IBC Bank Executive V.P. Gerald Schwebel appointed to LT. GOV. Patrick’s Business Task Force

IBC Bank Executive Vice President Gerald (Gerry) Schwebel has joined business leaders from around the state to serve on Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s Business Task Force to Re-Start the Economy.

Lt. Gov. Patrick announced the Task Force earlier this month. The group consists of members of his Business Advisory Council and will work on a set of recommendations for re-starting the Texas economy, now that President Donald Trump and Gov. Greg Abbott have announced a process for businesses to begin re-opening and for Texans to go back to work.

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Texas International Produce Association Introduces Mexico Papaya Food Safety Best Practices Guide

AND NOW U KNOW: The papaya category is one full of produce aisle potential, as its unique eating experience combined with its healthy attributes make it a one-of-a-kind retail sales-driver.

To help bolster the category as a whole, the Texas International Produce Association (TIPA) and United Fresh Produce Association collaborated for nearly 10 months with stakeholders, researchers, and U.S. and Mexico government officials to release the first edition of the “Food Safety Best Practices Guide for the Growing and Handling of Mexican Papaya.”

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Meatpacking workers in Texas Panhandle have little power to avoid the coronavirus

TEXAS TRIBUNE: To understand powerlessness in a pandemic, trace a northbound path from Amarillo up Highway 87. Not too far shy of the border where Texas meets Oklahoma lies Moore County.

There are few easy ways to make a living in this country of feedlots and dryland cotton, but one of the hardest is at the JBS Beef meatpacking plant. Just about everything looks small on these vast flatlands until you get right up on it, but the 125-acre plant in the tiny town of Cactus is massive from any vantage point.

The steady billow of gray smoke from the plant’s stacks tells you it is still running full tilt.

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Commentary: Natural gas delivers climate benefits

SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS: Though COVID-19 and the recent oil price wars may have shaken the oil and gas industry, energy development will march onward. The critical role that natural gas plays not only in our everyday lives but in addressing climate change domestically and across the world simply cannot be overlooked — and Texas is playing a central role.

(This publication is subscription only)

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New Mexico watching as Texas considers limits on oil production

SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN: As oil prices have plummeted to levels never before seen, a rift has opened among the companies that extract crude.

Some of them say state regulators should force producers to pump less in the hopes such regulation will raise prices. Others say no, just let the market do its job.

While Texas, an oil-producing behemoth, is weighing the controversial idea of imposing limits, New Mexico, now an oil powerhouse in its own right, has largely stayed out of that debate.

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Texas-New Mexico Power (TNMP) Closes on First Mortgage Bond Financing

YAHOO FINANCE: PNM Resources announces the closing of a private offering for an aggregate $185 million of First Mortgage Bonds at its wholly-owned subsidiary Texas New-Mexico Power. $110 million of First Mortgage Bonds were issued April 24, 2020 and the remaining $75 million will be issued on or before July 15, 2020. The securities have various maturity dates at a weighted-average tenor of 19 years and a weighted-average rate of 3.01%.

The issuance was planned to support TNMP’s continued capital investment plans for system upgrades and maintenance across its service territory and reduce short-term debt levels that were previously funding these investments. The financing is consistent with TNMP’s authorized regulatory capital structure of 55 percent debt.

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Starship chilled. Starship pressurized. And for the first time, it didn’t explode

ARS TECHNICA: Late on Sunday night, SpaceX completed a critical cryogenic test of a Starship prototype at its launch site in South Texas. The successful test, during which chilled nitrogen was loaded into pressurized fuel tanks, wasreported on Twitter by SpaceX founder Elon Musk.

The vehicle, dubbed SN4—which stands for Serial Number 4—was pressurized to 4.9 bar, or 4.9 times the atmospheric pressure at the surface of the Earth. This pressure is not as high as Starship’s fuel tanks and plumbing system are designed to withstand, but it is enough for a basic flight.

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The US has abandoned asylum seekers in Mexico during the pandemic

VOX: President Donald Trump has spent the last three years pursuing policies that would effectively shut down the asylum system on the southern border of the United States. Once the coronavirus hit, he was able to bring that vision to fruition.

Amid the pandemic, the Trump administration has closed the US-Mexico border, implemented an expulsion order to swiftly turn away migrants at the border, and postponed all immigration court hearings for migrants who are waiting in Mexico for a decision on their asylum applications in the US. Those measures, coupled with the restrictions on asylum seekers that were already in place, have brought the asylum system to a virtual standstill.

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Texas farmworkers struggle without government aid and coronavirus protection

SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS: In the predawn light, Francisco Garcia kisses his two daughters and whispers that he’ll be back after work. He makes his living harvesting onions near the South Texas town of Mercedes, a few miles from the Mexican border.

(This publication is subscription only)

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Diamond Offshore files for bankruptcy, citing ‘price war,’ coronavirus

CNBC: Diamond Offshore Drilling filed for bankruptcy protection in Texas on Sunday, after the company recently skipped making an interest payment and said it had retained restructuring advisers.

The Houston-based contract drilling company’s filing, one of 15 of its group companies seeking protection under Chapter 11, said day rates and demand for its services had “worsened precipitously” this year amid a “price war” between OPEC and Russia and the steep drop in oil demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

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Border city records biggest one-day spike in COVID-19 fatalities

KETK: Juarez recorded its largest one-day spike in COVID-19 fatalities with eight, health authorities reported Friday. That brings the total number of deaths to 42 in this Mexican border city where health officials say the worst is not over.

“We know there will be an increased number of cases in the next weeks,” said Dr. Arturo Valenzuela, head of the Chihuahua state Health Department in Juarez.

Most of the new fatalities are taking place inside clinic 35 of the IMSS (Mexican Social Security Institute), where a large number of the sick are hospitalized, some of them on ventilators.

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Trump’s immigration crackdown is creating new coronavirus hotspots

BUSINESS INSIDER: Throughout his presidency, Donald Trump has complained that on immigration, the United States has “the worst laws of any country in the world,” which constrain his anti-immigrant agenda at the border with Mexico.

He hasn’t been able to convince Congress to change those laws, or even to pay for a wall along the southern border, even after instigating the longest government shutdown in history just to pressure Congress.

Trump’s administration has instead sought to chip away at immigration statutes and bend them almost to their breaking point, in order to make it harder for all immigrants, but primarily asylum-seekers, to enter the United States.

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U.S. adds cameras at Mexico border despite drop in crossings

FORTUNE: The Trump administration has been quietly adding military surveillance cameras at the U.S.-Mexico border in response to the coronavirus pandemic, though fewer people appear to be crossing illegally. It’s the latest move as operations at the U.S.-Mexico border have become increasingly militarized and secretive.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press show the Department of Defense, at the request of the Department of Homeland Security, sent 60 mobile surveillance cameras and 540 additional troops to the southwest border this month. The documents are unclassified but for official use only and were part of PowerPoint slides created last week to brief Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson, commander of U.S. Army North, the primary unit overseeing military operations at the border.

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U.S. Pushes Mexico To Open Some Factories

NPR: American officials and corporations are urging Mexico to reclassify some U.S.-owned factories there as essential. They want the plants and the U.S.-Mexico supply chain to remain open during the current coronavirus lockdown. But as NPR’s Carrie Kahn reports, as more workers get sick from the virus, Mexican officials are pushing back.

Last week, hundreds of workers walked off the job at several U.S.-owned factories in Ciudad Juarez, just across the border from El Paso, Texas.

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Mexico All but Empties Official Migrant Centers in Bid to Contain Coronavirus

REUTERS: Mexico has almost entirely cleared out government migrant centers over the past five weeks to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, returning most of the occupants to their countries of origin, official data showed on Sunday.

In a statement, the National Migration Institute (INM) said that since March 21, in order to comply with health and safety guidelines, it had been removing migrants from its 65 migrant facilities, which held 3,759 people last month.

In the intervening weeks, Mexico has returned 3,653 migrants to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador by road and air, with the result that only 106 people remain in the centers, it said.

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COVID-19 in Mexico, more lethal than in the US and China

YUCATAN TIMES: The World Health Organization (WHO) has indicated that the global death rate stands at 6.9 percent; however, 17 countries exceed this average of deaths per 100 infections at present.

In Mexico, 9.4 percent of people who are infected with the new SARS-CoV2 coronavirus, which causes covid-19 disease, die. The tenth highest death rate in the world among 137 countries that have recorded at least one death from this disease.

According to international comparison, Mexico ranks below nations with severe hospital saturation problems such as Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, and Italy, which have rates of more than 13 percent.

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Social limits needed through summer, Birx says, as some states ease coronavirus restrictions

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Social distancing must continue through the summer, White House coronavirus-response coordinator Deborah Birx said Sunday, even as some states began moving to ease shutdown and stay-at-home guidelines meant to stem the spread of the pathogen.

As the U.S. death toll from the virus neared 55,000 — the highest fatality total for any country, and nearly equaling the number of Americans who died in the Vietnam War — a nationwide debate intensified over the weekend about how best to balance economic imperatives and public-health needs amid the pandemic.

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U.S. deaths soared in early weeks of pandemic, far exceeding number attributed to covid-19

WASHINGTON POST: In the early weeks of the coronavirus epidemic, the United States recorded an estimated 15,400 excess deaths, nearly two times as many as were publicly attributed to covid-19 at the time, according to an analysis of federal data conducted for The Washington Post by a research team led by the Yale School of Public Health.

The excess deaths — the number beyond what would normally be expected for that time of year — occurred during March and through April 4, a time when 8,128 coronavirus deaths were reported.

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Pelosi says ‘guaranteed income’ plan for Americans worth considering as House Democrats push forward with next big coronavirus bill

WASHINGTON POST: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Monday that Congress might need to consider offering guaranteed income to some Americans to help the country recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We may have to think in terms of some different ways to put money in people’s pockets,” Pelosi said on MSNBC. “Others have suggested a minimum income, a guaranteed income for people. Is that worthy of attention now? Perhaps so.”

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Some States Ease Lockdowns as Global Coronavirus Cases Top 3 Million

WALL STREET JOURNAL: More U.S. states and countries took steps to ease lockdown orders and reopen their economies as new coronavirus cases appeared to slow in places, even with global reported infections exceeding three million.

New Zealand said it had effectively eliminated the pathogen from within its borders and China reported a record daily low in new confirmed infections, while the U.K. braced for a peak of the virus there.

After weeks of business closures and social-distancing orders in the U.S., salons, shops and certain other businesses in some states began welcoming customers over the weekend.

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The Secret Group of Scientists and Billionaires Pushing a Manhattan Project for Covid-19

WALL STREET JOURNAL: A dozen of America’s top scientists and a collection of billionaires and industry titans say they have the answer to the coronavirus pandemic, and they found a backdoor to deliver their plan to the White House.

The eclectic group is led by a 33-year-old physician-turned-venture capitalist, Tom Cahill, who lives far from the public eye in a one-bedroom rental near Boston’s Fenway Park. He owns just one suit, but he has enough lofty connections to influence government decisions in the war against Covid-19.

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South Texas Eco-Tourism Center project enters construction phase

BROWNSVILLE HERALD: It won’t be long before construction of this interactive and educational ecotourism hub begins.

A contract has been awarded to Noble Texas Builders for the construction of the South Texas Eco-Tourism Center (STEC).

Cameron County Pct. 3 Commissioner David A. Garza made the announcement during a Laguna Vista council meeting held April 14.

Cameron County officials plan to build the STEC on 10 acres within Laguna Vista’s 23-acre site on the west side of Highway 100.

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City asks for donations to continue funding COVID-19 tests

BROWNSVILLE HERALD: The City of Brownsville announced Thursday they are asking for donations to help pay for testing for those who are uninsured, and are unable to afford it, as well as to support food banks who are responding to the COVID-19 in Brownsville.

The City of Brownsville launched the drive-thru testing site on March 25 at the Brownsville Sports Park and has tested over 1,000 people with more than 2,000 requests.

“At least 50% of the individuals that have been tested are uninsured,” the website for the donation reads. “Currently, the City of Brownsville is absorbing the cost, but as we have seen in other cities, the tendency is to have more people needing a test.”

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COVID-19 deaths in Texas increase by 25, now stands at 648

VALLEY MORNING STAR: The number of deaths in Texas due to COVID-19, which is caused by the coronavirus, has risen by 25, the Texas health department reported Sunday.

There have been at least 648 deaths, up from 623 reported Saturday, and more than 24,000 coronavirus cases, according to the department. The number of infections is likely much higher because many people have not been tested and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick. The department reported more than 1,500 people hospitalized with the virus.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

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Analysis: A governor balancing noisy resistance to staying at home with the rest of his political base

TEXAS TRIBUNE: The persistent and very public pressure on Gov. Greg Abbott to “open up” Texas less than a month after his April 2 stay-at-home order has come mainly from a small but vocal cadre of current and former Republican elected officials and a small but attention-grabbing hodgepodge of protestors and dissident GOP tweeters from the right.

The April 2020 University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll found signs of staying-at-home fatigue (no argument here), acute concern about the economic fallout from attempts to starve the virus of human hosts, and just plain impatience. Even so, it also showed that most Texans, Republicans included, take the threat of COVID-19 seriously enough to ignore the loud and inflammatory calls for a rapid reversal.

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