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May 11th, 2023:

You didn’t get your hopes up about that “raise the age” bill, did you?


The unexpected elation felt this week by gun control advocates and families of Uvalde shooting victims dissolved to despair Tuesday, when a bill that would raise the age to legally purchase semi-automatic rifles lost its newfound momentum and was left off the Texas House’s agenda ahead of a key deadline.

Barring an unexpected development, the delay likely ends the bill’s chances of becoming law.

The proposal has long faced stiff odds in a state that has regularly loosened gun restrictions in recent years. But on Monday, in the aftermath of the deadly shooting in an Allen shopping mall, a House committee unexpectedly advanced the legislation in an 8-5 vote that included two Republicans supporting it.

That left little time for the bill to be added to the House’s calendar, however. The final day the House can pass bills is Thursday, and the chamber’s agenda must be approved 36 hours ahead of when they convene. That creates a de facto deadline of around 10 p.m. Tuesday for the measure to be placed on the calendar.

When that hour arrived Tuesday night, House Bill 2744 remained off the list.

The measure’s supporters, particularly parents of children who died at Robb Elementary in Uvalde who have been advocating for it all session, pushed until the end. Minutes before 10 p.m., a small group stood outside the House chamber holding signs and chanting and calling for the bill to be heard on the House floor. Even then, they could be heard faintly from the back of the chamber.

“2-7-4-4,” they yelled. “Put this bill on the floor.”

There were less than a dozen of them, but they could be heard inside the House chamber — their chants carrying loudly enough that Capitol staffers closed the doors to the second-floor viewing gallery.

Perhaps the loudest was Brett Cross, whose 10-year-old son Uziyah Garcia was shot to death by an AR-15 in one of Robb’s classrooms. When the clock passed 10 p.m., a few Democrats left the chamber and hugged him. Soon after, witnesses in the Capitol said, a Department of Public Safety trooper approached with a decibel monitor, informed him he was being too loud and escorted him out of the building. Cross continued chanting the bill’s number as he left.

“This is just another fucking attempt to slow and stop us,” Cross said on Twitter. “2744 may have died tonight, but we will never stop!

“Texas fucked with the wrong parents!”

\Another parent, Kimberly Mata-Rubio, who lost her 10-year-old daughter Alexandria “Lexi” Aniyah Rubio in the shooting, vowed to travel to the districts of House Speaker Dade Phelan, Calendars Committee Chair Dustin Burrows and Select Committee on Community Safety Chair Ryan Guillen and “share Lexi’s story, and the disrespect shown to Uvalde families.”

“This isn’t over,” she said. “We will regroup, re-strategize and come back stronger.”


As it became clear Tuesday afternoon that the bill was again in danger, proponents voiced their frustration. Some left signs urging its passage outside the Calendars Committee’s meeting room. Others protested outside the office of Rep. Ryan Guillen, R-Rio Grande City, the chair of the committee that advanced the bill Monday.

Guillen could not be immediately reached for comment about whether the committee report had been sent to the calendars committee or whether it would be before the deadline.

“I’m sickened that HB 2744 will not be brought to a full House vote,” said Rep. Jarvis Johnson, a Houston Democrat who voted to advance the bill Monday as a member of the select House committee. “For once, the legislature seemed to listen to its constituents & do the right thing after getting this bill out of committee.”

Lawmakers could use other approaches to revive the proposal. But advocates are realistic that the measure will most likely ultimately fail. Even if it were to pass the House — a tall request — it would still need to advance through a Senate that’s perhaps even more skeptical of the idea.

See here for the background. This was as unsurprising as a genital-obsessed youth pastor turning out to be a sex predator, just to pick an analogy at random. I have nothing but love and empathy for the Uvalde parents, who have done everything they can to get the gun-humping Republicans to Do Something about all the murdered children our state keeps producing, but that’s too tall a task for anyone. The only thing we can do is vote them out. We did get a couple of the committee members to support this incremental step forward, so there has to be some room for persuasion. Until such time as we can grow enough Democrats to win on sheer numbers, we’re going to have to persuade some Republican voters to switch sides in at least some races because of the gun issue – or the abortion issue, or the marijuana issue, or the gambling issue, whatever may work for them – if we ever want to change how things are done here. The next chance to do that is next year. Same story, next election. The Chron and the Current have more.

Another Dallas ransomware update

More specific info, but still a lot we don’t know.

Dallas’ top information technology official says the city hasn’t found any signs yet that personal information from employees or residents have been leaked after a cyberattack last week.

Bill Zielinski, Dallas’ chief information officer, told council members Monday during a public safety committee meeting that monitoring is ongoing to see if any personal information stored by the city shows up elsewhere, such as on the dark web. If it does, the city plans to on the dark web. If it does, the city plans to directly contact people affected.

The city’s network is still being restored after last Wednesday’s ransomware attack, and city servers and devices may need to be replaced to make sure they aren’t corrupted, Zielinski said. He offered no timeline on when all impacted city services will be restored, said state and federal officials are in contact with the city as an investigation continues, and declined to give specific details related to the ransomware attack.

“The city cannot comment on specific details related to the method or means of the attack, the mode of remediation or potential communications with the party launching the attack,” Zielinski said. “Doing so risks impeding the investigation or exposing critical information that can potentially be exploited by the attacker.”

Zielinski said the city intentionally took electronic systems, services and devices offline after detecting the ransomware early Wednesday to prevent it from spreading.

See here and here for the background. Putting my cybersecurity hat on, everything said here is more or less normal and expected. It sounds to me like they are not paying any ransom but instead are restoring and rebuilding their affected assets. That takes longer, but it doesn’t put you into any kind of relationship with the attackers. I can’t tell for sure if they know (or reasonably believe) that personal data was exfiltrated or if they’re not sure. Notifying people who have been affected is the normal course of action, if needed. There are various services to monitor the dark web to look for the presence of this kind of data; I presume they are using such a service for this purpose. They may or may not have hired a third party firm to verify their systems are no longer compromised and to do a full incident report; they may have that capability themselves or already have a contract with a firm that does this kind of work for them as a part of business as usual.

Zielinski had a closed-door meeting with the Council, in which I presume he gave them much more detail. What I would want to know is 1) how exactly did this happen – we have the basic information, but we need to know how it went once the first machine was compromised, how it spread to other machines; 2) what security controls failed or were missing that could have stopped or minimized this; and 3) what did we learn from this so we can prevent a repeat occurrence – obviously, better employee training is key, but better blocking of the type of program used in the compromise and better endpoint detection and response could be on the agenda as well. Hopefully Dallas will share their experience with other cities, counties, school districts, and other entities that could learn from it. We all need to be in this together. WFAA and NBCDFW have more.

FDA approves RSV vaccine


After a 60-year scientific quest, the world has its first vaccine to protect against respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV – and more are on the way.

On Wednesday, the US Food and Drug Administration approved Arexvy, made by GSK, which is designed to be given as a single shot to adults 60 and older.

It could be available for seniors as soon as this fall, pending a recommendation for its use from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which next meets in June.

“Older adults, in particular those with underlying health conditions, such as heart or lung disease or weakened immune systems, are at high risk for severe disease caused by RSV,” said Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, in a statement. “Today’s approval of the first RSV vaccine is an important public health achievement to prevent a disease which can be life-threatening and reflects the FDA’s continued commitment to facilitating the development of safe and effective vaccines for use in the United States.”

Although RSV is a disease that’s often associated with babies and young children, it can also be dangerous for seniors. In the US, an estimated 159,000 adults 65 and older are hospitalized each year with RSV, and an estimated 10,000 to 13,000 die as a result of their infection.

“RSV certainly is an important disease in the elderly. In some years, the burden of RSV disease comes close to the burden of flu in the elderly. And this is really a wonderful development,” said Dr. Ruth Karron, a professor of international health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who was not involved in the development of the vaccine.


Three other RSV vaccines for older adults are also in the final phases of testing.

The FDA is expected to make a decision on Pfizer’s RSV vaccine for older adults by the end of May. The agency is also reviewing Pfizer’s maternal vaccine to protect infants and is expected to make a call on that one by the end of August.

Moderna is finishing its Phase 3 trial of an mRNA vaccine for RSV in older adults and expects to submit the results to the FDA for approval within the next few months.

Bavarian Nordic, maker of the Jynneos mpox vaccine, says it will report results from a Phase 3 trial of its RSV vaccine for older adults this year.

Paul Chaplin, president and CEO of Bavarian Nordic, says there’s a saying in Britain that you’ll wait a long time for a bus, and then four will show up at once. The race to the finish line for an RSV vaccine is a little bit like that, he says.

“We’ve been waiting decades for a safe effective RSV vaccine, and there’s been numerous attempts that have failed,” Chaplin said.

“And I know GSK will likely get the first approval, but there are others coming through, including us. And I just think it’s fantastic, because RSV is a huge unmet medical need that a lot of people underestimate the importance of, and we will hopefully now have a number of effective vaccines that will help protect people.”

We’ve discussed RSV before, often in the context of other viruses. I’m a few years away from being in the group of people for whom this vaccine is recommended, but who knows, that could change any time. I’m glad we’ll have this option. The story of how we got to where we are, and the disastrous first attempt at an RSV vaccine in the 60s, is worth your time to read. And if you are in that group that ought to get this shot, please do yourself the favor and do it.

Texas blog roundup for the week of May 8

The Texas Progressive Alliance had a brief craving for tea and crumpets over the weekend but it seems to have passed in favor of the weekly roundup.