Cargo Plane Crash
On Saturday, Feb. 24, a twin-engine cargo plane carrying three people crashed into Trinity Bay near Houston. The Boeing 767-300 plane, operated by Atlas Air Inc., originated from Miami International Airport and lost radio contact approximately 30 miles southeast of Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
As of Sunday, two of the bodies have been recovered with one being officially identified as Captain Sean Archuleta, who had been a pilot for Mesa since 2013 and had been riding in the aircraft’s jump seat.
“This is a sad day for the entire Mesa Family as we mourn the loss of Captain Sean Archuleta,” said Jonathan Ornstein, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer. “Our thoughts are with Sean’s family, the families of the two Atlas Air pilots, and the whole Atlas Air organization. This is a loss for all of aviation.”
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said in Sunday’s briefing that finding the plane’s black boxes are a “high priority” as investigators search through the debris field.
The cargo plane had been carrying packages for Amazon’s Prime Air service and had been told by air traffic controllers that they were approaching bad weather.
Hopefully, the black box will be found soon so that plane manufacturers and airlines can fix the issues attributed to the crash and prevent this from happening again.
All-Male Draft Found Unconstitutional
On Friday, Feb. 22, U.S. District Judge Gray Miller declared that the all-male military draft is unconstitutional, ruling that while historical restrictions on women serving in combat “may have justified past discrimination,” men and women are now equally able to fight.
The case was brought by the National Coalition For Men, a men’s rights group, and two men who argued the all-male draft was unfair.
Men who fail to register with the Selective Service System at their 18th birthday can be denied public benefits such as federal employment and student loans. Women are not required to register for Selective Service.
The ruling comes as the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service is studying the future of the Selective Service System, including whether women should be included or whether there should continue to be draft registration at all.
Miller said Congress has never fully examined whether men are physically better able to serve than women. In fact, he noted in a footnote, “the average woman could conceivably be better suited physically for some of today’s combat positions than the average man, depending on which skills the position required. Combat roles no longer uniformly require sheer size or muscle.”
Quoting the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning bans on same-sex marriage, Miller ruled that restrictions based on gender “must substantially serve an important governmental interest today.”
This ruling could prove to be a big step forward for the United States as it leaves the government with two choices. They can either acknowledge men and women as equals and require women to also sign up for selective service or do away with the military draft entirely.
The Dow Jones increased to 26,031.81 on Friday, increasing by +148.56 points, or +0.57 percent over its Feb. 15 close of 25,883.25. The S&P 500 increased by +17.07 points or +0.62 percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq decreased on Friday by +0.74 percent.
As it currently stands, trade talks between the US and China are still going well with President Trump tweeting that he will be holding off adding further tariffs on March 1 since there has been “substantial progress in our trade talks with China”. During these weekend talks, China has also committed to buying an additional 10 million metric tons of U.S. soybeans, according to US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
Brett Busby Appointed to Texas Supreme Court
On Thursday, Feb. 21, Gov. Abbot announced his appointment of Brett Busby to the Supreme Court of Texas following last year’s retirement of former Justice Phil Johnson.
“It is a distinct honor to appoint Brett Busby to serve on the Supreme Court of Texas,” said Abbott. “Brett’s respect for the Constitution and his understanding that judges say what the law is, not what they would like it to be, will serve the people of Texas well as he ascends to our highest court. I am grateful to Brett for his dedication to the Lone Star State and his unwavering commitment to the rule of law.”
If the former Justice of the 14th Court of Appeals is confirmed by the Texas Senate he will serve a term through December 31, 2020.
Busby is a highly experienced and respected man who with his experience as a Court of Appeals Justice should make it relatively easy for the Texas Senate to confirm his nomination.
San Antonio State House Seat
On Friday, Feb. 22, Governor Greg Abbott announced that March 12 would be the day for the special election runoff to replace former state Rep. Justin Rodriguez in San Antonio’s House District 125.
The traditionally blue seat has come down to Republican Fred Rangel and Democrat Ray Lopez, the top two finishers in the initial five-way contest earlier this month.
Early voting for the HD-125 special election runoff begins March 4.
Rangel is a business owner whose campaign has been boosted by endorsements from Gov. Abbott and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn who wish to have a repeat of Pete Flores, the Pleasanton Republican who flipped a state Senate seat last year after advancing to the overtime round of a special election.
However, Democrats are confident that they will hold onto the seat since democratic candidates netted over 60% of the total vote.
“Texas House District 125 is a Democratic district and it will remain a Democratic district,” party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement.
If the Republicans are able to flip House District 125 it would be a rebuke to the 2018 election and a potential signal that Republicans will strengthen their hold on the state legislature and will continue to do very well electorally in Texas for many years to come.
Venezuela in Crisis
In Venezuela this week the situation internally has only been getting worse. There are two different people claiming the presidency: Nicolás Maduro and Juan Guaidó, with both calling for the other to step down.
Over the past week, multiple aid and humanitarian missions have been turned away or had they supplies destroyed by Pro-Maduro forces out of fear that they will help Guadio. A boat carrying US aid from Puerto Rico to Venezuela was forced to dock on the small Dutch territory island of Curaçao after it was intercepted by the Venezuelan navy off the northern coast, AFP news agency reports.
The vessel was reportedly loaded with nine cargo containers filled with food and medicine.
Venezuela’s opposition also tried to peacefully bring aid trucks over the borders with Brazil and Colombia but were met with hostile force by Venezuelan soldiers. The soldiers fired into the killing at least two and torched the aid trucks.
By Sunday, Feb. 25, there have been major protests in 24 states, 67 desertions, 25 dead, 285 injured and 2-4 trucks torched according to BNL News.
The US must stand with the people of Venezuela and help remove Maduro from power so that the country can begin to move toward a freer and richer society.
On Tuesday, Feb. 19, President Donald Trump signed a directive for the Pentagon to officially create the United States Space Force, reportedly as part of the US Air Force. Now the Pentagon must draft legislation that will have to be voted on by Congress.
When signing Space Policy Directive 4 (SPD-4), Trump told reporters, “It’s the future, it’s where we’re going. I suspect whether we like it or not, that’s where we’re going – in space. That’s the next step.”
“We have to be prepared. Our adversaries, whether we get along with them or not, they’re up in space. And they’re doing it, and we’re doing it. It’s going to be a very big part of where the defense of our nation is going to be,” said Trump.
The Air Force has estimated that the Space Force could cost $13 billion over five years, but there were no funds designated for a Space Force in the 2019 defense budget.
The Space Force would likely mostly deal with monitoring Earth’s satellites as well as launching and maintaining military satellites. However, the creation of a new part of the military could help lead to further space exploration and colonization efforts.
Free use image with design by The Tower.