NEWS AND OPINION:
Eight Republican members of the House Committee on Homeland Security have just returned from a fact-finding mission along the southern U.S. border, specifically in the Rio Grande Valley sector of Texas. They have compiled some “shocking realities” in a 10-point follow-up report released Wednesday.
“The Donna Processing Facility costs $19.2 million per month to operate. Members were told that $50,000 per month is coming out of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s operational funds to pay for diapers and other consumables that were not budgeted for,” the lawmakers said in their report, also noting that 40% of the border agents have been pulled from national security duties to assist with “migrant processing” and transportation.
“This leaves undeniable gaps in our border security posture,” the report said, noting that the Donna facility is meant to hold 500 individuals but is now home to 2,600 — and that migrant smuggling opportunities notices are now appearing in social media, including Facebook.
“During a night ride along with Texas Department of Public Safety Special Operations Group, suspected smugglers were using music to signal law enforcement movements along the brush. Texas DPS has also discovered TikTok videos showing armed cartel members monitoring U.S. law enforcement,” the report noted.
Border initiatives of former President Donald Trump were not overlooked.
“In places where the border wall system was built in the Rio Grande Valley sector, Border Patrol relayed that they were able to gain operational control of the border. The wall system shifted 80% of illicit activity away from areas where it was constructed to areas without physical barriers. Because the Biden administration suspended wall construction, large amounts of rebar and building materials are currently scattered across communities. In one neighborhood, a road was fully deconstructed and has yet to be repaired,” the report said.
The group included Reps. Kathryn Cammack of Colorado, Andrew Clyde of Georgia, Carlos Gimenez of Florida, Michael Guest of Mississippi, Diana Harshbarger of Tennessee, ranking member John Katko of New York, Peter Meijer of Michigan and Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa.
‘PARTISAN IDENTITY’ AND THE COVID-19 VACCINE
Get the shot, or not? The decision grows ever more complicated.
“About 1 in 5 U.S. adults overall — 21% — remain unwilling to get the Covid vaccine,” reports a new Monmouth University poll.
“Partisanship remains the main distinguishing factor among those who want to avoid the vaccine altogether, with 43% of Republicans versus just 5% of Democrats saying this. Currently, 22% of independents say they want to avoid getting the vaccine altogether. Demographically, adults under age 65 (25%) continue to be more likely than seniors (11%) to rule out getting the vaccine. There are no discernible differences by race, though, with similar number of whites (22%) and people of color (20%) saying they will avoid getting the vaccine if they can,” the poll analysis reported.
“The number of people who have been skittish about the vaccine has dropped as more Americans line up for the shot, but the hard core group who want to avoid it at all costs has barely budged. The recent news about Johnson & Johnson vaccines is probably not going to help that situation. On the other hand, it might not make it all that much worse since much of this reluctance is really ingrained in partisan identity,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
The survey found that 51% of Americans have already received “at least one Covid jab” while 14% say they will get the vaccine as soon as they can. Democrats (67%) are more likely than independents (47%) and Republicans (36%) to report being vaccinated.
THE KERRY FACTOR
Earth Day is a week away, and the eco-minded folks are ramping up their public messages.
“Tell President Biden to lead by example and commit to cutting U.S. emissions by at least 50% by 2030, as part of our Paris Agreement pledge. With a strong commitment, we’ll show the world that the U.S. is back in the driver’s seat when it comes to bold climate action,” advises a fundraising message from the Climate Reality Project, founded by former Vice President Al Gore in 2006.
Some wonder, however, about the role of John Kerry, who is now the U.S. special presidential envoy for climate.
“One of my recurring irritations with fashionable, light-on-the-facts environmentalism is that it demonizes your cheeseburger, SUV, gas stove, and other common life choices, when other, rarer activities are much more responsible for carbon emissions. I cannot help but suspect this is a deliberate and subtle effort to hand-wave away the carbon emissions of wealthy and powerful people who like to think of themselves as enlightened progressives. You’ve heard the anecdotes about John Kerry taking his private plane to climate-change conferences, and so on,” writes Jim Geraghty, a National Review columnist.
“The United Nations concluded recently that ‘the world’s wealthiest 1% produce double the combined carbon emissions of the poorest 50%.’ (To reach the wealthiest 1% in the world, an American would need a net worth of about $4.4 million.) But the BBC article about the U.N. report goes on to demonize SUVs,” he continues.
“But private jets burn 6,030 kg, or about 6 metric tons, of CO2 in a three-hour flight. Different models will have slightly different figures. According to the EPA, a typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. In other words, in one three-hour flight, John Kerry emits more carbon than your car does all year long. And he’s flying all around the world, trying to get other people to reduce their carbon emissions,” Mr. Geraghty concluded.
POLL DU JOUR
• 50% of U.S. adults say “protection of the environment” should be given priority over “economic growth”; 19% of Republicans, 53% of independents and 69% of Democrats agree.
• 42% of U.S. adults overall say “economic growth” should be given the priority even if environment “suffers”; 72% of Republicans, 38% of independents and 25% of Democrats agree.
• 5% of U.S. adults overall say both should be given equal priority; 6% of Republicans, 5% of independents and 4% of Democrats agree.
Source: A Gallup poll of 1,010 U.S. adults conducted March 1-15 and released April 8.
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