Christian Watson Criticizes Critical Race Theory

When Christian Watson, spokesperson for Color Us United, came to Trinity University to talk about critical race theory (CRT), it was evident that the event would be controversial. Color Us United is an organization that advocates for a “race-blind America.”  The audience gathered in Chapman Great Hall was composed of Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) members, a table of liberal students, and a handful of other students interested in hearing Watson’s take on CRT. When asked how he decided to come to Trinity, he replied, “It wasn’t hard at all. I was invited, and I came.” 

Watson was raised by a liberal single mother, but as he grew older, he was exposed to alternative perspectives and started attending seminars that sparked his interest. When asked how he became interested in critical race theory, Watson explained that as an African American man, he interacted with CRT in his personal life and tended to have conversations about it, which led to “a deeper intellectual interest.”  Watson says he approaches his viewpoints from the perspective of  “philosophy, reason, and debate.”

Watson’s thesis is that the so-called diversity that is popular in America does not reflect true diversity. Today’s idea of diversity is limited to identity, a superficial way to sum up an individual. Judging someone simply on external criteria, as many institutions are prone to do for diversity action programs, ultimately gives an incomplete picture of a nuanced human being. He explained that diversity is naturally all around us, in our skills, abilities, personal beliefs, and interests. “Everyone has unique abilities and certain gifts which they must identify.” The problem is that society tries to push people away from their natural gifts and make them conform to a stereotype of what they’re supposed to be and how they’re supposed to behave. Watson concluded with a statement echoing the transcendentalists of time gone by: “Knowing yourself is the most important tool that you could possibly have in this life.”  

After he finished his lecture, a question and answer session followed. As mentioned before, a group of liberal students came to question him. They asked him about the nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson, to which he replied that Biden nominated her based on race alone, rather than qualification, a perfect subversion of how it should be. When questioned about police brutality against African Americans, Watson countered, “What police brutality?” He said that the idea of systematic racism in the police force was a myth contrived by the leftist media and that the police were inherently good people. Another question came up about intentional inclusivity in the workplace, and he said it was absolutely not a good idea; people should be hired based on abilities rather than identity. This all goes back to the concept of the color-blind system Watson promotes, to ultimately treat everyone equally. 

Christian Watson’s key takeaway is to judge people based on their ideas and what they have to offer, rather than based on external criteria, a lesson that the world desperately needs to hear. His personal experience as an African American in a world distorted by critical race theory drives home the true significance of his message. Watson was an excellent speaker, convicted in his beliefs, which he explained clearly and concisely. Christian Watson delivered a refreshing and thought-provoking critique of critical race theory to the Trinity University students who gathered to hear him and his ideas.

Cover photo taken by Ellis Jacoby.

University of the Incarnate Word Relaxes Mask Mandate Policies

On March 18, 2022, the University of the Incarnate Word finally allowed students and faculty to choose whether to wear a mask indoors on campus regardless of their vaccination status when the university updated its mask policy.

This updated policy gives students and faculty the ability to decide whether to wear their masks inside campus facilities. Some may see this as an issue because it could cause students to look down upon one another regarding their choice to wear or not wear a mask. 

Dr. Trey Guinn, Associate Professor and the Director of Communication Arts, highly respects the university administration’s ability to navigate the situation regarding COVID-19 protocols said that “I really have a lot of utmost respect and appreciation for administrators who are navigating unknown waters and the university’s ability to take information, process it, synthesize it, and help be guided by information coming from medical professionals and experts. I really commend and applaud.” Guinn expresses his hopes for the university moving forward. “My greatest hope is sort-of how people treat and respect one another. So, for instance, if the person next to you is wearing a mask and you are not or vice versa, how do we respond to one another? Do we still see them as our brother and our sister? Or do we now start seeing like, ‘Well, I’m this way, and you’re that way’? You know, the way sort-of people can create partisan lines around things like politics and a person’s choice to wear a mask or not wear a mask should not create partisan type lines.” Guinn concludes, “…if we are going to be in a community where some people are, and some people aren’t, that people love each other all the same.” Respecting each other’s opinions, choices, and values is prevalent in today’s society, specifically concerning COVID-19. 

Melanie Calimag Gonzalez, a Communication Arts student, concentrating in Media and Culture, expresses her thoughts on the updated mask policy. “I’m surprised that way more people took their masks off… I just hope that with this policy that COVID-19 cases don’t rise.” From the beginning of the pandemic until now, students and faculty were required to wear facial masks indoors in all campus facilities. Calimag Gonzalez says she feels a sense of nostalgia when seeing individuals not wearing masks. “It’s giving me nostalgia from before 2020 and a sense of normality that I had missed. I’m still wearing my mask because it doesn’t really bother me. I’m used to it.” Although Calimag Gonzalez will continue to wear her mask inside campus facilities, she does not want to impose on those who choose not to wear a mask. “Plus, I am still seeing people getting [COVID-19], so I don’t want to have it nor spread it. But I’m not going to fight or go off on anybody because it’s their own choice. I’m just going to respect it and continue doing what I think is good. Whether my peers wear their masks or not is their own opinion.” The sense of normalcy has been altered since the start of the pandemic, with publications with headlines reading “the new normal.” However, with this shift back to the “old normal,” students and faculty may have been feeling hesitant about their choice of whether to wear a mask.  

Since the start of the pandemic, it has been unusual to see our classmates and faculty without masks. However, hopefully with the new mask policy in place, we can start respecting one another’s opinions and know that we can only control what we do, and we can’t control how someone will react to what we do. 

Cover photo taken by Marisa Allen.

UTSA is Not Just Trying to Erase Texas History

The “Come and Take It” flag denounces tyranny, and only tyrants want to be rid of this important symbol.

UTSA announced on Sep. 7 2021 that it would end the tradition of unfurling a large “Come and Take It” flag before home football games and would remove any trace of the phrase from the school’s campus and website. This comes after an online petition that garnered less than 1,000 signatures argued that the flag was racist, pro-slavery and “anti-Mexican.”

When those without backbones, who either sympathize with or openly support anti-historicists, control institutions like universities in our society, they eventually wage war against history and tradition in the name of “wokeness” and “inclusivity.”

This is the most recent of a long war against our history and traditions that has been waged by the left, and shows that they are showing no signs of letting up. When those without backbones, who either sympathize with or openly support anti-historicists, control institutions like universities in our society, they eventually wage war against history and tradition in the name of “wokeness” and “inclusivity.” Some, like Kevin P. Eltife, chairman of the UT System Board of Regents, have stood up against UTSA’s decision by calling it the “abandoning [of our] traditions and history.

Ian De Koster, Class of 2024 at Trinity University, doesn’t see any problems with the flag. “As a Mexican-American and a Texan I can attest on my own account that it is not a point of grievance for the Mexican-American community. I don’t know anyone in the Mexican-American community who has felt attacked by the flag. Mexican-Americans today who understand what the flag means, are not provoked by it. I understand it can be used in negative contexts, but strictly in regards to the present day Mexican-American community, I don’t see the open wound they refer to.”

The [“Come and Take It”] flag was created in support of a cause, the cause of freedom and liberty.

But in this specific situation, what makes the “Come and Take It” flag so offensive? What makes it politically incorrect in this day and age? According to the left-wing activists it has anti-Mexican connotations. Yet what it was originally created for and what it still stands for are not in any way related to racist, anti-Mexican sentiments. Texas was about to launch a revolution against Mexican dictatorship and used the flag as a rallying cry against the tyrannical government of Santa Anna. The flag was created in support of a cause, the cause of freedom and liberty. It was not created to target a specific group. This is as ridiculous as if someone accused the Gadsen flag or the Betsy Ross flag of being insulting to British people today. These banners stand for something far greater than the narrow definitions that the Left uses to try and take them down. Or tries to “Come and Take It” down, if you will. 

The “Come and Take It” flag represents a direct challenge to tyranny. The words “come and take it” are eternal from when they were uttered by Spartan King Leonidas I as “molon labe” at Thermopylae, to when Texans flew them on that white flag over the battlefield at Gonzales. They represent far more than a single battle, war, or cause. They stand for every patriot who stands against a tyrannical government trying to infringe upon his life, liberty, or the pursuit of his happiness. Throughout history, the heroes we celebrate today like William Wallace, William Tell, and Spartacus refused to bend the knee to a tyrant. Instead they proudly cried the words “come and take it.” We can not allow such an important phrase to be ripped from public display by those who do not understand, or are actually against, what it symbolizes.

The “Come and Take It” flag denounces tyranny, and only tyrants want to be rid of this important symbol.

The Darsch Report: July 26 to August 1

Bexar County Mental Health

On Mon. July 26, Bexar County officials announced that a pilot program that brings mental health professionals together with Bexar County sheriff’s deputies will expand less than a year after its formation.

    In October, the Bexar County Commissioner’s Office allocated $1.5 million toward the Specialized Multidisciplinary Alternate Response Team (SMART). Under SMART, dispatchers who identify a mental health call send a clinician and trained paramedic to the scene. Deputies will respond to the scene if they’re needed, but the goal is to keep people suffering from mental health crises out of jail.

Initially, the group was operating on a limited basis, but they will now operate for longer hours after refining the process.

    Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar stated that the program has “surpassed expectations” and that “working with our other partners, it just fell together.”

The full briefing can be watched here.

Texas Bans Mask Mandates

    On Thurs., July 29, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order prohibiting local governments and state agencies from mandating vaccines, saying that protection against the virus should be a matter of personal responsibility, not forced by a government mandate.

    “To further ensure that no governmental entity can mandate masks, the following requirement shall continue to apply: No governmental entity, including a county, city, school district, and public health authority, and no governmental official may require any person to wear a face-covering or to mandate that other person wear a covering,” the executive order read.

    Local government entities that institute mask mandates may be fined up to $1,000.

    The order also specifies that government entities cannot “compel any individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine administered under an emergency use authorization.”

Governmental agencies, public entities, and private entities that receive public funding cannot require people to provide proof of vaccination as a condition of receiving services.

The order, however, does not stop nursing homes or living facilities from requiring residents to be inoculated.

Abbott defended the move in a statement, arguing, “Today’s executive order will provide clarity and uniformity in the Lone Star State’s continued fight against COVID-19. The new Executive Order emphasizes that the path forward relies on personal responsibility rather than government mandates.”

Biden, Congress Allow Eviction Moratorium to Lapse

A nationwide moratorium on residential evictions expired on Saturday, July 31, after a last-minute effort by the Biden administration to win an extension failed, putting hundreds of thousands of tenants at risk of losing shelter, while tens of billions in federal funding intended to pay their back rent sit untapped.

    Unable to fight the Supreme Court on further extending the moratorium, the Biden Administration gave the responsibility to Congress on Thursday. However, after an unsuccessful rally by Democrats on Friday, the House of Representatives went into Recess and could not draft any quick legislation.

    The Senate, meanwhile, has been focusing its efforts on finishing the bipartisan infrastructure plan.

    Efforts to bring relief to renters and homeowners have been further struggling. To date, only $3 billion of the $47 billion Emergency Rental Assistance program has been disbursed.

“Really, we only learned about this yesterday,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had publicly and privately urged senior Biden Administration officials to deal with the problem themselves.

Many Democrats are still voicing anger and frustration, though, with Democratic leadership.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said Sunday, Aug. 1, that Democrats have to “call a spade a spade” after the deadline expired.

“We cannot in good faith blame the Republican Party when House Democrats have a majority,” Ocasio-Cortez said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), the chair of the Financial Services Committee, said Saturday on CNN: “We thought that the White House was in charge.”

“We are only hours away from a fully preventable housing crisis,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) during a floor speech in a rare Saturday session as senators labored over an infrastructure package.

“We have the tools, and we have the funding,” Warren said. “What we need is the time.”

US Economy

The stock market did not do well over the past week. The Dow Jones decreased to 34,935.47 on Friday, decreasing by -126.08 points, or -0.36 percent over its July 23 close of 35,061.55. The S&P 500 increased by -16.53 points or -0.37 percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq decreased on Friday by -1.11 percent.

DOJ vs. Texas

    The U.S. Justice Department, on Friday, July 30, filed a lawsuit against Texas and Gov. Greg Abbott over an order the Republican governor signed barring ground transportation of migrants who could be carrying COVID-19.  

In a complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District in El Paso, the Justice Department said Abbott’s order interferes with the federal government’s ability to deal with immigration.

“In our constitutional system, a State has no right to regulate the federal government’s operations,” the DOJ argued in a motion asking the judge to block Abbott’s order, adding “this restriction on the transportation of noncitizens would severely disrupt federal immigration operations.”

Governor Abbott argued that the order was necessary to counter the rise in illegal immigration under the Biden administration and to help stop the spread of COVID-19 across the US Southern border, going so far as to accuse the Biden administration of being complicit in the spread of COVID-19 across the southern border.

“The Biden administration is knowingly admitting hundreds of thousands of unauthorized migrants, many of whom the federal government knows full well have COVID-19,” Abbott said in response to Garland’s lawsuit. 

He also said he would not back down because his “duty remains to the people of Texas, and [he has] no intention of abdicating that.”

San Antonio Urgent Care Reaching Capacity

In San Antonio, both hospitals and local clinics are feeling the effects of increasing COVID-19 cases, with some local urgent care clinics reaching near capacity.

    “We are up about 30% in terms of patient visits from the last week of June, first week of July,” said Dr. David Gude, Texas MedClinic chief operating officer, and practicing physician.

Gude said they are seeing more COVID-19 patients, more COVID-19 testing, and even an increase in vaccinations.

The wait times on their website show just how busy they are.

“We’ve never let go of social distancing. So we either get people into an exam room, or if we’re full, we may ask them to wait in the car, or we may ask them to come back in an hour so,” Gude said.

Gude said staff members are also feeling the pressure. According to Gude, one staff member recently told him it felt like he is “going through the stages of grief right now.”

“He can’t believe that we’re back at the point that we were at. We were just at this point a few months ago and certainly last year,” Gude said.

The Darsch Report: March 8 to 14

San Antonio Restaurant Vandalized

Early Mar. 14,  a San Antonio man’s ramen restaurant was vandalized with anti-Asian slurs and death threats following a CNN interview in which the man spoke out against Gov. Greg Abbott’s rollback of the mask requirement in Texas.

After the interview, Mike Nguyen, owner of Noodle Tree, was prepared for plenty of online hate comments but not for something like this.

“I’m still a little shocked that this would actually happen,” Nguyen said Sunday. “When I got here, that’s when it actually sunk in.”

Nguyen moved to San Antonio 5 years ago and started off with a food truck that eventually turned into a restaurant staple of UTSA Boulevard. He has made headlines before for refusing to open his business despite loosening COVID-19 restrictions because as he says the “money was not worth losing lives over.”

Nguyen, who is currently battling lymphoma, lost his grandmother recently after she contracted COVID-19 and he refuses to put any of his customers or employees at risk.

Nguyen says he believes that the Governor’s decision to repeal the mask mandate hurts business owners who now have to bear the burden of enforcing rules and the backlash that may follow.

“I will say that the governor doesn’t have us Texans’ interest at play at this point. I think it’s more of a personal interest,” Nguyen said Wednesday on CNN. “I think the decision to drop the mask mandate is selfish and cowardly, and there’s no reason to do it.”

Crisis at The Texan Border and FEMA Deployed

According to the Daily Mail, ICE is requesting additional personnel to be deployed to the US-Mexico border as a south Texas migrant complex is seven times overcapacity and reports are surfacing of children being forced to sleep on floors of detention centers. 

More than 3,500 unaccompanied teens and children have been held in Customs Border Patrol (CBP) detention centers with reports that many are spending an average of 108 hours in the facilities when they are only allowed to be there for 72 hours. 

Children at one facility in south Texas were reportedly going hungry and were only able to shower once every seven days as the center was at 729% of its legal capacity.

In response to the crisis, the Biden administration is mobilizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help take some of the pressure off of CBP, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said Saturday evening.

The FEMA deployment will support what DHS called a 90-day government-wide effort at the border, where the Biden administration is struggling to care for a record number of minors arriving without their parents.

“The federal government is responding to the arrival of record numbers of individuals, including unaccompanied children, at the southwest border,” DHS said in a statement.

Soon after taking office, the Biden Administration quickly ended many of the Trump administration’s border policies put in place to deter illegal immigration and has relaunched the Obama-era policy of “Catch and Release.” However, the administration has not responded to questions concerning why they did not anticipate or better prepare for the unprecedented surge that has occurred since then in the Rio Grande Valley.

AstraZeneca Vaccine

As early as this month or early April, AstraZeneca will be filing for U.S. emergency use authorization (EUA) for its COVID-19 vaccine according to sources who informed Reuters on Friday. This vaccine has already been authorized for use in the European Union and many countries but not yet by U.S. regulators.

The British drugmaker completed enrollment in its trial of more than 32,000 volunteers in January and now has data on at least 150 cases of Covid-19, two sources familiar with the trial told Reuters.

“The U.S. Phase III study results are necessary for the FDA’s evaluation of an EUA request for our vaccine,” a company spokeswoman said, without confirming trial details being reported by Reuters. “We expect data from our U.S. Phase III trial to be available soon, in the coming weeks, and we plan to file for emergency use authorization shortly thereafter.”

There are safety concerns, however, regarding reports of serious blood clots in some vaccine recipients that have led several nations to pause administering the vaccine.

AstraZeneca is defending the vaccine, saying in a Sunday statement that more than 17 million doses have been administered in Europe and U.K., with no evidence that the shot increased the risk of blood clots.

The number of blood-clotting events are lower than what would be expected to occur naturally in a general population of that size, AstraZeneca’s Chief Medical Officer Ann Taylor said. In studies, participants getting the vaccine had fewer clots than those given placebo.

The UK Takes a Stand to China?

At the end of February, the Hong Kong government charged 47 democracy activists and protestors under a new national security law that prohibits “conspiracy to commit subversion.” The law criminalizes four types of activity: secession, subversion of state power, terrorism, and collusion with foreign entities. In practice, it severely curtails whatever autonomy that Hong Kong had previously enjoyed under Chinese rule.

Many of those arrested were Hong Kong’s most vocal democracy activists and if convicted could face up to life in prison.

In response, the UK government sent out a press release on Mar. 13 stating that China is in “a state of ongoing non-compliance with the Sino-British Joint Declaration.”

“Beijing’s decision to impose radical changes to restrict participation in Hong Kong’s electoral system constitutes a further clear breach of the legally binding Sino-British Joint Declaration,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in the statement.

The statement does not indicate what actions the United Kingdom will take against the People’s Republic but does come a day after a joint statement from the foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K., the U.S., and the European Union denouncing the undermining of Hong Kong’s autonomy by the Chinese government.

The US Economy

Over the course of the past week, the US stock market has been doing very well. The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased by +976.20 points, +3.07%, and closed at a record high on Friday, March 12th, of 32,778.64. The S&P 500 Index, not wanting to be outdone but just barely falling short, increased by +121.99 points, +3.19%, over the course of the week and closed at a new record high of 3,943.34 on Friday. The NASDAQ, having been on a decline over the past month made, increased to 13,319.86 making a remarkable gain of +710.71 points, +5.64%, but still way below its Feb 12th high of 14,095.47.

Gas prices in the US also continue to see rapid price increases with the current national average according to AAA at $2.859 for a gallon of regular gas. This is a near 10 cents, ~3.2%, increase over last week’s average of $2.768 and a 35 cents, ~14%, increase over the national average from a month ago. This is likely due to a combination of three factors all at once; Saudi Arabia cutting oil production in February, increasing gas and oil demand as more vaccinations are leading to more people traveling, and Biden canceling the Keystone pipeline which would have allowed for more domestic oil refining.

New Covid Relief Bill

On Thurs., Mar. 11, President Joe Biden signed a new covid relief bill totaling $1.9 trillion in spending.

In the plan are some major spending changes, including:

  • Extending a $300 per week jobless aid supplement and programs making millions more people eligible for unemployment insurance until Sept. 6
  • $1,400 stimulus checks to most Americans and their dependents with checks starting to phase out at $75,000 in income for individuals and are capped at people who make $80,000. However, these checks are not protected from debt-collection agencies.
  • Expanding the child tax credit for one year and increasing it to $3,600 for children under 6 and to $3,000 for kids between 6 and 17.
  • $350 billion in relief to state, local and tribal governments and more than $120 billion to K-12 schools.

The bill passed the House by a 220-211 margin without a Republican vote and Democrats also approved the plan on their own in the Senate through the special budget reconciliation process.

Biden celebrated the passing of the bill in a Wednesday statement stating “This legislation is about giving the backbone of this nation – the essential workers, the working people who built this country, the people who keep this country going – a fighting chance.”

Republicans are arguing though that with this massive increase in spending we may see rising inflation, especially with an economy on the road to recovery with vaccines rolling out and many states now reopening.

“There is a real risk here, of this kind of massive stimulus overheating the economy. … I just think it’s sad because we could’ve done, I think something much more targeted and focused on Covid-19,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) told CNBC on Wednesday morning.

Texas Tax-Payer Funded Lobbying

As of Mon., Mar. 15, there are 77 days left in the Texas legislative session, and 10 Texas State Senators, led by State Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R–7), chair of the Local Government Committee, have joint authored Senate Bill 10 to stop Texas cities’ and counties’ use of public funds to lobby the state Legislature.

SB 10 joint authors include State Sens. Brian Birdwell (R-22), Donna Campbell (R-25), Charles Creighton (R-4), Bob Hall (R-2), Kelly Hancock (R-9), Bryan Hughes (R-1), Angela Paxton (R-8), Charles Perry (R-28), and Drew Springer (R-30).

“Taxpayer-funded lobbying diverts funding from local governments’ ability to provide local needs and results in money being used to advocate for policies not always in Texans’ best interest,” said Bettencourt. “The Texas Ethics Commission data showed that an estimated $32 million was spent on lobbyist compensation in 2018, a non-session year. We can’t have tax dollars being used to advocate for greater spending, more taxing authority, and increased regulatory power at the local government level without taxpayers’ consent.”

SB 10 does not prohibit city or county elected officials, officers, or employees from providing information to members of the Legislature, appearing before committee hearings at the request of a member, or advocating on legislation while acting in their official capacities.

The vast majority of Texans support this policy, and it is a legislative priority for Texan Republicans and conservative groups like the Young Conservatives of Texas. Because of staunch support for the policy, it has a high chance of passing the Senate. But it could also end up like similar legislation from the last session that was proposed and passed in the State Senate but was ultimately voted down in the House.

CPS Energy vs San Antonio Family

Following the death of San Antonio resident Esequiel Mendoza during the February winter storm, the man’s family is suing CPS Energy over his death.

The wrongful death suit, filed Mon., Mar. 8, in the 166th District Court, accused the San Antonio utility company of negligence that caused his death.

In the week before his death, Mendoza was not able to receive his usual life-saving dialysis treatment due to controlled outages imposed by CPS Energy at the request of the state grid, which is run by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. Instead of receiving between four and five hours of treatment, Mendoza only received two, according to the lawsuit.

It is at least the second wrongful death suit filed against CPS Energy related to the winter storm. The first lawsuit was brought by the husband of a woman who is believed to have died of hypothermia.

According to the lawsuit, the family is seeking financial compensation for their loss, and as of Friday morning, attorneys for CPS Energy declined to address the pending litigation.

“Unfortunately, these types of deaths require a thorough investigation into the relevant environmental conditions as well as assessment of the individual’s underlying health conditions, often including additional laboratory testing,” according to a statement from the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office. “Therefore, these deaths take several weeks to adequately investigate and determine. Thus, the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office does not currently have an accurate count of these types of deaths and may not for some time.”

The Darsch Report: January 25 to 31

Ken Paxton Goes After San Antonio Mayor

According to KSAT, in an amended petition regarding an ongoing lawsuit on San Antonio’s sanctuary city’s status, Mayor Ron Nirenburg has been implicated for the first time in the case. The lawsuit accuses the city of defying a state law requiring local governments to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

In the petition Attorney General Ken Paxton accuses Nirenburg of instructing city staff not to contact federal authorities after 12 people believed to be immigrants without documentation were found inside a tractor-trailer in Dec. 2017.

The claims made in the petition state that the mayor told high-ranking officials that he “does not want ICE called,” and that releasing them without being handed over to federal immigration officials as a “Christmas gift” for their families.

This decision to release the suspected illegal immigrants by SAPD Chief William McManus’ has been described by Paxton as in violation of Senate Bill 4. Nirenburg called the criticism of the release as “nothing more than political theater based on a fictitious narrative.”

Texas vs Biden

On Tues., Jan. 26, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton declared “Victory” on Twitter after a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order to stop President Joe Biden’s deportation freeze.

According to U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton in the Southern District Court of Texas, the Biden Administration will not be allowed to pause deportations of illegal immigrants. Biden had tried to do so on his first day in office, but Paxton sued the administration, arguing the president’s move was “unlawful and perilous.”

In the order, Tipton wrote that the Biden Administration had failed to “provide any concrete, reasonable justification for a 100-day pause on deportations.”

“*This* [sic] was a seditious left-wing insurrection. And my team and I stopped it.” Paxton stated on Twitter.

This executive order was one of many the Biden Administration has signed attempting to overturn many Trump Administration policies. Other orders include stopping funding for border wall construction, reentering the Paris Climate Accord, and canceling the Keystone XL pipeline project.

After Tipton’s order, Paxton celebrated the decision to “prioritize the law and safety of our citizens.”

“The Court’s decision to stop the Biden Administration from casting aside congressionally enacted immigration laws is a much-needed remedy for DHS’s unlawful action. A near-complete suspension of deportations would only serve to endanger Texans and undermine federal law,” Paxton said in a press release.

Reddit Takes on the Stock Market

Over the past week, the internet and the stock market have both been on fire as thousands upon thousands of Reddit users from r/WallStreetBets (WSB) have decided to take on hedge fund Melvin Capital and save GameStop.

Investors from the Reddit page noticed that Melvin Capital was attempting to heavily drop the price of GameStop stock ($GME) by shorting around 140% of the $GME stock that they owned. In response, they gathered as many WSB users they could and told them to buy the stock as a meme with the potential of the rise in price hurting Melvin and leaving them with some capital gains in the end. This meme has now spread to all corners of the internet and $GME as of Friday closed at a price of $328.34 compared to the price from a month ago of around $17.

Short-selling hedge funds have suffered heavily from this buying of $GME with a year-to-date mark-to-market loss on the stock of around $19.75 billion, according to data from S3 Partners

In response to the dramatic increase in stock price, brokerage apps such as E*Trade, RobinHood, TD Ameritrade, etc halted and/or limited trading of dozens of different stocks with the heaviest limitations placed on stocks being targeted by WSB like $GME, AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. ($AMC), Blackberry Ltd ($BB), Nokia ($NOK), etc.

Still, though, short-sellers are holding onto their bearing positions or are being bought by other short sellers willing to take the bet. However, WSB is still claiming to hold or buying more of the stock and will refuse to sell.

This new week may prove who has the greater resolve, who is more stubborn, or both.

US Economy

The stock market has not been responding well to the news of Reddit taking on hedge funds as over the week the Dow Jones decreased to 29,982.62 on Friday, decreasing by -977.38 points, or -3.16 percent over its Jan. 25 close of 30,960.00. The S&P 500 decreased by -141.12 points or -3.66 percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq decreased on Friday by -4.15 percent.

Military Coup in Myanmar

As of this moment, a military coup is taking place in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (formerly known as Burma). Myanmar’s military has detained Aung San Suu Kyi and other elected leaders of the country and has declared a one-year state of emergency.

The move follows a landslide win by Suu Kyi’s party in an election the army claims was marred by fraud.

In a letter written in preparation for her impending detention, she said the military’s actions would put the country back under a dictatorship and has urged supporters to not accept this coup and to protest against it.

Aung San Suu Kyi was one of the leading voices pushing for democratic reforms in Myanmar during the military rule that ended in 2011. She was internationally hailed as a beacon of democracy and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. However, her reputation heavily suffered after an army crackdown on the mostly Muslim Rohingya minority that some have described as a genocide.

Time will tell how this will change Myanmar but for now, the military has replaced all of the ministers, arrested many leaders of the National League for Democracy (NLD), and have installed former vice-president and retired Gen. Myint Swe as the temporary president.

Trinity University Threatens to Suspend Students Who Don’t Social Distance

On Thursday, the 13th, at approximately 4 in the afternoon, Dean of Students, David Tuttle, sent out an email that caused concern amongst many in the student body. Dean Tuttle informed the student population, especially those living on/near campus, how some of Trinity’s new health guidelines will affect the student body.

    The email starts innocently enough with Tuttle reiterating some of the general guidelines such as the TU Health Pledge, who is responsible for enforcing these guidelines, and where to find general procedures and policies. But in this first section, Tuttle also mentions a new way for students to report each other if they are violating the guidelines. The COVID Violation Report will allow students to report other students to the administration anonymously about any “persistent or egregious violations of the policy.” A system that will enable students to snitch on their fellow students, whether genuine or not, would be bad enough, but the system would also make it so the accused would not even be able to know who their accuser is. In an environment of rampant cancel culture, it is more important than ever to allow students not only to know who their accuser is but also to be innocent until proven guilty. The email only gets worse for students and organizations from here. 

    For those in the residence halls and in City Vista, Trinity is installing draconian policies in an effort “to limit exposure.” Students will only be able to “have one guest at a time per room… [and] only guests from the same residence hall are permitted.” In City Vista, it is one guest per apartment unit, and “only guests from within City Vista are permitted.” Trinity is actively telling its students that they are not allowed to hang out with the friends they make outside of their residence halls (where most of their friends would typically come from), and they must have minimal interaction with other students, whom Trinity is inviting back onto campus. 

    Trinity is also applying these very same rules to those having to lease an apartment off-campus, telling them that they must “avoid gatherings that pose a risk” and that the only gatherings permitted are those with the “same guests or house/apartment residents.” This isolation will only make the rates of depression and anxiety plaguing college-age students worse. Depression and anxiety rates in the US have already increased with people being near family, but once students go to Trinity, they will have even less social and physical interaction with those around them. First-year students who have known nothing except living with their family will now be thrust into a world where they will feel the most alone and during one of the most vulnerable periods of their lives. 

    But to make it even worse, Tuttle also states what kind of sanctions there will be for those found in violation of these policies. Students can expect 1 of 3 general punishments: “removal from the residence halls… barring from campus… [and/or] immediate suspension from the university for a minimum for one semester.” A system that will end up punishing students (possibly kicking them off campus) for the egregious crime of wanting to be with their friends. 

    When pressed as to how these new guidelines will affect struggling student organizations on campus, Trinity provided no comment. With this in mind, only the worst can be assumed with the nature of this email. Such an email has sent a message to the students and the student organizations that there will be no social life on campus. Clubs that rely on human interaction to keep members engaged will no longer be able to provide the services they offered to the campus community. These guidelines are telling the Trinity community that they are sacrificing the reason students feel happy and loved at Trinity in order for them to “learn” at Trinity.

    But the worst offense of all would have to be against those living off-campus. With school only a few days away, many students already have leases and are preparing to move or have already moved into their new apartments. With these rule changes, students who would have usually stayed home under the current guidelines are now stuck with having to live with them. Trinity could have announced guidelines such as these months ago and possibly loosened them as time went on, but no, they wanted until the very last minute when many had no other choice but to live with it. Trinity University created stricter guidelines even though San Antonio is no longer the hot spot it once was back in the spring and has flattened the curve enough so that daily new case averages continue to go down.

When pressed for comment and clarification on how these policies will be applied in specific scenarios, Trinity University also provided no comment. Examples included: attending off-campus religious services, attending off-campus social events, giving another student a ride, how will these guidelines affect Greek Life, etc.

It appears to the Trinity University administration, the only way to ensure a “successful” semester is to kill the social life on and around campus and to enforce this through highly authoritarian means. Even going so far as to encourage students to report those they ordinarily would have become friends with. There is still no mention of what will happen if students refuse to report each other, but one thing is for certain, Orwell must be rolling over in his grave.

The Darsch Report: February 24 to March 2

Coronavirus in San Antonio, sanctuary cities for the unborn, and new laws to distinguish pot from hemp.

San Antonio Coronavirus

Health officials in Texas have now confirmed three new cases of coronavirus in San Antonio, bringing the total number of cases up to six. Health officials are also waiting on four additional test results from people who are showing signs of the virus.

All of the infected people, including one evacuee from Wuhan, China, are currently being held in isolation at the Texas Center for Infectious Disease. Officials say the quarantine for this group will stop around March 2nd, as after exposure, it takes two to 14 days to potentially become symptomatic.

Despite the rise in infections, authorities are urging the general public not to overreact to the threat the virus may pose to the local community.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg says, “Let’s be clear. The most dangerous, damaging infectious disease is hysteria. And so, what we’re trying to do is make sure that we have a compassionate, human response to a crisis that’s happening, that we do so while all the while maintaining the safety of the public.”

With these cases, the total number of cases in the US jumps up to at least 53.

ACLU vs Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn

On Tuesday the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against seven Texas towns that have declared themselves “sanctuary cities for the unborn.”

The ACLU is filing the challenge on behalf of the Texas Equal Access Fund and the Lilith Fund, stating that the ordinance is unconstitutional for violating the “right to abortion” and the organizations’ “First Amendment rights,” says Anjali Salvador, a staff attorney for the ACLU of Texas. The ordinances label the two organizations as “criminal organizations” and ban from offering services, renting or buying property or having a presence in the cities.

“Under these local laws, our clients cannot speak up about abortion rights, recruit volunteers to help them do their important work, or congregate to share informational materials in these cities without worrying about getting sued,” Salvador says. “The laws intentionally and unconstitutionally obstruct our plaintiffs’ ability to do their jobs, impeding the advocacy work that is integral to their mission.”

In a statement, the Pro-Life group Texas Right to Life called the ACLU’s lawsuit “scattershot,” “desperate” and “baseless,” and accused the plaintiffs of “throwing a hodgepodge of complaints at the court and seeing what they can get to stick.” 

“We are confident the Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinances will hold up in court… In passing the ordinance, cities acted within their constitutional rights to self-governance and within the scope of current U.S. Supreme Court abortion jurisprudence,” Texas Right to Life stated.

California Lottery Shortchanges Schools

California state officials released a scathing audit of the California Lottery this week, alleging that the agency shortchanged schools by millions of dollars over the last four years and recommending that most of the money be repaid.

State Auditor Elaine Howle stated that the California Lottery failed to provide $36 million that should have gone to education in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2018.

“The Lottery has not followed state law, which requires it to increase its funding for education in proportion to its increases in net revenue,” State Auditor Elaine Howle wrote in a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature.

However, the auditor originally determined that the lottery should have provided $69 million more to education but reduced the amount to $36 million after hearing an explanation from lottery officials.

The California Lottery is designed so that 34% of sales revenue to go to schools and administrative expenses are capped at 16%, but a smaller percentage is allowed to go to education as long as lottery managers use “best practices.”

Lottery Director Alva V. Johnson disputed that the agency has shortchanged schools, saying he and the auditors have a “fundamental difference of opinion” over how to interpret the California State Lottery Act and the 2010 change in the law.

US Economy

The stock market had a terrible time this week with massive drops in many sectors of the stock market. The Dow Jones decreased to 25,409.36 on Friday, decreasing by -2,551.44 points, or -9.13 percent compared to its February 21st close of 28,992.41. The S&P 500 decreased by -271.67 points or -8.42 percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq increased on Friday by -7.09 percent.

The stock market plunge comes on the heels of reactions to how coronavirus is affecting life both in and outside of China. With China shutting down major industrial areas to contain the infection, global supply chains relying on Chinese goods will suffer shortages and with the virus spreading globally consumers will be less likely to spend money in an effort to avoid areas where they might catch the disease.

Bexar County Weed

Last year Governor Greg Abbot signed into law a bill that made industrial hemp legal and ushered in a new definition to distinguish the material from the drug. The new law has prompted a need for new equipment to tell the difference between the two substances after the law inadvertently made it difficult to press charges in some marijuana cases.

Months later, Bexar County’s crime lab may become the first in Texas accredited to test the difference between hemp and marijuana.

The Bexar County Criminal Investigation Laboratory has submitted its new procedures to the American National Standards Institute, the agency that oversees national accreditation for forensic testing.

“The goal is to be the first in Texas to go online,” said Brian Cho, a forensic scientist who helped develop the new procedures. “An individual has been assigned to go over our documentation to verify our procedures and our data.”

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, who toured the crime lab Tuesday morning, said he was impressed by the new testing and excited for Bexar County to be among the first labs in the state to be accredited in the new procedures.

Trinity Voter Guide

Your very own voter guide to all the races on the ballot for Trinity’s precinct. Every candidate from both major parties listed with links.

The further down the ballot you go, the more confusing a simple vote can become. To prepare you for early voting today, we compiled the complete list of candidates from the Democratic and Republican parties and culled them to include only the candidates for Trinity’s precinct, Precinct 2055. Each link goes to the candidate’s campaign website, Ballotpedia page or government site if the candidate already holds office.

Republican Primary Candidates:

U. S. Senator

U. S. Representative District 21

Railroad Commissioner

Chief Justice, Supreme Court

Justice, Supreme Court, Place 6 – Unexpired Term

Justice, Supreme Court, Place 7

Justice, Supreme Court, Place 8

Judge, Court Of Criminal Appeals, Place 3

Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 4

Judge, Court Of Criminal Appeals Place 9

Chief Justice, 4th Court Of Appeals District

  • Renee Yanta

District Judge, 37th Judicial District

District Judge, 386th Judicial District

District Judge, 399th Judicial District

District Judge, 407th Judicial District

Sheriff

County Tax Assessor-Collector

County Constable Precinct 2

Democratic Primary Candidates:

U. S. Senator

U. S. Representative District 21

Railroad Commissioner

Chief Justice, Supreme Court

Justice, Supreme Court, Place 6 – Unexpired Term 

Justice, Supreme Court, Place 7 

Justice, Supreme Court, Place 8 

Judge, Court Of Criminal Appeals Place 3 

Judge, Court Of Criminal Appeals Place 4 

Judge, Court Of Criminal Appeals Place 9 

State Senator, District 26

State Representative District 123 

Chief Justice, 4th Court Of Appeals District 

District Judge, 37th Judicial District 

District Judge, 57th Judicial District 

District Judge, 73rd Judicial District 

District Judge, 131st Judicial District 

District Judge, 166th Judicial District 

District Judge, 175th Judicial District 

District Judge, 379th Judicial District 

District Judge, 386th Judicial District 

District Judge, 399th Judicial District 

District Judge, 407th Judicial District 

District Judge, 408th Judicial District 

District Judge, 438th Judicial District 

Sheriff 

County Tax Assessor-Collector 

County Commissioner Precinct 2 

Justice Of The Peace Precinct 2

County Constable Precinct 2 

Life:Powered Educates San Antonio on Climate Action and Adaption Plan

On Thursday, Sept. 5, Life:Powered, an initiative of the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) to “raise America’s energy IQ,” hosted the event “A Bad Trade-Off: The Cost and Consequence of San Antonio’s Climate Policy.” This event was the third of a series of four events Life:Powered has been putting on throughout the summer in different parts of San Antonio. The event focused on the City of San Antonio’s proposed Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP), which will be up for voter approval on Oct 17. The goal of the CAAP, modeled after the Paris Climate Accord, is for San Antonio to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

Rafael Bejar, the Director of Outreach for TPPF, said TPPF held this event on the south side of San Antonio because it is often not addressed in political discussions. Since all of San Antonio and (all of Texas) will be affected if the CAAP becomes law, all of San Antonio must be involved in the political process.

Brent Bennet, a policy analyst for Life:Powered with a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering, explained the three goals of the CAAP. The first is that CPS Energy provides 100% carbon-free electricity. Life:Powered has done research proving that while materials costs for wind and solar energy are getting cheaper, total costs will increase because fossil fuels or expensive energy storage units will be necessary for when wind and solar energy inevitably fail. 

Bennet said the city leaders have not thoroughly addressed how they will reach carbon neutrality and how they will pay for it. He mentioned the city of Georgetown, TX, which is $30 million in debt because, in their efforts to use 100% renewable energy, they did not account for the “costs of having too much wind and solar when you don’t need it, and not enough wind and solar when you do.” Bennet says San Antonio should focus on making its electricity “affordable and reliable” instead of “spending its way out of existence.”

The second part of the plan is the city transitioning to 100% electric vehicles for public transportation. Bennet explained that while the city can not force anyone to use electric vehicles, they can spend lots of money trying to encourage the public to do so.

Life:Powered believes choices like transportation should be left to the market. “We’re going to find more efficient ways to use our energy and to get around through our own choices as individuals,” said Bennet. Bennet also stated that the CAAP’s electric transportation efforts will raise everyone’s transportation costs and will harm poor people the most. 

The final part of the CAAP is lowering buildings’ energy use and powering them with solar panels, which the city will enforce through avenues like zoning regulations and permitting. Bennet says the costs of this policy outweigh the benefits; the costs of housing will raise for “the people who can least afford it.” Bennet also mentioned CPS has already spent over $100 million on rooftop solar rebates that have “barely made a dent”. 

Bennet said Life:Powered’s philosophy is that “prosperity and environmental quality go hand-in-hand,” and that to protect the environment, we need to increase our wealth at the same time.

Chuck DeVore, TPPF’s Vice President of National Initiatives and a former California Assemblyman, spoke about California’s energy policies, which are more restrictive than Texas’. The cost of electricity in California runs 50-88% higher than in Texas. “The challenge is: how do you do this and not impoverish those Americans who are at the lower end of the economic spectrum?” asked DeVore.

DeVore spoke further on the results of the city of Georgetown’s new energy policies. Georgetown’s electrical rates are now 63% higher per kilowatt hour than San Marcos’ are. For a battery unit to power a windless winter night in Texas, the city of Georgetown would need a 20,000 ton battery farm which would cost $400 million. 

Jason Isaac, Senior Manager and Distinguished Fellow at Life:Powered, stated that believes the reason over 400 US cities have signed on to the Paris Climate Accord is political. He believes this because a Life:Powered study shows the US eliminating all carbon emissions will have only a 0.097 degree Fahrenheit difference by 2050. 

Shifting to 100% wind, solar, and battery powered energy by 2030 will cost the state of Texas $120 billion or on average about $14,000 per family annually.

Isaac also said that San Antonio has the second-highest poverty rate in the nation, and half of the people below the poverty rate — over 129,000 people in San Antonio — pay over 29% of their income on electricity bills. Isaac thinks the city should be working to lower costs instead of “forcing silly regulations on businesses and homeowners [that] will do nothing but hurt the least among us.” 

Life:Powered will host one more event on the CAAP before the vote takes place on Oct. 17. 

Editor’s Note: Julia Westwick worked as an intern for the Texas Public Policy Foundation in the Summer of 2019.