Breaking down breaking news
Lately, it feels like there is so much going on: in the world, in the news, in our lives. Keeping up with current events was hard enough already, and now we’ve got a lot of information getting thrown at us at all times. Use this breakdown of some current topics to get the basic understanding and what you need to know.
Temperatures have been dropping almost everywhere in the U.S., including the South. Texas reached its lowest temperatures in decades.
Areas were below freezing for 44 hours straight. The lowest temperature recorded was 13 degrees.
To prepare for the expected winter storm, some of the state began participating in rolling blackouts, which are often used in preparation for extreme weather.
Rolling blackouts are controlled by ERCOT, or the Electrical Reliability Council of Texas.
Several million Texans were left powerless for days, reportedly due to a lack of energy supply in the state.
The ice, snow and cold was effectively damaging the state’s power and water systems. ERCOT officials state the crisis could’ve been much worse.
As power was returning to homes, other problems came from the weather change. Many experienced burst pipes and other damage. State officials are reporting food shortages. Water supply is low in some areas.
Electric bills increased exponentially across the state, which legislators are trying to investigate and prevent.
Temperature has begun to rise again in many states, including Texas.
Cruz in Cancun
Senator Ted Cruz lives in an area of Texas that was left powerless during the storm. Early in the week, Cruz and his family flew to Cancun, Mexico, instead.
After immediate criticism, he explained that he wanted to be a good dad when his daughters asked for a vacation. He flew home alone the next day.
Cruz was reported to have a negative COVID-19 test result before flying back.
It has been revealed that his original plan was to stay with his family for the entire trip, while staying in contact with his team. He said that as matters got worse, he decided to return home.
Cruz’s daughters asked him for a vacation since they were getting a week off of their private school, anticipating the storm.
Parents of other students are referencing the school’s COVID-19 policies, which would require Cruz’s daughters to take additional time off after this week to quarantine and test negative.
CDC guide to reopening schools
Many schools across the country are reopening with COVID-19 protocols. The CDC outlines when and how to reopen.
$15 minimum wage
Democrats in Congress have unveiled their latest proposed stimulus package. Included in the package is a gradual minimum wage increase to $15 an hour by 2025.
This brings up something called the Byrd Rule. When Congress is responding to something through legislation (like a stimulus package during a pandemic), they can’t just add in extra stuff.
The idea is that legislators wouldn’t take advantage of situations requiring urgent responses by mucking up the proposals with extraneous costs.
Congressional Democrats are maintaining that the minimum wage increase isn’t breaking the Byrd Rule. Compared to previous reconciliations, the increase has more of an impact on the economy.
Some Republicans are claiming it’s inappropriately placed. The final decision hasn’t been made yet.
President Biden has supported the increase to $15 but has expressed doubts that this attempt will succeed.
NASA Mars Rover Perseverance
On Feb. 18, Mars Rover 2020 Perseverance landed on the planet’s surface.
The rover was able to record itself landing. The footage is still processing but still photos have been released.
The majority of Perseverance’s cameras are in color, an upgrade from previous rovers.
Perseverance began setting up this week, and is expected to take its first drive in the coming weeks.
The main reason Perseverance is on Mars at all is to search for signs of life on the planet. It will be several months before Perseverance actually starts searching.