- Community members in Odessa and Midland, Texas are coming together and speaking out after a shooting Saturday left seven dead and almost two dozen more injured.
- Students at two rival high schools have put their tensions aside to work together on fundraising for victims and their families.
- Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke has also refused to publicly name the gunman in a press conference saying, “I’m not going to give him any notoriety for what he did.”
Community Members Organize Help
Residents in Odessa and Midland, Texas are lending helping hands to one another after a mass shooting on Saturday left seven people dead and over 20 others injured.
On Monday, students from Odessa High School and Permian High School came together to find ways to help the victims of the attack. According to USA Today, nearly 100 students gathered in prayer before discussing ways to plan fundraisers and organizing food donations from local businesses.
The two high schools have a long-running and well-known rivalry. The tensions between the two even inspired the rivalry depicted in the film and television series Friday Night Lights.
“The Odessa-Permian rivalry is something crazy,” one former student told USA Today. “We don’t get along. But everyone’s together.”
Local groups are accepting help from the public in other ways. The City of Odessa is taking food donations to help victims and responders but has reached capacity for perishable items. Non-perishable items can still be donated.
A GoFundMe was set up to help a 17-month-old who was injured in the attack. The page has currently raised over $200,000 to help cover several expenses, including the surgery the child received after a bullet fragment hit her face.
Community Leaders Speak Out
Leaders in the community have also responded to the events. The mayor of Midland, Jerry Morales, spoke at a vigil on Sunday about the unity in the towns.
“We are devastated by this idiot who hurt our communities,” he said, “but we are one, we are strong together. This idiot will not break our faith.”
When speaking at a press conference, Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke made headlines when he announced his choice to not name the gunman while speaking in public.
“You’ll notice that I’m not naming the subject, and there’s a reason for that. I refuse to,” he said. “I’m not going to give him any notoriety for what he did. We’ll provide that information to you, but not on this public space.”
Texas Politicians Speak Out
Other political leaders in Texas have also made statements and pledged action following the shooting. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott advocated for expedited executions in cases of mass shootings.
The article he shared in his tweet referenced a Bloomberg report on legislation drafted by the United States Department of Justice that would speed the process up. Right now, there are no details on any legislation plans in Texas.
On Sunday, Abbott also addressed the gun laws in Texas that took effect one day after the shooting as previously scheduled before the incident. These laws loosen some regulations and allow licensed gun owners to have their weapon in a locked vehicle on school grounds and allow for more armed marshals in schools. They also clarify that licensed gun owners can bring their weapons into places of worship, among other things.
“Some of these laws were enacted to make our communities safer,” he told reporters.
A clip of former representative and current presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke addressing the shooting also went viral. In it, the politician spoke about the incident as reports of the attack first broke.
“We’re not sure how many gunmen, we’re not sure how many people have been shot, don’t know how many people have been killed, the condition of those who have survived,” he said. “Don’t know what the motivation is, do not yet know the firearms that were used or how they acquired them. But we do know this is fucked up.”
O’Rourke also expressed support for a gun buy-back program.
Editor’s Note: At Rogue Rocket, we make it a point to not include the names and pictures of mass murderers or suspected mass murderers who may have been seeking attention or infamy. Therefore, we will not be linking to other sources, as they may contain these details. Instead, we will be linking to donation pages for those impacted by the shootings.
Biden Issues Targeted Eviction Moratorium for Counties With High Community Transmission
While more limited than the previous eviction ban, the new policy applies to all areas with “substantial” and “high” COVID transmission, which currently includes 80% of counties that compose 90% of the population.
New Eviction Ban
Three days after the federal eviction ban expired, the Biden administration issued a new, more limited moratorium that will extend until Oct. 3.
Unlike the last freeze, the latest version announced Tuesday only pertains to areas of the country experiencing what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention labeled “substantial” and “high” cases of COVID-19.
However, the rule still applies to the majority of the country given the new surges driven by the delta variant.
According to the CDC, 80% of counties that make up 90% of the population are currently experiencing substantial or high community transmission.
While not a full ban, many housing still advocates cheered the Biden administration, which has faced immense pressure to help the millions of Americans who risked losing their homes once the previous freeze expired.
“This is a tremendous relief for millions of people who were on the cusp of losing their homes and, with them, their ability to stay safe during the pandemic,” Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said in a statement Tuesday.
Still, others noted that there are outstanding issues with the new policy.
First and foremost, while the moratorium covers most Americans, it does not cover all. According to reports, there are counties in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York that are protected from evictions while neighboring counties are not.
The county-to-county patchwork also adds another layer of confusion for many people who are on the brink of eviction or who have already been evicted.
Tenants and landlords are now scrambling to see if the freeze applies to them, and because of the temporary lapse in protection, evictions resumed in some states and cities, meaning that some people who would now be covered under the ban have already been evicted.
Perhaps the most notable obstacle is the fact that the new moratorium will almost certainly face legal challenges.
The Biden administration previously argued that it did not have the jurisdiction to extend the eviction freeze unilaterally, citing a recent decision from the Supreme Court, which ruled that the CDC could not extend the ban past July and that Congressional action was needed.
Three days before the moratorium was set to expire, Biden asked Congress to pass legislation to extend it before leaving for their August recess. Republicans blocked the effort by unanimous consent, and Democratic leaders, frustrated with the president’s last-minute demand that left them with few options, said they did not have enough support for a formal vote.
Biden, for his part, has acknowledged that any freeze that comes from his administration would face this obstacle.
“Any call for [a] moratorium based on the Supreme Court’s recent decision is likely to face obstacles,” he told reporters Tuesday. “I’ve indicated to the CDC, I’d like them to look at other alternatives [other] than the one that is in existence, which the court has declared they’re not going to allow to continue.”
Any legal proceedings, however, will take time, meaning Congress could act before any disputes are resolved. The extended timeframe would also give state and local governments more leeway to distribute the nearly $47 billion in rental aid approved in the last two stimulus packages.
Only $3 billion of the funding has been distributed due to the numerous delays and hurdles municipalities have faced while struggling to create new systems to dole out the much-needed aid.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (CBS News)
Virtually All Emperor Penguins Doomed for Extinction by 2100, Study Finds
The new study comes as the U.S. The Fish and Wildlife Service moves to submit a proposal Wednesday to add the Emperor penguin to its list of threatened species.
Concerns for Emperor Penguins
Nearly all of the world’s emperor penguin colonies may be pushed to the brink of extinction by 2100, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Global Change Biology.
More specifically, researchers behind the study said 98% of the colonies could be gone in the next 80 years if climate change continues causing sea ice to melt at its current pace. About 70% of colonies could die off by 2050, it added.
That is pretty huge news because Emperor penguins — the world’s largest penguin species —are a vital part of the Antarctic food chain. They prey on krill, squid, and small fish, and provide a source of food for leopard seals and killer whales.
However, the birds are particularly vulnerable to climate change because they depend on sea ice for viral activities like breeding, feeding, and molting, along with resting or seeking refuge from predators.
U.S. Moves To Protect the Species
The new study comes as the U.S. government considers adding the Emperor penguin to its list of threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to build off this new research, along with other data, for its proposal on Wednesday. Once published in the Federal Register, the proposal will be open to a 60-day public comment period.
If the classification is granted, the species would receive protections, including a ban on importations of the birds for commercial purposes.
“These penguins are hard hit by the climate crisis, and the U.S. government is finally recognizing that threat,” Sarah Uhlemann, international program director at the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity, told the Associated Press.
“Climate change, a priority challenge for this Administration, impacts a variety of species throughout the world,” said Martha Williams, principal deputy director of the wildlife service. “The decisions made by policymakers today and during the next few decades will determine the fate of the Emperor penguin.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The Hill) (AP News)
Florida Breaks Its Record for New Daily COVID-19 Cases and Hospitalizations
The Sunshine State now accounts for 20% of all new COVID-19 cases nationwide.
Florida Becomes COVID Epicenter
Florida reported 10,207 COVID-19 hospitalizations on Sunday, marking its largest single-day count to date. The grim record comes just one day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data showing that the state had counted 21,683 new infections Friday, its highest record of daily cases since the start of the pandemic.
Florida has become the new epicenter of the most recent U.S. outbreaks driven by the delta variant. The state now accounts for one out of every five new cases, and the weekend numbers are highly significant because they surpass previous records that were logged before vaccines were readily available.
Notably, Florida’s vaccination rate is actually the exact same as the nationwide average of 49% fully vaccinated, according to The New York Times tracker. In fact, Florida’s rate is the highest among the top 10 states currently reporting the most COVID cases.
While Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has encouraged Florida residents to get vaccinated, he and the state’s legislature have also made it much harder for local officials to enforce protections to mitigate further spread.
DeSantis Bars Masking in Schools
On the same day that the state reported its highest cases ever, DeSantis signed an executive order banning school districts from requiring students to wear a mask when they go back to school later this month.
The move directly contradicts guidance issued by the CDC last week, which recommended that everyone inside K-12 schools wear a face covering.
DeSantis, for his part, has repeatedly claimed the spikes are part of “seasonal” increases driven by more people being indoors and air-conditioning systems circulating the virus. Still, he argued also Friday that he did not think masks were necessary to prevent children from transmitting COVID in the classroom, where they are inside with air conditioning.
At the same time, last week, Florida reported more than 21,000 infections among children younger than 19.
Florida is not the only state that has banned schools from requiring masks. In fact, many of the states suffering the biggest spikes have done the same, including Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas — which all currently rank among the top 10 states with the highest per capita COVID cases.