The Daily Moth 5-1-17

May 2, 2017



Congress Agrees on New Spending Bill, Deadly Storms Kills 15 Across U.S., Stabbing at University of Texas, and TXAD Hosts “Legislative Day.” 




Hello, welcome to the Daily Moth! It is Monday, May 1 — the first day of month #5 of 2017. Ready for news? 




Our Congress has agreed on a new spending bill with more than $1 trillion to fund the government until September 30. 


Last Friday there was an one-week extension to avoid a shutdown, and that’s due by Friday but now we have a longer-term agreement. 


The bill will give $12.5 billion to the military and a possible $2.5 billion fund set aside for the military to fight ISIS (for a total of 15 billion to the military), $1.5 billion on border security (for technology and repair current infrastructure — none of this money will be used for a new border wall), $2 billion to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) — (which Trump previously wanted to cut funding for), $296 million to Puerto Rico so they will not run out of Medicaid funding, $8.1 billion for states hit by disasters, almost $1 billion to help aid for famines in the world, and $68 million to reimburse NY law enforcement agencies for the cost of helping Secret Service to protect Trump and his family.


Among other things, the bill also leaves current funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and will not cut down on funding for Planned Parenthood. 


This bill will last us until the next one is due October 1.




Last weekend there were serious storms from Missouri, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama — in which 14 people died and many were injured. Some of those storms caused tornadoes.


East of Dallas, TX — in Van Zandt and Henderson Counties — four people died after several tornadoes hit the areas, including one that scraped the Earth for 40 to 50 miles long with a half-mile wide path. One person died because s/he was in a car that was sent flying by the tornado. 


It a barn where there was supposed to be a high-school prom. Around 20 people were inside as it was early, around 5 pm —  and all of them went in the two restrooms to shelter themselves. The barn collapsed, but no one of the 20, including a baby, was hurt. There was a firefighter in that group who said he had to hold the door to the restroom with his back to keep it from being pried open by the tornado. They said it was very loud, they could see the baby crying but couldn’t hear it. People were praying in there and some thought they would die. They say they are thankful it was not an hour later, as there would be many more high school students and other people inside.


There was a planned wedding on Saturday night at a family house on a large lot of land — it had a swimming pool, a pond, and a large, separate garage building. Family and friends of the bride and groom were there to get the area ready for the wedding — kids were playing outside and the cake was being set up. 


They said they noticed that the winds were increasing — and saw a tree flying by. They started to yell at each other to get down into a storm shelter — (the owner of the house actually has a business building storm shelters) — but they were not able to make it down before the storm hit. People say the house started to be ripped up piece by piece, they were holding on to kids, things were hitting their backs and legs. 


Outside of the house — a grandfather got two little boys inside of his truck, which flipped over and stopped in a ditch. The grandfather broke ribs, but the boys were okay. They said tree branches went through the window and hit their heads. 


The garage had several people inside of it when the tornado hit and it was completely destroyed — sadly a 51-year old man died when a race car that was on a lift fell and crushed him. Two others were also pinned down, but made it out. One man had his foot amputated.  


After the tornado passed, the main group went down in the shelter and stayed there for around 2 hours. They wanted to get out to check on others, but had to go back in the shelter as multiple tornado warnings/tornadoes touched down in the area. The group is sad that one person died, but said they said it could have been worse. 


There were thousands of homes that were damaged from the tornado, many businesses destroyed, churches and schools damaged, many people’s lives interrupted as they begin cleaning up and start thinking about how they will rebuild. 


In Arkansas, five people died from severe storms and flooding. One person died when a tree fell on her mobile home. A volunteer fire chief died when a car hit him during heavy thunderstorms — he was checking water levels. A 10-year old girl died after being pulled away into floodwaters. One woman died after she rode on a tube on creek — she was missing and her body was found later, presumably by drowning. One person died after people tried to save the person in floodwaters. There are two more kids, a baby girl and a 4-year old boy missing after their car was swept away by floodwaters. Very sad. 


In Missouri, three people died from flooding. One 72-year old woman died when her car was pulled away by floodwaters. Her husband tried to save her, but couldn’t. A 78-year old man died when he slipped into a rushing creek and drowned. A 18-year old man died when his car was swept away by floodwaters. 


In Mississippi — two people died from the storms. One father of four died when a tree fell on his house. One 7-year old boy died when he was electrocuted. Terrible. 


A 2-year old girl in Tennessee died when a heavy metal soccer goal hit the girl when she was running on the field during heavy wind storms. 


So that’s a total of 15 people that died last weekend from storms. Heartbreaking and it’s usually this time of the year when we get into springtime and there’s a mix of warm and cold air, it causes severe storms. 


Be safe and if you get a tornado warning, seek shelter, and if there’s floodwaters, don’t try to drive over the road — turn around and stay alive.




There was a stabbing this afternoon at the University of Texas in Austin — one student died and three students were injured. 


A 21-year old student, Kendrex White, stabbed several people using a large “bowie style” knife. 


Someone called the UT police that there was a stabbing near the gym. When an officer arrived, he saw Kendrex walking away from a person who was on the floor, apparently wounded. 


The officer drew his gun and told him to get down on the floor (inside of a building). He was arrested and taken outside in handcuffs, and is now in police custody. He had a large leather pocket for the knife and was wearing a bandana. 


Police then found three more people, all male students, who were also stabbed. Four total stabbed, one died, the other three are at the hospital. 


Witnesses said when they were eating at an area with food trucks, they saw him grab the knife and stab a student in the back of his neck. He then turned around and stabbed another student and stabbed him in the lower back. Others reported him kicking a female college student, causing her to almost fall. 


He has not yet been charged and it is not clear what his motive is. He was a junior at UT majoring in Biology.


Picture: Ray Arredondo:




Last Thursday I went to the Texas State Capitol building to participate in an event hosted by the Texas Association of the Deaf for their “Legislative Day” — in which various groups advocating for Deaf/DeafBlind people gave presentations about their issues and what legislative actions needed to be done.


Here is a short video clip by two people from TXAD who hosted the event — Adrian and Crystal. 



[Adrian: Hi my name is Adrian Redding. I am the co-chair for TADNOW. 


Crystal: I am Crystal Schwartz. I’ve teamed up with him to host this successful event. 


Adrian: Yes, over 200 people came. It is amazing. It is important because we are here to talk about important issues such as LEAD-K, SSP for DeafBlind people, interpreting issues, and to recognize issues that TXAD can support in the future. 


Crystal: It’s hosted by the Texas Association of the Deaf. Various organizations came to collaborate and share our energy and vibes. We’ve talked about several issues and we want to do something about it. It’s provided us with the motivation to work again for successes in the lives of Deaf and hard of hearing people all over Texas. I’m excited and inspired by the number of people who came here.


Adrian: I hope we can keep the relationships and keep on growing stronger in the future. I’m excited to have this happen and I thank you, the community. 


Crystal: I’m especially excited that the Daily Moth is here!]


Nice! The first presentation I saw was from Ron Lucey, who was the executive director of the Texas Governor’s committee on people with disabilities. The TX state website says he has “vision disability.” He said he met many Deaf people at the Deaf Grassroots Movement rally last year at the state capitol and told the state governor (Abbott) about it. 


The second was by Beth Hamilton representing LEAD-K Texas. She has been leading an effort to introduce a LEAD-K bill in Texas state legislature, and she’s since filed two bills, has support, but has opposition. Update on that — tomorrow it will be heard in committee meeting — I will be there and give you updates on that. So there’s good progress on that. 


The third speech was by Jason Shaw — who is a certified master electrician and a deaf business owner. He has been advocating for the legislature to add disabled people to be on priority consideration for state contracts that use small businesses. He said there are priority consideration for minorities, women, and disabled veterans — but that general disabled people are not included, and he wants to change that. 


The fourth speech was by Texas School for the Deaf Superintendent Claire Bugen. She said there are 580 total students enrolled. She said there were many positive things for TSD, but there was a budget shortfall that caused them to have to cancel summer programs. She said student enrollment is increasing, but the school’s budget isn’t keeping up, so she’s proposed two different bills — one that asks for a 1.1 million increase and another for a 2 million increase. She said she supports LEAD-K. 


There was a video presentation by the NAD CEO Howard Rosenblum and the NAD President Melissa Draganac-Hawk. They lauded the TXAD for their efforts and encouraged them to get to know their representatives — to be “friends” with them in order to have legislative success. 


Then two DeafBlind women representing DeafBlind citizens in Texas gave a presentation about the need for a state-funded program for SSPs - support service specialists — to support DeafBlind as they go grocery shopping, read the mail, pay bills, drive to places. One of the women said 20 other states have a state-funded program for SSPs, but Texas does have one. 


The next group gave a presentation about the need for interpreters in the state to be required by law to have certifications. They said currently a person can pass an interpreter training program and say they are “an interpreter” without being certified by either the BEI or RID. They say it is difficult to pass in Texas because it is a conservative state — which means lawmakers don’t want to put burdens on businesses. 


There were various other discussions and presentations, but those are the main ones. It was a very beneficial time for the TXAD and for Deaf/DeafBlind Texans in general, and I was struck in that within the Deaf community, there are various sub-groups that each have serious, valid concerns that needs legislation. TXAD did a great job with organizing the event. If you are a Deaf Texan, you can become a member for $1 at 


I’ll be at the capitol again tomorrow for the LEAD-K — I’ll provide an update. 




That is all for today. See you tomorrow and stay with the light! 

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