Posts Tagged ‘Texas’

Abril Gallardo rode 15 hours in a van to Austin to protest new immigration laws, and to urge fellow Hispanics to fight back.

“Fear motivated me to get involved,” said Gallardo, a 26-year-old Mexican native who entered the U.S. illegally at age 12.

Texas cities and immigrant rights’ groups have challenged the legality of the law, hopeful for a legal victory like the one in Arizona, but that could take months to have any effect.

But even as some vowed to fight, others have begun fleeing the state. Their ranks are still too small to quantify, but a larger exodus — similar to what occurred in Arizona — could have a profound effect on the Texas economy.

Texas has more than 1 million immigrants illegally in the country, according to the Migration Policy Institute. No one seems to have considered the effect on Texas’s economy should those people abruptly leave, or get kicked out.

Some are abandoning Texas for more liberal states, where they feel safer — even if it means relinquishing lives they’ve spent years building.

Jose, a 43-year-old Mexican living in the U.S. illegally since 2001, and his wife Holly left Austin for Seattle in January in anticipation of Texas’ immigration crackdown. That meant parting with Jose’s grown son, their community of friends and their beloved home of eight years.

“I felt like we ripped our roots up and threw ourselves across the country,” said Holly, a 40-year-old Kentucky native who wanted to protect her husband.

Holly said as soon as Donald Trump was elected president, she and her husband began preparing to move. They expected Texas would “follow Trump’s agenda trying to force local law enforcement to do immigration’s job.” And when they heard Texas had approved a crackdown on “sanctuary cities” she said they “finalised the decision.”

At Wellthisiswhatithink we think these changes are crazy. Why tear apart families that have lived peacefully and constructively in a country for ten, twenty, thirty years? Productive citizens should be given a simple and non-discriminatory path to citizenship. What the hell ever happened to “send me your poor and huddled masses”?

America has lost its soul, and its way.

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The cement stilts of the home belonging to the Carey family of Corpus Christi, Texas, are all that remain the home was swept away by the Blanco River early  Sunday morning during a flash flood in Wimberley, Texas, on Monday, May 25, 2015. The Carey and McComb family, from Corpus Christi, Texas, have been missing since.   (Rodolfo Gonzalez/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

The cement stilts of the home belonging to the Carey family of Corpus Christi in Texas are all that remain the home was swept away by the Blanco River early Sunday morning during a flash flood in Wimberley, Texas. The Carey and McComb family, from Corpus Christi, Texas, have been missing since. (Rodolfo Gonzalez/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

 

One of the effects of global warming resulting in climate change is that dry places may become drier – or ironically wetter – without warning, and to a greater degree.

This will have effects on agricultural production, although ironically some areas (a minority compared to the whole) will be improved agricultural production due to either greater warmth or greater rainfall.

But one of the most obvious impacts – and least talked about – is the effect of climate change on population, and specifically, on urbanisation.

At its most simple, people worldwide need somewhere to live. And despite the desultory attempts of local and State governments to put them off – desultory according to the dominant belief system and political will in any given area – people still want to build homes on floodplains, near rivers, in wooded areas prone to bushfire, on beaches, and so on.

NY TimesOver the weekend just gone, sadly large areas of Texas focused on Austin felt the brunt of those decisions, and on the failure to contain temperature rise.

This NY Times article (left) does an excellent job of both explaining the science, the politics, and the effect of the problem on ordinary citizens. We strongly recommend you read it. Just click the screen grab or click below.

In Texas the race to develop outpaces flood risk studies and warming impacts.

And this article, which we also suggest you read, gives a further scientific response to the contribution to climate change to the events of the last few days.

We have no wish to ride this article on the backs of those enduring a distressing situation – none at all – but comment needs to be made, if for no other reason that the world is at a tipping point where further warming will simply increase the effects now being seen, but we still have time to take effective action to turn the tide back, if you’ll forgive the pun.

We have dear friends in Texas, and we bitterly regret the growing number of deaths of those caught up in the flooding in that state, and those who have been injured or lost property. Our prayers and sympathies go out to those affected and if there’s a reconstruction or victim support fun we can be advised of, we will gladly donate to it.

We have recent endured the same in Australia and the community effect is awful. Like Texas, with whom parts of Australia share similar climactic profiles, we have always endured droughts, fires and floods.

But what is absolutely certain is that looking over the last decade or two such events are getting worse, and lasting longer.

Texan Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz

Texan Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz

In order to ensure that remedial action is taken, we now need some clear, unambiguous thinking. It must be said that “deep south” Conservatives have led the way in pooh-poohing the reality of climate change, or its effect.

For example, the absolute intellectual dishonesty of one Presidential candidate, Ted Cruz, on this issue, is skewered brilliantly in this analysis of his recent inflammatory, pseudo-science comments.

Former GOP hopeful for President and Governor of Texas Rick Perry  repeatedly questioned the science behind climate change — “I think we’re seeing almost weekly, or even daily, scientists that are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.”

Rick Perry

Rick Perry

Perry, along with energy companies, industry front groups, and other conservative politicians, sued the EPA in an attempt to block the agency from regulating climate pollution. Their argument was that climate science is a hoax.

Under Perry, Texas led the nation in carbon emissions and is home to five of the ten worst mercury emitting power plants in the country.

The governor called the EPA a “den of activists,” and in response to the Clean Power Plan, the governor said it was “the most direct assault yet on the energy providers that employ thousands of Americans.” He criticised the Obama administration’s delay of the Keystone XL pipeline and speaking at a trade association funded by BP, Perry called the 2010 BP oil catastrophe an “act of God” and his solution to the nation’s economic ills: “more oil drilling.”

Against this nonsense, a detailed examination of the impact of likely climate change on Texas can be found here, from the University in Austin, the city in which great swathes are now under water. It’s cold comfort to those who were hit by “a tsunami” of water according to the current Governor that some in the political establishment in Texas are cheerleaders in refusing to tackle climate change despite evidence like this being freely available.

In the past, we have been criticised for dismissing climate change deniers, refusing to listen to their ridiculous anti-intellectual and anti-science rantings, and refusing to countenance debating with them. We acknowledge this, but we refuse to apologise or change our view, for these reasons alone:

  • For the record, we acknowledge there is debate over the scale of man’s contribution to climate change. But to pretend it is none whatsoever is clearly ostrich-head-in-sand-like stubbornness, mindlessly disputing the opinions of tens of thousands of well-credentialled scientists across a vast range of disciplines, not just climatology.
  • We acknowledge that argument exists about the likely pace of climate change and the effects thereof. However: that there will be SOME change is undisputed, and even very small changes at the lower end of predictions are already having a profound effect on global weather, and the human population.
  • Many of the effects of global warming – such as ocean acidification – are just as serious as weather change, and constantly ignored by the climate change deniers. These changes could see the world’s entire food chain threatened and the extinction of thousands of ocean species, both vegetable and animal.

Given the foregoing, we should be taking PRECAUTIONARY climate change action.

Even if it turns out that our fears are over-complicated or overblown, to ignore the current signs is moronic, dangerous, and surely equivalent to dereliction of dutyfrom our legislators.

Politics has overtaken commonsense prophylactic government action, and that should be totally unacceptable to all.

An understanding that we need to be CAREFUL while we sort out the science still further is one that should be shared by all politicians, of all parties, on a non-partisan basis. To reduce the matter to a political football (presumably based on a belief that it will enhance election prospects) is stupidity of a near-criminal nature.

Is this really the best future mankind can hope for?

Is this really the best future mankind can hope for?

Because you know what, Dear Reader?

If we take action to combat climate change, and it turns out we were worrying completely unnecessarily, all we will have done is created a cleaner, less polluted planet.

And old, dangerous and polluting industries will have been replaced by others. And who would mourn that?

Where’s the loss?

Let us hope those now struggling with floods and storms in Texas remember who refused to do anything about the problem before it came to this – and who they want in charge of their lives in future.

Alfred Wright was a 28-year-old physical therapist, a “man of great faith,” and father of three sons. He grew up in Jasper, Texas along with four siblings, and a father who was both the town’s pastor and gym teacher. Friends described him as ambitious, clean-living, hard-working, fun-loving, brilliant and a wonderful father. He went missing for 18 days.
He was found by volunteers and his father, stripped down to his shorts and one sock, with his throat cleanly slit and one ear missing.

The police recorded the cause of death as “accidental drug overdose.”

Alfred Wright was also a black man married to a pretty white woman…in small-town Texas.

Alfred Wright 3

Alfred’s truck broke down in a package store parking while he was on his way to see a patient. He called his wife Lauren, who called her parents; by the time they got there, he was gone. Lauren attempted to call him back, but all she heard when he picked up the phone was heavy breathing. The store clerk, who remembers Wright because he was dressed in scrubs, said he saw him tuck his phone into his sock (where it was later found) and take off jogging “of his own free will.”

Four days later, the Sherriff’s department called off the search for Alfred, saying they had “exhausted all of their resources.” His wife and family maintained that there was no way he’d just take off into the woods for no reason, especially in a town as racially tense as Jasper. Doubtless, they had in mind another incident that had taken place in 1998 about 45 minutes away, when a black man by the name of James Byrd was abducted, dragged behind a pickup, chopped to pieces and left in the Jasper cemetery — by three white men.

They found Alfred in the woods on November 13th, stripped down, with two missing teeth, a missing ear and a slit throat. When the local authorities performed an autopsy, the examiner said that there were methamphetamines and cocaine in his system. He recorded the cause of death as a drug overdose, and chalked up the injuries to animals scavenging on his corpse. The case was closed as far as the Jasper police were concerned.

But Wright’s family wasn’t buying it. For several reasons.

  • Even at the time, it was noted that Wright’s state of decomposition was nowhere near what it should have been for someone left in the woods for 18 days and exposed to the weather. This indicated that he had died much more recently, long after he’d disappeared.
  • Animals don’t just break front teeth and cleanly slit throats. the missing ear might have been the result of an animal, but Wright’s body was, if anything, notable for its LACK of obvious animal scavenging in this coyote-infested area.
  • The family reported that Wright was a sober and religious man who had no history of drug use, never showed the slightest interest in drugs and displayed no signs of drug addiction or use.

The family paid to have its own autopsy performed. Full results have yet to be released insofar as Wright’s blood tests, but the private examiner did say this:

“Wright’s cause of death was severe neck trauma and a slit throat. The kind of severe neck trauma you get from getting hit in the face with a blunt object, and the kind of slit throat you don’t get from a cocaine overdose.”

Sheila Jackson Lee, Democratic congresswoman and member of the House Judiciary Committee said:

“The Department of Justice will investigate and take appropriate action and will conduct a thorough and independent investigation into all the circumstances surrounding this tragedy and to take appropriate action necessary to vindicate the federal interest, protect the civil rights of all Americans, ensure that all persons receive equal justice under law.We are all better off when the facts are discovered, the truth is discerned and the family and the community are at peace.”

Savion Wright, Alfred’s mother, has set up a GofundMe account to allow others to make donations to help support the wife and three children Wright’s murderers left fatherless and without a means of support. The stated goal is $20,000, and she has to date raised $13,351 and change.

Everything’s bigger in Texas, right?

Well now a Texas mother has had a one-in-70-million kind of Valentine’s Day this year when she gave birth to two sets of identical twin boys, a Houston hospital has just announced.

The four brothers were delivered at 31 weeks to Tressa Montalvo, 36, via cesarean section at The Woman’s Hospital of Texas in Houston.

One ... two ... hang on ... three ... four ... OK, time out.

One … two … hang on … three … four … OK, that’ll do, time out.

Tressa and Manuel Montalvo Jr. were not using any fertility drugs and had just hoped for a little brother or sister for their 2-year-old son, Memphis, according to the hospital’s press release.

“We planned the pregnancy – I guess we just succeeded a little too much!” said Tressa Montalvo, quoted in the release.

When Montalvo was 10 weeks pregnant, her physician told her she was having twins, and on a subsequent visit, the doctor detected a third heartbeat. The Montalvos were later informed they were having four babies – not quadruplets but two sets of twins.

The odds of delivering two sets of naturally occurring identical twins is somewhere in the range of 1 in 70 million, according to the hospital. Two boys shared one placenta and the two other boys shared another placenta.

Ace and Blaine were born at 8:51 a.m. on February 14 and weighed 3 pounds, 10 ounces (1.64 kg), and 3 pounds, 15 ounces (1.79 kg), respectively. Cash and Dylan followed a minute later, weighing 2 pounds, 15 ounces (1.33 kg), and 3 pounds, 6 ounces (1.53 kg), respectively.

“We tried to stick to the A-B-C-D theme when naming them,” Tressa Montalvo said. “We didn’t expect it, we were trying for just one and we were blessed with four.”

Manuel Montalvo said in the release that they’re not done yet – he still wants a girl.

(Reuters and Yahoo)

That's my name, bro.

That’s my name, bro.

Meanwhile, Wellthisiswhatithink somewhat sniffily wants to know, why on earth would you name some poor kid “Ace”? Huh? What’s with that?

What’s his second name, “Ventura”? Sheesh.

Still, I suppose if you’ve just popped out four healthy kids, you would think that was pretty ace. Well done to all concerned.

Meanwhile, we would advance only one morsel of advice to Mrs Montalvo. Bugger the environment: disposable diapers rock.

“Orright … I will have an after dinner mint if it is WAFER thin ……”

Canadian scientists prove link between the gene that causes obesity and rates of depression

The old saying ‘fat people are more jolly’ apparently has more than a grain of truth to it. It turns out there’s good reason for the stereotypical “happy” fat person immortalised in characters like Santa Claus – it’s genetic.

Scientists from McMaster University in Canada have found that the so-called ‘fat gene’ FTO is also responsible for people’s sense of wellbeing or happiness.

FTO is a genetic contributor to obesity but it also reduces the risk of depression by up to eight per cent.

I love this pic. Well, I would, wouldn’t I? But he sure looks cheerful.

The scientists studied 17, 200 DNA samples in a study investigating the psychiatric health of a group of people from over 21 nations. The finding that FTO lead to a lower rate of depression was backed up by three further international studies.

While eight per cent might not sound significant, Professor David Meyre, of McMaster University in Canada, said that it was the “first evidence that an FTO obesity gene is associated with protection against major depression, independent of its effect on body mass index.”

He said the discovery won’t change the day-to-day treatment of patients, it identifies a “a novel molecular basis for depression.”

Then again, other studies show fat people prone to being depressed about being, er, fat.

So what does the comfortably corpulent Wellthisiswhatithink think of all this debate?

Well, written as this blog is by a fellow who once walked into an Indian tailor’s shop in Durban, South Africa, to be greeted with the immortal words, “Ah, yes, Sir, welcome. I think we can do something in “Portly Short” for you!”  – I was a nervous 14 year old at the time – it sure interests me.

In my experience, fat people, I attest, are often more cheerful than most. Especially when they visit Asia, where a big belly is associated with happiness, and also with wealth. (Logic: you can afford to buy too much food, must be rich.)

When I was doing business in China attractive young women wanted to rub my belly, giggling inanely, whiling away the gaps between stops on the Shenzhen subway, much to the obvious annoyance of their boyfriends and the amusement of everyone else.

But you know what? I don’t think cheerfulness in overweight people is primarily genetic, although I notice that even the study that claims they are more prone to depression nevertheless isolates that they abuse alcohol and drugs less, which are normally symptoms of depression, so who really knows?

I just think it’s an emotional defence mechanism against being marginalised and sidelined by skinny (read: beautiful) people. And any fat, cheery person can tell you that when one is overweight – and therefore not our culture’s dominant paradigm of what is considered “attractive” – then you soon discover being chirpy and fun to be around is sexy too. Other people respond to it. So a happy nature helps fat people contribute to the gene pool … er, if you take my meaning. As I once saw on a t-shirt “A Sense Of Humour. Helping fat people get laid for a thousand years.”

Er, yup. Wot she said.

But you know what? Shopping for clothes? Meh. Not so much. I never understand, in societies where the majority of people are now apparently overweight or obese, why most clothing stores sell clothes for anorexic beanpoles. I just shouldn’t have to high-tail it to a couple of stores in town hidden down side alleys to buy clothes that both fit me and look sexy and stylish. The Big Guy section of my local Target comprises three small racks out of a store the size of Texas. And the best designs for skinny folk on the other racks aren’t duplicated in the Big Guy section. What’s with that? Can’t retailers read demographic data?

(Answer, no they can’t. Most retailers are drones. They buy product based on the profit margin they will make, how much co-op ad spend they can screw out of the supplier, and regardless of the needs or wishes of their customers. Don’t get me started.)

Anyhow: the only thing that concerns me really (I have long got pretty used to looking a bit like the side of a bus) are the health implications of obesity. If only we could focus on positive ways to impact that issue, without making overweight people feel guilty or shitty about themselves. Because recent research also shows that one can, in fact, be overweight and fit at the same time, although perhaps not to the extent that the world’s skinny people are fit. But being overweight need not be a death sentence. Well, at least, not an immediate one. And if we could encourage overweight people to be a bit fitter, than we would reduce the cost and impact of degenerative chronic diseases significantly.

Heigh ho. For all that I try and maintain some sort of level of physical fitness, and a determinedly optimist outlook, I am always nagged at by the health professional who once told me, “Look, there are fat people, and there are old people. There are just no old fat people.”

So any Wellthisiswhatithink reader who knows of an old fat person, please forward a photo immediately. A bottle of champagne (dry, lower calorie) and a sticky bun with reduced-fat cream for the most reassuring message.