Headlines / Quote of the Week

Jacob Flickinger (right) was a US-Canadian dual citizen slain in Gaza
Jacob Flickinger (right) was a US-Canadian dual citizen slain in Gaza (screenshot via GoFundMe)

Missile Strikes Kill American Aid Worker in Gaza: This week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called an attack in a deconflicted zone in Gaza that killed seven aid workers, including a Canadian-American, “unintentional.” But reports from CNN, The Washington Post, and more Tuesday pointed to evidence that Israel struck the charity’s vehicles multiple times with precision drone strikes. A White House spokesperson said Tuesday “there is no evidence” the attack was deliberate, that the Biden administration would not place conditions on military aid to Israel, and that the administration has “urged the Israelis to be more precise.”

Evan Gershkovich enclosed in Russian court in 2023
Evan Gershkovich enclosed in Russian court in 2023 (screenshot via YouTube / WSJ)

Bad Year for Press Freedom: Speaking of impunity, American journalist Evan Gershkovich woke up to his second year in a Russian prison last week. The U.S. government officially designated him as “wrongfully detained” within two weeks of his arrest, and President Joe Biden said in a new statement that he will “never give up hope” for the reporter’s release. As dozens of journalists have also been killed in Gaza with no consequences since the conflict began, Vox dubbed 2024 “a very bad year for press freedom.” Vox wrote that while wartime reporting has never been safe, “until a decade ago or so, there was at least a sense that journalists had a recognized role in reporting from even the world’s worst conflicts – and that role afforded them some protection.”

Tesla vs. H-E-B Showdown: Tesla is the largest tech employer in the Austin area, but after rapid growth it could become the largest local private-sector employer overall. At 22,777 employees at the Gigafactory, it’s only a couple hundred jobs away from beating H-E-B out. H-E-B also projects growth, though, and could employ around 60,000 people in the near future, the Austin Business Journal reported.

A Tesla Cybertruck
A Tesla Cybertruck (photo by u/Kruzat / CC By-SA 4.0)

UT Lays Off DEI Staff: At least 60 people in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion-related positions lost their jobs at UT-Austin this week as a direct result of the university’s implementation of Senate Bill 17, which bans DEI initiatives in institutions of higher education. This followed a March 26 letter from state Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, to chancellors and regents at various universities, which threatened frozen funding for universities that are “merely renaming DEI offices or positions.” Read more online.

Microchip Capital: UT-Austin, Austin Community College, and Texas Institute for Electronics are partnering to develop a joint Semiconductor Training Center. The new center will coordinate instruction in every “skill set on the semiconductor workforce continuum,” the group said, and let students receive hands-on technical training as well as theory. About 115,000 new semiconductor jobs are expected to be added in the U.S. by 2030, UT’s press release said.

Headlines / Quote of the Week
image via Getty Images

Free School: Monday, Austin Community College’s Board of Trustees approved a five-year pilot program that will offer free tuition and fees for students who graduate from high school this year and enroll at ACC in the fall. A steal!

School Bus Crash Involved Cocaine: The driver of a cement truck that crossed the median and plowed into a San Marcos school bus on March 22 had tested positive on drug tests three times in recent years, according to documents obtained by KVUE. The impact of the crash caused the bus carrying dozens of preschool kids to roll over, killing a Tom Green Elementary student and a driver in a vehicle behind the bus and injuring 51 others. On March 29, 42-year-old Jerry Hernandez was arrested and charged with criminally negligent homicide after allegedly admitting that he had used cocaine and slept only three hours the night before the crash.

Headlines / Quote of the Week
image via Getty Images

Woman Sues Over Abortion Murder Case: A Texas woman arrested for a self-induced abortion in 2022 is suing Starr County District Attorney Gocha Allen Ramirez and Assistant District Attorney Alexandria Lynn Barrera for more than $1 million, alleging that the “humiliation of a highly publicized indictment and arrest” has “permanently affected her standing in the community,” The Texas Tribune reported. A subsequent State Bar of Texas investigation found that the Starr County D.A. “sought to pursue criminal homicide charges against an individual for acts clearly not criminal.” Ramirez paid a $1,250 fine and his license has been suspended for one year.

Damn Scooters: Austin has implemented a raft of new restrictions on the use of electric scooters. Effective April 1, the total number of scooters allowed in the city will be reduced from 9,000 to 7,000. The Downtown number will be halved, from 4,000 to 2,000. And the maximum speed limit for scooters will decrease from 15 to 10 miles per hour. In the future, the city will allow exceptions to the restrictions during SXSW and other large events.

A gray cat like Hans receives fluids like Hans received after his big adventure
A gray cat like Hans receives fluids like Hans received after his big adventure (image via Getty Images)

We Knew It All Along: For the past three years, the social media commentator known as Evil MoPac has encouraged his followers to complete a March Madness-style bracket naming Austin’s worst drivers. This year, Evil MoPac is asking them to identify which neighborhoods they come from. Since March 21, followers on X have been voting to narrow down the worst of the worst. As of publication, Westlake and Lakeway were battling it out for the title.

Pandemic, the Sequel?: Last week we told you about the first case of bird flu in a Texas cow. The first human case of bird flu in Texas was reported on April 1, according to a statewide health alert. The person who became ill had been in contact with cows. Symptoms of bird flu are similar to flus you’ve had, but Vox reports that of the 800 people who have tested positive in the U.S. over the last 20 years, half died. Health care providers who encounter people who may have the virus should immediately consult their local health department, according to the alert.

Texas Paying Extremists to Bus Migrants: The Southern Poverty Law Center reported this week that a contractor for Texas’ anti-immigrant program Operation Lone Star appears to have paid an extremist group to bus migrants in inhumane conditions. Texas has spent many millions busing migrants in recent years and, according to a review by SPLC of government contracts obtained through an open records request, Wynne Transportation paid the anti-government organization Mayhem Solutions over $20 million for busing services. The SPLC describes Mayhem as “a border-focused antigovernment extremist organization [which] illegally promotes its private security and investigation services.”

Messy Gannett News: Gannett – the Statesman’s corporate overlord – made headlines last week when CEO Mike Reed said the union “plays dirty.” The Austin Business Journal reported this week that Reed was awarded a 14% raise last year while the median pay for employees dropped by 3.4%. Overall, his pay was 76 times that of the company’s median employee salary.

East Austin Cat to Reunite with Owners: Now for some real news – an East Austin couple is expecting the return of their cat, Hans, who disappeared for two months and was assumed dead. According to reporting by KXAN, Doug and Monet Bennett roamed their neighborhood after Hans disappeared in late January, calling for him and putting up posters. When Hans wasn’t found, the Bennetts were devastated. Then, on March 27, an animal control officer found Hans in an abandoned house, where he had dropped from 17 pounds to 7. Hans is being nursed back to health and his owners expect to have him home in the coming days.

Headlines / Quote of the Week
photo by Avi Ohayon / Government Press Office of Israel

Quote of the Week

“It happens in war.”

– Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledging that the Israeli military killed aid workers

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