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Task Force Unveils Improvements in Wake of Astroworld Show

After last year’s deadly Astroworld music festival in Houston, questions were raised about whether there was sufficient coordination and communication among officials, public safety agencies and promoters in planning the event and implementing an emergency response when it turned tragic. A task force this week unveiled a new agreement its members said will clearly outline responsibilities between all parties involved in such events to ensure they are safe. The group’s members said it will also improve communication, the development of safety plans and permitting procedures for large events like the Astroworld festival, which was attended by some 50,000 people. Some of the changes in the new agreement, which updates one from 2018, include requiring all relevant safety stakeholders to be together at one location during an event to better monitor any possible problems; creating an internal calendar of events so agencies, officials and departments know about and plan for upcoming events; having a streamlined event permitting process and creating an event safety planning checklist. “It’s not to say those things were absent so to speak. They weren’t as aligned as they needed to be,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said on Monday. “And when there’s not alignment, there’s confusion. And when there’s…


Magnitude 5.4 Earthquake in West Texas Causes Damage Hundreds of Miles Away

A strong earthquake that struck a remote area of the West Texas desert caused damage in San Antonio, hundreds of miles from the epicenter, officials said. University Health said Thursday that its Robert B. Green historical building was deemed unsafe because of damage sustained from the quake, which hit Wednesday in a remote area near the New Mexico border. The historical building is more than 100 years old and has been closed off for safety reasons, University Health said. The quake initially had a 5.3 magnitude but that was revised upward to 5.4. The earthquake’s epicenter was about 23 miles south of Mentone, a tiny community about 350 miles northwest of San Antonio. It was one of the strongest earthquakes on record in Texas and hit an area known for oil and gas production. On Thursday, the state’s Railroad Commission — which regulates Texas’ oil and gas industry — sent inspectors to the site to determine whether any actions were needed. Earthquakes in the south-central United States have been linked to oil and gas production, particularly the underground injection of wastewater. The U.S. Geological Survey said research suggests that a 5.0 magnitude quake that struck the same West Texas area in 2020 was the result…


Stars Fade for Dems O’Rourke, Abrams With Midterm Losses

Stacey Abrams and Beto O’Rourke catapulted to Democratic stardom in 2018 by defying expectations and nearly pulling off upsets in Georgia and Texas. But they flopped four years later in governors’ races Tuesday even as other Democrats muscled out remarkably resilient victories in the midterm elections: Abrams lost her rematch with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp by 7 points, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott clobbered O’Rourke by double digits. Election Results 2022Source: Associated Press. Note: This data may be slightly different than results from NBC News’ Decision Desk used elsewhere on this site.Amy O’Kruk/NBC The wipeouts have dimmed the bright future that Democrats once saw for two young sensations who openly explored national ambitions, pushed Republicans to the brink on tough turf and captivated liberal donors nationwide — but are now a combined 0-5 the last three election cycles despite no shortage of money, overflowing crowds or fawning media attention. “Democrats owe a huge debt of gratitude to both Stacey Abrams and Beto,” said Tom Perez, who was chair of the Democratic National Committee when the duo burst on the scene in 2018. Neither Abrams, 48, nor O’Rourke, 50, has said whether they will run again. Comebacks are a fixture of American…


Uvalde Families Make Last Push for Gun Reform Ahead of the Midterms

Just hours after voting started in Texas, Kimberly Rubio cast her ballot in the same Uvalde city building where she waited in May to learn that her daughter, Lexi, was one of 19 fourth-graders fatally shot at Robb Elementary School. “If our children aren’t safe, neither are your jobs,” Rubio said as she walked out of her polling place with an “I voted” sticker. Nearby, another woman waved a “Don’t tread on me” flag. The deadliest classroom shooting in Texas history has cast a long shadow in the midterm elections, intensifying Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s campaign against Democrat Beto O’Rourke and driving a blitz of television ads. On Thursday, a Republican congressman joined calls for Texas’ state police chief to resign, reflecting continued anger five months after the massacre. But with more than 1 million votes already cast in Texas, Uvalde families who have been most outspoken since the May 24 attack are facing an uphill climb for bigger shakeups on Election Day, including a change in governor. Abbott, who has waved off calls to tighten Texas gun laws since the shooting, has never trailed in polls. He is also seizing on national headwinds facing Democrats, who are in danger…


NYC Opens Emergency Center for Migrants Bused From Texas Border

A complex of giant tents built on an island is set to open Wednesday as New York City’s latest temporary shelter for an influx of international migrants being bused into the city by southern border states. The humanitarian relief center on Randall’s Island is intended to be a temporary waystation for single, adult men — many from Venezuela — who have been arriving several times per week on buses chartered predominantly from Texas.Spartan and utilitarian, the tents include cots for up to 500 people, laundry facilities, a dining hall and phones for residents to make international calls. The city’s plan is to bring single men to the facility once they arrive at the main Manhattan bus terminal and to house them there for a period of days while determining next steps, officials said. Families with children are being housed in a hotel. “We needed a different type of operation that gave us the time and space to welcome people, provide them a warm meal, shower, a place to sleep, to understand their medical needs, to really then work with them to figure out what their next step is going to be,” said Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol. The white, plastic-walled tents…


Texas Officer Fired After Shooting Teenager Eating Hamburger

A Texas police officer who shot and wounded a teenager who had been sitting in his car eating a hamburger has been fired, police said. San Antonio Officer James Brennand was fired after shooting Erik Cantu, 17, on Oct. 2 in a fast food restaurant parking lot, police training commander Alyssa Campos said in a video statement released Wednesday. Brennand had responded to an unrelated disturbance at the fast-food restaurant when he saw Cantu inside the car, which had evaded him a day earlier, Campos said. A Texas prosecutor said in a statement Friday that he has not seen enough evidence to file charges against the teenager. “While Sunday’s shooting of an unarmed teenager by a then-San Antonio Police officer remains under investigation, the facts and evidence we have received so far led us to reject the charges against Erik Cantu for further investigation,” Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales said. Brennand, who had been on the force for less than one year, violated his training and police procedures after approaching the car, Campos said. “The officer abruptly opened the driver’s door and ordered the driver out of the car” before the arrival of backup officers that Brennand had requested, Campos…


Sandy Hook Survivors Send Hope to Uvalde Community

The survivors who were able to walk out of Sandy Hook Elementary School nearly a decade ago want to share a message of hope with the children of Uvalde, Texas: You will learn how to live with your trauma, pain and grief. And it will get better. They know what’s ahead. There’s shock, followed by numbness. There are struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder. Anxiety. Survivor’s guilt. Anger that these shootings continue to happen in America. Reliving their trauma every time there’s another mass shooting. They know it will be hard to say they are from Uvalde. That well-meaning adults will sometimes make the wrong decisions to protect you. That grief can be unpredictable, and different for everyone. “It’s been nine years since Sandy Hook,” said Ashley Hubner, 17, who was a second grader at the Newtown school when 20 children and six educators were killed on Dec. 14, 2012. “We had nine years for this to not happen again. And yet it did. And now these kids are going to have to go through the same exact thing. That’s just, like, heartbreaking.” On May 24, a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. It was…


Persistent Drought Dries Up, Closes Popular Central Texas Swimming Hole

After reports last month that a popular Central Texas swimming hole was drying up, Hays County parks say they’re closing Jacob’s Well to swimming for the remainder of the year. The Hays County Parks Department said the watering hole was suffering from significant drought and that significant rainfall was needed to recharge the Trinity Aquifer, which supplies Jacob’s Well with water. All existing reservations will be canceled and refunded automatically in the coming weeks. The swimming hole, the second-largest fully submerged cave in Texas, was shut down in July after running dry for the fifth time in recorded history. The rest of the park remains open for hiking and viewing the spring.
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser. Courtesy of Texas News – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth …


ERCOT Board of Directors Announces New CEO in Meeting Tuesday

The ERCOT Board of Directors announced during a meeting in Austin on Tuesday that Pablo Vegas will be the council’s new CEO. Vegas currently serves as the Executive Vice President at NiSource Utilities in Columbus, Ohio. He also previously served in leadership positions with American Electric Power, including as President and Chief Operating Officer for AEP Texas, ERCOT said in a news release on Tuesday. “I’m excited to return to Texas both personally and professionally. Texas is the fastest growing electric grid in the nation with peak demand larger than any other state, and leads the nation in advancing reliable resources,” said Vegas. “Texas leaders have faced the challenges in the ongoing energy transition head-on and are committed to driving improvements in the energy economy for the benefit of generations to come. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lead an exceptional organization of people and make a positive impact on millions of Texans.” As the new ERCOT CEO, Vegas will make an annual salary of $990,000 with opportunity for bonuses based on performance, according his employment agreement. Approval from the Public Utility Commission of Texas came immediately following the ERCOT Board of Director’s vote to hire Vegas as CEO as is…


Texas Man Sentenced to 25 Years for Virus-Related Attack on Asians

A Texas man has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for attacking an Asian family in 2020 because he thought they were Chinese and therefore responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, according to federal court records Jose Gomez III, 21, of Midland, was sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty to three counts of committing a hate crime. When pleading guilty in March, Gomez admitted that he used a knife to slash Bawi Cung and his 6 and 2-year-old sons inside Sam’s Club in Midland because he believed they were Chinese and spreading the coronavirus. Bawi Cung is from the southeast Asian nation of Myanmar. The March 2020 attack occurred as Asians faced verbal harassment and physical assaults across the United States after the virus began spreading nationwide. Gomez did not know the family when he followed them inside the store, federal authorities said in a statement. He followed them for several minutes because he perceived them to be a “threat” because they were “from the country who started spreading that disease around,” according to the statement. Gomez then purchased a serrated steak knife and slashed the three before a Sam’s Club employee intervened, stopping the attack as Gomez yelled “Get out…