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‘A lot of people don’t know the severity of what’s going on’

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The widespread power outages in Texas improved overnight even as they caused serious, cascading issues with the state’s supply of heating, water, food and medicine.Power was down for about 500,000 Texas customers as of Thursday morning — way down from the over 3 million outages a day earlier, according to Poweroutage.us. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the state’s power grid, said in a statement Thursday morning it had made “significant progress” restoring power overnight.

But the winter storm and ongoing cold were still affecting the system’s power generation, and rotating outages may be needed over the next couple of days, the company said.ERCOT said those still without power are likely in areas where ice has damaged the distribution system, live in areas where service needs to be restored manually, or are a large industrial facility that voluntarily went offline to help with grid overload.The statement comes as freezing temperatures are forecast again for Thursday, extending an already excruciating period. Since last Thursday, 16 Texans have died due to the extreme weather. Nearly 12 million people are facing water disruptions, with boil-water notices, broken pipes and failing systems, state officials said.”The message though is, number one, the power is fragile because of the impacts throughout, and number two, we now have water issues,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo told CNN. “Hospitals have issues. We have water pressure issues. We’re all on boil-water notices and folks are having trouble accessing food.”

Homes in the Westbury neighborhood of Houston are covered in snow on Monday, February 15.

In Portland, outside of Corpus Christi, Brianna Blake told CNN on Wednesday that she and her husband kept their children warm by burning household items, including artwork and fencing, as they dealt with 36 hours of no heat in their home.”I just started kind of grabbing my canvasses off the wall, and breaking them and throwing them into the fire,” she said.Another round of harsh weather is forecast. A winter weather warning is in effect from Central to East Texas, including Dallas, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, and Amarillo, according to CNN meteorologist Michael Guy. Snow is expected to fall in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, with ice and freezing rain farther south as far as Laredo and Corpus Christi.Temperatures will rise Friday, yet overnight conditions throughout the weekend will remain below freezing. Icing on bridges and overpasses will remain a threat until late Sunday into Monday.

Spillover effects of no power for days

Several frigid days with no power or heating has led to serious water issues: frozen and burst pipes, disabled water treatment plants and a lack of water pressure.Nearly 7 million Texans were under boil-water notices Wednesday, according to Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Commissioner Toby Baker. In Austin, authorities issued a citywide boil-water notice after a drop in water pressure at a treatment plant Wednesday night.How you can help the Texas storm victimsFort Hood city leaders asked residents to conserve 40% of their water during the storm due to water line breaks and subsequent flooding. Del Rio, in southwest Texas along the border with Mexico, put out an urgent message late Wednesday to residents asking them not to flush their toilets or release any wastewater into the sewer system.

Smita Pande, of Crestview, told CNN she and others may have to use melted snow for drinking water when their bottled water runs out.”We didn’t anticipate the water to be shut off, but once it did, we assumed a ‘worst case scenario’ type of thing and just grabbed snow off the balcony and put into kettles and pots to use for drinking water in case we don’t get water back anytime soon,” Pande said. “If the power outage is any indication of how long that’ll be, then we are going to be boiling snow for a while.”The outages have also led to food shortages as Texans scramble for needed supplies and scrounge for a hot meal.”Grocery stores are already unable to get shipments of dairy products. Store shelves are already empty,” Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said. “We’re looking at a food supply chain problem like we’ve never seen before, even with Covid-19.”Philip Shelley, a resident of Fort Worth, told CNN that he, his wife Amber and 11-month-old daughter, Ava, are struggling to stay warm and fed. Amber is pregnant and due April 4.”(Ava) is down to half a can of formula,” Philip said. “Stores are out if not extremely low on food. Most of our food in the refrigerator is spoiled. Freezer food is close to thawed but we have no way to heat it up.”

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Why the electric grid neared collapse

Customers wait in line to enter Frontier Fiesta on February 17, 2021 in Houston, Texas. – A winter storm has caused rolling black-outs through out the Houston and the surrounding areas for the past 48 hours. Millions of Americans were struggling without electricity Wednesday as bitter cold from a deadly winter storm system held its grip across huge swathes of the United States, even pushing as far south as Mexico. (Photo by Thomas Shea / AFP) (Photo by THOMAS SHEA/AFP via Getty Images)

The widespread outages stem from a weather disaster coupled with an unprepared infrastructure.A winter weather system brought unusually frigid temperatures to much of the central US over the past few days. The deep freeze caused demand for power and heating to skyrocket even as it knocked out Texas’s natural gas, coal, wind and nuclear facilities, which were not ready to function in such cold weather.The storm has caused serious outages across the country, including in Louisiana, Mississippi and Kentucky. But the outages were most severe in Texas because the state runs on its own electric grid, ERCOT — a way to avoid federal regulation — and cannot easily borrow power from other states.

The lack of winter preparedness has long been an issue for ERCOT’s power system. Ten years ago, a bitter cold snap caused over 3.2 million ERCOT customers to lose power during Super Bowl week. A 350-page federal report on the outages found that the power generators’ winterization procedures were “either inadequate or were not adequately followed.”US Rep. Marc Veasey, a Democrat who represents parts of Fort Worth and Dallas, said he learned from an industry executive that the power grid was just minutes from failing on Monday before state agency officials initiated emergency rolling outages.”I want people to know that we were minutes away from the entire grid crashing,” he told CNN’s Ed Lavandera.As with any systemic failure, the blame is spreading far and wide. Gov. Abbott said Wednesday afternoon that an investigation of ERCOT, Texas’ power supply operator, is slated to begin next week.Abbott, former governor Rick Perry and the Lone Star state’s Republican leaders are in turn facing heated questions over their misleading claims about renewable energy and why they didn’t act to protect the electric grid given the clear warnings.”We have learned really in a tragic way that ERCOT and the state had not prepared to have enough backup power to have resilient power supply to face the historic weather that we all really knew was coming,” Judge Hidalgo said.

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Tucker Carlson May Get Suspended By Fox News’ CEO: Report

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Tucker Carlson is coming under fire for a report he did last night where he incorrectly blamed drugs not police brutality for George Floyd’s death. A reliable source said Fox News CEO Lachlan Murdoch, son of Rupert, is not happy with Tucker and is considering suspending him or worse. Fox is facing serious pressure from one massive lawsuit and may get hit with one from Dominion soon as well.

The report, from a conservative news aggregation site, said  “Fox’s CEO, Lachlan Murdoch, is considering suspending or firing Tucker Carlson for insensitive reporting on new court documents that show George Floyd had a fatal level of fentanyl in his system when he died.”

“Fox’s Lachlan Murdoch heard about Tucker Carlson’s ‘attack’ on George Floyd from Hillary Clinton’s former spokesmen Jesse Lehrich who said, “Tucker Carlson smeared George Floyd tonight, claiming he ‘almost certainly died of a drug overdose. it sickens me that the Floyd family has to endure this depravity, and I hope they sue Tucker & FOX for $3B, which is apparently the only thing that changes their behavior.”

From The Wrap:

Sponsors for “Tucker Carlson Tonight” faced renewed calls for boycotts Thursday after Carlson falsely claimed Wednesday night that George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by police in Minneapolis last summer, died of a drug overdose. The claim Carlson shared on Fox News Wednesday has been debunked and it earned him significant ire as a result.

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Sleeping Giants, an organization that frequently calls on Fox News sponsors to remove their ads from the channel and its associated website, started tweeting the video of Carlson making the claim directly at brands like Sandals Resort and Nutrisystem, which advertise during his primetime hour. The move has been successful for Sleeping Giants in the past.

Representatives for Sandals and Nutrisystem did not immediately return a request for comment. The brands have advertised with the network for years and their commercials have remained on the airwaves through previous rounds of advertiser boycotts aimed at Carlson and Laura Ingraham.

Actor George Takei took his call a step further, expressing his hope that Carlson himself would soon be taken off the air after questioning not only the circumstances of Floyd’s death, but the events that took place during the deadly Capitol riot on Jan. 6.

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VIDEO: Hannity gives a scorching reaction to newly declassified Russia documents

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Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham released declassified Crossfire Hurricane documents; Sean Hannity breaks it all down.

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