The State of Texas: June 25, 2015
Image of the Day
The headline “People in my Neighborhood are Taking the Bluebell Recall Pretty Hard” sums up this Dallas Observer image well:
Family Bonds – So much for our grand idea to lock up entire families for crossing the border illegally. After a visit to a family dentention city in Karnes, U.S. Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson saw some kind of light and announced yesterday that the government would no longer continue the practice. Actually, the “series of measures intended to limit how long immigrant women and children are held in custody,” notes Politico, comes after “fierce pressure from Democratic lawmakers and immigration advocates.” It’s a real downer of a policy shift for the prison industrial complex, particularly since the policy will presumably affect Dilley’s “family detainment center,” the largest of its kind, which was completed just six months ago, after the great migrant panic of 2013–2014. “The department will reform its policies so that families that have stated a credible or reasonable fear of persecution in their home countries will be released with ‘a reasonable and realistic’ monetary bond,” according to the Texas Tribune. “Johnson said he is also directing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to speed up interviews with detained families to reduce the time they spend in the detention facilities.” In relaxing such policies even more, Johnson said “he was hopeful that Central American families would consider safe and lawful ways to migrate to the U.S.” Beause that worked so well the last time the Obama administration announced amnesty measures.
Raining on the Parade – Large swaths of Texas have basically experienced an entire monsoon season, which means we’re definitely done with any kind of drought! Right?! Maybe not. “Despite the El Niño weather pattern and the Memorial Day weekend floods and a tropical storm named Bill that was more damaging east and north of Central Texas—despite lakes Travis and Buchanan being at 70 percent of capacity—we’re still in a drought,” writes the Austin American-Statesman. It was the downers at the Lower Colorado River Authority who provided this bad news, with one official urging “caution and vigilance, noting that it was heavy rain and flooding that broke what was then the drought of record in the late 1950s. But, [LCRA meteorologist Bob] Rose said, the drought returned again around 1963.” According to the Austin Monitor, John Hofmann, the LCRA executive vice president of water, said, “We’ve had a wonderful month in May and a pretty good month in June, but those two months do not a drought break.” No one else seems to have gotten the message. Even Wired has gotten into a slightly celebratory mood over our state’s weather. An NBCDFW story from earlier this week notes that “only just under 7 percent of the state of Texas remains in drought” and that “the latest findings indicate one thin thread of Moderate Drought (D1) representing .3 percent of the state.” So enjoy our quasi-good fortune. While it lasts.
American Crimea?– For anyone who missed it, Politico published a fascinating report on the “sudden . . . bizarro uptick of Russian interest in and around the American Southwest, most notably Texas.” The uptick in rhetoric has been going on for the past fifteen months and “it’s unclear just how high up these propaganda efforts go in the Kremlin. But it can hardly be an accident that last December, in the midst of the ruble’s parlous plummet, Russian president Vladimir Putin lashed out at putative Western hypocrisy,” name-checking Texas and giving a wink to any Texan who though the U.S. annexation was pure theft. Much of the comparisons occurred during the height of the Crimea controversy. “Russian state media, of course, took the Crimea-as-Texas analogy and sprinted off with it. According to Sputnik, the ballot-by-bayonet “referendum” in Crimea saw its historical precedent in Texas. ‘If one accepts the current status of Texas despite its controversial origin story, then they are more than obliged to recognize the future status of Crimea,’ the outlet wrote.” But who will be Crimea’s Rick Perry?