across Texas are still without power – and more snow and ice is expected in the coming days.

These groups are working around the clock to assist houseless, hungry and senior Texans in Travis and Dallas County, and beyond.

Act Blue/AOC

‘Reeks of racism’: Latinos blast Ariz. Republican who said vaccinate Americans before Hispanics

A Republican congresswoman from Arizona is drawing backlash for saying that Hispanics are “good workers,” but that “American citizens” should be vaccinated first, stirring a divisive debate on immigration amid the pandemic.

During a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing last week, Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., said: “I worked with people that are Hispanic. I mean they’re very good workers. …We’re compassionate people, but for goodness sakes, we have to take care of American citizens, or people that are here legally, first.”

“I’m just not going to be able to explain to my senior citizens that we’re giving away the vaccines to people that (are) here illegally,” Lesko said. “I just think that’s totally wrong.”


Israel’s COVID vaccination pass opens fast track to normal life

Israel reopened swathes of its economy including malls and leisure facilities on Sunday, with the government saying the start of a return to routine was enabled by COVID-19 vaccines administered to almost half the population.


Busted pipes, water damage, hotel bills: As power flickers on, costs loom for storm-weary Texans

Texans face a cascade of frustrations and expenses as the state tries to recover from the storm. Insurance companies are bracing for claims rivaling those after major hurricanes, and homeowners are trying to find plumbers and electricians.

Texas Tribune

Texas Failed Because It Did Not Plan

How could this have happened? For four days, millions of people in Texas—the so-called energy capital of the world—shivered in the dark, unable to turn the lights on or run their heaters during some of the coldest days in decades. At least 30 Texans have died so far, including a 75-year-old man whose oxygen machine lost power and an 11-year-old boy who may have perished of hypothermia. Desperate families have tried to stay warm by running generators and grills indoors, leading to more than 450 carbon-monoxide poisonings, many of them in children.

Severed from electricity and bare to the frigid weather, Texas’s infrastructure suffered a kind of multisystem failure. Pipes began to burst inside homes. Cell networks went down, preventing people from calling 911. In Austin and elsewhere, so many people ran their pipes at a drip (in order to prevent them from freezing) that the water system depressurized, contaminating the supply and forcing residents to boil their water before using it.

On Friday, about half of state residents were under some kind of water advisory, according to The Texas Tribune. And 33,000 homes and businesses still have no power.

America’s second-largest state was brought to its knees by winter weather. How could this have happened?

The Atlantic

‘Black and Asian unity’: attacks on elders spark reckoning with racism’s roots

An 91-year-old man shoved to the ground in Oakland, California’s Chinatown. A 50-something woman thrown into a set of newsstands in Flushing, Queens. An 84-year-old man fatally assaulted in San Francisco. A recent spate of violence against Asian elders has left many Asian Americans across the country feeling targeted, wondering whether these are random acts of crime – or fueled by anti-Asian bias.

The attacks have shaken Asian immigrant communities already struggling after a year of pandemic-related challenges, including racist taunts of “kung flu” or “China virus” and economic devastation for Chinatowns and other immigrant communities – and four years under an administration whose trade war with China fueled xenophobia.

Some, including Asian movie stars and celebrities, have called for greater recognition of the racism that targets Asian Americans. Some have demanded quick police action. And some have pointed the finger, not at the white political leaders who have long trafficked in xenophobic rhetoric, but at another minority group.

The Guardian

Protesting Indian farmers vow to amass more supporters outside capital Delhi

More than 100,000 farmers and farm workers gathered in India’s northern Punjab state on Sunday in a show of strength against new farm laws, where union leaders called on supporters to amass outside the capital New Delhi on Feb. 27.

Tens of thousands of Indian growers have already been camped outside Delhi for nearly three months, demanding the repeal of the three reform laws that they say will hurt them and benefit large corporations.


What Is Redlining? How Residential Segregation Shaped U.S. Cities

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many of the flaws within our country, but perhaps one of the most glaring examples is how the virus has disproportionately impacted Black and brown communities. This isn’t a coincidence. It all goes back to one major thing: housing. In the 1930s, when our government decided that non-white communities didn’t deserve access to better housing, it established systemic barriers that ended up segregating communities by race. So in 2020, when the global pandemic made its way to the United States, it wasn’t a surprise that the most susceptible communities were those that had long been strategically neglected by our government. Much of our present-day society is related to the laws and agencies that were created generations ago. This includes one of the most structurally defining practices of the last century: redlining.

Teen Vogue

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot spent $281.5 million in federal COVID-19 relief money on police payroll

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration spent $281.5 million in federal COVID-19 relief money on Chicago Police Department personnel costs, prompting an angry response Wednesday from activists and some aldermen.

The number came to light as Lightfoot seeks City Council approval to transfer about $65 million in unspent federal COVID-19 money into the 2021 budget, after the Biden administration waived Federal Emergency Management Agency local funding matches and extended the deadline to spend federal dollars until the end of the year.

Ald. Daniel La Spata, 1st, last summer called on the mayor to put federal money toward housing relief or other programs to help struggling residents. He said he and other aldermen heard from residents that they didn’t want federal money targeted toward police payroll.

Chicago Tribune

Buttigieg could ‘feel the history swirling’ when Kamala Harris swore him in

Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg broke multiple barriers this month when he was sworn in as President Joe Biden’s transportation secretary. He became the first openly gay Cabinet member to win Senate confirmation and the youngest person, at 39, to lead the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“You can really feel the history swirling around us when the vice president was swearing me in with my husband, Chasten, at my side,” Buttigieg said in an interview with NBC News’ Snapchat show “Stay Tuned.” Vice President Kamala Harris, like Buttigieg, made political history this year: She is the first woman and first Black and South Asian person to hold the country’s second-highest office.

NBC News