THE TEXAS WINTER STORM

I’ve been a Texas resident my entire life and what’s happening right now is not normal. Some towns, including where I’m from, experienced snow in January unlike it had it years. Just a little over a month later it happened again. This time, however, thousands of Texans have been left without power for days on end, and now drinking water is becoming a scarcity. My college town just got back regular power after three days of it going in and out, and we’re crossing our fingers it lasts.

So what is causing this insane power outage? It’s not wind turbines. Wind power only makes up approximately 7% of the state’s energy, anyway. According to the New York Times, “The main problem was frigid temperatures that stalled natural gas production, which is responsible for the majority of Texas’ power supply.” The state’s natural gas infrastructure is not prepared for the low temperatures, and their failure can largely be blamed for what is happening. Many conservatives like Governor Greg Abbott are placing the blame on green energy sources without any truth to their statements.

The Texas Tribune specifically states the power outage is a result of two things: the decision to not require equipment upgrades to better withstand extreme winter temperatures, as well as the choice to operate mostly isolated from other grids in the United States. Texas has a privatized power grid, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), to avoid federal regulation. When the state was in a similar power outage in 2011, it received aid from Mexico by importing power from the country. Now, millions in north Mexico are without power from the Texas storm freezing natural gas pipelines.

Of the half a million Texas homes without power, many citizens are having to relocate to warming centers and to the homes of friends and family. An example of a Texan who traveled to find warmth is Senator Ted Cruz, who’s vacationing in Cancun, Mexico. You may assume he left before the chaos ensued, but you’d be wrong. It’s comparable to when Austin mayor Steve Adler traveled to Cabo after telling Austinites to stay home to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

The effects of the ongoing power outage is staggering. Texas’s infrastructure is not built to deal with climate change and they need to invest in renewable energy for a plethora of reasons. 90% of the plants that failed have been oil, gas, and coal plants. There have been 34 deaths, 20 of them being from Texas. ERCOT officials say Texas was minutes away from “catastrophic monthslong blackouts.”

In conclusion, Texas needs help and there are ways we can do so.

Donate to a Mutual Aid Fund: Houston, Dallas, Austin

If you’re a Texas resident, the Austin-American Statesman has a guide on how to conserve power here.

If you need to find a warming center, call 512-305-4233.

DOMESTIC TERRORISM ON THE CAPITOL

Yesterday, January 6, 2020, our nation experienced the most damaging attack on the nation’s Capitol since the British burned it down during the War of 1812. The story goes like this: President Trump called on his supporters to rally at the Capitol in Washington DC as Congress was confirming president-elect Joe Biden’s win. Despite President Trump having lost both the popular vote and electoral college, he (and some of his supporters) continue to live in denial. This wasn’t a typical rally– Trump supporters sieged the Capitol. They breached security lines, scaled walls, and disrespected the very essence of our country as they entered the Capitol building. These people smashed windows, carried guns inside, and for the first time in all of the United State’s existence, brought the Confederate flag inside the Capitol.

The safety of lawmakers and staff inside the Capitol was feared for, and police worked to evacuate them as quickly as possible. Police locked the doors to the House chamber and barricaded it with a desk. Representatives were given “escape hoods.” There is an image of a man sitting at House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk with his feet up, and another of a man carrying out the Capitol Podium, smiling.

CBS News and many news outlets have confirmed at least four people dead. As in any case of death, this is saddening, but we must look at the facts surrounding this day. President Trump called on his supporters to rally at the Capitol. He didn’t suggest they siege it, but his call to action and four years of damaging administration directly provoked what happened that day. There was no reason for Trump to dispute the election results, and especially no reasoning to encourage a rally protesting it.

What happened on January 6, 2020 in Washing DC is white privilege. We all know how differently this story would be told had the “rioters” been anything but white. In BLM protests police were quick to react violently with rubber (and sometimes real) bullets and mace, most of which were non-violent protests. Yet when it’s hundreds of white nationalists breaking into and vandalizing the Capitol, and attempting a coup, security miserably fails to protect. I don’t mean to compare these opposite fights, though. I’d rather compare yesterday’s events to when Ahmaud Arbery was hunted and killed while jogging, to when Breonna Taylor’s home was broken into by police and she was killed at their hands, and to the countless other violent acts targeting Black people.

The people who stormed the US Capitol are not rioters but domestic terrorists. They committed violent acts in the pursuit of Donald Trump’s administration meant to intimidate and coerce the public. The difference in how police handled this situation versus BLM protests is disturbing and extremely indicative of the racism this country continues to experience. This is Donald Trump’s America, but not for long.

Trump supporters climb the west wall of the US Capitol.
Staff and lawmakers shelter in the House Chamber from Trump mob.
Trump supporter carries the Confederate flag freely through the Capitol.

SAGE GREEN & BROWN: THE COLORS OF THE SEASON

Green is such an underrated color in my opinion. Plus, it’s a muted/neutral form of green, so it’s an easy transition into if you’re used to wearing neutrals. And not to mention that sage green is calm enough it can be carried into the summer. All you have to do it switch up what you’re pairing it with and you’re good to go! It works year-round. As for brown, having brown eyes has got me so excited brown is in. I feel like I’ve never seen brown clothing and I don’t know why because it’s so beautiful, and amazingly, it’s compatible with all skin tones and hair colors IMO. Here are some sage green and brown pieces I’ve found that I think are killer.

Princess Polly Military Minds Mini Dress

In addition to the sage color, this style of dress– military, is very trendy. Its simple with ruching on the side that means you can adjust the length, and it adds more to this modest dress.

Urban Outfitters Native Youth Avery Puffer Jacket

Puffers are a necessity for the winter, and although I’d say if you only have one, go with a more neutral like white/black/beige, this sage green UO puffer is a great second option. And it’s cropped!

Zara Limitless Contour Collection Halter Top 01

I love a good mock neck– I think they’re so flattering. It would look great with some fun pants (I’m picturing zebra print). I also think it’d be cute under a faux leather or sherpa jacket for the winter time!

John Galt Cowgirl Cropped T-Shirt

Baby tees are such a cute, easy style, and I love the “cowgirl” being that I’m from the south. This top can be worn with casual bottoms like knit, wide-leg pants, but would be just as cute with some baggy jeans and boots or sneakers.

BDG Corduroy High-Waisted Slim Straight Pant

Corduroy is a good way to spice up a regular pair of pants and there’s something about them in the brown that seems extra cozy, like a teddy bear! I think they’d look really cool with a brown top to create a monochrome look.

Zara Cropped Top

This Zara top gives me corset vibes, which are in right now. Fortunately, it seems more comfortable and not as hardcore as an actual corset.

GIFT LIST INSPO

Every year around Christmas I struggle to think of gifts I’d like to receive (and give), which is odd because I am constantly dreaming of my next purchase and therefore source of serotonin. But this year I made sure to create a “buy list” that I add to whenever I find something gift-worthy, so here are some items from my list and additional items I’ve picked out!

Oversized (faux) leather jacket

Oversized leather jackets are trending right now, but they’re classic enough that it’s an item you can keep forever.

Nasty Gal Outta the Way Faux Leather Longline Blazer

Funky candles

I started following influencer/model Matilda Djerf a few months ago because I loved her style, and come to find out she has the best minimalist interior design. She’s been posting her funky candles to Instagram lately and I am obsessed with them.

Foam The Cream Bubble

Colorful Squiggle Candle by YuiBrooklyn on Etsy

Platform Converse

I almost exclusively wear platform shoes, and these are the classic, high-top, Chuck Taylor style. They’re not aggressive platforms and there are tons of color options that you’re bound to find one that speaks to you. The lugged style is another cute option!

Custom Canvas Platform Chuck Taylor All Star By You

Houseplants with trendy planters

I love having plants and there are a lot of low-maintenance houseplants you can find with a simple Google search. For example, this article by Good Housekeeping lists 25 easy houseplants. They’re even more fun to have with cute planters and make for environmentally friendly decor!

Urban Outfitters Hector Face 3.5″ Planter

Urban Outfitters Rattan Standing Planter

AirPods case

Having a case for your AirPods is fun and makes taking them places SO much easier. Urban Outfitters, Target, and Amazon to name a few, all have really cute options.

Urban Outfitters Cow Hard Shell AirPods Case

Puffer Jacket

Gotta stay warm during the winter! And do it stylishly ~ Target has this awesome puffer jacket that is super affordable, unlike most of the ones I’ve seen. It also has other neutral color options.

Target Women’s Puffer Jacket – Wild Fable

Pants, pants, and more pants

Pants are so hard to shop for, but in addition to that they’re one of the more expensive clothing items. I try to thrift and buy second-hand as much as I can, but I find it to be harder for pants. Here are two from Zara and Urban, but know that second-hand/sustainable shopping is always best. (Utilize apps like Poshmark and Depop!)

Zara Faux Leather Pants

BDG Color Corduroy High-Waisted Mom Pant

Skincare

If you need some ideas for what skincare to get, Hyram on YouTube is all-knowing. Brands like The Ordinary, Inkey List, and CeraVe are all affordable, high-quality brands that have everything you could need.

Jewelry

Jewelry is tough because whenever it’s affordable, there’s a high chance the piece will tarnish with time and wear. Gorjana is a jewelry brand with an anti-tarnish barrier and although it’s not “cheap,” it’s very affordable for the quality and has lots of trendy pieces.

Tiffany Heart Tag Charm Bracelet

I’ve always loved this classic Tiffany bracelet and it’s a piece that can go with different kinds of outfits, plus it comes in a gold option if that’s your vibe.

#ENDSARS and #ENDSWAT

TW: r*pe

There have been weeks of protests in Nigeria in opposition to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, or SARS. Nigerians and people around the world are specifically protesting police brutality, which SARS has been a long-time participant of. Unfortunately, the protests turned deadly when security forces fired live rounds on demonstrators and killed ten people just over a week ago. A major part of the movement’s outburst is the result of a video featuring a SARS officer allegedly shooting a man in Delta state before driving off, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Special Anti-Robbery Squad’s purpose is to fight violent crime in Nigeria like armed robbery and car jackings. SARS has been known to abuse power through unlawful arrests which have resulted in raping, beating, kidnapping, and stealing from young Nigerians. Despite SARS being reorganized in 2017, there has been no change.

The movement #EndSARS consists of seven demands from Nigerian youth, who are trailblazing the movement. These demands are as follows: cost of governance, institutional reforms, health reforms, constitution reforms, education reforms, public office reforms, and youth affair reforms. As you can infer, the call to end the Special Anti-Robbery Squad is bigger than meets the eye, like many movements. People are demanding progress and wanting change to ensure a better life in Nigeria for future generations.

Many headlines speak of the absolvement of SARS, which was recently announced in a statement by the Inspector General of Police. However, this is not the news many have been hoping for. The same statement was released in 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2019; and now, a new unit by the name of SWAT has been formed to carry out the duties of SARS. Through SWAT, officers “will receive training on police conduct and use of force by the the international committee of the Red Cross.” But protesters fear that SARS officers will blend into the new unit without facing accountability and are using #EndSWAT in opposition.

The same article from the Wall Street Journal states that President Muhammadu Buhari, a former general, agreed in a televised statement to disband SARS, but has been silent since. Protestors perceive the president’s statement as a way to cover up the issue of police brutality and abuse rather than solve it, and their anger is escalating.

How to help: donate to https://www.gofundme.com/f/4ppyfs-diasporans-against-sars; donate here and explore other ways to help on https://feministcoalition2020.com/

Sources not linked: https://www.instagram.com/p/CGnX2-HHHHt/

5 HALLOWEEN COSTUME IDEAS

Fairy

This costume is perfect because it can be done within big or small groups, or on your own. You can draw inspiration from the Rainbow Magic books, where each character is a fairy named after a color, or Winx Club and Pixie Hollow.

I would apply glitter makeup under my eyes, using the the NYX Professional Makeup Body Glitter.

Dress, wings, butterfly hair clips

Wednesday Addams

Wednesday Addams is an iconic character, so it’s inherently an iconic costume. You probably own a black dress or all-black outfit, plus black tights.

All that’s left is some sort of white collar to throw underneath with two three-strand braids and black boots or flats.

Dress, faux collar, tights

Little Red Riding Hood

This costume is easy because it only requires the red cape in addition to a white outfit that you can pick from your closet. Plus, the cape only retails for $10.

I’d pair this with knee-high socks and any red or white shoes.

Dress, cape, basket

Girl Scout

I think the Girl Scout costume is adorable, and although you may have less of these items already in your closet compared to other costumes, it’s worth it if you have the means to obtain them, IMO.

You can leave the sash plain, or go to your local craft store and pick out some iron-on patches for some DIY action. And it’s customizable that way!

Skirt, shirt, beret, sash

Angel(s) & Devil

Many times I’ve dressed up for Halloween with a headband as my sole accessory, and I have no shame in that. With this costume you can do an angel/devil duo or angel/fallen angel duo, as well as a trio with all three.

You can add matching wings or a devil’s tail for more pizazz, but it isn’t necessary. Pair these with a monochrome outfit according to your headband and you’re good to go.

White angel headband, fallen angel headband, devil headband

ANTI-SEMITISM IN THE US

Anti-Semitism, for those who are unaware, is prejudice against Jews. Judaism is the least liked religious group in the world, with only 38% favorability, according to @soyouwanttotalkabout on Instagram. Additionally, Jewish people only make up 3% of the United States’ population, and 74% of people worldwide have never met a Jewish person.

The Anti-Defamation League has reported a 12% increase of acts of assault, vandalism, and harassment against Jewish people over the previous year. This is also the highest level of anti-Semitic incidents since the organization began reporting in 1979. In August of 2017 there was a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia where participants were throwing Nazi salutes, waving flags with swastikas, as well as shouting “Seig Heil” and “Jews will not replace us.”

More examples of anti-Semitism include a Jewish center in Delaware being lit on fire, two Jewish men being violently run over in Brooklyn, and many attacks on Jewish synagogues and cemeteries in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Virginia, and California. A study by the American Jewish Committee reported 35% of American Jews said they’ve experienced anti-Semitism in the past five years, with one-third concealing outward indication of their Judaism. I could go on and list more instances of anti-Semitism, but I don’t need to. As demonstrated by research, it is indisputable anti-Semitism is at an all-time high.

According to The Atlantic, “Some critics attribute the recent spate of anti-Semitic violence, at least indirectly, to the rise of Donald Trump, a charge that reflects the deep political and cultural divide in American society. They say that his rhetoric and tweets, his targeting of minorities, his bullying and name-calling have created an atmosphere conducive to such attacks.”

I have a hard time disagreeing with the quote from The Atlantic for many reasons, but some of which comes from last night’s Presidential Debate in which President Trump refused to denounce white supremacy. He won’t denounce white supremacy just like he won’t denounce anti-Semitism because he has supporters who fall into these two categories. He creates an environment that makes these groups feel protected and supported, which is permissive and extremely dangerous for the victims of these groups.

In conclusion, the United States’ anti-Semitism is an issue that cannot be blamed entirely on a political leader. Historically, anti-Semitism thrives when there is social unrest– the epitome of this year (and presidential campaign.) The concept of anti-Semitism is not new and Jews have been targeted and blamed since the beginning of time, and I hope the world can fight for this marginalized community like they do for others.

ICE ALLEGED HYSTERECTOMIES

A whistleblower has alleged that hysterectomies were being performed on immigrants in the US without consent. A hysterectomy is a surgical removal of the uterus and potentially other reproductive organs. The allegations are said to have taken place at the private Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia.

The whistleblower, identified as nurse Dawn Wooten, expressed concern about the high number of hysterectomies being performed on Spanish-speaking women in the area. These hysterectomies are said to be performed by gynecologist Mehendra Amin, who Wooten heard one migrant woman refer to as the “uterus collector.” Amin, however, denies these allegations and claims to have only performed “one or two” hysterectomies in the past two or three years.

The women said they were never told why they were having the hysterectomies, “with some saying that they were given conflicting reasons for the procedures or reprimanded when asked about them,” according to The Guardian. Luckily, several of the women are being represented by lawyers. Pauline Binam, a former detainee, said her fallopian tubes were removed without consent.

While these are only allegations and it would be premature to draw any conclusions, it is very serious, and if true, is a huge failure of a country that bases itself on freedom and justice for all. Additionally, this is a situation that has the potential to bring pro-life and pro-choice communities together, and I’d like to see both sides equality upset.

How to help:

  • Text “SIGN AHZJLZ” to 50409
  • Call your representative to demand an investigation (find their phone number at commoncause.org)
  • Donate to Project South

I DID KAYLA ITSINES’S 12-WEEK BBG WORKOUTS

Kayla Itsines is an Australian personal trainer, author, and entrepreneur. She’s the creator of the Sweat app, which includes the Bikini Body Guide. The Sweat app offers additional programs like a nutritional guide, post-pregnancy workouts, lifting at home, and more. I decided to do the BBG program because my friend had a lot of success with it and it was appealing during quarantine when gyms were closed. It isn’t something you should jump into without any workout experience, but is perfect with some experience under your belt and if you’re looking for guidance like I was. It’s suggested for women aged 16-40 who want to obtain “a state of mind where you are confident and feel good about you.”

BBG is a 12-week program that can be done as home with minimal equipment– I wouldn’t say zero. It’s made up of 28-minute workouts with two circuits each day that are to be done three times a week. The three rounds of circuits are focused around legs/cardio, arms and abs, and full body. How it works is you do each circuit for seven minutes, twice. So, circuit one for seven minutes, circuit two for seven minutes, and repeat.

Would I recommend BBG? Yes. Having the structure this program offers is perfect for someone who needs it because it makes you feel accountable to actually complete the days’ workouts. I took progress photos on week four, eight, and 12 as suggested in the e-Book and saw progress at every photo, even the first four weeks.

In total, I usually spent 32 minutes working out. I’d take one minute breaks in between the circuits, and the occasional break during a circuit if I had to stop, but I always stopped my timer to ensure I was working out for the total seven minutes.

The circuits get progressively more difficult every four weeks, and the last four were the hardest for me. I ended up repeating the first four weeks because I liked it so much and had the time available before returning to school for the fall semester.

All in all, I would recommend BBG to anyone. Home workouts are appealing because of the comfort and convenience of being at home, and especially because gyms aren’t necessarily an option for everyone. My greatest takeaway from BBG in addition to the physical changes is my confidence in “workout knowledge.” I have a better idea of what to do when I walk into a gym or want to work out and will continue to use it as a guide for workouts. I feel stronger and healthier and although I know I have farther to go to reach my goal, I’m so happy I completed the program.

THE BEIRUT BLAST

Last week, Lebanon, a country in the Middle East, suffered a port explosion in their capital of Beirut. According to an article by BBC, at least 70 people have been killed and over 4,000 others injured. Officials are naming the cause as stored, highly explosive materials in a warehouse, specifically, “by the detonation of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely at the port for years,” although an investigation is underway to confirm or disprove this.

Previous to the explosion, Lebanon was in economic crisis– their worst one since the 1975-1990 civil war. A plan was proposed in 2019 to tax calls via WhatsApp to gain more revenue, but this led to mass protests and turmoil. At this time, Prime Minister Hassan Diab had only been in power two months having been elected following an uprising.

Many have been frustrated about the country’s corrupt government and see the explosion as a government failure. The Lebanese president, Michel Aoun, tweeted that the amount of ammonium nitrate stored was “unacceptable.” Protesters have been out on the streets following the explosion, which was the final straw for many of Beirut’s people.

The Lebanese government has resigned in the wake of the blast to “stand with the people.” The next elected prime minister will be Lebanon’s third this year. Despite this, many Lebanese citizens question if it will actually bring about change. Parliament’s decision to choose a new prime minister is not expected to be a timely or pleasant one because of the government’s complicated political system.

300,000 citizens have been made homeless with nearly 80,000 children misplaced. Lebanon also hosts the largest number of refugees per capita– approximately 1.5 million Syrian refugees. The country’s health system is weak, made worse by COVID-19 and now with overwhelmed hospitals from the blast.

Lebanon’s prime minister has asked for international help. If you’re able to, please donate to any of these resources: https://helplebanon.carrd.co/