Naming a Street After MLK Is Easier Said Than Done

Opponents of naming streets after King tend to be white business and property owners on affected roads.

WASHINGTON, DC -MAR 28: Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue was previously known as Nichols Ave. In 1971, the D.C. Council voted to rename the street Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue after the slain civil rights leader. -We interview people who remember the day Dr. Martin Luther King was killed. A tour of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in the District reveals that while some things have changed in the area, much has not since the assassination. (Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, previously known as Nichols Ave, in Washington, D.C.

More than 1,000 streets in the world bear the name of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

At least 955 of those streets can be found in the U.S. They’re in 41 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Martin Luther King streets cross a diversity of neighborhoods – rural and urban, residential and commercial, large and small. The range of these named streets across the country makes it seem that remembering and memorializing King was inevitable.

Yet, for some communities, the drive to name public spaces in King’s name has taken years as well as heated debates, boycotts, petition drives, marches and even litigation.

My research over the past 20 years has examined the role of African-Americans in the King street-naming process. I have found that the nation’s Martin Luther King streets – while seen by some as celebrating the victories of a movement that left racism safely in the past – are one terrain on which a continuing struggle for civil rights has played out.

It Started in Chicago

The geographic range of King streets reflects the influence of King’s work. It also reflects the cultural and political power of African-Americans, who are largely responsible for bringing street renaming proposals before local city councils and county commissions.

Just months after King’s assassination in 1968, Chicago became the first city to rename a street for King. Alderman Leon Despres, a white liberal and King supporter, initially proposed renaming a street in the city’s central business district. However, Mayor Richard J. Daley followed with a different resolution. He wanted to place King’s name on South Park Way, a road more than 11 miles long that runs strictly through African-American communities on Chicago’s South Side.

Daley was no fan of King and infamous for his shoot-to-kill order against rioters after the civil right leader’s murder. When King came to Chicago in 1966 to challenge segregated housing, he encountered great hatred from taunting and violent white crowds.

According to journalists Adam Cohen and Elizabeth Taylor, in their book “American Pharaoh,” Mayor Daley was seeking to mend his and the city’s public image in the lead up to the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Indeed, he held the street renaming dedication ceremony a week before the convention. At the same time, the mayor didn’t want to alienate his political base of racially hostile whites.

Two black city aldermen objected to Daley’s proposal. One of them, Alderman A.A. “Sammy” Rayner, called the street renaming “tokenism” and called on city leaders to do “something bigger.” He and William Cousins Jr. suggested renaming a proposed Crosstown Expressway. It was planned to cut across, and unite, different parts of Chicago. But the City Council eventually approved the mayor’s plan to rename South Park Way as Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, which it remains today.

Even now, 50 years later, proponents still must fight to convince many municipal officials that King’s name belongs on major roads.

More Than Just a Name

Many of the activists with whom I have spoken view King streets as a way to carry on King’s unfinished work to create racial equality and economic justice in the U.S.

Greater visibility, they argue, can communicate the legitimacy of King’s message. More streets named after the civil rights leader, especially in prominent parts of town, can help educate a wider white public of the relevance and resonance of civil rights and black historical contributions.

Some cities honor King with important thoroughfares that connect a variety of neighborhoods. These include AlbuquerqueAustinNew Bern in North Carolina, Oakland-North BerkeleySavannah and Tampa.

However, public opposition over the past half century has led most cities to rename smaller streets or portions of roads located entirely within poor African-American neighborhoods. Opponents tend to be white business and property owners on affected roads. In public, most cite concerns over cost and inconvenience. Some suggest the association with King’s name will stigmatize their neighborhood.

For example, when a Chattanooga real estate developer faced the prospect of his new development on West Ninth Street being named for King, he expressed concern about renting offices to potential clients because a MLK address, in his words, would create “racial overtones.” Suggesting King’s name was out of place on the road, he said: “West Ninth Street is not related to Dr. King. … It is no longer a solid black street. … It is no longer a residential street or rundown business street. It is a top class business street.”

Many cities have resorted to dedicating a road to King, rather than force a full name and address change. Several cities such as Zephyrhills, Florida, and Statesboro, Georgia, also created renaming ordinances in direct response to King street-naming efforts. While these policies now apply to all renaming efforts, they were created with the original intent of limiting how and where citizens remember King within their communities. These policies echo a long history of black disenfranchisement, procedural injustice and segregated public spaces.

In places such as TulsaIndianapolis and the North Carolina city of Greenville, King roads have doubled as memorials and boundaries between King’s supporters and those who do not identify with or desire to be associated with him. Extending King’s name even a few blocks can become contentious.

For many African-Americans, the fight to have a voice in King street naming parallels recent activism against Confederate monuments and symbols of white supremacy. In the same way, it is about claiming and exerting one’s right to belong, and remembering and being remembered in communities where rights were denied for generations.

Roads of Resilience

The neighborhoods through which many King streets run reflect both the resiliency and precariousness of black American life. In the words of journalist Doug Moore, King’s road in St. Louis, Missouri, is “where hope and despair collide.” King streets host disproportionately high numbers of churches, government offices and schools, as well as beauty parlors and barber shops. These provided valuable refugee and mobilization spaces during the civil rights movement and today serve as hubs of resourcefulness, aid and creative community building. These institutions exist alongside high crime rates, poverty, abandoned buildings, food deserts and sputtering redevelopment efforts.

Revitalization is on the minds of many King street activists. They want to raise incomes, property values and quality of life without the forced displacement of gentrification. These efforts, while more formalized than in the past, have moved slowly if not failed without private and public support.

These activists believe that convincing the larger public to care about King streets is of critical importance. King’s namesakes don’t just memorialize. They can open up critical discussions of the continuing power of racism. They can be avenues – literally and figuratively – to continuing the civil rights leader’s work of battling racial and economic inequality and the creation of a black sense of belonging and place in the U.S.



Credit to US News

The Conversation

Texas cattle ranchers face tough decision to cull or sell herds as drought deepens

A severe drought in 2011 decimated O.C. Fisher Lake in San Angelo, Texas. A new drought stretching across the state is showing some of the same characteristics.

AUSTIN, Texas – Sam Epperson, a fourth-generation rancher, studies the ground and sky each day from his vast ranch in south-central Texas. He’s hoping the skies open up soon and drop torrents of rain on his scorched land.

Lately, his cows, goats and ewes – about 5,400 animals total – haven’t had much to eat as the grass has shriveled and knotted. If conditions continue, he’ll be faced with the tough decision of whether to cull part of his herd.

“It is serious, but we’re in the dormant season,” Epperson, 65, said, meaning the grass still has a few months to grow in the spring. “Our real concern is what happens in a couple of months, and it does not look good.”

A deepening drought is afflicting a large swath of Texas, from the Rio Grande Valley to central and east Texas, once again putting Texas ranchers’ livelihoods in peril. Statistics released this week by the U.S. Drought Monitor showed 37% of the state in moderate drought conditions and about 11% of the state in severe drought. More than half of the state is abnormally dry, and parts of seven counties are experiencing extreme drought, according to the stats.

The dry weather patterns began last summer, said John Nielsen-Gammon, the state climatologist. Usually, winter is when Texas absorbs most of its moisture, thanks to cooler temperatures and steady rainfall, he said. But that hasn’t happened this winter.

One of the worst droughts on record for Texas was in 2011, when only an average of 15 inches of rain fell on the state, leading ranchers to send thousands of heads of cattle to slaughter, sucking lakes and rivers dry, sparking wildfires and amounting to $8 billion in losses for the state.

So far, 2020 has some of the same fingerprints of 2011, Nielsen-Gammon said. “You can’t have a year like 2011 unless you start off dry,” he said. “So far, we’ve started out dry.”

A lack of rainfall, especially in the second half of last year, deepened the drought conditions. Austin saw about 24 inches of rain from January to June last year, said Keith White, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Austin/San Antonio office. But from July to December, only 4 inches fell on the state capital.

Drought in Texas is usually most acutely felt by ranchers, whose animals subsist on sprawling non-irrigated grassy lands. As the grass dries up, ranchers need to choose to either invest in bringing in hay from elsewhere or bring down their herd numbers, said Jeff Savell, an animal science professor at Texas A&M University. As those numbers go down, Texas beef prices go up across the country, he said. Texas is the country’s biggest producer of beef, providing around 15% of the nation’s beef needs.

Gerald Nobles Jr. breeds cows and sells the calves from his ranch in Brady, Texas, about 130 miles west of Austin. He has watched in dismay as the drought shriveled the grass on his ranch and as his 300 heads of cattle grazed it nearly down to dirt.

If the grass gets too low, it could take even longer to grow back, threatening the long-term prospects of the business, he said. In September, he made the decision to sell off about half of his herd. Some went to a cattle auction in nearby San Saba, while others were sold to individuals.

If it doesn’t rain in another two to three weeks, he’ll likely sell off the rest of the herd, he said.

“When do you say ‘uncle’ and say, ‘I can’t take this anymore?'” said Nobles, 68. “We’re at that decision-making time right now.”

He’s not alone. There’s a lot of concern among other ranchers over the worsening drought, though ranchers haven’t quite reached the panic of 2011, said Jeremy Fuchs, a spokesman with the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. That drought led to the total number of head of cattle in the state to drop from 13.2 million to 11.9 million. It took several years for those numbers to rebound, he said.

“it’s certainly beginning to be a concern,” Fuchs said. “It’s something that’s being watched very closely.”

Epperson, the rancher, said the grass on his 25,000-acre ranch is “down to dirt” and his animals are running out of areas to feed. He has been baling hay from a small irrigated hay farm he bought years ago to feed his animals. The 2011 drought was so withering, even the irrigated hay farm wouldn’t grow hay, forcing him to sell off 200 cows, or about half his herd.

He hopes this drought doesn’t reach those extreme heights, he said. He’s not so sure.

“It’s really tough,” Epperson said. “We can’t have false expectations of positive things happening right now.”


Credit to USA Today

Puerto Rico fires two more officials after Hurricane Maria aid found unused amid current earthquake aftermath

The pallets of bedding, food and medical supplies sat wrapped in plastic and unused in a warehouse for more than two years while Puerto Ricans suffered through the aftermath of a devastating hurricane and, recently, an earthquake. Now their discovery has triggered a political firestorm.

On Sunday, Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez fired two more officials in the most recent development since anger broke out over a viral video showing unused emergency supplies – allegedly left-over aid from Hurricane Maria – sitting in a warehouse in the southern coastal city of Ponce.

“There are thousands of people who made sacrifices to bring aid to the south and it’s unforgivable that resources have been kept in a warehouse,” the governor’s initial statement said.

In Ponce,  thousands remain in shelters since a 6.4 magnitude quake struck the island two weeks ago.

People break into a warehouse with supplies believed to have been from when Hurricane Maria struck the island in 2017 in Ponce, Puerto Rico on Jan. 18, 2020, after a powerful earthquake hit the island. (Photo by Ricardo ARDUENGO / AFP) 

People break into a warehouse with supplies believed to have been from when Hurricane Maria struck the island in 2017 in Ponce, Puerto Rico on Jan. 18, 2020, after a powerful earthquake hit the island. (Photo by Ricardo ARDUENGO / AFP)

Housing Secretary Fernando Gil and Department of Family Secretary Glorimar Andújar were dismissed Sunday. The previous day, Gov. Vázquez had fired Carlos Acevedo, director of Puerto Rico’s Office of Emergency Management, hours after a Facebook video showed residents breaking into the warehouse to distribute supplies.

The video, posted live by blogger Lorenzo Delgado, shows a warehouse filled with water bottles, cots, baby food and other basic supplies that had apparently been sitting there since Hurricane Maria battered the U.S. territory in September 2017.  A group of people is then seen breaking in and distributing the supplies.

A woman carries boxes of baby wipes she removed from a warehouse filled with supplies, including thousands of cases of water, believed to have been from when Hurricane Maria struck the island in 2017 in Ponce, Puerto Rico on Jan. 18, 2020, after a powerful earthquake hit the island. (Photo by Ricardo ARDUENGO / AFP) 

A woman carries boxes of baby wipes she removed from a warehouse filled with supplies, including thousands of cases of water, believed to have been from when Hurricane Maria struck the island in 2017 in Ponce, Puerto Rico on Jan. 18, 2020, after a powerful earthquake hit the island.

The firings come amid concerns over Puerto Rico’s credibility in Washington. The U.S. had temporarily retained some federal funds for Maria relief amid concerns of corruption and mismanagement. Last week, the Trump administration lifted on monthlong hold on $8.2 billion in congressionally approved disaster aid funding to help with earthquake relief efforts, Politico reported.

On Thursday, President Trump declared a major disaster in Puerto Rico, allocating federal funding for repairs, temporary housing and low-cost loans “to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster,” the White House said.

A man pulls a pallet of gas canisters believed to have been from when Hurricane Maria struck the island in 2017 in a warehouse in Ponce, Puerto Rico on Jan. 18, 2020, after a powerful earthquake hit the island. (Photo by Ricardo ARDUENGO / AFP)

A man pulls a pallet of gas canisters believed to have been from when Hurricane Maria struck the island in 2017 in a warehouse in Ponce, Puerto Rico on Jan. 18, 2020, after a powerful earthquake hit the island. (Photo by Ricardo ARDUENGO / AFP)

Vázquez has ordered an investigation into the discovery of the supplies. In a press conference Sunday, she said no citizens will be prosecuted for breaking into the warehouse in order to obtain the relief.  She added that she chose to also fire Gil and Andújar after officials were unable to provide further information she requested about other collection and distribution centers in meetings with leaders of her administration that morning.

A girl cries next to her mother after police evacuated people breaking into a warehouse filled with supplies, believed to have been from when Hurricane Maria struck the island in 2017 in Ponce, Puerto Rico on Jan. 18, 2020, after a powerful earthquake hit the island. (Photo by Ricardo ARDUENGO / AFP) 

A girl cries next to her mother after police evacuated people breaking into a warehouse filled with supplies, believed to have been from when Hurricane Maria struck the island in 2017 in Ponce, Puerto Rico on Jan. 18, 2020, after a powerful earthquake hit the island.

Acevedo meanwhile has denied he mishandled the emergency supplies, saying in a statement that about 600 pallets of water were distributed when Hurricane Dorian, Hurricane Karen and drought all affected the island last year.

He added that the warehouse supplies were expired and no one had ordered for them to be removed or destroyed.


Norway says its new giant oil field is actually good for the environment. Critics call it climate hypocrisy

It’s not a boast you usually hear about an oil field: Norway says its huge new facility is great for the environment.

The oil-rich nation claims the Johan Sverdrup field, which was opened with pomp by the Prime Minister last week, is helping to “reduce emissions” because it is completely powered by renewable energy.
“Johan Sverdrup is now open. That’s good news for our investors, for Norway — and for emissions,” boasts the official website of Equinor, the Norwegian state company that operates the field.
Its critics, however, see Norway’s third-biggest oil field ever as a perfect symbol of the Scandinavian country’s climate hypocrisy.
The field, located around 87 miles off the Norwegian coast, is named after the country’s first prime minister. It has reserves of 2.7 billion barrels of oil, enough to last half a century and bring more than $100 billion into Norway’s pocket.
The operation is powered by energy brought from the shore, generated mainly from hydroelectric power — a rarity for offshore oil fields, most of which are powered by diesel generators.
It is a fitting example of Norway’s approach to climate change. The country was among the first to ratify the Paris Agreement and has pledged to become climate neutral by 2030. It offers its citizens generous subsidies for electric cars and has banned deforestation.
Yet Norway is also a major fossil fuel producer. It pumps out 2 million barrels of oil a day, according to the International Energy Agency, making it Europe’s second biggest producer after Russia. Its natural gas production also surpasses all other European countries.
“Norway has a schizophrenic relationship with climate and oil and gas,” Lars-Henrik Paarup Michelsen, CEO of the Norwegian Climate Foundation think tank, told CNN. “We are great at adopting ambitious emission targets, but at the same time we plan for oil and gas production for decades to come.”

Johan Sverdrup is the third largest oil field on the Norwegian continental shelf.

On top of its significant fossil fuel reserves, Norway also has abundant renewable energy resources, particularly in hydropower. It covers its domestic needs with clean energy and sells most of its oil and gas abroad.
Equinor, the Norwegian state company that operates the Johan Sverdrup field, is working hard to highlight the field’s efficiency. “Average CO2 emissions from international fields are 25 times higher, (with) 18 kg CO2 emitted per barrel produced versus 0.67 kg CO2 emitted per barrel produced from Sverdrup,” Equinor spokesman Morten Eek told CNN.
But Paarup Michelsen said this saving is not significant when considering the bigger picture, because emissions from production account for only 5% of total emissions from the global oil industry.
“The big problem is the combustion, in sectors like transport and industry,” he said.
As Mark van Baal, founder of climate pressure group Follow This, put it: “An oil company with targets for its own emissions, and not for its products is like a cigarette producer that promises that all employees will quit smoking, while increasing cigarette production.”

Who is responsible?

The Norwegian government can claim it is doing all it can to combat climate change, because current international rules place the responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions on the country where they occur.
For Norway, this means that it is not responsible for the emissions caused by the burning of its oil in other places around the world.
According to figures from Norway’s statistical office, the country’s annual domestic greenhouse gas emissions reached around 53 million tons in 2017. That comes to roughly 10 tons per person, which is roughly in line with the rest of Europe. Emissions in the US stood at 15 tons per person in 2017, according to the International Energy Agency.
The emissions generated by Norway’s exports, however, are of a very different magnitude.
According to the United Nations’ Emission Gap Report, emissions from the oil and gas Norway sold abroad reached roughly 470 million tons in 2017.
When the Norwegian government talks about reducing emissions, it means domestic emissions, not from its exports. But the Paris Agreement on climate is clear. To avoid catastrophic global warming, the world has to dramatically cut all carbon emissions.
Experts say that phasing out fossil fuels is essential if global warming is to stay below a rise of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century, the goal set by the Paris agreement.
Norway’s Minister of Climate and Environment Ola Elvestuen acknowledged that his country will need to change its ways in the future.
“The world needs to reduce its use of fossil fuel as fast as possible, and of course this will affect both the Norwegian economy and petroleum sector,” he said in a statement emailed to CNN.
Yet despite its climate commitments, Norway’s government policy is also aimed at luring global oil giants to try to find and recover more oil in its territory. Under current laws, companies can deduct 78% of their exploration costs from their taxable income.
The strategy is working. According to the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, activity in the oil and gas industry is rising rapidly.
In 2019, Norway awarded 83 production licenses, a new record, and started 57 new exploration wells.
The Norwegian government is not making any secret of the fact that it has long-term plans for the oil industry.
The Johan Sverdrup field operation is scheduled to run until 2070 — 20 years after global emissions must be zero, according to a pledge signed by Norway’s government.
Elvestuen said that while the new field might be active for a long time, two-thirds of the resources there are projected to be recovered before 2030. After that, production is expected to decline.
“An expression often used by the largest parties in Norway is that the person who will ‘switch the light off’ on (oil production on) the Norwegian shelf has not yet been born,” said Paarup Michelsen.
Credit to CNN

Texas family found alive 24 hours after going missing in national forest

They wrapped their shoes with plastic and began walking in the deep snow.

A Texas family was found alive — with no serious injuries — after going missing for 24 hours in the San Juan National Forest in Colorado, officials said.

A man, woman and their 12-year-old daughter were driving a rented truck from El Paso, Texas, to Norwood, Colorado, to deliver furniture when the truck got stuck in the snow Monday morning, said San Miguel County Sheriff’s officials.

A concerned relative called the authorities Monday night, launching a multi-county search, officials said.

Just before 9 a.m. Tuesday, San Miguel County Undersheriff Eric Berg spotted the truck from the air, authorities said.

A few minutes later the family was seen a couple of miles away from the truck, walking on a forest service road, authorities said.

The husband told the responders that the family had been relying on electronic GPS for the fastest route when the truck got stuck, authorities said.

When they couldn’t dig the truck out, they ran the engine overnight for heat, officials said.

Then early on the morning of Christmas Eve, the family wrapped their shoes with shipping plastic and started to walk to safety through the deep snow, officials said.

No one was seriously hurt, authorities said.

“The family is lucky to have had moderate temperatures and our ability to use aircraft to locate them,” San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters said in a statement Tuesday. “But people need to remember that electronic GPS systems are not always the best guide. At this time of year especially, roads like these are not always passable.”

Masters also urged people to keep extra food, water and warm clothing in their cars for emergencies.


Credits to ABC News

A mountain lion was killed as it approached feeder, Texas hunter says. Yes, it’s legal


Freer Mountain Lion 2

A hunter in Texas shot and killed a mountain lion on a ranch as it approached a feeder, media outlets report.

The 143-pound cougar was killed Saturday by a lease hunter on the ranch in Freer, Texas, a town about 120 miles south of San Antonio, KIII reported. The hunter stopped to show off the kill at Muy Grande, a convenience store and sporting goods resource that hosts a well-known deer hunting competition.

Muy Grande shared a picture of the mountain lion with business owner Kenneth Sharber on Facebook.


“This little kitty was taken outside of Freer (on Saturday),” according to the Facebook post. “A lease hunter popped him headed toward (a) feeder,” the post read.

It’s been 15 years since someone has brought in a mountain lion like that,” Sharber told KRIS.

Mountain lions are considered a “non-game species” in Texas, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife. That means a hunting license is required to kill the animal, but there aren’t closed seasons or possession limits.

The elusive animal seems to be growing its territory in Texas, state wildlife officials say.

“Sighting and kill reports indicate that Mountain Lions now occur in more counties than they did 10 years ago and appear to be expanding their range into central Texas,” according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

Last year, a hunter killed a 200-pound mountain lion in Palo Pinto County, just about 65 miles west of Fort Worth, the Forth Worth Star-Telegram reported.


Credits to Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Two Giuliani Associates Arrested for Campaign Finance Violations

 In this Aug. 1, 2018 file photo, Rudy Giuliani, attorney for President Donald Trump, addresses a gathering during a campaign event.

The men were reportedly linked to Giuliani’s efforts to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, and Giuliani confirmed in May that they were his clients.(AP PHOTO/CHARLES KRUPA, FILE )

TWO MEN ASSOCIATED WITH Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, were arrested on campaign finance violations on Wednesday.

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, soviet-born donors to pro-Trump fundraising efforts, were arrested on criminal charges for violating campaign finance laws, a spokesman for the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office said.

People familiar with the situation told The Wall Street Journal that the men were linked to Giuliani’s efforts to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden. Giuliani had confirmed in May that Parnas and Fruman were his clients, and according to the Journal, both men had dinner with the president and met with Donald Trump Jr. in May 2018.

The two bussinessmen have donated to Republican campaigns, including Trump’s, and gave $325,000 to a pro-Trump PAC the same month they met Trump for dinner, the Journal reported.

They donated the money through an LLC, prompting the Campaign Legal Center, a transparency advocacy group, to file a complaint with the FEC, urging the commission to investigate the men for potentially violating campaign finance laws.

They are expected to appear in federal court in Virginia later Thursday.

Credit to US News

Migrants Wanting to Request Asylum Camp on Bridge to Texas

BY ALFREDO PENA, Associated Press

CIUDAD VICTORIA, Mexico (AP) — Migrants wanting to request asylum camped out Thursday on an international bridge leading from Mexico into Brownsville, Texas, causing a closure of the span.

Hundreds of migrants from Central America and elsewhere stretched out on the bridge before dawn, with some laying down on mats or their coats. The crowd including children and babies.

An employee at the Gateway International Bridge that connects downtown Matamoros, Mexico with Brownsville confirmed that the bridge remained closed as of about 10:00 a.m. local time Thursday.

A Mexican official who was not authorized to be named confirmed the blockage of the bridge.

The official said the migrants were tired of waiting to make their initial claims for asylum at a U.S. border crossing.

Under a policy know as metering, U.S. officials at many border bridges accept only a few asylum-seekers per day. The Associated Press found about 19,000 names on waiting lists in four border cities visited in late July.

Frustration with U.S. policies aimed at limiting asylum requests has sparked mass attempts to cross border entries before. However, Thursday’s camp-out on the Mexican side of the Matamoros bridge appeared to be more of a protest than an attempt to cross.

Nevertheless, U.S. officials closed gates on the U.S. side, apparently as a precautionary measure.

Cameron County, which operates the Gateway bridge, said it is “primarily used for local traffic, maquiladora employees, tourists and pedestrian traffic.”

It said the bridge handles about 80% of the Brownsville-Matamoros pedestrian traffic.

The blockage caused long lines to form at the other international bridges leading out of Matamoros.


Credit to Associated Press

Turkey’s military assault in Syria leaves more than 100 Kurdish fighters dead, Erdogan says

Turkey’s ongoing military assault in Syria has left more than 100 Kurdish forces dead, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claimed Thursday morning, a day after his troops launched airstrikes and unleashed artillery shelling on Syrian towns and villages along its border.

Information about the rising death toll came as Turkey’s state-run news agency said Turkey-allied Syrian opposition fighters have “cleared of terror” two villages across the border in Syria — meaning there are no more Syrian Kurdish fighters in those villages. Turkey has long threatened to attack the Kurdish fighters whom Ankara considers terrorists allied with a Kurdish insurgency in Turkey.

Erdogan told party officials Thursday that 109 “terrorists” have been killed so far in Operation Peace Spring — a reference to the U.S.-allied Syrian Kurdish fighters. He did not elaborate, and the reports on the ground, according to the Associated Press, did not indicate anything remotely close to such a large number of casualties.

North of the border in Turkey, officials say a 9-month-old baby and a Turkish civil servant were killed Thursday and 46 others were wounded after mortars were fired from Kurdish outposts in Syria.

The Turkish leader is also warning the European Union Thursday not to call Ankara’s incursion into Syria an “invasion,” and renewed his threat of “opening the gates” and letting Syrian refugees flood Europe.

Syrians flee shelling by Turkish forces in Ras al-Ayn, northeast Syria on Wednesday.

Syrians flee shelling by Turkish forces in Ras al-Ayn, northeast Syria on Wednesday. (AP)

Meanwhile, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Turkish commandos entered the village of Beir Asheq, near the town of Tal Abyad on Thursday morning.

Turkish forces began a ground offensive against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria on Wednesday under the cover of airstrikes and artillery shelling. The Turkish Defense Ministry said its jets and artillery struck 181 targets east of the Euphrates River since the incursion started — a mission aimed at creating a “safe zone” that would push Kurdish militia away from its border and eventually allow the repatriation of up to 2 million Syrian refugees.

The Kurds, who have been America’s only allies in Syria in the fight against ISIS, stopped all their operations Thursday against the militants in order to focus on the advancing Turkish troops, Kurdish and U.S. officials said.

“The United States does not endorse this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea,” Trump said in a statement released by the White House. “Turkey has committed to protecting civilians, protecting religious minorities, including Christians, and ensuring no humanitarian crisis takes place—and we will hold them to this commitment.”

Trump later told reporters that he would employ “far more than sanctions” against Turkey if the country fails to act in the most “humane way” possible and that he hoped Erdogan would act rationally.

When asked what would happen if Erdogan wiped out the Kurds, Trump threatened to “wipe out” Turkey’s economy, saying he’d done it once before.

Turkish soldiers stand at the border with Syria in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, on Thursday.

Turkish soldiers stand at the border with Syria in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, on Thursday. (AP)

But Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C, warned Wednesday that if Trump follows through on his proposed troop withdrawal from Syria, it would be one of the biggest follies of his presidency and cause ISIS to reemerge in the region.

“I hope President Trump’s right,” Graham told ‘Fox & Friends’ on Wednesday. “I hope we can turn the fight against ISIS over to Turkey. I hope that Turkey, when they go into Syria, they won’t slaughter the Kurds… If [Trump] follows through with this, it’d be the biggest mistake of his presidency.”

A member of U.S. Special Forces serving alongside the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in Syria also told Fox News Wednesday they are witnessing Turkish atrocities on the frontlines.

“I am ashamed for the first time in my career,” said the distraught soldier, who has been involved in the training of indigenous forces on multiple continents.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to his ruling party officials, in Ankara, Turkey, on Thursday. (AP/Turkish Presidency Press Service)

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to his ruling party officials, in Ankara, Turkey, on Thursday. (AP/Turkish Presidency Press Service)

The hardened service member is among the 1,000 or so U.S. troops who remain in Syria.

“Turkey is not doing what it agreed to. It’s horrible,” the military source on the ground said. “We met every single security agreement. The Kurds met every single agreement [with the Turks]. There was no threat to the Turks — none — from this side of the border.”

Troops on the ground in Syria and their commanders were “surprised” by Trump’s withdrawal decision Sunday night.

Of the president’s decision, the source said: “He doesn’t understand the problem. He doesn’t understand the repercussions of this. Erdogan is an Islamist, not a level-headed actor.”

Credit to Fox News

Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands to Feel Impact of Tropical Storm Karen

A street is flooded during the passing of Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017 in Fajardo, Puerto Rico.

The weather service forecast that Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands could see 2 to 4 inches of rain with up to 6 inches in some areas.(JOSE JIMENEZ/GETTY IMAGES)

THE NATIONAL WEATHER Service has issued a tropical storm warning for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which are expected to be hit with rain and winds on Tuesday.

Tropical Storm Karen formed early Sunday with winds of 40 mph, also prompting a storm watch for the British Virgin Islands, according to the weather service.

Karen is currently 245 miles south of St. Croix with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph and stronger winds possible during the next 48 hours. The storm is moving northwest at 8 mph. It is expected to move across the eastern Caribbean Sea through Monday, passing “near or over” Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands on Tuesday.

The weather service forecast that Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands could see 2 to 4 inches of rain with up to 6 inches in some areas beginning Tuesday morning and lasting through Wednesday night. A flash flood watch has been issued for the islands. The weather service also warns of mudslides from excessive rain.

Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced tweeted that she is in “constant communication” with the NWS and will “make the appropriate decisions” pending the storm’s trajectory.

Hurricane Hector Heads Toward Hawaii As Category 4 Storm

Credit to U.S News

Texas teen football player collapses, dies in twin brother’s arms, family says

Image: Dashaud Williams and his mother, Razel Sheppard, mourn the death of his twin brother, Deshaud, at a memorial in Lewisville, Texas.

Dashaud Williams and his mother, Razel Sheppard, mourn the death of his twin brother, Deshaud, at a memorial in Lewisville, Texas.KXAS

 A Texas high school football player collapsed and died in his twin brother’s arms while playing tag Friday night, his family said.



Credit to NBC News

British travel firm Thomas Cook collapses, strands 150,000 vacationers

ICE arrests thrice-deported Mexican man wanted for homicide

A thrice-deported Mexican man wanted for homicide in Anaheim, Calif., was arrested last week in Houston, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced on Monday.

Deportation officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested a three-time deported Mexican man wanted for homicide in California. (Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

Deportation officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested a three-time deported Mexican man wanted for homicide in California. (Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

Leopoldo Serrano Vargas was arrested Sept. 11 for illegally reentering the United States after having been deported, officials said. He also goes by the names Leonel Serrano Vargas and Ricardo Hernandez, and is thought to be between 44 and 46 years old.

He is wanted on an outstanding warrant for allegedly murdering Luis Garcia Bucio in October 2000, ICE said.

He entered the country illegally a fourth time in 2006 and has remained here since then, officials said.

“For almost two decades, this criminal alien fugitive has gone to tremendous lengths to avoid detection by law enforcement authorities for his alleged crimes in California,” said Patrick Contreras, field office director for ICE Houston.

“Our ICE Fugitive Operations team tracked down and arrested Serrano Vargas, removing a potentially dangerous criminal alien from our community and ensuring that he will face prosecution for his alleged crimes,” he stated.

Serrano Vargas will remain in ICE custody in Texas before facing criminal charges in California.


Credit to FOX News

Jerry has become a hurricane, the National Hurricane Center says

The storm is the 10th named storm of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season, and follows Hurricane Humberto and Tropical Storm Imelda, the remnants of which are causing flooding in southeastern Texas on Thursday.
Hurricane Jerry had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph — just barely Category 1 level — as of 11 a.m. Thursday. At that time, the storm was about 490 miles east of the Leeward Islands and headed west-northwest at 16 mph, the hurricane center said.
The storm was expected to pass just north of the Leeward Islands on Friday, though tropical storm-force winds and heavy rainfall were possible. The storm would then pass north of Puerto Rico on Saturday and the southeastern Bahamas on Sunday, the hurricane center said.
Tropical storm watches were in effect for Barbuda, Anguilla, St. Maarten, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy, Saba and St. Eustatius, the center said in its advisory. Jerry was forecast to strengthen later Thursday before starting to weaken this weekend.
Credits to CNN News

Canada’s Justin Trudeau can’t say how often he wore blackface

Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau admits he cannot remember how often he wore blackface, as the row deepens ahead of an election in October.

He was speaking on the day that more images of him wearing black make-up when he was younger emerged.

“I am wary of being definitive about this because the recent pictures that came out, I had not remembered,” he told reporters in Winnipeg.

The revelations have rattled his campaign in a tight re-election race.

A new video came to light on Thursday in which he is seen in a white T-shirt and torn jeans, his face and limbs covered in black make-up.

In the footage, shot in the 1990s, he is seen laughing, throwing his hands in the air, sticking his tongue out and pulling faces.

Justin Trudeau in black- and brownface make-up.Image copyrightGLOBE AND MAIL, GLOBAL NEWS, TIME MAGAZINE
Image captionThree instances of Mr Trudeau wearing black or brown make-up have emerged

What is in the video?

The footage, first obtained by Global News, shows Mr Trudeau in a white T-shirt and torn jeans. According to his Liberal Party, it was shot in the 1990s.

His face and limbs appear to be covered in black make-up. He is seen laughing, throwing his hands in the air, sticking his tongue out and pulling faces.

 Mr Trudeau would have been in his late teens or early 20s.

Blackface, which was more prevalent in the past, particularly in the entertainment industry, involves white people painting their faces darker – and is widely condemned as a racist caricature.

What about the other episodes?

On Wednesday, the embattled PM apologised for wearing brownface make-up at a gala at a private Vancouver school where he taught nearly two decades ago.

The 2001 yearbook picture obtained by Time Magazine shows Mr Trudeau, then aged 29, with skin-darkening make-up on his face and hands at the West Point Grey Academy.

Mr Trudeau dressed up in the photo in an Aladdin costume.

Justin Trudeau 'in 2001 brownface yearbook photo'

The second image to emerge on Wednesday shows Mr Trudeau performing in a talent show as a student at high school.

How did Trudeau respond?

The images are so embarrassing for the prime minister because he has positioned himself as a champion of social justice, inclusivity and diversity.

When the cabinet was sworn in in 2015, it was hailed as diverse – half the appointments were women; three were Sikhs and two members were from indigenous communities.

Speaking in Winnepeg, he said: “Darkening your face regardless of the context or the circumstances is always unacceptable because of the racist history of blackface.

“I should have understood that then and I never should have done it.”

What reaction has there been?

Referring to the brownface episode, Andrew Scheer, leader of the opposition Conservatives, said the picture was racist in 2001 and was racist now.

“What Canadians saw this evening is someone with a total lack of judgement and integrity and someone who is not fit to govern this country,” he said.

New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh, a Sikh, said the image was “troubling” and “insulting”.


Credit to BBC News

Firefighters are struggling to contain the blaze in Ventura, which destroyed 150 structures and left 260,000 people without power.

Article credited to Fox News:


Wildfire Near L.A. Forces 27,000 to Flee

Firefighters are struggling to contain the blaze in Ventura, which destroyed 150 structures and left 260,000 people without power.

By Alexa Lardieri, Staff Writer |Dec. 5, 2017, at 10:43 a.m.

Wildfire Near L.A. Forces 27,000 to Flee

Wildfires in Northern California’s wine country in October destroyed more than 10,000 structures. (Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

A fast-moving, wind-blown wildfire swept through more than 30,000 acres in Ventura County, just north of Los Angeles, Tuesday, forcing 27,000 people to evacuate during the early morning hours.

The fire also consumed at least 150 structures — including a large apartment building, which collapsed around 4 a.m., the Los Angeles Times reported.

The wildfire made its way about a quarter-mile from Ventura City Hall and is advancing toward Ojai Valley. Officials predict it will burn at least 50,000 acres in the mountains between Santa Paula and Ventura.

[READ: Guarding Against the Dangers of Wildfire Smoke]

Wind gusts of up to 50 mph made it difficult for the hundreds of firefighters who worked through the night to keep the fast-moving flames from spreading. Fire officials said the strong winds paired with the intensity of the fire made it virtually unstoppable, according to the Times.

The Ventura city and county officials and authorities in Santa Paula have all declared a local emergency. There are 500 firefighters on scene with reinforcements on the way, along with scores of officers from local police departments and the California Highway Patrol coordinating evacuations and road closures, Ventura County reported. Water-dropping helicopters and aircraft are also being utilized.



Chief Lorenzen and Sheriff Dean updating the Media on the most up-to-date information on the #ThomasFire moving into the Ventura area.

3:11 AM – Dec 5, 2017 · Oxnard, CA


“The prospects of containment are not good. Really, Mother Nature is going to decide if we have the ability to put it out,” said Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen.

One person was killed in a traffic incident on a road closed due to the fire Monday night, Ventura County officials said. However, as of Tuesday morning, no other deaths had been reported.

More than 260,000 customers in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties were without power, according to the Times.

The Thomas Fire, as it’s called, comes after what was already the worst year in California‘s history for wildfires. In October, more than 40 people died and more than 10,000 structures were destroyed when fires burned through Northern California’s wine country.


Fired FBI official at center of Flynn, Clinton, dossier controversies revealed

Article credited to Fox News:


2 hours ago

Fired FBI official at center of Flynn, Clinton, dossier controversies revealed

Peter Strzok (in an undated photo)

By Nicole Darrah, Pamela K. Browne | Fox News


Peter Strzok (in an undated photo)

Now there’s a face to go with the name of the biased FBI operative at the center of multiple probes and controversies dogging the Trump administration.

[Read More]


Article credited to Texas Monthly:


Scotus Says

The U.S. Supreme Court allowed President Donald Trump’s revised order to go into effect on Monday, banning residents from eight countries, including six which are majority Muslim, from traveling to the United States. The decision has major implications in Texas, which has the largest Muslim population in the U.S. and is a national leader in refugee resettlement. Rulings by lower courts had restricted Trump’s order, exempting travelers who had grandparents, aunts, uncles, or other “bona fide” relations or connections to institutions in the United States, but in an unsigned opinion Monday, the justices lifted the injunctions, which had been issued by federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland, according to the Washington Post. The justices did not disclose the court’s reasoning in the opinion. People from predominantly Muslim nations Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Chad, and Somalia, as well as North Korea and Venezuela, are now mostly barred from entering the United States. Federal appellate courts could rule soon on the decisions made by the federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland, so the legal battle isn’t over yet, but until then, at least, it appears the travel ban will be in full effect. When the ban first went into effect in January, there was chaos at airports across Texas, where attorneys, protesters, and family members gathered to try to secure the release of people who were detained, including children and the elderly. The ban also tore apart Texas families, stranding spouses and parents overseas while their loved ones were in America. And it could also impact Texas’s oil and medical industries, which are particularly dependent on global fluidity and draw workforce talent from across the world.

[Read More]

The Latest: More than 400 US Marines to leave Syria

Article credited to Fox News:


The Latest: More than 400 US Marines to leave Syria

Associated Press

BEIRUT –  The Latest on developments in the war in Syria (all times local):

5 p.m.

The U.S. military operation in Syria and Iraq says it is sending home more the 400 Marines and their artillery from Syria, after they accomplished their mission against the Islamic State group.

[Read More]

NBC: Matt Lauer sexual harassment accusers could be ‘as many as 8’ women

Article credited to Fox News:


1 hour ago

NBC: Matt Lauer sexual harassment accusers could be ‘as many as 8’ women

By Leora Arnowitz | Fox News


Matt Lauer breaks silence on sexual assault allegations

The number of women alleging Matt Lauer was sexually inappropriate has grown to “as many as eight” as NBC denies the network’s execs knew about Lauer’s alleged behavior until a meeting earlier this week.

NBC’s Stephanie Gosk revealed to Megyn Kelly during the 9 a.m. hour of “Today” that there could be up to eight women who have accused Lauer as of Thursday morning.

[Read More]