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: April 1 – 7

San Antonio Baby With No Skin

A San Antonio baby that was born without any skin from the neck down will begin to receive treatment sometime next week at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

The child, Ja’bari Gray, was born to 25-year-old Priscilla Maldonado on Jan 1, 2019, after what seemed to be a normal and healthy pregnancy. That was until the baby was born and doctors realized that something was seriously wrong

“It was just completely silent. You know, you expect people to be happy after you have a baby and I had no idea until they put me in a room and explained what was going on,” said Maldonado describing the moments after she gave birth to her son.

While speaking to the doctors she was told that her son has a rare disease known as Aplasia Cutis and that it is the third known case in the US. Because of the rarity of this disease doctors don’t currently know how to properly treat it so the doctors were treating it as burns.

He remains on life support and Maldonado says doctors have told her there is nothing more they can do.

The family is planning funeral arrangements and trying to pay for medical bills. If you would like to donate then please click here.

Wendy Davis and CD-21

Wendy Davis, a former Democratic member of the Texas State Senate for District 10 in the Fort Worth area, says that she is not running for the US Senate in 2020 but instead is looking at a bid at Congressional District 21, which is Trinity University’s district.

Though she has mulled a Senate run in the past, in the podcast, “The Rabble: TX Politics for the Unruly Mob,” Davis made clear she is no longer weighing a Senate campaign and reiterated her call for U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio to enter the race.

“There’s a reason I made a decision not to run for this Senate seat against John Cornyn,” Davis said on the show, which was taped Thursday. “I’ve been very candid about the fact that my dear friend Joaquin Castro is someone that I’d like to see run.”

Congressional District 21 is currently held by Republican Chip Roy who won the district in 2018 against Democrat Joseph Kopser 50.2%-47.6%. Kopser has considered running for the district again but recently announced that he will not be seeking office in 2020.

TX-21 is one of six GOP-held districts in Texas that national Democrats are now targeting for next year. It stretches from Austin to San Antonio and out to the Hill Country.

“Joseph Kopser gave a valiant effort [in 2018] — worked so, so hard and came very, very close,” Davis said on the podcast. “Can we do it for 2020? I want to make sure that we have the ability to win it, and I believe we do. And, I want to believe I’m the right person to help us do that.”

Pro-Life Bill Passed Out of Senate

On Tuesday, April 2, a bill targeting the transfer of taxpayer dollars from state and local governments seeking to help fund the operations of abortion providers passed out of the Texas Senate.

Senate Bill 22 by State Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) passed with 20 ayes and 11 nays. State Sen. Eddie Lucio (Brownville) was the lone Democrat to cross party lines in support of the legislation.

The bill would prevent local governments from contracting with or providing tax dollars to abortion providers.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick included SB 22 among three pro-life bills in his 30 legislative priorities for the chamber early last month. Patrick issued the following statement after the passage of the bill Tuesday:

“There is nothing more important than defending the defenseless. Senate Bill 22, authored by Sen. Campbell, will continue Texas’ commitment to defend the most vulnerable in our society and preserve the sanctity of life. Senate Bill 22 protects Texas taxpayers and affirms Texas’ commitment to protecting life. I strongly support this legislation and congratulate Sen. Campbell for carrying this important bill.”

The bill now heads to the Texas House, where pro-life bills have largely languished so far in the 86th Legislative Session.

US Economy

The stock market this week has done great and is reapproaching record highs. The Dow Jones increased to 26,424.99 on Friday, increasing by +496.31 points, or +1.91 percent over its March 29 close of 25,928.68. The S&P 500 increased by +58.34 points or +2.06 percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq increased on Friday by +2.71 percent. The Dow Jones, S&P 500 and Nasdaq are each 403.4, 21.3, and 171 points from topping their respective record highs.

A favorable jobs report also came out this week showing that about 196,000 jobs were added to the US, more than the 175,000 jobs estimated by experts. The unemployment rate holds steady at 3.8 percent with wages increasing 3.2 % year over year however this came at the same time that the labor force participation rate decreased by 0.2% to its lowest level since November.

The Atlanta FED is also giving some favorable numbers in its GDPNow forecast showing that the US economy in the first quarter of 2019 will increase by 2.1%.

It appears that the US economy isn’t stalling yet, something that worried investors in February, but instead continues to grow strong. With the US and China coming closer to a trade deal within the next month or two, one can expect the US economy to remain strong for the rest of the year.

USDA and Testing on Kittens

On Tuesday, April 2, the U.S. Department of Agriculture that it’s putting an end to a controversial research program that led scientists to kill thousands of cats over decades.

Since 1982 the USDA’s Agricultural Research Services division had been conducting experiments that involved infecting cats with toxoplasmosis — a disease usually caused by eating undercooked contaminated meat — in order to study the foodborne illness. Once the cats were infected and the parasite harvested, the felines were put down.

In a statement announcing the decision, the agency said: “toxoplasmosis research has been redirected and the use of cats as part of any research protocol in any ARS laboratory has been discontinued and will not be reinstated.”

Additionally, the USDA said it is in the process of putting the 14 remaining uninfected cats up for adoption by agency employees.

The USDA has been facing increasing pressure to shut down this practice with bipartisan legislation to end the practice being introduced to Congress last month.

Brexit Update

With just five days until the UK is meant to leave the European Union on Friday, April 12 at 11:00 pm BST, it is uncertain if the Labor Party, Conservative Party, and EU will be able to come to a deal that they can all agree to.

Theresa May is currently undergoing talks with Labor to reach a deal as she has said that only a cross-party pact will get the support of a majority of the members of Parliament as the Democratic Unionist Party and some Tories have rejected her deal with the EU.

However, several Conservatives have strongly criticized the move. Additionally, very few details have come out as to what a Conservative-Labor deal would look like.

The Prime Minister is due at an emergency summit in Brussels on Wednesday when EU leaders will expect to hear fresh plans.

On Sunday, May tweeted a video message, explaining her decision to negotiate with Labour.

“We absolutely must leave the European Union… that means we need to get a deal over the line and that’s why we’ve been looking for new ways – a new approach – to find an agreement in Parliament,” she said.

“People didn’t vote on party lines when it came to the Brexit referendum. And I think members of the public want to see their politicians working together more often.”

Theresa May has already acted in bad faith by not honoring her agreement to leave the EU on March 29 and instead asking for an extension so that she can negotiate a deal. The pressure to negotiate any deal at all over no deal is mounting for May. It will not be surprising if in the next week Theresa May has a deal passed that essentially keeps the UK as part of the EU or she is granted another extension.

The Darsch Report: March 25 – 31

US Marshall Arrested in San Antonio

On Saturday, March 30, US Marshal Reynaldo Chavera was charged with drug possession following an arrest Saturday morning outside a San Antonio strip club. Bexar County booking records show he has been charged with possession of less than one gram of a controlled substance under “penalty group one” of the Texas Controlled Substances Act.

San Antonio police officers arrested Chavera around 5:30 am Saturday at XTC Cabaret near San Antonio International Airport after security workers detained him when he refused to leave the club. Officers then identified Chavera as a U.S. Marshal and found that he had narcotics in his possession.

U.S. Marshals Service spokesman Christopher Bozeman said the agency is aware of Chavera’s arrest and ”takes seriously any allegation of misconduct by its employees which do not reflect our core values of justice, integrity, and service.”

Possession of less than one gram of a controlled substance in that category is a state jail felony punishable by a maximum two-year prison sentence.

Attorney General and Chick-Fil-A

On Thursday, March 28, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that he would launch an investigation into whether the city of San Antonio’s rejection of Chick-fil-A from its airport violates state law.

The San Antonio city council excluded the business from the airport after a ThinkProgress report claimed they support anti-LGBTQ+ organizations.

“The Constitution’s protection of religious liberty is somehow even better than Chick-fil-A’s chicken,” Paxton wrote in a letter to San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg. “Unfortunately, I have serious concerns that both are under assault at the San Antonio airport.”

Paxton said he is also encouraging Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao to look into whether the city broke any federal law or regulation.

“I trust the City will fully cooperate with my investigation into this matter and will abide by relevant federal and state laws in the future,” he wrote.

“The City’s Attorney’s Office is reviewing the letter. I am withholding comment until we have had adequate time to analyze it,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg stated.

Paxton also told San Antonio officials that he asked U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to investigate whether the city’s actions violated federal law and regulations prohibiting religious discrimination by federal grant recipients.

Is Joe Biden Getting #MeToo-ed?

On Friday, March 29, former Nevada Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor Lucy Flores wrote an essay in The Cut alleging that Joe Biden acted inappropriately with her and made her feel “uneasy, gross, and confused”.

“As I was taking deep breaths and preparing myself to make my case to the crowd, I felt two hands on my shoulders. I froze… I felt him get closer to me from behind. He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified… He proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head,” Flores wrote.

She says she was more than relieved when her name was called and she was able to get away from Biden.

Even though Biden had come to Nevada to help Flores win her election, she claims his behavior was unprofessional. “He stopped treating me like a peer the moment he touched me,” Flores stated. “Even if his behavior wasn’t violent or sexual, it was demeaning and disrespectful.”

As she points out, however, this isn’t the first time Joe Biden has gotten too close for comfort.

“Time passed and pictures started to surface of Vice President Biden getting uncomfortably close with women and young girls. Biden nuzzling the neck of the Defense secretary’s wife; Biden kissing a senator’s wife on the lips; Biden whispering in women’s ears; Biden snuggling female constituents.”

Joe Biden has brushed past the allegations. “In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort. And not once—never—did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention,” said Biden.

If betting markets are to be trusted as charts for public approval, this allegation has seriously hurt Joe Biden’s chances of becoming the 2020 Democratic nominee. On Election Betting Odds and PredictIt, Biden plummeted from the favorite Democratic contender to the fourth and third place, respectively.

US Economy

It was a good week for US stocks. The Dow Jones increased to 25,928.68 on Friday, increasing by +426.36 points, or +1.67 percent over its March 22 close of 25,502.32. The S&P 500 increased by +33.69 points or +1.20 percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq increased on Friday by +0.70 percent. With this, the stock market has overall erased the losses it suffered the previous week.

There are signs of a global economic slowdown on the horizon but if President Trump can get a favorable trade deal with China in the coming weeks then it should at least delay the slowdown as tariffs between the two largest economies are lowered.

California Magazine Ban Unconstitutional

On Friday, March 29, San Diego-based U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez ruled that California’s ban on the possession of magazines able to hold more than 10 rounds at a time is unconstitutional citing home invasions where a woman used the extra bullets in her weapon to kill an attacker while in two other cases women without additional ammunition ran out of bullets.

“Individual liberty and freedom are not outmoded concepts,” Benitez wrote as he declared the law to be unconstitutional.

California’s 2000 law and its 2016 removal of a provision made the buying, selling, and possession of magazines that can carry more than 10 rounds illegal. The California arm of the National Rifle Association sued and Benitez sided with the group’s argument that banning the magazines infringes on the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

Chuck Michel, an attorney for the NRA and the California Rifle & Pistol Association, said that the ruling may even go so far as to strike down the entire ban.

“We’re still digesting the opinion but it appears to us that he struck down both the latest ban on possessing by those who are grandfathered in, but also said that everyone has a right to acquire one,” Michel said.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra came out against the ruling. “[My office] is committed to defending California’s common sense gun laws,” Becerra said.

This ruling is a big win for gun owners throughout California. With Trump having appointed over 90 judges since the start of his presidency, this ruling could carry shockwaves across the US and act as precedent against other similar bills in the US.

Texas House Budget Bill

In the night between March 27 and 28, the Texas State House voted 149-0 to advance a budget that grows the size of government by nearly 16 percent and provides little property tax relief.

Despite many Republican lawmakers campaigning on property tax relief and adding an amendment that would slow the growth of government spending, most of the amendments were either heavily changed or surrendered in exchange for Democratic votes on other amendments, such as those proposed by State Reps. Jonathan Stickland (R–Bedford), Briscoe Cain (R–Deer Park), Matt Krause (R–Fort Worth), and Matt Schaefer (R–Tyler).

Not every bill that was cut dealt with property tax relief. According to Capitol sources, freshman State Rep. Mayes Middleton (R–Wallisville) agreed to discard his amendment, which would prevent illegal aliens from receiving state dollars set aside for Hurricane Harvey assistance, in exchange for lawmakers moving his bill to ban taxpayer-funded lobbying forward in the process.

Property tax relief is perhaps the most vital issue for Texas residents but, as it currently stands, it is in the hands of the State Senate to determine the bill’s fate.

Greenland’s Jakobshavn Glacier

In a bit of good news, a NASA study released on Monday in Nature Geoscience found that Greenland’s Jakobshavn Glacier is actually growing.

From 2003 to 2016 the Jakobshavn glacier was one of the fasting shrinking glaciers in the world and in 2016 its thickness had diminished by about 500 feet and was retreating by about 1.8 miles annually.

However, between 2016 and 2017 the glacier began to grow in thickness again. Between 2016 and 2017 parts of the glacier grew in thickness by anywhere between 65.6 to 98.4 feet (20 meters to 30 meters).

A natural cyclical cooling of North Atlantic waters likely caused the glacier to reverse course, according to the study’s lead author Ala Khazendar, a NASA glaciologist on the Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) project. Khazendar and colleagues say this coincides with a flip of the North Atlantic Oscillation, a natural cycle of cooling and warming of parts of the ocean.

The water in Disko Bay, where Jakobshavn hits the ocean, cooled by about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit between 2014 and 2016, study authors said.

Hopefully, with the cooling of the Northern Atlantic Ocean, the Jakobshavn glacier will begin to advance back into Disko Bay and erase the losses it suffered over the past 20 years.

The Darsch Report: March 18 – 24

Chick-Fil-A Banned from San Antonio Airport

On Thursday, March 21, the San Antonio City Council approved and amended a seven-year concessions agreement for new restaurants and businesses in Terminal A of the Texas airport with Paradies Lagardère, a travel retailer and restaurateur that works with more than 100 airports. The amended plan bars Chick-Fil-A from being one of the businesses able to be in the terminal despite the initial plan allowing them due to concerns over the company’s record regarding LGBT issues. The amendment was approved by a 6-4 vote.

In a statement after the vote, Councilman Roberto Treviño (District-1) stated that the decision “reaffirmed the work our city has done to become a champion of equality and inclusion. San Antonio is a city full of compassion, and we do not have room in our public facilities for a business with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior.”

In a statement given to USA Today Chick-fil-A said that “the press release issued by the councilmember was the first we heard of his motion and its approval by the San Antonio City Council.”

“We wish we had the opportunity to clarify misperceptions about our company prior to the vote. We agree with the councilmember that everyone should feel welcome at Chick-fil-A,” the company said in the statement. “In fact, we have welcomed everyone in San Antonio into our 32 local stores for more than 40 years.”

This consideration was only made for Chick-Fil-A after ThinkProgress reported that they had donated $1.8 million to groups that discriminate against the LGBTQ community in 2017, including the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. However, since it was only Chick-Fil-A who was barred, it wouldn’t be that surprising is the company starts making claims of discrimination that they were discriminated against.

Mueller Finds No Trump-Russia Collusion

The investigation by led Robert Mueller into the Trump campaign and possible collusion with the Russian government has officially ended. The report was given to Attorney General William P. Barr and a summary of the special council’s key findings was made public on Sunday.

In the summary, Barr quotes the report stating that “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” The summary states that there were two main Russian influencers in the 2016 election, the Internet Research Agency and the Russian government, but, “the Special Counsel did not find that any U.S. person or Trump campaign official or associate conspired or knowingly coordinated with the IRA in its efforts… [and] the Special Counsel did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.”

However, on the issue of obstruction of justice, the report states that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” Because of the nature of the evidence presented to them, with it not pointing one way or the other, the special counsel left the decision of prosecution up to Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and AG Barr. They concluded that “the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense,” so there will be no indictment and prosecution of President Trump regarding obstruction of justice.

This report flies in the face of many in the mainstream media and in politics who for the past two years have constantly talked about how Trump is guilty, even before all the facts were examined by the special counsel.

Trump Free Speech Executive Order

On Thursday, March 21, President Trump signed an executive order titled “Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities” meant at improving free speech on college campuses.

The order makes clear that at colleges and universities, public or private, that receive federal funding must adhere to the first amendment regarding on-campus activities or risk having those funds pulled.

The order states that it is the policy of the government to “encourage institutions to foster environments that promote open, intellectually engaging, and diverse debate, including through compliance with the First Amendment for public institutions and compliance with stated institutional policies regarding freedom of speech for private institutions”.

Further, the order also states that it will help students and borrowers avoid mountains of student loan debt by making “available, by January 1, 2020, through the Office of Federal Student Aid, a secure and confidential website and mobile application that informs Federal student loan borrowers of how much they owe, how much their monthly payment will be when they enter repayment, available repayment options, how long each repayment option will take, and how to enroll in the repayment option that best serves their needs”.

This order, whether more symbolic or legitimate is a nice step toward promoting free speech on college campuses for everyone on the political spectrum. For more information regarding this please read about the experience of one of our editors who was invited to attend the signing of this executive order.

Houston Chemical Plant Fire

During the weekend, residents near the ITC plant in Deer Park, Houston were urged to stay informed as another fire broke out at the chemical plant and cleanup from the fires continued. The fire has been extinguished but, Francisco Sanchez, Harris County’s deputy emergency management coordinator, said: “Our hope is this does not happen again, but should it happen we’ll be ready to respond.”

As cleanup efforts continued throughout the weekend,  the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has confirmed dangerous chemical levels in the waters near Buffalo Bayou and in the Houston Ship Channel.

In a Saturday press conference, officials stated that three tanks caught fire on Friday and more problems arose when a dike holding contaminated runoff from the firefighting efforts broke.

“Our main objectives today is to maintain safety, second thing is to do some remediation of the ditches, and then lastly, is to resume product removal,” ITC incident commander Brent Weber said.

The Houston Ship Channel will continue to remain closed, and officials said there’s no time table on when it will reopen after chemicals were released into the waterway.

There is no threat to the public drinking water in Houston but officials need to make sure that cleanup is done as swiftly as possible to mitigate the damage done to the Buffalo Bayou and the Houston Ship Channel. Officials also need to look more into the cause of not only the fire but the dike breakage as well as and come up with ways to prevents this from happening in the future.

US Economy

It was not a good week for US stocks over the past week. The Dow Jones decreased to 25,502.32 on Friday, decreasing by -346.55 points, or -1.34 percent under its Mar 15 close of 25,848.87. The S&P 500 decreased by -21.77 points or -0.77 percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq decreased on Friday by -2.46 percent.

Fear of a recession and a global economic slowdown are the main forces behind the drop in the stock market over the past week. However, with China trade talks still going on and a delegation set to meet on April 3, a trade deal made between the US and China and an end to the tariff war between them will go a long way to cooling slowdown fears. Also with the Mueller investigation into the Trump campaign having ended the stock market may take it as a sign of a more stable government and bump stocks back into the positives over the next week.

The Darsch Report: Mar. 4 – 10

San Antonio Activist Found Guilty of Disorderly Conduct

On Tuesday Mar. 5, Jesus Padilla, also known as “Mexican Padilla” on Youtube, was convicted on three counts of disorderly conduct and issued a fine of $1,713.

Padilla is a member of the “First Amendment Auditors,” which records police and government workers to test the limits of First Amendment freedoms.

The case involved a confrontation that occurred last year on April 27 at the SAPD central substation.

In the minute-long video, Padilla and his colleges can be seen following three SWAT officers to the entrance of the station and proceeding to shout explicit language and homophobic slurs when blocked by one of the officers from exiting.

Even after exiting the building, Padilla and his group continue to curse at the officers as his colleagues press them for their names and badge numbers.

Padilla is looking to appeal the court’s decision. “As long as I’m not threatening to assault them it’s not against the law,” Padilla said. “They get paid well enough to have thick skin.”

During the trial, Padilla said San Antonio Police Chief McManus himself was there alongside the city attorneys who were representing the three SWAT officers.

McManus applauded the conviction. “It almost puts a dagger in the heart of their First Amendment excuse for insulting police officers,” he said.

“There are two distinct actions here,” he said. “If someone is stopped, and they decide to call a police officer a derogatory term, that’s one thing. But if you are aggressively and in a verbally assaultive way closing space on a police officer when they’re doing their jobs … that is totally different than just calling a police officer a name.”

Only time will tell if Padilla is able to appeal his conviction which is the first time he has gone to trial over an arrest stemming from his self-described auditing.

Texan Teachers May get a Pay Raise

On Monday, March 4, the Texas Senate passed its first piece of legislation for this session, Senate Bill 3.

The chamber unanimously passed the bipartisan bill, which would give an across-the-board pay raise of $5,000 to every teacher in Texas at a cost of nearly $4 billion. The bill was authored by State Sen. Jane Nelson (R–Flower Mound), and supported by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and every member of the Texas Senate.

While the bill was in committee last week, teacher unions came out to support the bill alongside administrators who were unhappy that they weren’t part of the bill. Although administrators were excluded, librarians were successfully added to the bill.

The bill will now move to the Texas House, where House Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R–Brazoria) and Public Education Committee Chairman Dan Huberty (R–Kingwood) have focused on supporting merit pay proposals instead.

Although SB3 is great for Texas teachers and will more than likely be passed by the House, the Texas legislature has strongly sought property tax relief as an agenda priority. Especially since local school funding comes largely from property taxes, legislators should take the $4 billion bill into account when comparing priorities.

Alabama Man Sues Abortion Clinic

In Alabama, 21-year-old Ryan Magers is suing an abortion clinic for aborting his unborn child against his wishes.

“We are suing the clinic, the manufacturer of the pill, going after the doctor and going after any professional organization the doctor is affiliated with,” attorney Brent Helms told Fox News on Thursday, adding that “if they are all held liable, it would put a dent on the profitability of abortions.”

Magers’s aborted child, “Baby Roe,” was recognized as a plaintiff in the lawsuit on Tuesday, thanks to Alabama recognizing life at conception, making it the first case of its kind.

Magers, who was 19 at the time, claims that his girlfriend, who was 16, got a medicated abortion for her 6-week old fetus at the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives in Huntsville even after he had pleaded with her to not get an abortion,

“A woman can go and she can have an abortion of convenience but there’s nothing that protects the father,” Helms said.

Magers added that although the pregnancy was an accident, he “owned up to it” and eventually warmed to the idea of parenthood.

“He got excited about being a dad,” Helms said. “He started working double shifts.”

However, the main goal of this case isn’t monetary damages or a jury trial. Helms claims that it is to increase the rights of would-be fathers in Alabama.

“I’m here for the men who actually want to have their baby,” he said. “I believe every child from conception is a baby and deserves to live.”

The fact that “Baby Roe” has been added as a plaintiff and that the case hasn’t already been thrown out is a definite win for Pro-Life groups. Now we need to see how far this case goes and if it inspires other would-be potential fathers to press charges as well.


It was not a good week for US stocks, with a few gains in the stock market. The Dow Jones decreased to 25,450.24 on Friday, decreasing by -576.08 points, or -2.21 percent under its Mar 1 close of 26,026.32. The S&P 500 decreased by -60.62 points or -2.16 percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq decreased on Friday by -2.46 percent.

Much of the stock market downturn can be explained by recent economic numbers in the US February jobs report and China.

The February jobs reports shows a rather disappointing net nonfarm payrolls increase of 20,000 however it is supplemented by unemployment going down from 4.0% to 3.8%, and year-over-year wages increasing 3.4%. Much of the dismal payroll numbers can be explained by workers who were affected by the government shutdown leaving part-time work to return to their normal jobs.

In China, a rather shocking report came out showing that year-over-year exports fell by 20.7% in February compared to an expected drop of 4.8 percent. Dollar-dominated imports also fell by 5.2 percent compared to economists’ expectations of 1.4 percent. This resulted in China having a positive trade balance of $4.12 billion but, it is nowhere near the expected overall trade balance to come in at $26.38 billion and January’s trade balance of $39.16 billion.

Venezuela Power Outage

In Venezuela, most of the country has been without power for days with 16 states having no power and six having partial power, an outage that has lead to the confirmed deaths of 17 people.

Juan Guaido, Venezuela’s self-declared interim president, told CNN Sunday that “Venezuela has truly collapsed already,” and accused the Maduro regime of at least 17 “murders” because of the blackout.

“There is no service in the hospitals. These were the best hospitals in the country. If we are in the capital kilometers inside Venezuela where there hasn’t been or there has been very little gasoline with periodic cuts in electricity, without basic goods, with inefficient public transportation? You can say with all responsibility that Venezuela has already collapsed.”

Maduro has blamed the United States for the blackout, telling supporters at a rally Saturday that the nation’s electric grid had been sabotaged. The United States has attributed the outage to the Maduro regime’s “incompetence.”

However, reports posted by Breaking New Live on Twitter claim that over 300 people, including over 80 newborns, have died because of a lack of access to medical care.

Until power comes back on in Venezuela and the number of dead is counted we won’t know how true these numbers are. One thing is for certain: both power and peace need to come back to the people of Venezuela.

San Antonio Founders Monument

On Saturday, March 9, a new art piece was unveiled outside the Bexar County Courthouse depicting the early founders of San Antonio.

The cast metal crew of five included a Native American man, a Franciscan friar, a Spanish soldier stationed at the Presidio, and a couple who migrated from the Canary Islands.

“We are pleased that our ancestors decided to make that treacherous journey by sea and by land,” said Mari Tamez, president of the Canary Islands Descendants Association, the driving force behind the monument’s creation. “It was a true leap of faith.”

The monument was first sculpted by Armando Hinojosa, a Laredo artist whose stone and bronze monument to Tejano heritage adorns the grounds of the Texas Capital. The sculpture was then cast by Stevens Art Foundry in Bulverde.

Speaking at the event, Hinojosa said Alfonso Chiscano, a local thoracic surgeon and advocate for knowledge of Canary Islander history, was the first to contact him about the sculpture. Chiscano immigrated to San Antonio from the Canary Islands in the 1970s.

Over $800,000 was raised for the monument with Bexar County commissioners approving $375,000 in County funds for the sculptures and $68,000 to build the statues’ base in October 2017 and the Canary Islands Descendants Association and supporters raising an additional $375,000.

The Darsch Report: Feb. 25 – Mar. 3

Physicians vs Homeland Security

Immigration advocates say they’ve noticed more infants under the age of 1, most of them sick, are being held at Dilley’s family detention center. Eleven mothers with babies ranging from 5 to 11 months old have arrived at the South Texas Family Residential Center since last week, according to the Dilley Pro Bono Project. Two were released this week.

On Thursday, Feb 28, the Dilley facility and Physicians for Human Rights sent a formal complaint to the Department of Homeland Security and Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties over infants being held in a family detention center.

RAICES, a statewide nonprofit that advocates for immigrants, said in the last five months, it has documented more than 24 clients that were under 3 years old at the Karnes Detention Center, the only other family detention center in the country. Most were under 18 months, and two were 1 year of age.

PHR and RAICES say that many of the babies are losing weight, sick and that the facilities are ill-equipped to meet their needs.

The DHS said in a statement to the Express-News that “comprehensive medical care is provided to all individuals in ICE custody. Staffing includes registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, licensed mental health providers, mid-level providers that include a physician’s assistant and nurse practitioner, a physician, dental care, and access to 24-hour emergency care.”

Hopefully, the issue is resolved as fast as possible and the answers are given as to the state of these children and how they are being treated.

Taxpayer Funded Lobbying

On Wed, Feb 27, a bill was heard in the Texas House State Affairs Committee that would bring an end to taxpayer-funded lobbying.

Freshman State Rep. Mayes Middleton (R–Wallisville) filed House Bill 281, which would ban the practice in Texas, just days before 86th legislative session gaveled in.

“This legislation levels the playing field between urban and rural Texas in the legislature. It also levels the playing field between the taxpayers and those who are often paid to work against them,” Middleton told the committee in his opening remarks.

“The funds that are used to pay lobbyists divert money away from important community services and instead line the pockets of Austin lobbyists,” Middleton added. “House Bill 281 encourages direct communication between local communities and state legislators by removing this costly taxpayer-funded middleman.”

Middleton was not only in his remarks though as droves of citizens came to speak in support of the bill.

Those representing local officials and taxpayer-funded lobbying organizations predictably testified against the reform, claiming it would all but bar them from keeping up with the legislature and engaging with their lawmakers.

The Texas Legislature should pass this bill as this can act as a way to have politicians listening more often to their constituents instead of lobbyists in the capital. It would also save taxpayers millions of dollars that can be better spent on education, healthcare, etc.

Trump Demands Free Speech on College Campuses

President Trump announced during the Conservative Political Action Conference that he would soon be signing an executive order mandating colleges and universities take steps to guarantee free speech to attain federal research grants.

“We reject oppressive speech codes, censorship, political correctness and every other attempt by the hard left to stop people from challenging ridiculous and dangerous ideas. These ideas are dangerous,” Trump said. “Instead we believe in free speech, including online and including on campus.”

“Today I’m proud to announce that I will be very soon signing an executive order requiring colleges and universities to support free speech if they want federal research grants.”

It was also stated that colleges and universities that refused to follow the mandate would face heavy burdens on their budgets.

“If they want our dollars, and we give it to them by the billions, they’ve got to allow people like Hayden and many other great young people and old people to speak. Free speech. If they don’t, it will be very costly,” he warned.

Hayden Williams, who was brought to the stage before the speech, is a conservative activist who was punched in the face at the University of California at Berkeley last month while assisting the university’s chapter of Turning Point USA.

This is almost certainly federal overreach by the president and I would heavily advise Trump to not go along with this executive order unless he has the legal team prepared to defend it. Trump should instead turn to Congress and have them pass a law protecting free speech on college campuses.


It wasn’t a good week for US stocks, with a few gains in the stock market. The Dow Jones decreased to 26,026.32 on Friday, decreasing by -5.49 points, or -0.02 percent under its Fed 22 close of 26,031.81. The S&P 500 increased by +11.02 points or +0.39 percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq decreased on Friday by +0.90 percent.

However, the 4th quarter GDP report for 2018 also came out this week and points to some good news for the US economy. The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that the US economy grew by 2.6% in the fourth quarter, above the expected 2.4%. This means that from where the US GDP was at in the 2017’s fourth quarter, GDP grew by 3.1%. This gives a big boon to Trump as he wanted a return to the US having 3% GDP growth or more a year.

Trump-Kim meeting

On Thursday, Feb 28, President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un had their second face-to-face meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam.

During the meeting, Trump presented Kim with a similar deal to what had been offered to North Korea by the past few administrations: North Korea would trade all its nuclear weapons, material, and facilities for an end to the American-led sanctions squeezing its economy.

Despite warnings from several of Trump’s aides telling him that Kim would never accept total nuclear disarmament, Trump disagreed. He believed that because of the relations Trump and Kim had been building up for the past year, as well as the two leaders personalities, he could get Kim to agree.

Ironically though it would be Trump who would eventually walk away from the deal. Kim believed he could get a more modest deal from the US and had negotiated for an end to the sanctions most harmful to its economy, those enacted since 2016 in exchange for the dismantlement of the Yongbyon nuclear complex.

With advice from Sec. Pompeo, Trump opposed and walked away from the deal on grounds that it would make it look like he had been duped and that Kim’s offer “still leaves missiles, still leaves warheads and weapons systems,” in North Korea’s hands.

Whether you were expecting Trump and Kim to come to a deal or not, the fact that President Trump was willing to walk away should be applauded. North Korea has already made a guarantee that there will be a third meeting and now know the president will not be short-changed out of a mutually-beneficial deal.

The Darsch Report: Feb. 18 – 24

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.

US Economy

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.

Space Force

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.

The Darsch Report: Jan. 28 – Feb. 3

Money Laundering and Russians

Court documents were released on Friday, Feb. 1 detailing a money laundering scheme of more than half a million dollars committed by a San Antonio luxury car dealer with Russian connections. Karen Mgerian, 40 — one of two men arrested in raids Thursday in which more than 100 high-end vehicles were seized — is accused of laundering $575,000 in four separate money-laundering sting transactions in 2018 with undercover IRS and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents.

Before his arrest Thursday, Mgerian was in negotiations to launder another $4.7 million for the undercover agents by selling his business, MGM Auto, to the agents in return for a 12.9 percent money laundering fee. He also admitted to undercover DEA agents that he had recently laundered $780,000 “through a real estate transaction with a California marijuana distribution organization.”

Mgerian, a naturalized US citizen who traces his roots to the countries of Georgia and Armenia, denies the allegations, according to one of his lawyers, Jay Norton. Norton and his law partner, former Bexar County district attorney Nico LaHood, jointly represent Mgerian with former federal prosecutor Mike McCrum.

From what it looks likes with what he admitted to the DEA agents, this appears to be a cut and dry case that should be resolved fairly quickly.

Texas Tax Relief

On Thursday, Jan 31, identical property tax reform bills were introduced into the Texas State House and Senate by State Rep. Dustin Burrows (R–Lubbock) and State Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R–Houston). House Bill 2 and Senate Bill 2 are also part of Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen long-anticipated “big bill” on property tax reform.

Highlights from the bills include:

  1. Lower the rollback rate from 8 percent to 2.5 percent for taxing units that collect more than $15 million in tax revenues and establish election notice requirements based on whether a school district will or will not exceed a 2.5% rollback rate for Maintenance and Operation property tax.
  2. Requires an automatic tax ratification election in November if the rollback rate is exceeded in a taxing unit, and;
  3. Creates a property tax administrative advisory board that recommends improvements to the effectiveness and efficiency of the property tax system, best practices and complaint resolution procedures.

These bills are a huge step in the right direction for Texas in their effort to slow down property tax increases and provide tax relief to many across the state. Vance Ginn, Ph.D., TPPF’s senior economist and director of the Center for Economic Prosperity, stated:“This is a positive step toward providing taxpayers the support they are looking for and we are eager to work with leadership on securing the greatest relief possible.”

Texas Clergy Identifies Abusers

On Thursday, Jan 31, fourteen Texas dioceses identified 286 priests and others accused of sexually abusing children. This represents one of the largest collections of names to be released since an explosive grand jury report last year in Pennsylvania. The move by Texas Church leaders comes a month after the Illinois attorney general reported that at least 500 Catholic clergymen in that state had sexually abused children.

It is unclear whether any local prosecutors will bring up criminal charges as the majority of those identified have since died. Some investigations dated back to 1950 while other reviews, as in the case of the Diocese of Laredo, only went to 2000 because that’s when that diocese was established. Of the 286 men named in Texas, 172 are no longer alive, a percentage comparable with the national tally.

Marc Rylander, spokesman for the Texas attorney general’s office, went on record to state “Our office stands ready to assist local law enforcement and any district attorney’s office that asks for our help in dismantling this form of evil and removing the threat of those who threaten Texas children.”

With Catholic clergy and Texas law enforcement willing to work together on this issue, everything should hopefully be resolved by the end of the year. And with the Catholic Church taking a harsher stance on abuse committed by its clergy, this issue should hopefully largely disappear within the next few years.

Virginia Can’t Catch a Break

Over the past week, Virginian Democrats, and by extension Gov. Ralph Northam, have come under fire for various reasons that many have found appalling.

The first being a new bill that would allow a pregnant woman to have an abortion throughout the entire 3rd trimester. House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert asked bill sponsor Kathy Tran if this bill would allow a woman who was in active labor to request an abortion if a doctor determined that childbirth would impair her mental health. In response, Tran stated, “It would allow that, yes.”

Gov. Northam is especially under fire for what this bill allows after he made comments regarding it on a local radio on Wednesday.

“In this particular example, if a mother is in labor, I could tell you exactly what would happen: the infant would be delivered; the infant would be kept comfortable; the infant would be resuscitated, if that’s what the mother and the family desired. And then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother,” Northam said.

These statements earned Northam the ire of conservatives, moderates and liberals across the nation as he described this scenario as one of “infanticide”. But the controversy doesn’t end there.

The governor is also now facing controversy for a supposed picture of him in his medical school yearbook wearing either a KKK hood or blackface in a manner that makes it look like a minstrel show. In the 24 hours it took the news story to circulate on Friday and Saturday, Northam has gone from apologizing for his behavior when he was younger to denying that the is even in the photo.

“When I was confronted with the image, I was appalled that it appeared on my page, but I believed then and I believe now that I am not either of the people in that photograph,” he said at a news conference at the governor’s mansion.

If this photo does indeed include him, then Gov. Northam needs to resign if he wishes to save face (no pun intended) following not one but two controversies within the span of a few days.

US Economy

It was a good week for US stocks, with quite a few gains in the stock market. The Dow Jones increased to 25,063.89 on Friday, increasing by +262.47 points, or +1.06% percent over its Jan 25 close of 24,737.20. The S&P 500 increased by +39.39 points or +1.48% percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq had a decreased on Friday by +1.63 percent.

In addition to this, January gave the US an excellent jobs report despite the government shutdown. In January non-farm payrolls increased by 304,000, versus the expected number of 165,000, which analysts are calling the strongest number relative to expectations they’ve seen since June 2009. The labor force participation rate also increased to 63.1%, the highest since 2013, sending unemployment to 4.0%. Wages also continue to outpace inflation with yearly growth of weekly wages reaching 3.48% while inflation continues to stay around 2.0%.

With such a strong showing in January, despite the government shutdown, the US can look forward to continued excellent growth in the economy. All Trump needs to do now is finish trade negotiations with China and the US economy will be looking at growth rivaling that of 2018.

The Darsch Report: Jan. 14 – 20

San Antonio Housing Projects

On Wednesday, Jan 16th, San Antonio officials declared that the first applications for the city’s revamped Center City Housing Incentive Policy (CCHIP) are being received and reviewed. Four new housing developments, encompassing 515 units, will set aside 238 of the units for families making less than 60 percent of the area’s median income.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in a written statement that the mix meets “the level of affordability that we need in San Antonio.” This comes after Nirenberg paused CCHIP so that the city could reevaluate its rules in order to combat fears of displacement,  rising rent and the incentives being used for luxury developments.

The new applicants include:

  • Museum Reach Lofts, a 95-unit, $17.5 million project at the corner of West Jones Avenue and North St. Mary’s Street. It’s one of two projects submitted by Alamo Community Group, a San Antonio based non-profit housing developer.
  • Cattleman Square Lofts, Alamo Community Group’s other submitted project, which will add 160 units west of downtown at 811 W. Houston St.
  • Augusta Apartments, a 260-unit development by Stillwater Capital at 819 Augusta St., near Central Catholic High School.
  • The Villas at Museum Reach, a $3.5 million townhouse project by MGS Museum Reach LLC on Dallas Street across from the Museum Reach Lofts.

Travis County v. the City of Austin

Earlier this week, the Travis County District Court ruled that the city of Austin violated Texas law when it refused to allow duly-licensed residents to lawfully carry firearms in City Hall. As punishment the city is to pay a fine for each day they prevented investigators from lawfully carrying concealed weapons in Austin City Hall, resulting in a total of $9,000 to the state of Texas.

In response, Attorney General Ken Paxton stated, “The district court’s ruling preserves and protects the Second Amendment rights of Texans and sends a strong message to the city of Austin that they are bound by the same laws as all other Texans. The city of Austin cannot violate the open carry law or any other law the Texas Legislature has enacted simply because they disagree with it. If the city of Austin appeals the district court’s decision, my office will continue to strongly defend the right of law-abiding Texans to keep and bear arms in accordance with our handgun laws.”

The degree to which Ken Paxton is willing to go to to protect every Texan’s Second Amendment rights is commendable. This is a clear victory for the gun owners of Austin.

Trump-Pelosi Showdown

As of Sunday, January 20th, the United States federal government will have gone through 29 days of a partial government shutdown, the longest in our nation’s history. The shutdown’s current cost exceeds an estimated $4.8 billion and is forcing about 800,000 federal workers to take leave of absence or work without pay.

On Saturday, Jan. 19th, Trump described a deal that he hopes will reopen the government. In exchange for $5.7 billion for a border barrier, Trump will grant a 3-year extension of protections for 700,000 DACA recipients and extend protections for 300,000 recipients of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program. The deal would also allocate $800 million in funding for drug detection technology, 2,750 new border agents and law enforcement professionals, and 75 new immigration judges to reduce an immense backlog of asylum requests.

In the speech, Trump said “Our immigration system should be a source of pride, not a source of shame as it is all over the world,” and that “If we are successful in this effort, we will have the best chance in a long time at real, bipartisan immigration reform, and it won’t stop here, it will keep going until we do it all”.

However, both Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have already denounced the deal, calling the provisions a “non-starter”.

This shutdown has gone on long enough. Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer need to start talking with Trump about a compromise instead of devolving into partisan bickering while thousands of families are left worrying if they can pay their bills.

US Economy

It was a good week for US stocks, with multiple gains in the stock market. The Dow Jones increased to 24,706.35 on Friday, increasing by +710.40 points, or +2.96 percent over its Jan 4th close of 23,995.95. The S&P 500 increased by +74.45 points or +2.87 percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq had an increase on Friday by +2.66 percent.

This comes on the news of a potential end to the US-China trade war. The deal would have China ramping up imports for the United States over the next 6 years for a combined value of goods of more than $1 trillion and China closing their $323 billion surplus with the US to zero. The deal has met with skepticism from U.S. negotiators but if implemented would theoretically turn the US into an exporter rather than an importer nation, solving our $55.5 billion trade deficit.

Though the year is young, so far in 2019 the economy is looking great. If the Trump administration does actually strike a favorable deal with Beijing that can end the trade war and reduce the trade deficit with China, then we can have high hopes for the US economy in 2019.

Failed Brexit Vote

On Tuesday, Jan 15th, Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal was rejected by historic margins with MPs voting to reject the deal 432 votes to 202 as well as barely surviving a no-confidence vote by 325 votes to 306. The deal in question received bipartisan rejection after criticism that it would leave the UK as a vassal state of the EU, having to obey EU laws and regulations while having absolutely no say in EU matters.

Now the British government has until March 29 to extend the deadline for when the UK leaves the EU under World Trade Organization (WTO) laws, renegotiate a new deal or hold a second referendum. It appears that a WTO Brexit is the most likely option, as the conservative government remains highly opposed to any consideration of a second referendum and MPs in the House of Commons cannot seem to come to an ideal compromise.

The UK government at this point needs to start preparing for a WTO Brexit in hopes to minimize any potential damage it may have. A WTO Brexit may also be their best bet for a better economy and country, granting them full control over their own sovereignty and the ability to negotiate better trade deals without the restrictive laws and tariffs that have left the EU stagnant for years.

The Darsch Report: Jan. 7 – 13

Tarrant County GOP

In Tarrant County on Jan. 10th, county GOP officials overwhelmingly voted against a motion to oust Vice-Chairman Shahid Shafi because he is a Muslim. Precinct chairs voted 139-49 in favor of the trauma surgeon and Southlake City Council member.

After the vote, Shafi told members of the press, “As an immigrant to this great country, I am honored and privileged to receive the support of my fellow Republicans. We need to learn to trust each other so we can create a more perfect union every day.”

Those in favor of removing Shafi from office argued that he cannot represent all Tarrant County Republicans because of his religion. Some also stated that they supported the initiative because Islamic ideologies run counter to the American constitution.

The vote drew national attention as well as condemnation from some of the state’s top Republicans, including Gov. Greg Abbott, Land Commissioner George P. Bush, and Republican Party of Texas Chairman James Dickey. Dickey went on the day after the vote, “We look forward to working with all Republicans to fight for lower taxes, quality education, and to continue our booming economy through Republican leadership.”

Conservatives should applaud the 139 County Party members in Tarrant County who voted against such a bigoted act against a fellow conservative. In these times, Republicans need to unite over a common sense of values and beliefs and not try to divide each other over things that shouldn’t matter like race, creed or religion.

Ohio HQ Moving to SA

Investment management company Victory Capital Holdings Inc. is also moving its corporate headquarters from Cleveland to San Antonio and adding with it 50 jobs on top of the 300 they acquired from their November acquisition of an arm of USAA.

According to the company, the city, and the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation (SAEDF), the 50-plus new jobs will average a base salary of $96,000. Because of the HQ move, the company’s CEO David Brown, as well as five other senior executives, will be moving to the San Antonio area.

However, the city incentivized the move with tax dollars. As San Antonio Express-News reports, “San Antonio and Bexar County officials have agreed to give Victory Capital $750,000 in tax incentives for the move. The city projects a $945 million economic effect and $460,000 in tax revenue from the headquarters over the next decade.” On top of this, Brown cites the area’s 160,000 college students, population growth particularly among millennials, low cost of living and information technology presence as what sealed the deal.

Although it may be a gamble, this may also be good news for the city of San Antonio and Texas in general as it continues to expand not only its job growth but growth in information technology as well. Perhaps this move will be another step toward having a tech area in the US that can rival Silicon Valley.

The US Economy

It was a good week for US stocks, with multiple gains in the stock market. The Dow Jones increased to 23,995.95 on Friday, increasing by +522.79 points, or +2.18 percent over its Jan 4th close of 23,433.16. The S&P 500 increased by +64.32 points or +2.48 percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq had an increase on Friday by +3.34 percent.

The US economy is also looking really good. The GDPNow forecast from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta expects the US economy to have grown around 2.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018. If this holds true then the US will have exceeded 3 percent annual growth for the first time since 2005 with a growth rate of 3.15 percent.

With this strong showing from the US economy, we also expect a good performance in 2019. It would be unsurprising if 2019 GDP growth exceeds the expected 2.4 percent, especially if Trump is able to negotiate a new trade deal with China to end the trade war.

2020 Mania has Begun

It is only the second week of January but already there are many heavy contenders for the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. Julian Castro, former San Antonio mayor and US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary, and Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaiian representative, have officially declared that they are running for president. Meanwhile, California Senator Kamala Harris will make an official announcement of her decision on Jan 19th and New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has taken some steps that suggest a presidential run.

If Harris, Gillibrand and Warren all decide to officially run, the three will bring the total number of declared Democratic candidates to eleven. Along with these eleven, there are an additional twenty-nine speculative candidates who have made no official announcements, from well-known politicians like Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Beto O’Rourke to not so well-known like Eric Garcetti, Tim Ryan, and Howard Schultz.

In the two most recent polls conducted by Public Policy Polling and the Morning Consult, the results don’t look that good for any of these candidates. In the PPP survey of 750 people in North Carolina, they asked participants if they would vote for Trump or a democratic candidate. The results were as follows: Biden 49-44, Booker 45-46, Harris 45-45, Beto 45-46, Sanders 48-45, Warren 46-46. In the Morning Consult poll of 1989 registered voters, they polled who people would vote for in the 2020 Democratic primary. Biden polled with 17 percent, Warren 3 percent, Sanders 12 percent, Beto 4 percent, and Harris 1 percent; the other candidates mentioned weren’t listed.

It is much too early to tell what will happen over the next year and a half but for now, it will be very interesting to see how polls shift in the coming months.

Government Shutdown

As of Sunday, January 13th, the US Federal government has entered its 23rd day of a partial shutdown, the longest ever. On Friday, January 11th, some 800,000 government employees missed their first paycheck, of whom:

  • 380,000 are furloughed
  • 420,000 are still working without pay, according to CBS News

Some have blamed the shutdown on the unwillingness of congressional Democrats to find a compromise on Trump’s demand of $5 billion for a border wall. Top Republican lawmakers have criticized Democratic leadership for not putting any counter-offers on the table.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, an ardent supporter of Trump’s efforts to build a wall, criticized Democrats who have condemned Trump’s proposed wall but previously voted in favor of other bills, such as the Secure Fence Act of 2006, that build barriers on the border. “It really does perplex me how you expect this to end when you tell the president of the United States, ‘you get one dollar for a wall’ when in the past Democrats have appropriated billions for the wall,” Graham said.

According to GovTrack, 59 percent of Senate Democrats (including Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer) voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which allowed fencing to be built along much of the US-Mexico border. In the House, however, only 31 percent of Democrats voted for the bill. Rep. Nancy Pelosi voted against it.

We are currently in the longest government shutdown in US history. This is not the time for Congressmen to devolve into useless bickering. Trump is going to find some way—any way—to get the wall built and it is in the Democrats’ best interest to negotiate. Perhaps a DACA for Wall deal, as was suggested in late 2017, could be a possible solution.

UT-YCT Doxxing

This week a doxxing group at the University of Texas released names, photos, emails and numbers of over 30 students who have attended Young Conservative of Texas (YCT) meeting and lectures held by conservative speakers. Saurabh Sharma, 21, leads the UT chapter of YCT and is the statewide chairman of the organization. Many of Sharma’s cabinet members have been doxxed and he says the fallout has been immense.

“It hasn’t impacted all our members… but it has discouraged many from staying involved,” Sharma told PJ Media on Monday. Many of the students were doxxed for simply liking conservative pages on Facebook.

Unfortunately, the doxxing blog will not be taken down any time soon because the hosting server is a well-known ‘anti-fascist’ server. Hopefully the students responsible will be found and those affected will be able to return back to a normal life.