WASHINGTON (AP) – The House Oversight Committee is investigating the agency that operates the Texas power grid, seeking information and documents about the lack of preparation for the recent winter storm that caused millions of power outages and dozens of deaths across the state. Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna sent a letter to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, saying he is concerned that the loss of electric service – “and the resulting human suffering, deaths and economic costs” – will happen again unless ERCOT and the state of Texas adequately prepare for a predicted increase in extreme weather events. ERCOT’s CEO was fired Wednesday.
AUSTIN (AP) – Texas’ power grid manager has been fired following February’s deadly blackouts that left millions of people without electricity and heat for days. The board of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas fired CEO Bill Magness on Wednesday. He is the highest-ranking official to lose his job in the wake of one of the worst power outages in U.S. history. More than 4 million customers in Texas lost electricity as the state’s power grid buckled in subfreezing weather. The winter storm and ensuing blackout have been blamed for at least 40 deaths, but the exact toll likely won’t be known for months.
DALLAS (AP) – The impact of Texas’ governor repealing many of the state’s COVID-19 restrictions is beginning to take shape. Some businesses are shedding rules. Some city leaders are plotting new safeguards. And the state’s 5 million schoolchildren largely remained under orders to keep wearing masks for now. President Joe Biden on Wednesday also reacted to America’s second-largest state winding down virus restrictions for nearly 30 million people, calling it “Neanderthal thinking.” The mask mandate and occupancy limits on restaurants and retail stores end March 10. Already, some stores announced they still won’t allow maskless customers, while social media users began tracking evolving polices on crowdsourced spreadsheets.
DALLAS (AP) – Marie Tippit, the widow of the Dallas police officer killed by Lee Harvey Oswald about 45 minutes after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, has died. She was 92. Her son said she died Tuesday at a hospital in the East Texas city of Sulphur Springs after being diagnosed with pneumonia following a positive test for COVID-19. She was a 35-year-old mother of three when her husband, Officer J.D. Tippit, was killed on Nov. 22, 1963. Her family says she was devoted to them and helping others.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) – SpaceX’s futuristic Starship has exploded after what looked to be a successful touchdown. The full-scale prototype soared more than 6 miles Wednesday after lifting off from the southern tip of Texas. It descended horizontally and then flipped upright just in time to land. The shiny bullet-shaped rocketship remained intact, prompting a SpaceX commentator to declare, “third time’s a charm.” But soon afterward, the Starship exploded and was hurled into the air by the force. Two previous test flights crash-landed in fireballs. SpaceX founder Elon Musk plans to use Starships to send people to the moon and Mars.
HOUSTON (AP) — Authorities say a shooting by a police officer in Houston critically wounded a baby and killed a man who was driving a car linked to several robberies. Police say officers were trying to stop a black Mercedes late Wednesday, but the driver didn’t stop and eventually crashed. The driver then ran to a gas station, where a woman was pumping gas with a baby in the backseat of her vehicle. Police say the man jumped into the vehicle and an officer opened fire after seeing that he had a gun. Police say the officer didn’t know the child was in the vehicle at the time of the shooting. The officer who opened fire will be paid on administrative leave pending an investigation.
NEW YORK (AP) – Arts and crafts retailer Michaels is going private. The Irving, Texas-based retail chain said Wednesday it has agreed to be acquired by Apollo Global Management in a $5 billion deal. Under the terms of the agreement, approved by Michaels’ board, Apollo will begin a tender offer to buy all outstanding shares of Michaels for $22 each in cash. That price represents a 47% premium to the closing stock price on Feb. 26, the last trading day before media speculation about the potential deal. The agreement includes a 25-day go-shop period which lets Michaels solicit and evaluate other offers and to terminate the deal for a better proposal.