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.

Economy

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. 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. 21 – 27

Non-Citizens Voting in Texas Elections

On Jan. 25, Texas Secretary of State David Whitley announced that there are about 95,000 non-citizens in Texas who are registered to vote and that 58,000 have voted in one or more elections since 1996.

This is the result of an 11-month investigation by the Texas Department of Public Safety in which investigators cross-referenced those registered to vote with those who have applied for a driver’s license or state identification card in the last five years with a green card or visa. The information was then sent to the state attorney general’s office which will decide whether or not to pursue voter fraud charges. The attorney general’s office has prosecuted only 130 cases of voter fraud since 2005.

“Every single instance of illegal voting threatens democracy in our state and deprives individual Texans of their voice,” Attorney General Ken Paxton stated. “Nothing is more vital to preserving our Constitution than the integrity of our voting process, and my office will do everything within its abilities to solidify trust in every election in the state of Texas.”

Depending on where these votes were cast since 1996, they could have easily swung any number of statewide and even national elections. Democrats have ignored illegal voting for decades now, insisting that no credible data indicates a problem. In the face of these official numbers, we hope they will start caring about the voting process more than their own reputations.

The Shutdown is Over

On Jan. 25, the United States government has finally been reopened after a shutdown that lasted a record 35 days, costing an estimated $6 billion. The temporary reopening will last 3 weeks ending on Feb 15 during which Republicans, Democrats, and President Donald Trump will attempt to seek a compromise on permanent federal funding.

“I am very proud to announce we have reached a deal to end the shutdown and reopen the federal government,” Trump said, adding that he will continue to seek $5.7 billion in funding for a border wall. He insisted that if he and Democratic leadership can not reach a compromise then he will declare a national emergency to build the wall.

“Walls should not be controversial,” he said. “As commander-in-chief, my highest priority is the defense of our great country… We cannot surrender operational control over our nation’s borders to foreign cartels, traffickers and smugglers.”

Democrats are calling the reopening a victory. “Our unity is our power — and that is maybe what the President underestimated,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

Many are glad to see at least a temporary end to the shutdown with all 800,000 furloughed employees receiving back pay for the past 35 days. However, this is only the beginning of Trump’s efforts to fund the wall, and unless Democrats are willing to negotiate with Trump it is doubtful a real compromise will be met before another shutdown.

Whataburger Delivers a Helping Hand

Speaking of the shutdown, San Antonio-based fast-food giant Whataburger was the latest company to offer free food to any and all federal employees that were furloughed during the 35-day government shutdown. On Saturday, Jan. 26, from 6 to 11 am they offered food to any federal employee who went unpaid during the shutdown.

The notice said that anyone who showed a valid federal government-issued ID would be eligible for the offer of a free coffee and breakfast burrito. The deal was at any participating location but will not extend to drive-thru and mobile orders.

Whataburger’s communications office said the brand will honor the offer until further notice. In the face of a government shutdown it is great to see private entities step in and help where the government has failed.

US Economy

It wasn’t a good week for US stocks, with very few gains in the stock market. The Dow Jones decreased to 24,737.20 on Friday, decreasing by -153.11 points, or -0.62 percent under its Jan 18 close of 24,706.35. The S&P 500 decreased by -28.38 points or -1.06 percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq had a decreased on Friday by -1.17 percent.

This comes on news from Commerce Secretary Wilber Ross that the US and China are still “miles and miles” away from coming to terms on a trade deal. The stock market was acting relatively positive on news that China has offered to buy over $1 trillion worth of US goods to eliminate the trade deficit, but optimism tanked after Ross’s comments.

Venezuela in Crisis

On Jan. 23, President of the National Assembly of Venezuela Juan Guaido swore himself in as ‘interim president’. The United States, Canada, Brazil, UK, Argentina, Costa Rica, and many other regional allies have backed Guaido’s move, while the countries of Mexico, Cuba, Russia, Turkey, China, and Iran have decided to support Nicolás Maduro’s claim to the presidency.

“As president of the National Assembly, before God and Venezuela, I swear to formally assume the competencies of the national executive as interim president of Venezuela,” Guaidó declared before an opposition rally in eastern Caracas.

President Trump immediately recognized his claim. “I will continue to use the full weight of United States economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of Venezuelan democracy,” Trump said.

The US and regional allies were quick to issue their statements due to suspicions that the 2017 Venezuelan presidential election was rigged in favor of the incumbent president Nicolás Maduro.

Venezuelan authorities denounced what they have termed a “coup attempt” led by the United States. “This coup attempt that is being unleashed in the country is the most unwise effort by imperialism and its lackeys in the Venezuelan opposition,” Maduro said to supporters. Maduro has also given all US diplomatic personnel 72 hours to leave the country.

The situation in Venezuela is a unique chance to see if one of the old socialist regimes in the Americas will finally fall and how powerful the US is with her regional allies against the two other superpowers involved, China and Russia. As it currently stands, Maduro’s regime does not look like it has much longer to live in this world bringing an end to another oppressive socialist regime and giving hope to the people of Venezuela.

Gun Owners vs New York City

On Jan. 22, the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to hear its first 2nd Amendment case in a decade, concerning a strict New York City ordinance that bars a legal owner of a handgun from taking it to a shooting range outside the city.

The city says it allows gun owners to seek hard-to-obtain permits to legally carry a handgun if they have good cause. They may also obtain a “premises” permit to keep a handgun at home, allowing them to carry an unloaded handgun to a shooting range inside the city but not to a shooting range outside the city.

Justices will consider the case, New York State Rifle and Pistol Assn. vs. New York, in the fall. If they take the case, then a final ruling is not expected until early 2020.

Their lawyer, former US Solicitor General Paul Clement, urged them to take the issue to a higher court after losing in the US 2nd Court of Appeals. Clement called the “city’s transport ban an extreme, unjustified and irrational restriction on 2nd Amendment rights. … There is absolutely no evidence that transporting an unloaded firearm, locked in a container separate from its ammunition, presents a material public safety risk.”

The New York City ordinance is an extreme and needless burden on the gun owners of New York and the Supreme Court should reaffirm the 2nd Amendment rights of New York citizens and rule this law unconstitutional.