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Solar eclipse means big money to Texas

by | Apr 4, 2024 | Opinion

One economist is calling it “the most profitable 22 minutes in Texas history,” according to the Texas Standard. The total solar eclipse on Monday, April 8 is expected to draw up to a million visitors to the Lone Star State, especially in its narrow path of totality.

All of the state will experience at least a partial solar eclipse, the Houston Chronicle reported. For example, the sun will be about 94% eclipsed over Houston at its peak. The moon will start to block the sun around noon, with totality beginning near Del Rio on a path northeast across Texas.

Viewers are urged to wear eclipse glasses labeled with ISO 12312-2 standard or use a handheld solar filter to avoid eye damage. 

Prosecutors settle securities fraud case against Paxton

Nearly nine years after felony securities fraud charges were brought against state Attorney General Ken Paxton, prosecutors last week agreed to drop the charges if Paxton pays about $271,000 in restitution, performs 100 hours of community service, and takes 15 hours of legal ethics courses, the Texas Tribune reported. The deal was struck just three weeks before Paxton was set to face trial.

Paxton did not have to enter a plea under the terms of the agreement. He is still under federal investigation for his relationship with since-indicted developer Nate Paul.

The settlement caps a topsy-turvy span of several months for Paxton, who was impeached in the House and acquitted in the Senate. Paxton successfully took on a number of those who voted to impeach him by backing their opponents in the GOP primary, and led Republican voters to oust three incumbent Court of Criminal Appeal justices who drew his ire with a previous ruling.

“The pundits, lobbyists and consultants have written his political obituary many times and yet they greatly underestimated General Paxton’s tenacity and grit,” Nick Maddux, a Paxton adviser and political consultant, said in an email.

Appeals court again questions legality of immigration law

A panel of justices from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dealt another blow to a new law that seeks to give Texas a role in arresting and deporting migrants, The Dallas Morning News reported. The state had sought to enforce the law, Senate Bill 4, while the full court weighed its constitutionally.

Writing for the 2-1 majority, Chief Judge Priscilla Richman said the Texas law appeared to be “an end-run around” federal immigration law and provisions making immigration enforcement the responsibility of the federal government, not the state.

The ruling was the second time in a week that the 5th Circuit stopped the state from enforcing the new law.

“Allowing Texas to detain noncitizens without any input from the Federal Government about whether an arrest is warranted … would allow the State to achieve its own immigration policy,” Richman wrote in a ruling joined by Judge Irma Carrillo Ramirez.

The state can ask all 17 judges on the 5th Circuit to review the panel’s ruling or appeal it to the U.S. Supreme Court, The News reported.

Cows at two Texas dairy farms contract bird flu

Cows in the Texas Panhandle have tested positive for the bird flu, the Tribune reported. That follows historic wildfires that killed at least 7,000 livestock.

Strains of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, commonly known as the bird flu, were confirmed last week by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. USDA officials said there is no safety concern to the commercial milk supply, and that consumer health also is not at risk.

This is believed to be the first time that bird flu has been found in livestock, researchers say.
“In the rare event that some affected milk enters the food chain, the pasteurization process will kill the virus,” said Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller.

With roughly 292 dairies and about 625,000 cows, Texas ranks fourth in the U.S. in milk production, the bulk of it coming from dairies in the Panhandle. Infected cows are expected to recover in 7-10 days.

“There should be no impact on the price of milk or other dairy products,” the USDA said in a statement.

Abbott launches Texas Space Commission

Gov. Greg Abbott last week launched the Texas Space Commission in a ceremony at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. It is intended to “work to strengthen Texas’ proven leadership in civil, commercial, and military aerospace activity by promoting innovation in the fields of space exploration and commercial aerospace opportunities, including the integration of space, aeronautics, and aviation industries into the Texas economy,” the governor’s news release noted.

The commission is governed by a nine-member board, which will administer grants from the Space Exploration and Aeronautics Fund, created by the Texas Legislature. Its board consists of both academics and professionals in the state’s aerospace industry.

Literally Anybody Else running for president

A 35-year-old teacher from North Texas is running for president after legally changing his name to “Literally Anybody Else,” the Houston Chronicle reported.

“This isn’t about me, ‘Literally Anybody Else,’ more so as it is an idea. We can do better out of 300 million people for president,” Else told WFAA in Dallas. 

Getting on the ballot could prove to be a challenge for the teacher formerly known as Dustin Ebey. Independent candidates need 113,151 signatures from registered voters by May 13 who did not vote in a primary election in order to get on the November ballot. If he is unsuccessful in garnering the required number of signatures, he would still be eligible as a write-in option.

Else is still working as a math teacher. He said his students still call him Mr. Ebey.
“This will be very hard to do, but it’s not impossible,” Else said. “I really want there to be an outlet for folks like me who are just so fed up with this constant power grab between two parties that has no benefit for the common person.”

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