Miami-Dade demonstrators rally in opposition to Texas-style abortion invoice

An abortion ban went into effect in Texas last month, leaving people in the state with no choice to terminate pregnancies after six weeks. Now a similar bill has been tabled before the next Florida legislature.

the Florida Heartbeat Act, officially known as House Bill 167, would prevent doctors from performing abortions once a heartbeat is detected. After six weeks, many people don’t know they are pregnant.

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In response, people of all ages gathered in Colonial Drive Park last weekend to stand up for reproductive rights. Signs such as “Ruth Sent Me” and “Bans Off My Body” adorned the field as around 250 demonstrators listened to various speeches. Many of the speakers stressed the importance of calling their Florida lawmakers and telling them to vote no to the proposed law.

“We have the right to autonomy over our bodies,” said Kelli Ann Thomas, one of the organizers of the rally. “Regardless of whether you believe in abortion or not, you as a woman should be able to make that decision yourself and this right should not be violated by the government.”

Thomas works with Florida Rising, a political organization focused on empowering black and brown communities. She said the ban particularly affects women of color, who are often overlooked by the government and health system.

“The government should be there for the people, listen to the people and protect the people,” said Thomas. “If you are someone who wants to save lives, don’t racist measures after this child is born.”

Ali Crane is a family nurse in an OBGYN office. She hopes Florida doesn’t follow Texas in imposing such a “strict” and “scary” ban. She said the bill would have a profound impact on her professional life.

“I think it is very important that my patients and their families can make the right decisions about their bodies and their lives and their financial situation, their emotional situation,” said Crane. “Who says what is the right and wrong choice for anyone but the person himself?”

Crane attended the march with her 12-year-old daughter. She believes it is important to empower her and her choices.

“She’s coming at the age when her sexual reproductive rights might just be at stake,” added Crane. “I think it is important that you and your friends understand that as a woman you have the right to do what you want with your body.”

Crane’s daughter was one of many young girls who attended. From toddlers to college students, Generation Z members stood alongside seasoned protesters.

Camila Ustarez, a 21-year-old student at Florida International University, said it was daunting still having to defend reproductive rights.

“We thought we made it through, but we clearly are not,” she said. “We see older women here with signs saying, ‘Do we still have to protest against this?’ We feel like we’re changing women’s rights, but then that happens. “

Natalia Clement

“I’m sick of wearing this sign! Pro Roe since 1973.”

She says the proposed ban is frightening for young women who should have access to healthy and safe abortions. The large youth participation in the protests surprised Ustarez – especially all young girls. She stressed the importance of girls learning to stand up for their freedom of choice.

Nathalie Schwart, a freshman at Coral Gables Senior High School, came to the march to hear her voice.

“For future generations, I believe that everything that happens well now has an impact on the future,” said Schwart. “We grow up knowing that we are not equal. That just kills a lot of people. “

Schwart said although she had sex education in school, the issue of abortion was never discussed. Florida allows school districts to determine how sex education is implemented. The districts can choose between a pure abstinence, a plus abstinence or a comprehensive approach. Now that she’s in high school, Schwart hopes she and her peers can get more information.

“I think it should be talked about more – when things are talked about, change happens,” said Schwart. “I don’t know if a lot of the guys in my class know about it, so hopefully people can be better educated in the future.”

She was happy to see so many attendees, including members of her temple. Rachel Greengrass is the rabbi of Temple Beth Am in Pinecrest. She said health care is very important in Judaism. Although attitudes towards abortion vary from rabbi to rabbi, Greengrass says that Judaism defines life from the first breath.

“What I find difficult is when people use religion as an excuse to dictate that a woman’s physical and mental health are not as important as life’s potential,” said Greengrass.

She said forcing people to have children is contrary to what she considers sacred and right. Rather than depriving them of choice, Greengrass believes the government should focus on providing support and social safety nets to women and families in difficulty.

“If you are truly a religious person and value life, then you need to take care of the people who are currently living and breathing,” she said. “Many people focus so much on having a fetus in utero when we should really focus on children when they are born and when they are adults.”

Young boys who accompanied their mother and sister during the march sang

Young boys who accompanied their mother and sister during the march sang “their body, their choice”.

Not only women protested for reproductive rights. Husbands and sons showed solidarity for the people in their lives who would be affected by abortion bans. Throughout the march, when women sang “my body”, they sang “their choice”.

Kelly Rock Gomes, 36, said when it comes to reproductive rights, men should support the government representation that women want. He attended the march with his wife.

“Every time we let our foot off the gas, things like Texas law come into play,” said Gomes. “We have to show up and keep this in mind for the community.”

Gomes encourages people to be proactive and get involved in community events. He said it is easy to post on social media or have an opinion, but it is work that will make change.

“If women did to men what men do to women, they’d probably have a problem with it, too,” said Gomes. “But it seems like something they ignore unless we come out and give our opinion so they can vote as they need to vote.”

During this term, the US Supreme Court will review the constitutionality of a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks. Proponents of reproductive rights fear that the judges may set the Roe v. Calf could tip over.

Are we proof against Texas-style xenophobia? | Herald Neighborhood Newspapers

Deep in the heart of Texas there is a trifecta of problems: Governor Greg Abbott, the Texas Legislature, and the Texas Board of Education. Last week they teamed up to launch a series of conservative initiatives that could soon result in a community near you. My concern is that these initiatives are seeded with a mark of xenophobia and racism that is spreading across the country.

This is a cautionary story because what happens in Texas doesn’t stay in Texas. I wrote about this over a decade ago, when the state used its enormous purchasing power (it has about five million school children) to influence how the nation’s history books would be written. At the time, the Texas School Board did not consult historians, sociologists, or economists before creating more than 100 additions to the social studies curriculum.

It unilaterally decided to focus more on the military, Christian values, modern Republican incumbents, and American corporations (with the word “capitalism” banned). In particular, the contributions by George Wallace, Lester Maddox and Phyllis Schlafly were highlighted. Texas could do this because it bought more social studies books than any other state, and the editors of those books were willing to consider alternative facts.

In January, the New York Times analyzed the most widely used textbooks in Texas and California, the most populous state. Dana Goldstein reported that while books on social sciences generally deal with the same story, the content “diverges in a way that reflects the deepest partisan divisions in the nation.” She said there are hundreds of differences between the Texas version of the textbooks and the California version, some subtle, others “extensive.” That’s crazy.

Last week, Texas lawmakers passed the most restrictive anti-electoral law in the country making abortions illegal every time a heartbeat is detected, which could be just six weeks after conception before most women know they are pregnant .

But Texans Will Be Texans: Paxton Smith, 18, surprised an audience of family and friends when she started out at Lake Highlands High School in Dallas when she was passionate about advocating a woman’s right to have an abortion. Her talk went viral after she gave up her “verified” closing speech and said what she really wanted to say.

Last week, Texas also targeted “critical racial theory,” the concept that racism is systemic and not just a collection of individual biases. Critical Racial Theory as I read it challenges educators to show students how racism in America has affected education, law, and entertainment – every facet of our national life, in fact.

The concept has sparked cultural wildfire. People react – don’t think, don’t listen, just get hot words like “reparation” out of the air. Part of the problem is the actual language of the initiative. Critical race theory is not an easily accessible term. But it suggests finding common ground and creating equality of opportunity and acceptance where there was bias. It suggests that it is not enough to correct the historical errors; the injustice must be recognized.

Last week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis called for the state education agency to end this race initiative. “If we have to play Whack-a-Mole all over this state to stop this critical racial theory, we will,” he said.

I see this as an educational moment for those of us who are not fully aware of the toxic effects of racism that manifested itself in our lifetime. I don’t think I fully understand critical racial theory, but I do understand that it will shed light on some dark corners of American history.

America’s history is riddled with racial prejudice. Is anyone seriously asking that if we all moved in together, we would move forward more effectively? Does Texas really think it can suppress its non-white majority in the upcoming election?

Activism starts with the school board. Whether or not Texas-style conservatism is leading our way, whether or not our local districts incorporate critical racial theory into their curriculum, service in a school board keeps us updated and provides a platform for our views.

South Africa faced apartheid. Germany recognized the Holocaust. We Americans have a tragic history of racism that began with slavery and never ended. We cannot be afraid to look at our own past.

I recently came across a photo from the 1940s of a young boy, 8 or 9 years old, drinking from a “colored” fountain in North Carolina. This is the definition of systemic racism and evidence that racial prejudice and the American legal system are intertwined during our ongoing struggle for equality in the United States.

Copyright 2021 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at

Can Texas-Type, Reasonably priced Growth Work Nationwide?

Texas has built a reputation as an urbanizing state that has grown rapidly but has maintained home affordability. From Houston’s lack of zoning to rampant downtown construction in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area, lighter land use regulation across the country has resulted in increased supply and price pressures.

The best example of this is the municipal utility district (MUD). This is a funding agency that helps developers form independent governments that can issue bonds and tax residents to fund the infrastructure – in short, that a new city can build.

In a typical scenario, developers are assembling greenfield land in an unincorporated jurisdiction. You can find private funding to build the infrastructure, set up a board of directors, and build and sell houses. Once the development generates enough revenue, the MUD – regulated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality – will reimburse the developer and purchase the bond debt for a particular infrastructure.

Texas has over 900 MUDs, with a strong focus around Houston. They are generally suburban neighborhoods with cul-de-sacs, large retention lakes, and upscale public amenities. But some – like The Woodlands, a community of 116,000 north of Houston, and perhaps the best-known MUD – contain dense New Urban-style city centers.

I see three advantages of MUDs. First, they offer relatively affordable housing in an often upscale setting. Bridgeland, a 11,400 acre community being built by the listed Howard Hughes Corporation, has new townhouses as of 2019 the top $ 200,000, while The Woodlands, which is several decades older, far cheaper offers listing. The raw housing supply from Houston’s MUDs has put pressure on home prices elsewhere in the metropolitan area.

A second benefit is that MUDs are not as prone to bankruptcy as other developments. A frequent criticism of urban sprawl is that the overburdened infrastructure, which is supported by too few households per hectare, causes maintenance costs that become unmanageable and are socialized to outsiders. MUDs usually avoid this.

Much of the infrastructure that would normally be “public” – roads, parks, drainage, sewers, water – is built in advance by the developers, which means they are the main risk takers. Over time, the costs are distributed, but mostly among those who live in the MUD. Many MUD utilities are funded by usage fees. In many cases, homeowners pay an additional property tax in excess of what they are paying to Counties. Roads are the most common thing MUDs transfer to the district jurisdiction, while the MUD can contract with the district to provide other services like enhanced public safety. Crucial writes broker Julie Teacher, “MUD [tax] Interest rates … generally decrease over time as the MUD’s operating and debt servicing costs are shared by more homeowners. “

Texas MUDs are not unique – many states have alternate government districts that can be used to collect special taxes or develop unincorporated territories. But “the Texas MUD,” says Howard Cohen, an attorney specializing in MUD transactions, “is more or less the gold standard when it comes to these types of districts and how the national bond market views stability.”

MUDs are essentially a small step towards a private city model. This idea has gained traction well beyond Texas. Theorists like NYU economist Paul Romer advocate “charter cities” and the German entrepreneur Titus Gebel pumps “Free Private Cities”. The premise is that smaller administrative units should be able to open up within larger ones and make their own rules. The perceived benefit is that this will lead to competition between governments, driving them to reform and improve services to keep residents. The criticism is that there will be Balkanization, making it more difficult, for example, to plan large public infrastructure projects or uniform school districts.

MUDs are not completely autonomous, so they do not accurately reflect these advantages or criticisms. MUDs still have to follow county and state rules, sometimes joining existing school districts, and eventually having an elected board of directors just like in a conventional city. But they are moving in the privatized direction: the developer can plan the city (counties in Texas have no zoning), set tax rates and otherwise regulate everything at will. This helps MUDs adapt to market forces and population demands in ways that traditional US cities do not.

That’s partly because after the bankruptcy of some MUDs in the 1980s, the state tightened rules on financial accountability so MUDs had to be in a better tax position before developers could transfer infrastructure. Now bankruptcies are rare, and even when they do occur, Costs are included within the MUD. This brings discipline into a community model that offers cheap housing and hyperlocal, relatively autonomous self-government.

May Texas-style blackouts occur in New England? Unlikely, however the disaster is a warning name

Our network also has its weaknesses, thanks in part to its reliance on natural gas. Few people know how close ISO New England has come to implementing rolling power outages – the nonprofit operator prefers to call them “controlled outages” – to protect our stressed network in the winter of 2017-2018. While ISO New England continues to take steps to ensure the juice flows smoothly during the colder months, there are no guarantees.

However, do take into account New England’s relative strengths.

The Texan network is essentially an island that is largely independent of the surrounding states and Mexico in the south. While some power lines cross the borders, they are not suitable for heavy import and export. The New England network is also an island, but one with many bridges to the outside world. Almost 20 percent of our strength in 2019 came from our neighbors: New York, New Brunswick, Quebec. In times of need, ISO New England may reach out to them for help, although they may face similar weather conditions.

Our power plants are simply better prepared for chattering temperatures. Federal agencies warned of catastrophic consequences in Texas when the infrastructure was not properly winterized after a cold snap in 2011. These warnings were largely ignored.

Here the power plants are insulated and heated. Meters and other devices use lubricants that do not freeze. The pipelines that deliver gas to generators are deeper underground here than in Texas, making them less prone to cold weather disruption, said Dan Dolan, executive director of the New England Power Generators Association.

Our water and sewer lines have similar safety precautions that their colleagues in Texas apparently lacked: emergency power generators in sewage treatment plants and pumping stations, and pipes buried below the frost line.

Another key difference is the so-called capacity market. New England power plant owners offer payments in this market so that they can be called three years later in times of peak demand. Texas does not have such a system.

It is an expensive insurance policy for New England Ratepayers and a source of much debate in the energy community. David O’Connor, energy lobbyist for ML Strategies, says: The question has always been whether it is worth the cost. He quotes the old adage: insurance always looks expensive until you need it.

Critics say this system enriches power plant owners without necessarily guaranteeing that the plants can be turned on when they are needed most.

For some experts like Anbaric manager Theodore Paradise, this insurance policy hardly seems worthwhile. Paradise, a former ISO New England attorney whose current firm is a transmission line developer, said the cold weather power plants still in operation could fetch extremely high prices in the Texas wholesale market. This potential windfall should be an incentive for the savvy operator to prepare for the worst.

However, Dolan, the executive director of NEPGA, said the important promise of future payments in the capacity market will facilitate the funding of infrastructure construction in New England, including those that will help ward off winter disruption.

Alicia Barton, managing director of hydropower and solar operator FirstLight Power, is among those concerned that the existing market environment is encouraging too many older fossil fuel systems to stay close. She would prefer rules that eventually push these crops aside in favor of more renewable energy and storage. After all, it is climate change accelerated by fossil fuels trigger extreme weather events like the one in Texas. Better to be part of the solution than part of the problem.

The managing director of ISO New England, Gordon van Welie, knows this well. The ISO warned of insufficient gas pipelines in winter, as heating customers have priority over the power plants. But van Welie said policymakers in New England states are aware of the need to wean the region off of natural gas, and his team is trying to do its part to lead that debate.

It will not be easy. Now the region’s policymakers want to convert cars and heating systems to electricity for similar environmental reasons. New England electricity needs could double in the next 30 years. New generators are planned – especially in offshore wind farms. But will they be enough?

Unlike its Texas counterpart, ISO New England has never resorted to widespread power outages. Nevertheless, there were close calls, for example during a two week cold snap about three years ago. Many natural gas-fired plants were converted to oil fuel at the time, while rarely used “peakers” were put into operation, causing the region to run out of fuel oil.

Over the years, according to Van Welie, ISO New England has incentivized power plants to supply themselves with fuel and improved training and communication protocols to reduce the load on the grid in cold weather. Luck also played a role. But we cannot rely on luck forever.

As with previous massive blackouts, there will be tragedy in Texas. The industry experts will again examine how they can protect their respective network corners from the inevitable wild weather. For the rest of us, the lesson may be this simple: it’s easy to take electricity for granted when you flip the switch, as long as it’s there.

Jon Chesto can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @ Jonchesto.