Monday Sunrise Briefing: Relief in winter-weary Texas

Monday Sunrise Briefing: Relief in winter-weary Texas

Why We Wrote This

Good morning! Welcome to your Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, sunrise briefing. 

Here are two news events from this past weekend (while you may have been quilting, playing mini-golf, and enjoying an offline life). Also, what to look for in the news this week.

Marie D. De Jesús/Houston Chronicle via AP

Houston Food Bank and Houston school district employees and volunteers work together to distribute food to people in need Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, in Houston.


February 22, 2021

Texans thawed out this weekend as temperatures rose, electricity and drinking water flowed, and most returned to their homes. One third of the cities, including Houston, lifted their boil-water notices. Repairs to water mains and burst pipes were underway. But surge pricing left some Lone Star State residents facing thousands of dollars in electric bills. “We have a responsibility to protect Texans from spikes in their energy bills,” said Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Saturday, and called on state lawmakers to “fully winterized” the electric grid “so we never go through this again.” As of Sunday, about 30,000 Texans were still without power but were expected to get it back by Monday morning. President Joe Biden declared a major disaster in Texas on Saturday, which releases federal relief funds. 

2. Pro-democracy people power. Across Myanmar, protests against the Feb. 1 military coup showed no signs of slowing down despite the fatal police shootings of three protestors. On Sunday, crowds in Myanmar’s capital attended a funeral for the young woman who was killed Friday. Demonstrators also mourned two other protesters who were shot dead on Saturday. A loosely organized group leading the resistance called for a general strike on Monday. To date, dock workers, railway workers, truckers and many civil servants, have joined the civil disobedience campaign against the junta. Security forces have been relatively restrained so far in confronting protesters in Yangon, the nation’s largest city, but appear to be toughening their stance in areas where there is less media presence.

AP Photo/Andy Brownbill

Japan’s Naomi Osaka celebrates after winning the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021. She now has four Grand Slam titles.

Look Ahead

Monday, Feb. 22

Garland returns. Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland is scheduled to appear before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee as President Biden’s pick to serve as U.S. attorney general. If confirmed, he plans to battle discrimination and domestic terrorists, according to a statement released Saturday.

Help for Lukashenko? Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia, to discuss “some areas of cooperation.” Nationwide protests that erupted over the Aug. 9, 2020 presidential election may reignite when warm weather returns to Belarus. 

Tuesday, Feb. 23

Biden, Warnock, and the resurgence of the liberal Christian

Environmental justice watch. Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is scheduled to appear in court. He faces two counts of willful neglect of duty over the contamination of Flint’s drinking water. He faces up to a year in prison if convicted. 

Accountability hearing. The U.S. Senate expected to hold the first committee hearing into security failures during the Jan. 6. Capitol assault.

Thursday, Feb. 25

First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden. In what’s billed as her first solo broadcast interview, Mrs. Biden is scheduled to appear on “The Kelly Clarkson Show.” She’ll reportedly discuss education in a pandemic, military families, and take questions from a virtual audience.

Friday, Feb. 26

A homecoming? Britain’s Supreme Court is scheduled to decide whether a woman who left her London home as a teenager to join the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria will be permitted to return to the U.K.

Saturday, Feb. 27

Wisdom from Warren? Investment guru Warren Buffett is expected to release his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders. The billionaire may have to account for why his conglomerate trailed the overall stock market for a second year in a row.

Generosity Watch

Compassion in Oakland via Instagram

Compassion in Oakland. Some of the first volunteers to chaperone the elderly in Oakland’s Chinatown gathered in front of the Oakland public library earlier this month.

Jacob Azevedo wasn’t offering a lot. But he was willing to chaperone anyone in Oakland’s Chinatown neighborhood who wasn’t feeling safe. He stepped up after seeing a viral video of an 84-year-old Thai American man who was fatally shoved to the ground on a sidewalk in San Francisco.

Mr. Azevedo’s post on social media inspired others to volunteer – more than 400 so far. Out of that act of generosity and care, Compassion in Oakland was quickly launched. It’s a community of volunteers that will escort Chinatown’s elderly to the bank, the grocery store, or wherever they need to go.

The group is part of a larger community response – and debate – about how to best combat anti-Asian racism and promote public safety in the San Francisco Bay area. “This is important because this community just needs healing,” Mr. Azevedo told CNN. “I wasn’t intending to be some kind of vigilante. I just wanted to offer people some kind of comfort.”

Hidden Gem

Start your week with a recent story that inspired Monitor readers:

Why do some child soldiers heal and not others? What one scholar found.

Sneak preview

In tonight’s Daily Edition, watch for our story about how French university students are coping with the social and academic isolation of online learning.

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Finally, check out the Monitor’s selected stories from Friday’s subscription-only Daily Edition:

  • Shoring up the grid: What El Paso can teach the rest of Texas
  • Vaccine nationalism? Why Jordan includes refugees in rollout.
  • Points of progress: Mexico City cracks down on disposable plastics
  • How Ojok Okello is rebuilding the hometown he never knew
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    Mark Sappenfield

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