First day of early voting in Tarrant County sees long lines, fewer voting machines

Early voting in Texas kicked off on Tuesday as voters headed to the polls to cast their ballot for federal, state and local candidates. Despite the pandemic, people are turning up at the polls in record numbers.

According to the Tarrant County elections website, 36,666 early voting ballots have already been cast as of 4:18 p.m., which represents 3.06% of all registered voters in the county. In the 2016 presidential election, there were a total of 43,149 ballots cast on the first day of early voting in Tarrant County, or 4% of all registered voters within the county.

Read more from Community Impact…

How the World Fell Off Its Pedestal

Let me tell you a story. This is before COVID, blogs, social media platforms and hard drives that can hold terrabytes of information.

In a way, it was a simpler time because we didn’t have all the distractions of social media eating up our days, which of course is our own fault for using them so much. They’re designed to keep us coming back, like weird little Internet crack dealers.

I can’t promise that I am 100% accurate on this, but when my daughter was younger – I’m guessing around 10 – she was allowed to access certain sites (read: parent-approved) on the Internet. I know we had an Apple desktop before they got to be all-in-one and skinny. Mine was a big one with a full size CPU and stuff. It may have been an iMac…I just can’t remember.

Anyway, my lovely daughter was messing around on the computer while I was folding clothes in the bedroom. She came flying into the bedroom saying, “Mom! I won a computer!”

I had been familiar with the scammers and phishers, with their pop-ups on screen and such for a few years. So, I went to the computer with her and had to watch her face wash over in disappointment as I explained what these pop-ups were and silently thanking all that is Holy that some weird porn pop-up didn’t appear instead of the computer one.

We sat together and I blocked pop-ups while she watched. I know I’m biased, but I have a smart kiddo. After that she’d come talk to me about the “dumb pop-up” that she saw (some of them can get through pop-up blocker).

For some reason, I’ll never forget her face in that moment, when she got one of her first lessons about how life isn’t all sunshine and roses.

She’s an adult now, living on her own, and I’m very proud of her. And she is not stuck to the phone or computer. I’ll have to ask her if she remembers that day. I think it served her well, as heartbreaking as it was for both of us.

I know I might seem hypocritical because I’m sitting here AT A COMPUTER typing this out to share with you guys. That being said, writing is mostly what I do on my machine. I get on Facebook if I HAVE TO because I manage a few sites for clients. I use Twitter to share my clients’ information, and sometimes post pictures of my cat. I use LinkedIn to keep my finger on the heartbeat of the US job market. I don’t have an Instagram, Tik-Tok or any of the other plethora of social apps.

And I’m not trying to say that all social media sucks or that commercials turn us into zombies or whatever. In fact, a lot of people realized that the world isn’t all hunky-dory doing something totally different than being on the computer.

Do you have a moment when the world fell off its pedestal that you’d like to share? Leave it in the comments!

NASA Astronaut Kate Rubins, Crew Mates Arrive Safely at Space Station

Photo Credit: (NASA/GCTC/Andrey Shelepin)

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and two Russian cosmonauts arrived aboard the International Space Station on Oct. 14, returning a medical researcher to the orbiting laboratory ahead of the 20th anniversary of uninterrupted human presence in space.

Docking of the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft to the station’s Rassvet module occurred at 4:48 a.m. EDT, after a two-orbit, three-hour flight, bringing Rubins, Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov to the orbiting laboratory. The Soyuz spacecraft launched Wednesday at 1:45 a.m. (10:45 a.m. Kazakhstan time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Rubins, Ryzhikov, and Kud-Sverchkov join Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, who have been aboard the complex since April. NASA Television and the agency’s website will provide live coverage of the hatch opening beginning at 6 a.m.

Ryzhikov will become the commander when Expedition 64 begins Wednesday, Oct. 21, with the departure of Cassidy, Vagner, and Ivanishin following their six-month stay. The change of command ceremony with all crew members is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 4:15 p.m. and will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

This is the second spaceflight for Rubins and Ryzhikov and the first for Kud-Sverchkov, who will live and work aboard the outpost for six months. The trio will conduct research in technology development, Earth science, biology, human research and more.

During Rubins’ first spaceflight in 2016, she became the first person to sequence DNA in space. Rubins earned a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology from the University of California, San Diego, and a doctorate in cancer biology from Stanford University’s Medical School Biochemistry Department and Microbiology and Immunology Department, Palo Alto, California.

Research conducted in microgravity helps NASA prepare for long-duration missions to the Moon and Mars and contributes to improvements for life on Earth.

During Expedition 64, the crew will grow by four more members with the arrival of Crew-1 aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon on the first operational commercial mission to the space station, returning the capability to regularly launch humans from America for the first time since retirement of the space shuttle program in 2011. Crew-1 is currently targeted for launch in November.

As the International Space Station approaches the 20th anniversary of continuous human presence, astronauts continue to test technologies, perform science and develop the skills needed to explore farther from Earth aboard the orbiting laboratory. As a global endeavor, 241 people from 19 countries have visited the unique microgravity destination that has hosted more than 3,000 research and educational investigations from researchers in 108 countries and areas.

Follow Rubins during her space mission on Facebook and Instagram

Learn more about space station activities by following @space_station, and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts and the space station blog.

Cracking Cases with Digital Forensics

In the not-too-distant past, if you wanted to keep tabs on what someone was doing, you’d have to stealthily follow them around town with a camera. Today, however, a quick look at their digital devices would provide you with more information than you ever imagined.

With the infiltration of digital devices into all aspects of daily living—from mobile phones to wearable devices and vehicle connectivity—you amass data simply by going through your 21st-century life. Individuals leave a data-rich, digital footprint wherever they go; whatever they do.

The field of digital forensics emerged as an answer to all this data. Tapping into the wealth of information, investigators use it to unveil the truth even in the murkiest of cases. To help you better understand digital forensics, we spoke with three seasoned experts in the field to get the inside scoop. Keep reading to learn about the field and the critical role digital forensics plays in investigations—as well as some examples of high-profile cases cracked by it.

Read more from Rasmussen College…

First-time Texas voters: Here’s what to expect

Ahead of the Nov. 3 general election, which experts said may garner one of the highest voter turnout rates of any election in recent years, many Texans will likely be voting for the first time this fall.

While the actual voting method can vary based on the polling location and type of election, voters in Texas can expect the in-person voting process to follow the same basic steps.

According to VoteTexas.gov, upon arrival at the polling location, the voter will be asked to present one of the seven acceptable forms of photo identification unless the voter has a permanent exemption on the voter’s registration certificate.

Read more from Community Impact…

Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo canceled due to COVID-19

Originally set to take place Jan. 15-Feb. 6, the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo will not be held in 2021.

Members of FWSSR executive committee voted Oct. 6 to cancel next year’s show after consulting with infectious disease experts and public health professionals. According to an organizational release, the stock show and rodeo draws more than 1.2 million guests annually and would create a high risk for further community spread of COVID-19.

“This is a heartbreaking decision for our leadership and was not made lightly,” FWSSR President Brad Barnes said in the release.

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‘It is time to open them up’: Gov. Greg Abbott announces Texas bars can reopen in qualifying counties effective Oct. 14

Texas bars will be able to reopen and operate at 50% capacity in qualifying counties starting Oct. 14, according to an Oct. 7 video announcement from Gov. Greg Abbott.

“It is time to open them up,” Abbott said in the announcement. “Initially, they can open at a 50% capacity provided that they follow the safety protocols. If we continue to contain [COVID-19], then the openings, just like other businesses, should be able to expand in the near future.”

Facial coverings must be worn by bar employees and bar patrons when 6 feet of social distancing cannot be maintained or when seated to eat or drink, according to health protocols released by the Abbott’s office Oct. 7. Additionally, outdoor bars will not be subject to an occupancy limit.

Read more from Community Impact…

Rail Arrives for Silver Line in Plano

A new rail for Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s (DART) Silver Line project has made its way to Plano.

On Thursday, Sept. 17, a special train from Steel Dynamics, Inc. of Indiana, delivered the 1,600 ft. long rails to a spot between N Avenue and Jupiter Road and off-loaded it adjacent to the existing tracks.

The 26-mile Silver Line Regional Rail Project is under construction between DFW Airport, Grapevine, Coppell, Dallas, Carrollton, Addison, Richardson and Plano and includes 10 new stations.

When completed, the $1.2 billion Silver Line will connect with the Trinity Metro TEXRail commuter rail line at DFW North station providing access to Downtown Fort Worth, Grapevine, and various other Tarrant County locales.

The line will also connect with the Denton County Transportation Authority A-train commuter rail line providing access to various Denton County locales and DART’s Green Line providing access to Dallas Love Field and Downtown Dallas via Downtown Carrollton station.

DART anticipates beginning revenue service in early 2023.

The Coppell ISD Education Foundation Give for Grants Program Continues Integral Support for Classrooms

The Coppell ISD Education Foundation (CEF), which launched the Give for Grants initiative last school year, provides donors a means to give funds directly to teacher grants of their choice. The Give for Grants program offers flexibility, ease of use and will increase funding given directly to classrooms in Coppell ISD (CISD).

The CEF supports the educators in CISD through their annual grant program. The Classroom Grant Program is designed to encourage, facilitate, recognize, and reward effective, innovative, and creative, instructional approaches that directly impact students while transforming classroom learning. For example, during the 2019-20 school year, the CEF awarded more than $63,000 in classroom grants. The Give for Grants program will allow parents, educators, and community members to donate at any giving amount directly to a specific grant of their choosing. Whether a donor would like to support a specific campus, specific educator or a specific project, the Give for Grants program gives donors the flexibility of choice.

Donors can select specific grants to support financially through the www.Give4GrantsCISD.org website. Additionally, a donor can select to give to the Give for Grants campaign in general and not to a specific grant here. The donation window will be open from October 1 through October 31. The donation process is simple:

  1. Choose the campus
  2. Select the grant to support (or give to the general Give for Grants campaign here)
  3. Donate at any giving amount and make an impact

This year, 12 grants were submitted by educators totaling more than $29,000. The goal of the Give for Grants program is to make a lasting impact in the classrooms in CISD. Together with individual donations and the funds raised by the CEF, more grants will be funded transforming the learning in CISD. The CEF will continue to financially support the grants as in years past through donations raised in other fundraising efforts.

Donors can choose the specific grant to support at www.Give4GrantsCISD.org website from October 15-November 15.

Texas Education Agency promises funding for school districts offering in-person instruction through first half of 2020-21 regardless of enrollment

School districts across the state offering in-person instruction are guaranteed to receive their anticipated funding through the first half of the 2020-21 school year regardless of changes in student enrollment or attendance rates due to COVID-19, according to the Texas Education Agency (TEA).

Officials announced Oct. 1 a six-week extension to the minimum funding guarantee established due to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure flexibility and financial security for school districts, according to a press release. Remote instruction will also be fully funded for those who wish to learn from home as previously announced by TEA officials.

“Given the uncertain nature of this public health crisis, we are giving as much support and flexibility as possible to school districts to ensure that we are balancing the need for student learning with our desire to help all our state’s students, teachers, staff, and families remain healthy and safe,” Education Commissioner Mike Morath said in a statement.

Statewide, school districts have generally seen a slight decline in enrollment in 2020-21 due to the pandemic, and officials said the extension allows time for enrollment to become more stable. Districts taking advantage of this extension must identify and locate students who are not currently participating in either in-person or virtual instruction.

Funding adjustments for the second semester will be based on data gathered through January, according to a press release.

To read more, visit Community Impact…