Texas lifts all COVID restrictions, causing outrage from the Biden administration

Mask-wearing and gathering limits will no longer be enforced by state law

Texas Governor Greg Abbott lifted the statewide mask mandate and allowed all businesses to operate at 100 per cent capacity on March 10, while only one-tenth of Texans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Texans are still encouraged to follow all of the necessary health guidelines, including social distancing and wearing a mask in indoor spaces. However, Gov. Abbott explained that his people “no longer need government running their lives.”

U.S. President Joe Biden called the governor’s decision “Neanderthal thinking” on March 3,  claiming that such measures are the last thing Americans need at this stage of the pandemic. This situation threatens Biden’s plan to have all Americans wearing a mask for the first 100 days of his presidency.

Mass sporting events and music concerts are also allowed to take place in Texas and may welcome over 10,000 spectators.

Despite receiving a green light from the state government, however, American businesses decided to further protect Texas residents from the spread of COVID-19.

Companies including Target, Best Buy, Toyota, and Macy’s will continue to require all of their employees and customers to wear a mask on their premises. The majority of retail stores, supermarkets, and pharmacies will not be cancelling their COVID policies across the state.

Gov. Abbott’s statewide changes have led to a political clash, as the Republican governor was met with resistance from Democrat mayors of Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin.

As the cities’ leaders have the authority to implement COVID restrictions on a local level, social distancing and mask-wearing will still be required in all municipal buildings including libraries and convention centres, as well as public transportation.

“We think that masking is so important. The doctors and the data all indicate that,” said Steve Adler, the mayor of Austin. “We’re going to stay on that course as long as we can. […] Now is not the time to take a risk.”

U.S. health officials have warned against lifting such restrictions, emphasizing the highly contagious variants and the lack of vaccination in the state. Despite the recent drop in daily coronavirus cases, Gov. Abbott’s decision directly goes against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.

Houston became the first American city to record all the dangerous types of COVID strains, while Texas — a state of 29 million people — currently ranks 47th out of the 50 states in terms of per capita vaccine distribution.

As mask-wearing turns into a Republican-versus-Democrat debate rather than a health precaution, a political divide is inevitable on Texas’ path towards defeating COVID-19.

Music Quickspins

QUICKSPIN: Megan Thee Stallion – Good News

Megan Thee Stallion continues to show that she’s a great rapper even if that means she hasn’t made a great album just yet.

From the first few seconds of “Shots Fired,” the very first track of Megan Thee Stallion’s Good News, it became abundantly clear that the Texas-born rapper isn’t taking kindly to being disrespected anymore. A few months ago, Megan was at the center of a massive controversy when she claimed that Torey Lanez shot her in the foot. Lanez then responded by saying she lied and he didn’t shoot her which led to her being constantly scrutinized on social media. The now-ridiculed Toronto rapper then took it upon himself to release a whole album dedicated to slandering Megan. So what did she do? She retaliated with one of this year’s most searing songs.

Megan’s rapping on the aforementioned track is cutthroat, vicious, and very much angry. And why shouldn’t she be? Since her breakout mixtape Fever, she’s proved over and over again that her rapping skills are among the best in the industry right now. Though she channels this energy through much of her debut album, at times she seems to be a better rapper than album artist. 

Good News is made up of hits, for better or for worse. On “Body,” Megan crafts an annoyingly catchy hook built for the TikTok machine. It’s simple and couples with a dance move sure to ruin people’s knees, but the repetitive “Body-ody-ody-ody” will only be attractive for so long before it becomes the world’s most overplayed song. Still, even with these issues, Megan’s verses are as sharp as they’ve been.

The 25-year old rapper shines brightest when she avoids attempting to make pop-music and when she doubles down on her hypersexual aggressive flows like on “Do It On The Tip” with City Girls. The track is expectedly raunchy but packs a fiery punch as the southern rappers all fit together as perfectly as one could imagine.

“Circles” features a beautiful sample of “Holding You Down (Goin’ in Circles)” from Jazmine Sullivan and sees Megan rapping some of her best verses on the album. It also features a better hook, something Megan struggles with.

Megan’s collaboration with SZA on the exquisite “Freaky Girls” is the apex of the album. SZA’s rare appearance is a sight to behold and she sings the best hook on the album with a fervour that only makes me want to hear her new project that much more.

For as much as Megan does right on this album, Good News is burdened with a few lazy attempts at making pop tracks that simply don’t work that well. “Don’t Rock Me To Sleep” is a boring autotuned affair that adds nothing to the Megan Thee Stallion story. It’s a retread on her sexual lyrics masked by a glittery pop instrumental. “Intercourse” sees Megan collaborating with Popcaan on what sounds like a leftover track from Drake’s Views sessions. Popcaan’s vocals are decent and fit the theme of hypersexuality, but Megan’s crossover into dancehall is unnatural.

The album effectively ends with “Outside” (the three tracks following it are previously-released singles that one could call bonus tracks) which is akin to Drake’s reflective outros on each of his projects. It’s reflective and insanely confident which only points to a brighter future for Megan. If she can start cutting the fat on her albums and removing her attempts at going pop, then perhaps she has a classic album in her.

Until then, we’ll have to deal with yet another good Megan Thee Stallion project with only a few blemishes. She continues to prove that she’s a great rapper who’s just shy of achieving greatness as an artist.


Rating 7.5/10

Trial Track: “Shots Fired”

Briefs News

World in Brief: September 3

Eight people were killed and 22 injured in a shooting Saturday in West Texas, including the gunman. The 30-year-old suspect was known to local police. According to Reuters, the suspect stole a postal van before opening fire on police officers and civilians. Shortly after, he was shot down by the police.

Hurricane Dorian has intensified to a category five storm as it approached the Abaco Islands on Sunday. The hurricane’s sustained winds have increased from 240 km/h to 290 km/h after landfall in the Bahamas archipelago, according to the National Hurricane Center. Many U.S. coastal dwellers from Florida to California are concerned with potential risks of damaging winds and deadly flooding even if the storm doesn’t directly hit the U.S., according to the Associated Press.

German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier asked for Poland’s forgiveness for Nazi “tyranny” during World War II. The apology occurred on Sunday, in the city of Wielun, 80 years after the bombing of the city, according to the BBC. The small city, located 250 km West of Warsaw, was bombed by the German Air Force on Sept. 1, 1939, marking the beginning of the most devastating war of our era.

Anthoine Hubert, a French 22-year-old Formula 2 pilot, died last Saturday in a fatal crash during a race on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. Since 1994, a lot of progress in terms of security made it possible for pilots to survive the most fatal crashes. However, according to the Agence France Presse, Hubert’s vehicle literally split in half. French flags were put up across the stadium and a minute of silence was held before the start of Sunday’s race in honour of Hubert.


Graphic by @sundaeghost


Witness the rebirth of real southern rock ‘n’ roll

Photo by Andrew McNeill

Honest-to-God rock ‘n’ roll is long gone, kaput, defunct; it crumbled alongside Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, dried up, and floated away in the 1970s.
Wrong. And no, it’s not hiding.
The Bright Light Social Hour doesn’t want to be Austin’s little rock saviour secret, but when they roll into Montreal’s Club Lambi to a crowd of about twenty, we’re pushing them into that corner.
It’s a terrible shame, because these four southern boys bring more talent to the stage than this and last year’s crop of emerging indie bands combined.
This is hard, gyrating, blues/funk rock that oozes simple and unabashed sexual desire, gratification, and invincible optimism.
Curtis Roush, Jack O’Brien, Joseph Mirasole and A.J. Vincent began playing together as an art-rock collective  just under five years ago at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. They spent the past year and a half touring around the states, building a reputation as a real high energy, mustachioed, dance floor-arousing live rock band.
These guys know what they’re doing. They’re as proud of their long luscious manes as of their musical ability, and each is unafraid to gloat their solo skills on drums, bass, guitar and even keyboard. Have you ever seen a rock organ-keyboard solo? Didn’t think so.
Mirasole’s drumming alone whips feet into a confused frenzy, while O’Brien, Roush and Vincent’s three-part vocal harmonies echo the yearning of Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant and AC/DC’s Bon Scott.

Photo by Andrew McNeill

After the release of their self-titled debut album, The Bright Light Social Hour swept SXSW’s 2011 Austin Music Awards and immediately hit the road for their first North American tour.
Now, their shows sell out to thousands in the south, and after clenching hot ticket status at last year’s SXSW, you’d think this group of gentlemen would have SOB egos to boot.
Over a year later, and still touring strong, their live show is polished, polite, yet confidently dirty—even when playing to a handful of people.
Montreal, you really missed out.

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