Ted Cruz says a vaccine mandate is ‘authoritarianism,’ but he supports them in Texas

Ted Cruz
GOP Sen. Ted Cruz gestures as he speaks to members of the media during the fifth day of the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, February 13, 2021.

  • President Biden has said federal workers will have to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested weekly.
  • Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, argues that is a display of “authoritarianism.”
  • But the US Senator admits that he does not believe other vaccines are a matter of individual choice.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

When he was running for president in 2015, Sen. Ted Cruz pledged to fire around 150,000 federal workers, outright eliminating the Department of Education and IRS. But now he is advocating for unelected bureaucrats in Washington, at least when it comes to their right to resist a life-saving vaccine in a pandemic.

“President Biden’s new vaccine mandate for federal employees is a brazen example of how the Left is politicizing science in the service of their authoritarian instincts,” Cruz said in a press release on Thursday.

The Texas Republican is himself vaccinated and has recommended others follow suit. Still, he said, “The American people must maintain their individual liberties and the right to make their own medical decisions.”

Biden’s directive provides a loophole; if a federal worker refuses to get vaccinated, they can get tested weekly, keep wearing masks, and socially distance.

Read more: Anti-vaxxers are engineering a wave of legal battles to fight mandatory workplace Covid jabs

If COVID-19 were not an infectious disease – more contagious than Ebola, far more deadly than the flu, and with potentially long-term health effects – the senator might have a point. Freedom, for better or worse, entails the liberty to make a bad decision.

But we are dealing with a virus, not a personal vice. The available vaccines are incredibly effective, making one 25 times less likely to end up in the hospital or die, according to the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But they are not perfect – and the likelihood of a “breakthrough” case is substantially higher when one is regularly exposed to an unvaccinated population that is a breeding ground for new variants.

You may drink yourself to death in a free society, at least in the privacy of your own home, but you are not permitted to cruise down the interstate. Federal and state laws are in place that prohibit drinking and driving.

Requiring the vaccine of the country’s 2.1 million federal workers appears to be a last resort, coming amid a surge brought about by lagging vaccination rates and the more contagious Delta variant. Though corporate America may follow the government’s lead, most Americans are simply being encouraged to get a shot, the iron fist of the state holding a $100 voucher for those who choose to get vaccinated.

In almost any other context, the senator from Texas would likely defend the right of an employer to set the terms of employment – indeed, he has argued there’s a right to deny it on the basis of sexual orientation. Every day, people accept restrictions on their liberties, from how they dress to what they say, in exchange for money. This is a system that enjoys overwhelming support from Republicans.

Vaccine mandates are also commonplace in Texas. There, the government mandates that every child who attends a public school receive seven vaccines covering everything from polio to Hepatitis to Measles, Mumps, and Rubella. Parents can obtain exemptions, under certain circumstances, but “in times of emergency or epidemic” Texas relies on blunt force. If you want your child to attend school, they must be vaccinated or they will be barred from entering the building – a recognition that, when it comes to a contagious disease, an individual choice can impinge on the liberty of others.

“Of course not,” a Cruz spokesperson, Dave Vasquez, said when asked if the senator objects to requirements for other vaccines. “Sen. Cruz has been clear that he opposes COVID vaccine mandates.”

And that is the crux: amid a pandemic, Cruz and others have decided now is the time to make public health another battle in the culture war, and to inveigh against liberal “authoritarianism” with respect to one particular life-saving inoculation. That looks more like politics than principle.

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Gov. Abbott banned COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates in Texas, despite cases continuing to rise in the state

greg abbott
In this Wednesday, March 17, 2021, file photo, Texas Gov Greg Abbott speaks during a news conference about migrant children detentions, in Dallas.

Texas Gov. Abbott signed an executive order on Friday, banning COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates in Texas, despite cases continuing to rise in the state.

The order bans government entities from requiring masks or vaccine documentation for employees and also disallows private businesses from mandating masks or vaccine passports for customers. Fines of $1,000 will be doled out to those who violate the order, and private entities receiving state funding are at risk of losing the funding if they go against the order.

Cases have risen in Texas as the Delta variant spreads, and on Friday there were 6,347 new COVID-19 cases, according to the Department of Health.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

Read the original article on Business Insider

15 of the best hotels in Texas, from old school luxury in San Antonio to Wild West vibes in Fort Worth

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A guest room at Rancho Pillow
Every room at Rancho Pillow is vibrant, colorful, and wholly unique.

  • Texas is a big state with cosmopolitan cities, cowboy culture, and white-sand beaches.
  • Major cities and towns have great hotels, from luxurious splurges to quirky, affordable properties.
  • We compiled the best hotels across Texas in places like Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, and Marfa.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

They say everything is bigger in Texas, and when it comes to its hotels, that’s certainly true, too.

From beach resorts in Galveston for a family vacation to a high-end spa retreat in Lake Austin, or a funky rural abode off-the-beaten-path in Marfa, the Lone Star State has something for you.

I’ve spent the majority of this summer exploring the state, making the major cities my home base for a few weeks at a time, with weekend trips to other destinations. In doing so, I’ve stayed in and researched Texas’ best hotels, which I’ve compiled below. Whether you’re in town for business, a bachelorette, or a rodeo, start here to decide where to stay.

Browse all the best hotels in Texas below, or jump directly to a specific area here.

These are the best hotels in Texas, sorted by price from low to high.

Isla Grand Beach Resort

Isla Grand Beach Resort
Unlike most South Padre chain hotels with limited amenities, the Isla Grand Beach Resort has so much going on you’ll never need to leave.

Book the Isla Grand Beach Resort

South Padre Island is southern Texas’ premier beach getaway, and a pretty affordable one, too.

The Isla Grand Beach Resort couldn’t have a better location right off the Queen Isabella Causeway, on a slice of prime beachfront real estate in the heart of South Padre Island. If you want to head off property for dining, drinking, or sightseeing, there’s plenty within walking distance.

But there’s so much going on at the resort that if you didn’t want to leave, you wouldn’t have to. While the majority of hotels on the island are big-name chains with limited amenities, the Isla Grand Beach Resort has two pools, sports courts, grassy lawns with hammocks, and several restaurants and bars, including a nightclub with live music pretty much every weekend.

There are 128 Cabana rooms spread throughout the property’s low-rise buildings, which can each fit three to four guests. If you’re traveling with the whole family, however, you might want to book one of the condos that have two bedrooms and full kitchens.

Just keep in mind that South Padre Island is a popular choice for spring break, so be mindful of the dates you book.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

El Cosmico

A trailer and teepee at El Cosmico in Marfa, Texas.
Stay in a vintage trailer, yurt, or tepee while glamping at El Cosmico.

Book the El Cosmico

Marfa is a remote desert town in West Texas that’s an art lover’s dream, drawing everyone from low-key folk artists to the late Minimalist master Donald Judd. For boho-style travelers, the best lodging in town is El Cosmico, which is a glamping-style compound.

Spread across 21 acres are a series of off-kilter accommodations, from restored vintage trailers to yurts and tepees. While the trailers have kitchenettes and bathrooms, the other spaces are a little more bare-bones and share a bathhouse.

Inside you’ll find electrical outlets and a real bed dressed with colorful sarapes (Mexican blankets that you can even purchase), so you won’t be sleeping on the ground. For a slightly more comfortable stay, book the Cosmic Kasita, a hippie-chic tiny house. No matter where you stay, you’ll be surrounded by rainbow hues, Native American–inspired textiles, and a general boho-chic atmosphere. The goal here is to connect with nature, not your iPhone, so there’s no Wi-Fi in any of the accommodations, except for the main building.

Amenities are limited; stop by the provisions store to buy some beers, then head to the outdoor kitchen to grill your own dinner. There are, however, Dutch-style hot tubs that you can book for an additional fee, as well as free hammocks for snoozes or stargazing.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Lone Star Court

Best hotels in Austin - Back exterior of the Lone Star Court, including a pool and pool chairs
Enjoy classic Texas decor and live music every weekend.

Book Lone Star Court

Located in North Austin, The Lone Star Court Hotel covers four acres on the quieter side of the Domain, a shopping, entertainment, and residential area that’s continually expanding. The retro-inspired hotel offers a resort experience with a modern twist through landscaped courtyards, lawn games, fire pits, a pool, and complimentary bicycles.

The 123 rooms open to large ranch-house breezeways with rocking chairs. Room interiors include classic Texas elements with sliding barn-style bathroom doors and cow-hide director’s chairs.

There’s live music every weekend and a food truck court including Aurora Venezuelan and Waffletaste trucks. In addition, there’s an on-site restaurant, The Water Trough, serving Hill Country-inspired dishes.

COVID-19 procedures are available here. 

Hotel Galvez & Spa, A Wyndham Grand Hotel

The pool at Hotel Galvez & Spa
Hotel Galvez & Spa is one of the most sophisticated hotels you can book in Galveston.

Book the Hotel Galvez & Spa, A Wyndham Grand Hotel

Though as a whole, Galveston is a family-friendly beach destination, the Hotel Galvez & Spa stands out amongst its neighbors for being a much more romantic, sophisticated option.

Ten years after the devastating 1901 hurricane wiped out much of the island, the Hotel Galvez opened its doors to welcome guests as the Galveston’s grande dame, and it’s been doing so ever since.

The hotel features a quiet, elegant pool area, a casual seafood restaurant, and a spa with eucalyptus steam rooms and a meditation garden. There’s also a full-service gym, but that’s about it in terms of amenities. You’re really here for the beach. Unfortunately, the Seawall Boulevard gets in the way of the sand, but it’s not too difficult to make the crossing every day.

There are 224 rooms in total and standard room types are divided by view — choose a Gulf-facing room — while suites are named after Galveston history and important figures, from Houstonian Howard Hughes to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Each has classic, refined decor and a comfortable mattress with plush betting, while suites have sitting areas and wet bars.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Lively Beach

Lively Beach
Escape to Mustang Island and find this eco-friendly hotel with charming beachfront cottages.

Book Lively Beach

On Mustang Island, a quiet, nature-driven beach destination between Port Aransas and Corpus Christi is the unassuming Lively Beach, a collection of eco-friendly condos spread out over 46 acres (11 of which are developed, and 35 of which are preserved wetlands).

The units range in size from a studio efficiency to a two-bedroom unit and are loosely based on the design of a traditional Moroccan riad with a courtyard in the middle. They also feature fresh coastal-cool decor and are connected to the beach by a private elevated boardwalk.

There’s no on-site restaurant or bar as guests are expected to use the kitchen in their condo, but there is a shared pool. For evening entertainment, the hotel is just a few minutes away from restaurants and bars. 

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Heywood Hotel

A King Patio room at Heywood Hotel in Austin.
This boutique hotel has the charm and character of an Airbnb.

Book the Heywood Hotel

If you love food, drink, music but don’t want the overdevelopment of most Austin neighborhoods, head to East Austin. There, you’ll probably drive right past this hotel because it looks nothing like one. The Heywood Hotel is located inside a 1920s Craftsman bungalow in trendy East Austin where it combines the homeyness of an Airbnb with the convenience of a hotel.

There are just seven rooms, each decorated with handcrafted furniture and local art. The Stearns and Foster mattresses are a particularly big hit with guests, who rave about their comfort.

But because the Heywood Hotel is more like a private home, there are few if any amenities. There are no restaurants or bars, for instance, but there is free Wi-Fi and loaner bikes (and helmets!).

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Stockyards Hotel

The lobby at Stockyards Hotel in Fort Worth.
Sleep in the same room that Bonnie and Clyde once did. Their gun is even framed on the wall.

Book the Stockyards Hotel

You might write off Fort Worth as the uninteresting little sister to Dallas, but if you love Wild West history, you need to visit the Stockyards and stay at the Stockyards Hotel.

Opened in 1907, the property has seen its fair share of cowboys, outlaws, and everyone in between. Renovated numerous times over the years, the Stockyards Hotel still maintains its nostalgic Texan charm without feeling dated.

There are 52 rooms, and the standard ones come in four styles: Native American, Western, Victorian, Mountain Man. The suites are named after famous Texans, such as Davy Crockett. The most impressive room, however, is the Bonnie and Clyde Suite. The bank-robbing couple stayed in this very room, which is now filled with historical artifacts, including Bonnie’s revolver.

Other than a restaurant, there aren’t many amenities. Thankfully, there’s plenty to do right outside the hotel, with restaurants, bars, shopping, and even daily cattle drives that keep the spirit of the Wild West alive.

The Adolphus Hotel, Autograph Collection

The Adolphus Hotel, Autograph Collection
This historic beaux-arts hotel was originally modeled after a German castle.

Book The Adolphus Hotel, Autograph Collection

Downtown Dallas isn’t the city’s tourism hub, but it’s worth a visit to stay in Dallas’ original luxury hotel, the Adolphus.

The property first opened in 1912 but underwent a major renovation in 2018 that breathed new life into the storied property. Modeled after a German castle, the historic beaux-arts structure is famous for its French Room, a fine dining restaurant kitted out with extravagant Murano chandeliers, Louis XVI-style chairs, and gleaming gilt accents. Don’t miss afternoon tea here.

But that’s not the only stellar amenity. There are two other restaurants and bars, which are more casual but no less spectacular in their offerings. On the rooftop, find a pool with private cabanas, and inside, there’s a 5,000-square-foot spa, including a couple’s treatment room with a private terrace.

Speaking of rooms, there are 407 at the hotel, each with 10-foot ceilings and sophisticated decor. Though the building might be more than 100 years old, the rooms are delightfully updated.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Hotel ZaZa Houston Museum District

A suite at Hotel ZaZa Houston Museum District.
The colors are deep, moody, and sultry.

Book the Hotel ZaZa Houston Museum District

Houston is a city of neighborhoods, and the Museum District is best known for, well, its museums. Funky Texan hospitality group Hotel ZaZa has four properties across Texas, but the Museum District outpost is our favorite given its stellar location, over-the-top decor, and eccentric themed suites. This is a much more fun stay than you’ll find in a standard chain hotel.

At the pet-friendly Zaza, there are 315 suites, the most basic of which feature graphic-print headboards in sultry red and black. Things get crazier in themed suites where you’ll find a life-size astronaut statue in the Houston We Have a Problem room and mirrored walls in the Rock Star Suite.

Rooms aside, the decor in the public spaces is also quite flamboyant, whether at the bistro Monarch, which has a fantastic terrace, or the pool area with black-and-white striped loungers. Even the spa has bold art prints. Despite the loud decor, though, you’ll feel perfectly serene once you’re down on the table getting a massage.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Rancho Pillow

A guest room at Rancho Pillow
Every room at Rancho Pillow is vibrant, colorful, and wholly unique.

Book the Rancho Pillow

Twice a year, the Round Top Antiques Fair draws thousands of shoppers to the eponymous Texas town located about halfway between Houston and Austin. But Rancho Pillow puts Round Top on the map all year long. Formerly an artists’ retreat, this 20-acre ranch owned by Sheila Youngblood is now available for other guests to book.

Accommodations range from the century-old multi-bedroom Red House to the Native American-style tepee, all ensconced in bright colors, bold patterns, and globally inspired textiles and antiques. A word to the wise: if you book the tepee, just note that you’ll need to use the outdoor bathhouse, as there’s no running water inside. Thankfully, there is air-conditioning.

The bathhouse is actually a communal space, in case anyone wants to enjoy bathing in the great outdoors. There’s also a saltwater wading pool, a shared mess hall and gathering place in the Barn, and outdoor activities like croquet and badminton.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Thompson San Antonio

Thompson San Antonio
This brand new hotel is a sleek new addition to the San Antonio hotel scene.

Book the Thompson San Antonio

When you think of San Antonio’s River Walk, you’re probably picturing the crowded mariachi-band-lined pathways of the central hub. But the North River Walk neighborhood, just across the river from the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, is a far quieter, more upscale area just a short walk away.

Opened in February 2021, the pet-friendly, art-filled Thompson San Antonio is the sleek luxury hotel the city needed. Housed in a shiny new building, the property is poised to become one of the hottest food and beverage spots in town thanks to Landrace, which serves elevated Texas cuisine, and The Moon’s Daughters rooftop restaurant and bar, which is a lively place to party; its special event calendar syncs up with the lunar cycle for Full Moon parties. But no matter what’s going on in the night sky, there is live music or a DJ every Friday and Saturday night.

Not into the party scene? Head to the 5,000-square-foot spa to relax, or take a yoga class in the fitness center to ground yourself.

You can also retreat to your room. There are 162 of them, each with equestrian-inspired decor, a stash of D.S. & Durga bath products, and a high-end espresso machine. If you splurge on the Penthouse Suite, you’ll be treated to a private terrace and a pool table.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas

The pool at Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas.
This hotel merges luxury accommodations with robust wellness offerings.

Book the Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas

Just 15 miles outside of downtown Dallas is the exquisite Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas, an ideal weekend getaway for locals or a destination trip for travelers as part of any visit to Dallas. 

The urban resort places wellness at the forefront, with an 18-hole golf course, 12 tennis courts, and a three-story sports club with classes like aerial yoga and mixed martial arts. For downtime, head to the spa, to the restaurant LAW (that is, Land, Air, Water), or to one of the three pools. If you brought your whole family, there’s a kids’ club to keep the little ones entertained.

With 431 neutral-toned rooms, you might expect the property to feel crowded, but everything is spread out enough that it’s quite serene. 

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston

The pool at the Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston.
The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston offers a seriously swanky stay.

Book The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston

Set in the centrally-located Galleria shopping hub of Houston, The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston is arguably the most luxurious hotel in town — and potentially in all of Texas.

Its owner is local billionaire Tillman J. Fertitta, owner of the Houston Rockets NBA team, who spared no expense with this over-the-top property. In fact, it would fit in swimmingly among Dubai’s dazzling hotels, and not only because its design was inspired by the Dubai Opera House.

Amenities include a Miami-like pool and bar, four restaurants, a 20,000-square-foot spa, a salon, a 30,000-bottle wine cellar, a Rolls-Royce showroom (yes, in the hotel), and a multimillion-dollar art collection.

The 250 sophisticated guest rooms are a little less flashy with calming, neutral color schemes. But everything is luxe here, too, from the heated marble bathroom floors to button-operated curtains that open and close on demand. The attention to detail is high with Bluetooth connectivity and a toe ledge in the walk-in shower. Rooms start at 500 square feet and go up to the 5,000-square-foot penthouse with a private helipad.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Lake Austin Spa Resort

The Lake Austin Spa Resort
This luxury resort covers 19 lakefront acres with standout wellness programming.

Book the Lake Austin Spa Resort

Though it’s just 30 minutes outside of downtown Austin, the Lake Austin Spa Resort feels a world away from the city’s bustle. The luxury resort covers 19 lakefront acres with prominent water features and wellness programming. 

As an all-inclusive resort, the vast majority of offerings are covered by the rate, from three gourmet meals made from ingredients grown on-site to morning yoga classes, water sports on the lake, and stargazing sessions with an astrologer. Think of this as an adult version of a summer camp, where mindfulness and fitness are the main focus. Regrettably, spa treatments are not included, but on the plus side, they’re available for day guests to book.

If you do choose to splurge and spend the night, you’ll stay in one of 40 French country-style accommodations, which range from quaint rooms with private meditation gardens to the elaborate Lady Bird Suite with a private hot tub. Each comes with fresh-cut daily flowers, Veuve Clicquot champagne upon arrival, a De’Longhi Lattissima Pro Espresso Machine, and toiletries with the spa’s signature lavender scent, created from plants grown on-site.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Hotel Emma

Hotel Emma in San Antonio
The stately Hotel Emma is housed in a century-old former brewery.

Book Hotel Emma

If you’re coming to San Antonio to party hard along the River Walk, Hotel Emma isn’t for you. But if you’re more interested in sampling gourmet cuisine, sipping on local brews, and taking artistic architectural photos for your Instagram, be sure to book a room.

Hotel Emma is housed in a century-old former brewery in the trendy Pearl District, and its designers, acclaimed hospitality firm Roman & Williams, kept much of the industrial-chic ambiance throughout.

In the guest rooms, brick walls display a patina of old paint behind embroidered curtains, while concrete floors are dressed in textured rugs. And while things might look rustic, they’re high quality. Bed linens, for instance, are Frette.

As for amenities, food and beverage are the focus at Hotel Emma, with each guest welcomed with a margarita. Dining options include the American restaurant Supper, the tavern Sternewirth, and the market-meets-bar Larder. There’s also a food truck at the rooftop pool, serving picnic-appropriate bites and frozen cocktails. After exploring the hotel, hop on one of the loaner electric bikes to go sightseeing downtown.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

FAQ: Texas hotels

Which Texas hotels are good for families?

Because hotels in Texas are so varied, the answer depends on the type of trip you’re looking to take with your family.

For instance, you could go the beach resort route, in which case you might want to try Isla Grand Beach Resort on South Padre Island. Alternatively, the Stockyards Hotel provides Wild West-style fun for the whole family. 

Which Texas hotels are good for couples?

For couples who want to connect with nature, stay at El Cosmico in Marfa for an intimate glamping experience. For a luxurious wellness vacation, pamper yourselves at the Lake Austin Spa Resort.

Are there Texas hotels on the beach?

Texas has 367 miles of shoreline along the Gulf of Mexico, which translates to several pristine white-sand beaches. While some beaches are in more remote wilderness areas, others have been built up into major beach towns, where you’ll find hotels of all shapes and sizes, not to mention restaurants, museums, and tourist attractions.

Check out South Padre Island, Corpus Christi, and Galveston for Texas’ best beaches.

Which hotels in Texas have rooms with a private pool or lazy river?

Texas might be hot, but private plunge pools and lazy rivers are somewhat rare at hotels across the state. The best hotel for rooms with a private pool is the Inn at Dos Brisas in Washington, a nine-room luxury ranch, while the hotel with the best lazy river is the Marriott Marquis Houston, which has a rooftop lazy river in the shape of Texas.

Are there COVID restrictions in Texas?

At the time of publication, there are no COVID-19 restrictions in Texas. People are encouraged to wear masks when social distancing is not possible, but masks are not a requirement.

More of the best places to stay in Texas

Best hotels in Austin - Balcony and poolside of the South Congress Hotel
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A Texas deputy attorney general caught some heat after calling US Olympian Simone Biles a ‘selfish, childish national embarrassment’

Simone Biles.
  • A Texas prosecutor criticized Simone Biles after she withdrew from two Olympic events in Tokyo.
  • The remarks drew backlash, with one person saying Biles has “ten times the integrity than you do.”
  • Deputy Attorney General Aaron Reitz apologized for speaking without full knowledge of the situation.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A Texas attorney general caught some heat Wednesday after calling US Olympian Simone Biles a “selfish, childish national embarrassment” for withdrawing from two events at the Tokyo Olympics.

The Olympic gold medalist announced her withdrawal from women’s gymnastics team final at the Tokyo Games earlier this week, citing mental health concerns.

Some people drew comparisons between Biles’ exit and US gymnast Kerri Strug, who helped her team win gold in the 1996 Olympic Games despite having a broken ankle, showing what could happen when athletes push themselves too far.

Writer Chris Buskirk tweeted a video of Strug’s performance in 1996, saying she had “amazing grit” and that “the great ones find a way.”

Aaron Reitz, a deputy attorney general in Texas, reshared Buskirk’s tweet, with the caption: “Contrast this with our selfish, childish national embarrassment, Simone Biles.”

The now-deleted post drew criticism, and one Twitter user responded to Reitz, saying Biles has “ten times the integrity than you do.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement he “learned about a very inappropriate and insensitive tweet by one of our employees” and that the matter “will be handled internally.”

“I know Simone Biles – she is a fantastic athlete but an even better person,” Paxton said in the statement. “Mental health is far more important than any athletic competition and I fully support her decision.”

Following the statement from the Office of the Texas Attorney General, Reitz later tweeted saying his “personal social media comments do not represent Attorney General Paxton or the Office of the Attorney General.”

“In a moment of frustration and disappointment, I opined on subjects for which I am not adequately versed,” Reitz said in a statement posted later Wednesday. “That was an error. I can’t imagine what Simone Biles has gone through.”

“Simone Biles is a true patriot and one of the greatest gymnasts of our time,” he added. “I apologize to her, and wish her well.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

A 19-year-old restaurant boss started out buttering toast for $9.25 an hour – now, he earns $50,000 and manages 22 people. Here’s what his workday looks like.

Jason Cabrera smiles while wearing a baseball cap and a black t-shirt while working at his restaurant.
Jason Cabrera, 19, is the general manager for a Layne’s Chicken Fingers restaurant in Allen, Texas.

  • Jason Cabrera, 19, earns $50,000 a year and manages 22 people at Layne’s Chicken Fingers in Texas.
  • Laynes’ CEO said he has made three teenagers managers this year amid the labor shortage.
  • Cabrera said some customers are “shocked” at his young age. Here’s what his day looks like.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Jason Cabrera became a manager of a Texas fast-food restaurant just one week after his 19th birthday. He started out buttering toast and washing dishes for $9.25 per hour, and now earns $50,000 a year in his senior role.

Cabrera, who joined the Allen branch of Layne’s Chicken Fingers in late 2018, took the job in January, as a severe labor shortage pushed the restaurant’s CEO to promote three of its teenage employees to managers.

The young manager took Insider through his average workday, from making a lemonade batch at 8 a.m. to checking in with some of the 22 employees he manages.

At 8 a.m., Cabrera gets into the restaurant before his team arrives and makes a big batch of lemonade for customers.

A parking lot outside a fast food restaurant with a white and red facade on a sunny day.
Layne’s Chicken Fingers restaurant in Allen, Texas.

By 10.30 a.m., all team members have arrived – Cabrera usually manages about eight per shift – and the restaurant is open for its first customers.

Cabrera said that managing 22 people, all aged between 16 and 21 years, forced him to mature quickly.

A restaurant worker wears a black and white baseball cap while working
Cabrera’s staff are all aged between 16 and 21 years.

“When I started working I was still a young kid that liked to have fun,” he said. “That was the problem. I had too much fun but I guess as I started getting into the role and whatnot, I matured so quickly without really noticing.”

Two men work in a restaurant kitchen deep frying food.
Cabrera said that he is on his feet from about 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day.

From 10.30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Cabrera is constantly moving, checking in with his team, and dealing with guests.

Asked whether he finds being on his feet all day tiring, Cabrera said that he doesn’t “feel anything” because he’s “really young.”

“Probably once I, you know, start getting older then I’ll start having back problems,” he said.

Two customers in a fast food restaurant with red brick walls are served their food.
Cabrera said that Tuesdays are often very busy with customers when Layne’s offers promotional deals.

On Tuesdays, when Layne’s offers a range of meal deals, including discounts of up to 20%, the restaurant is usually busier.

Cabrera said he particularly enjoys these days because he gets to interact with more guests.

“It’s something I get to look forward to every week,” he said. “I really love seeing our parking lot filled with a bunch of cars.”

A fast food worker wears a grey top and black and white baseball cap while dispensing a soft drink.
Cabrera manages up to eight workers in any given shift.

Cabrera said he enjoys dealing with “shocked” customers who asked to see the manager and don’t expect to see “a 19-year-old kid running a whole store.” Several customers have asked him for his age.

“I love seeing the reaction. It’s really funny,” he said. “They start complimenting me and just letting me know, hey man, when I was your age I wasn’t doing any of that stuff.”

A fast-food worker prepares fries for the deep-fat fryer in a restaurant kitchen.
Cabrera helps out in the kitchen and usually prepares a big batch of lemonade for customers when he arrives at 8 a.m.

At 3 p.m., Cabrera retires to the restaurant’s office to do paperwork, which includes calculating labor costs, ordering inventory, and tallying up sales and drive-through times.

“I crunch those numbers down every week. So the next week we have our corporate meetings here at the office and we go over those numbers,” he said.

A fast food restaurant interior with light wood panels and red walls.
The Allen branch of Layne’s Chicken Fingers is one of eight across Texas.

Cabrera said he has spent much of his time recently trying to recruit workers. Garrett Reed, Layne’s CEO, previously told Insider that he hiked wages for shift managers by 17% to $14-per-hour to entice applicants amid an industry-wide labor shortage.

A fast food worker wears a grey t-shirt and red baseball cap while in the restaurant kitchen.
Cabrera said that much of his time recently has been spent trying to find workers.

At 4 p.m., Cabrera hands over to a shift manager and often goes to watch a baseball game.

After work, Cabrera watches the Texas Rangers in action. His new paycheck means he can do this far more regularly.

“I would only to go to one game a season but now I go to like 12 games a season,” he said.

Read more: I’m a millionaire businessman who was arrested for protesting with restaurant workers. We demand better wages for the employees running our economy.

A fast food restaurant manager wears a black t-shirt and baseball cap while sitting at a high table.
Cabrera said that he has matured quickly since taking on the general manager role.

Cabrera said he is saving part of his $50,000 annual salary to buy his parents a house and eventually open his own Layne’s franchise.

“If I’m smart with my money, which I have been,” he said. “I’ll probably get there real quick.”

A customer wearing a white shirt sits on a bench in a fast food restaurant against a white wall.
Layne’s Chicken Fingers has promoted three workers between 18 and 19-years-old to general manager positions in 2021 amid a labor shortage.

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A 19-year-old fast food boss says he expects to lose half his staff in the next few weeks, as the labor shortage continues to hammer restaurants

A fast food restaurant manager wears a black t-shirt and baseball cap while sitting at a high table.
Cabrera said that he has matured quickly since taking on the general manager role.

  • Jason Cabrera, 19, is the general manager of Layne’s Chicken Fingers in Texas, earning $50,000 a year.
  • Cabrera said that his biggest problem is finding enough workers in the labor shortage.
  • He expects to lose 11 members of staff in the next few weeks as they go off to college, he said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A 19-year-old manager of a Texas chicken restaurant told Insider that he expects to lose half of his staff in the next few weeks.

Jason Cabrera runs the Allen, Texas, branch of the Layne’s Chicken Fingers restaurant chain, which promoted teenagers to management roles because of a severe staff shortage. Cabrera, who earns a $50,000 salary, estimates that he’ll need to replace 11 of his 22 junior employees in the coming weeks, with many going off to college out of state.

The labor shortage was the biggest challenge he faces as the restaurant manager, he said.

Garrett Reed, CEO of Layne’s, told Insider in a separate interview that he would “usually have at least a handful of seasoned managers, people in their late-20s, early-30s” running his eight restaurants, but the labor shortage led him to promote three workers who are 18 or 19 to manager roles, including Cabrera.

Reed has found it “tough to compete” with places like Walmart and McDonalds, which can afford to offer higher wages, and many of his workers have left to join bigger companies, he said.

Read more: Leaked documents show how McDonald’s plans to win the 2021 chicken-sandwich wars. Here’s everything we know about the looming fast-food battle.

Cabrera took on the role a week after his 19th birthday in January.

He told Insider that he’s “huge on recruitment” and uses hiring service CareerPlug to find workers.

“I always refresh that page every day,” he said.

“I’m always looking for someone and there’s days I won’t get any, there’s days I’ll get five.”

In recent months, restaurants have struggled to find enough workers to keep up with customer demand, leading some owners to hike wages and offer large sign-on bonuses to entice employees.

Hiring appears to be picking up: Food services and drinking places added 194,000 jobs in June, accounting for more than half of all job gains in leisure and hospitality industries that month, per Labor Department data. However, three in four independent restaurants are still struggling for workers, according to a recent poll.

A fast food worker prepares fries for the deep fat frier in the restaurant kitchen.
Jason Cabrera told Insider that he expects to lose 11 members of staff in the next few weeks as they go off to college.

Cabrera insists a lack of staff has not led to a drop in standards. “I make sure when I do my interviews and whatnot, people know that I have high standards,” Cabrera told Insider. He said that he looks for staff who care about the quality of service, and work with urgency.

Cabrera’s annual earnings are far above the $9.50 per hour “learning wage” that Reed said his entry-level employees receive, and the $28,860 per year the average 16 to 19-year-old can expect to make in the US, per Labor Department data.

His salary doesn’t include any performance-linked bonuses general managers might receive at the end of the year.

Cabrera said that he has struggled in past jobs to be taken seriously due to his young age, but has embraced the responsibilities of his new role.

“Just knowing that anything that happens inside of that store is on me,” he said. “Anything that goes wrong, anything that goes right, it all comes back to me.”

Cabrera told Insider that he’s saving up so he can open his own Layne’s franchise. “I just want to see how fast I can get there,” he said.

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3 Texas Democratic lawmakers who fled the state to block GOP bills tested positive for COVID-19 in Washington, DC

Capitol
  • Texas House Democrats fled the state earlier this week to block GOP bills.
  • Three of the lawmakers, all of whom were vaccinated, tested positive for COVID-19 while in DC.
  • It is rare but possible for vaccinated people to get COVID-19, but cases are typically mild.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Three Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives tested positive for COVID-19 Saturday while in Washington, DC, the Texas House Democratic Caucus said in a statement Saturday.

The lawmakers fled Texas in a dramatic walkout earlier this week to block a number of Republican bills from passing in a legislative special session. They said they were heading to the nation’s capital to pressure Congress to pass voting rights bills.

In a statement provided to Insider, the caucus said the members, who have not been identified, were fully vaccinated.

After one tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, other members of the delegation were given rapid tests. Two more tested positive on Saturday.

Read more: Ex-Kamala Harris staffers have bad memories of a toxic culture in her past offices and are texting each other about it

“The House Democratic Caucus is following all CDC guidance and protocols. This is a sober reminder that COVID is still with us, and though vaccinations offer tremendous protection, we still must take necessary precautions,” Rep. Chris Turner, chairman of the caucus, said in a statement. “We are in touch with public health experts in Texas to provide additional guidance. Our caucus will follow all recommendations from public health experts as we continue our work.”

It is possible to test positive for COVID-19 after getting fully vaccinated. Known as “breakthrough” infections, cases like these are typically mild and possibly less contagious, Insider’s Andrea Michelson and Mia de Graaf previously reported.

According to the CDC, while the risk of contracting the virus while vaccinated is low, vaccinated people who experience COVID-19 symptoms should isolate themselves from others and get clinically evaluated and tested. Vaccinated people without symptoms do not need to isolate or get tested after possible exposure.

Vice President Kamala Harris met with members of the caucus Tuesday. In a statement, her spokesperson said she was not in close contact with the members who tested positive and therefore does not need to be tested or quarantined.

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Elon Musk’s SpaceX could be ordered to take down its huge Starship launch tower in Boca Chica, the FAA has warned

Elon Musk
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk

  • The FAA told SpaceX it could ask the company to take down its Boca Chica rocket-assembly tower.
  • SpaceX is already building the tower – but it doesn’t have FAA approval yet.
  • An FAA spokesperson told Insider that “the company is building the tower at its own risk.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has warned Elon Musk’s SpaceX that it could order the company to take down its new rocket-assembly tower at its launch site in Boca Chica, Texas, Reuters reported.

The tower is being constructed for future launches of SpaceX’s Starship rocket, which could begin in July, according to the company’s president Gwynne Shotwell.

An FAA environmental review of the Boca Chica launch site including SpaceX’s proposed Super Heavy rocket and tower is still underway and therefore “the company is building the tower at its own risk,” an FAA spokesperson told Insider.

The FAA sent a letter to SpaceX in May saying that work to build one of its proposed towers “may complicate the ongoing environmental review process for the Starship/Super Heavy Launch Vehicle Program,” Reuters said. The FAA needs to complete its review before SpaceX can obtain a launch license for the Boca Chica site.

Read more: These 4 companies are leading the charge in ‘space vacations’ – from giant balloon flights to orbital hotels

“It is possible that changes would have to be made at the launch site, including to the integration towers to mitigate significant impacts,” the FAA letter said, per Reuters. The FAA added that it had only learned that the integration tower was being built “based on publicly available video footage.”

The FAA said SpaceX told it in May that it doesn’t think the review is necessary because it plans to use the launch tower “for production, research, and development purposes and not for FAA-licensed or permitted launches,” per Reuters’ report.

But the FAA said that SpaceX documentation “indicates otherwise,” including one document saying that the towers would be used to integrate the Starship/Super Heavy launch vehicle, the report said.

The FAA had completed an environmental review of the Boca Chica site in 2014 but it told SpaceX in the May letter that the “480-foot-tall integration tower is substantially taller than the water tower and lightning towers” it had previously assessed.

SpaceX and the FAA did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.

This is the latest in a series of clashes between SpaceX and the FAA.

As part of the agency’s environmental assessments, SpaceX needs to ensure that the Starship-Super Heavy system won’t harm nearby wildlife or ecosystems around its Boca Chica launch pad. Without FAA approval and a launch license, SpaceX’s first Starship orbit mission could be delayed, a source told CNN in June.

Musk blasted the agency in February for canceling SpaceX’s Starship flight following a reported launch license violation, and claimed that “humanity will never get to Mars” under new FAA rules.

Read the original article on Business Insider

McConnell criticizes Texas Democrats for staging a walkout, saying they’ve come ‘to snap selfies and bask in the limelight’

mitch mcconnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., does a cable news interview before the start of a two-week recess, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, June 23, 2021.

  • Mitch McConnell slammed Texas Democrats who fled the state for Washington, DC, this week.
  • McConnell accused them of coming “to snap selfies and bask in the limelight.”
  • The legislators staged a walkout to block a series of GOP-led bills in the state legislature.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had harsh words for Texas Democrats who fled the state Monday for Washington, DC, in a dramatic walkout to block passage of a series of Republican-led bills.

The Kentucky Republican accused the state Democratic lawmakers of coming to the nation’s capital to have a moment in the sun.

The legislators “decided to grab some beer, hop on a private plane and flee the state in what they are pretending is some great moral crusade,” McConnell told reporters on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, according to CNN’s Manu Raju. “In reality, they’ve just come here to Washington to snap selfies and bask in the limelight.”

The Democratic lawmakers left Texas during a special legislative session to deny the quorum necessary to pass legislation brought forth by Republicans.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott held the special session to push through a slew of his conservative priorities, ranging from voting reform to abortion access.

Texas Democrats specifically aimed to block two key election bills, House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 1, arguing the legislation imposes strict voting rules by requiring voter ID for absentee ballots, bans on drive-thru voting, among other measures.

The state lawmakers this week met with some of the nation’s top leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, to raise concerns about voting rights in the nation. Vice President Kamala Harris threw her support behind their walkout on Monday, saying: “I applaud their standing for the rights of all Americans and all Texans to express their voice through their vote unencumbered.”

Other prominent figures on the right besides McConnell that criticized the walkout include Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who on Tuesday night said the legislators were committing an “insurrection.”

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A Texas family of 5 was charged in breaching the Capitol after one member posted on social media: ‘Holy s— we were inside the f—ing capital’

Capitol riot
  • A family of five from Texas was charged in connection with the January 6 riot.
  • The Munn family was placed at the Capitol using CCTV footage inside the building and their social media posts and conversations, according to court documents.
  • According to court documents, one of them wrote on Facebook: “Holy s— we were inside the f—ing capital!”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A family of five from Texas was charged in connection with the January 6 riot after prosecutors used CCTV footage and found social media placing them at the Capitol, including one post that said, “Holy s— we were inside the f—ing capital [sic].”

The FBI received a tip that Kristi Munn entered the building on January 6 and reported to the FBI that Kristi and other members of her family traveled from Texas to Washington, DC, evidenced by Kristi Munn’s Facebook account and six screenshots of Kristi Munn’s Snapchat account, according to the affidavit.

In late January, David Lee Bolyard, the FBI agent who filed the affidavit, said he reached out to interview Kristi Munn, who claimed to be present in DC to exercise her First Amendment right to protest the certification of then-President-elect Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 election but claimed she did not enter the Capitol.

But security footage captured the Munn family crawling through a window and walking the halls of the building, the affidavit says.

The affidavit also included social media posts where members of the Munn family also admitted to being inside the Capitol. On January 6, Dawn Munn wrote in a Facebook conversation, “We went in and stormed capital [sic] !” and “We were in capital [sic]!! … I do mean IN the building!!” In a separate conversation the same day, Dawn Munn also indicated the family crawled through a window to enter the building.

“They barricaded the door so they took out window…climbed in!!!” she wrote.

Screenshot from Tom Munn’s Facebook
Screenshot from Tom Munn’s Facebook.

Another family member who was charged, Josh Munn, also discussed how the family entered the building in a Facebook conversation.

“Damn how did y’all get in the capital [sic] building,” a person solely identified as Joel said to Josh Munn.

Munn replied, “The first group opened up a window sort of say [sic] and we followed it through.”

The person responded by saying, “Oh so u broke in?” to which Josh Munn said, “No we did not brake [sic] In the window was opne [sic] when i got there.”

Kayli Munn, who was also charged, wrote on Facebook: “F—ing great! Holy s— we were inside the
f—ing capital [sic]!”

Kristi Munn, Thomas “Tom” Munn, Dawn Munn, Joshua “Josh” Munn, and Kayli Munn, of Borger, Texas, were charged with illegally entering a restricted government building and disrupting a session of Congress, according to an affidavit filed Monday.

None of the family members have not yet entered pleas in the case as of Tuesday afternoon, and attorney information for the family was not immediately available.

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