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The Spill: Lawmakers on the Lam

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Lawmakers in Texas Bolt Out of Town in Protest

After the 2020 elections, lawmakers in 17 states created new legislation: Nearly 28 election laws have been passed in a few short months. Many cover areas like voter I.D., stopping political parties from sending unrequested applications for mail-in ballots to voters, adjusting voting times, and increasing criminal penalties for election interference. But Texas Democrats refused to participate.

Last week, 30 Texas lawmakers fled the state to shut down a special session that would allow state Republicans to pass a new voting law. Democrats claim that the bill restricts the right to vote in Texas, so they fled to Washington, D.C., where one of them – state Representative Chris Turner – said: “We are determined to kill this bill.”

It was not the first time this tactic was employed. One month ago, Democrats staged a walkout to deny Republicans the opportunity to advance the election bill. Then, Vice President Kamala Harris weighed in on the fight over the Lone Star State’s proposed new election laws, saying of those elected officials who have chosen not to participate in the legislative process: “They are leaders who are marching in the path that so many others before did, when they fought, and many died, for our right to vote.”

But Texas Governor Greg Abbott had a different reaction. Abbott laid down the law: “Once they step back into the state, they will be arrested and brought back to the Capitol, and we will be conducting business.”

A Real Big Fish Story in Minnesota

Officials in Burnsville, Minnesota, are fretting over giant fish that were once probably family pets. In a recent tweet by the city, residents were asked not to release their goldfish into the wild: “Please don’t release your pet goldfish into ponds and lakes. They grow bigger than you think and contribute to poor water quality by mucking up the bottom sediments and uprooting plants.”

How is it that a tiny goldfish can wreak havoc on an entire ecosystem? Well, according to the Carver County website, the one-time pets “reproduce rapidly and are hardy… They can live to be 25 years old, and once established, no easy solution exists to remove an invasive species like goldfish.” And they know this first-hand: Last fall, more than 50,000 goldfish were captured at Big Woods Lake in a suburb of Minneapolis in Carver County, not far from Burnsville. Officials there are still attempting to restore the waterway.

Just north of Minnesota, in neighboring Canada, authorities estimate that as many as 50 million goldfish may inhabit Lake Ontario. Goldfish thrive in exceptionally cold conditions and low-oxygenated waters. As a result, the setting free of goldfish or other species is against the law in nearly every state.

The Long-Awaited Olympics Under Covid-19 Emergency Status

The 2020 Olympics, postponed one year due to the pandemic, is a hotbed of new rules and protocols as host city Tokyo sees a surge of new COVID-19 cases cropping up in and around the Games. Infection rates in the city are also climbing, topping 1,000 new cases over four days. As a result, Japanese officials are now trying to figure out how to salvage a worldstage event and keep Japanese citizens happy and safe. This is proving to be a difficult task. Recent polling reveals that many Japanese don’t want the Games to proceed because of the influx of foreign visitors.

Tokyo 2021 is the first Olympics to limit the audience of significant events to 10,000 people, require masks no matter vaccination status, and prohibit cheering. As the weather in Tokyo in July is extremely hot, masks can be removed if people remain ten meters apart – that’s almost 33 feet. Inside venues, there is to be no flag-waving, high fives with athletes, or asking for athlete autographs.

Sportspeople have been told to stay put in the Athletes Village; there is to be no roaming around and taking in the sights before or after a competition. Parents, family, media, and International Olympic Committee Members and ancillary participants have been told they must shuttle between hotel and venues for the first 14-days, sign a pledge to adhere to rules, and that they understand GPS could monitor their movements.

The Tokyo Olympics may go down in history as the safest – and least fun – Games in history.

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