After TX Hostage crisis Rabbis are warning Jews to return to Israel

Important Takeaways:

  • A gunman entered Congregation Beth Israel in the city of Colleyville, Texas as they were beginning their Shabbat prayer service
  • The gunman took four Jews (including the rabbi) hostage. One male hostage was released
  • After an 11-hour siege, police charged the site and freed all the hostages.
  • Rabbi Yosef Berger, the rabbi of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, saw the attack as a clear sign of imminent redemption.
  • “God wants all the Jews to come to Israel,’ Rabbi Berger said. “This could not be clearer.

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Texas Hostages safe after standoff with police

Luke 19:43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side.

Important Takeaways:

  • All Texas synagogue hostages safe after hours long standoff
  • Four hostages were taken at Congregation Beth Israel during morning services
  • One hostage has been released, but the hostage-taker is calling for the release of Aafia Siddiqui
  • Siddiqui was sentenced in 2010 to 86 years in prison for attempted murder and assault
  • FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno declined to identify the hostage-taker, but said investigators already were involved in a global inquiry, reaching to Great Britain and Israel, to learn more about a possible motive.
  • The Colleyville police department tweeted the situation was “resolved”
  • Police Department Chief Michael Miller confirmed the suspect is dead.

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Secession – Is it really coming to that

Important Takeaways:

  • An American Secession? It’s Not That Far-Fetched
  • Texit. The new California republic. Polls in the U.S. show strong support for splitting the nation along blue-red lines.
  • A recent University of Virginia poll found that 52% of Donald Trump voters now “somewhat” favor Republican-controlled states “seceding from the union to form their own separate country,” while 41% of Joe Biden voters adopt the same stance about blue states.
  • Think of the Soviet Union, which splintered three decades ago. Czechoslovakia was created in October 1918, amid the ruins of the Hapsburg Empire, then in 1993 split into Slovakia and the Czech Republic
  • Norway was united with Denmark for four centuries, until in 1814 it was instead joined with Sweden.
    the Irish independence struggle that has played a bloody role in… history
  • Plainly, no secession in the U.S. is imminent. But such a development has become conceivable, as it certainly was not as recently as the turn of the millennium. Its cost, were it to come about, would be vastly higher not merely for the U.S. but for the entire Western world than any mere breakup of the U.K., or even of the European Union.

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Latest quake in top U.S. oilfield to hike scrutiny of drilling waste injections

By Liz Hampton

(Reuters) – A magnitude 4.5 earthquake that rattled the Permian basin in Texas on Monday night is likely to add pressure on oil producers in the region to slow or stop underground wastewater injections that regulators believe may cause the tremors.

The quake, the third-largest to hit Texas this decade, occurred near Stanton and was the latest in a surge of temblors linked to the disposal of wastewater, a byproduct of oil and gas production. Wastewater injection can trigger quakes by changing pressures around fault lines.

It also comes shortly after the state Railroad Commission, which regulates its oil industry, halted the injection of water into deep wells in an area northwest of Midland amid the jump in seismicity.

The Commission on Tuesday said it had been in contact with disposal well operators in the affected area of the Permian and was sending inspectors to the facilities.

Monday’s earthquake occurred in an area already under investigation by the Commission for increasing seismicity. A suspension of injections around its epicenter could impact some 18 active wells that dispose an average of 9,600 bpd each, according to water data and analytics firm B3 Insight.

The affected area “has a higher utilization of deep disposal – about 50% higher – than other areas in the Permian basin,” said Kelly Bennett, CEO of B3.

Permian oil operators are already looking for ways to reduce wastewater injections after the oil regulator began imposing limits. Solutions include recycling the wastewater or trucking it elsewhere.

“If they’re not able to do that, they may have no other choice but to shut these wells and choke production,” said Thomas Jacob, vice president of oilfield services research for consultancy Rystad, adding that halting production was a last resort.

ConocoPhillips has 15 disposal wells in the region, where injections have been suspended, while rival Pioneer Natural Resources has eight, according to Rystad. Chevron and Coterra have both experienced a reduction of 400,000 bpd or more in disposal capacity as a result of the limits imposed by the Railroad Commission.

Texas regulators are closely watching other regions that have seen a jump in seismicity and could implement additional limits to saltwater disposal, particularly as quakes get stronger, analysts cautioned.

“It will put more pressure on the operators” to find other ways to handle water, said Fredrik Klaveness, CEO of NLB Water, which provides produced water treatment and recycling solutions for the oil industry.

(Reporting by Liz Hampton in Denver; Additional reporting by Marcy de Luna in Houston; Editing by Dan Grebler)

U.S. appeals court sets Jan 7 argument date in Texas abortion case

(Reuters) – A United States appeals court has set a Jan. 7 argument date in the Texas abortion case, where the panel will hear the state’s bid to push a legal question about enforcement to the state supreme court.

The challengers of Texas’ near total ban on abortion contend the move will delay a merits ruling in the U.S. district court.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court left in place a ban on most abortions in Texas but allowed a legal challenge to proceed, with the fate of the Republican-backed measure that allows private citizens to enforce it still hanging in the balance.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Chris Reese)

U.N. concerned by reinstatement of Trump-era ‘Remain in Mexico’ border policy

GENEVA (Reuters) – The United Nations said on Friday it was concerned by the reinstatement of a policy put in place by former President Donald Trump that forced tens of thousands of migrants to wait in Mexico for the resolution of their U.S. asylum cases.

A U.S. appeals court on Monday rejected a renewed attempt by the Biden administration to end the policy – often referred to as “Remain in Mexico”, and officially called the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP).

President Joe Biden, a Democrat, scrapped his Republican predecessor’s policy soon after taking office in January this year. But after Texas and Missouri sued over the rescission, a federal judge ruled it had to be reinstated.

“We are concerned about the re-implementation of the Migrant Protection Protocol and the risk that it poses on the already stretched humanitarian capacity of Mexico to receive migrants,” UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva.

“We are concerned that any kind of heightened security procedures to deal with migration will only drive migrants further into unsafe routes and we are afraid that we will see more resort to the dangerous routes and to smuggling networks.”

Under the 2019 policy, migrants seeking asylum must wait weeks and sometimes years in Mexico for a U.S. court date instead of being allowed to await their hearings in the United States. Biden decried the policy on the campaign trail and immigration advocates have said migrants stuck in dangerous border cities have faced kidnappings and other dangers.

Nancy Izzo Jackson, Senior Bureau Official for the U.S. Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, told reporters on Thursday: “We are trying to make it a much more humane policy, even as we work to appeal (the) decision in the courts.”

The number of migrants caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border has soared to record highs this year, sparking criticism from Republicans.

Many migrants arrested at the border, however, are quickly expelled without being given a chance to even seek asylum under a different Trump policy put in place at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which Biden has kept in place.

(Reporting by Paul Carrel; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Analysis: Texas abortion law opens door to copycat curbs on guns, other rights

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to leave in place a Texas law banning most abortions has opened the door for states to seek to restrict other rights including guns by copying the measure’s novel enforcement mechanism, though it remains to be seen how many will actually do it.

The Republican-backed Texas law takes enforcement away from state officials, instead empowering private citizens to sue anyone who performs or assists a woman in obtaining an abortion after embryo cardiac activity is detected – at about six weeks of pregnancy – with awards of at least $10,000 for successful lawsuits. The Supreme Court issued its ruling on Friday.

California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said the next day that he directed his staff to work with legislators and the state’s attorney general on a bill that would similarly enable private citizens to sue anyone who manufactures, distributes or sells assault weapons or self-assembled “ghost guns,” also with at least $10,000 in damages.

New York Attorney General Letitia James, another Democrat, said in an appearance on Tuesday on ABC’s program “The View” that she would support a similar effort in her state.

“We need to follow his lead,” James said, referring to Newsom.

President Joe Biden has urged the U.S. Congress to pass national gun restrictions, but Democratic-backed legislation over the years has been stymied by Republican opposition.

Legislators in five other Republican-led states have introduced abortion bills modeled on the Texas law, similarly structured to avoid judicial review, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights, a legal advocacy group favoring abortion rights. None have yet been enacted.

The Texas law, known formally as S.B. 8, was designed to be difficult for courts to block because it removed state officials from enforcement, making it is hard for challengers to figure out who to sue and obtain a ruling that would halt it statewide. The Supreme Court largely accepted that construct while allowing abortion providers to proceed with a legal challenge aimed at some medical licensing officials.


Critics have said that ruling would allow states to enact laws that circumvent other recognized rights such as LGBT and religious rights as well as guns.

“The court is not pushing back on the use of S.B. 8-style laws to infringe constitutionally protected rights. I do think this is a bit of an invitation to other states,” said David Noll, a professor at Rutgers Law School in New Jersey.

States seeking to roll back abortion rights may in the near future not need to resort to novel mechanisms like the Texas law to avoid running afoul of Supreme Court precedent on abortion. The conservative justices who hold a 6-3 majority on the court indicated during oral arguments on Dec. 1 in a case from Mississippi that they are willing to undercut or even overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

In Illinois, one Democratic legislator has proposed targeting gun dealers with a measure similar to the one California is discussing. National gun control activists sound noncommittal.

Stacey Radnor, a spokesperson for the gun-control group Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a statement that Newsom’s proposal is “an interesting approach that we’re going to examine further as we get more details.”

Groups favoring gun rights have called Newsom’s announcement a stunt, pointing out that California already has a law banning military-style assault weapons.

“If they really wanted to be the full-blown aggressive so-and-sos that Texas has been, they would ban handguns,” said Erik Jaffe, a lawyer who filed a brief at the Supreme Court on behalf of the Firearms Policy Coalition gun rights group that has been critical of the Texas law, said of California.

Jaffe said Newsom, who in September survived a recall election, “might not survive the political fallout” of such a measure.

James White, a Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives who supports the state’s abortion law, questioned in a letter to the state’s attorney general whether private individuals are bound by the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide. But White said in an interview he does not anticipate a state law similar to the abortion law targeting the rights of same-sex couples.

“The Supreme Court has ruled that who people decide to get married to is left to their discretion. I don’t know how you would get into civil litigation,” White said.

Advocacy groups for LGBT people said they have not heard of any such proposals.

“I have not, and I hope I never do,” said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, adding that any such measures could run into other legal problems because they would be unlawfully discriminatory.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham and Scott Malone)

U.S. Supreme Court allows challenge to Texas six-week abortion ban

By Lawrence Hurley and Andrew Chung

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday allowed abortion providers to pursue a legal challenge to a ban on most abortions in Texas, with the fate of the Republican-backed measure that allows private citizens to enforce it now hanging in the balance.

The justices, who heard arguments on the case on Nov. 1, lifted a block on lower court proceedings, likely paving the way for a federal judge to formally block the law. The conservative-majority court on Sept. 1 had declined to halt the law. The court in a separate case dismissed a separate challenge brought by President Joe Biden’s administration.

The Supreme Court has yet to decide another major abortion rights case from Mississippi that could lead to the overturning of the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized the procedure nationwide.

The court in the Texas case ruled 8-1 that the challenge was allowed under a 1908 Supreme Court ruling that said state laws can be challenged in federal court by suing state government officials. Texas had sought to exploit a loophole in that earlier ruling by saying no state officials could enforce it, but the Supreme Court said the challengers could pursue their case by naming state licensing officials as defendants.

Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas dissented on that part of the ruling, saying he would have dismissed the lawsuit altogether.

The Texas measure is the nation’s most restrictive abortion law. It bans abortions at around six weeks, a point in time when many women do not yet realize they are pregnant, and has no exception for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. It is one of a series of restrictive abortion laws passed by Republicans at the state level in recent years.

The Texas law enables private citizens to sue anyone who performs or assists a woman in getting an abortion after cardiac activity is detected in the embryo. Individual citizens can be awarded a minimum of $10,000 for bringing successful lawsuits under the law. Biden’s administration has called it a “bounty.”

That feature made it more difficult to directly sue the state to challenge the law’s legality, helping shield the measure from being immediately blocked.

Abortion providers and the Biden administration in separate legal challenges argued that the law violates a woman’s constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy recognized in the Roe v. Wade ruling and is impermissibly designed to evade federal judicial review.

The Mississippi law – blocked by lower courts – bans abortions starting at 15 weeks of pregnancy. The court’s conservative justices during oral arguments in the Mississippi case on Dec. 1 indicated sympathy toward the Mississippi measure and potential support for overturning Roe.

How the conservative justices voted in the Texas case may not guide how they vote on the Mississippi law because the legal issues differed, particularly relating to its unusual enforcement mechanism.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)

U.S. Justice Department sues Texas over ‘discriminatory’ redistricting

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Texas on Monday alleging the state violated the Voting Rights Act by creating redistricting plans that discriminate against minority voters, Attorney General Merrick Garland said.

The redistricting plans dilute the Black and Latino vote and violate Section 2 of the voting act, Garland said at a news conference.

“These redistricting plans will diminish the opportunity for Black and Latino voters” to elect their preferred candidates, and they were written with discriminatory intent, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said.

It was the second time this year that the Justice Department has sued Texas over voting rights.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

U.S. EPA allocates billions in water funding from infrastructure law to states

By Valerie Volcovici

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday released over $7 billion to state governments and tribes to upgrade drinking and waste water systems, the first allotment of clean water funds that was approved in the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed into law last month.

The installment is part of $44 billion in clean water funds that will be dispersed over five years through a federal-state partnership program. The Biden administration has touted the benefits for states that will flow from the $1 trillion infrastructure law, which President Joe Biden signed on Nov. 15 after months of congressional negotiations.

The $1 trillion in infrastructure spending features what the EPA describes as the “single-largest investment in U.S. water infrastructure ever.”

Over half of the $7.4 billion in state revolving funds (SRFs) that the agency will allocate to states for 2022 will be available as grants or principal forgiveness loans that are meant to make it easier for underserved urban and rural communities to access.

“Billions of dollars are about to start flowing to states and it is critical that EPA partners with states, Tribes, and territories to ensure the benefits of these investments are delivered in the most equitable way,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan.

He urged that the money be used to “correct longstanding environmental and economic injustices across America.”

EPA Assistant Administrator Radhika Fox will soon issue national program guidance from the EPA’s Office of Water to help agencies best use the billions that will become available.

SRFs, which provide low-cost federal financing, have been used for decades by states to invest in their water infrastructure but many vulnerable and poor communities facing water challenges have not historically accessed their fair share of funds. Regan said he wants the new flow of money from the infrastructure bill will correct the disparities.

California, Texas and New York – the biggest states – will receive the largest share of SRF funds.

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Aurora Ellis)