The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.
While you might celebrate Valentine’s Day with a box of chocolates, animals at the El Paso Zoo will be snacking on a different treat today: cockroaches. This year, the zoo is launching its “Quit Bugging Me” event, which is naming roaches for people’s exes. More than 6,000 people submitted the names of former flames, says the zoo’s event coordinator Sarah Borrego.
“We’re taking names, your exes name, then we’re going to go ahead and name some cockroaches after them, and then some of those cockroaches are going to be fed to our zoo animals as part of their enrichment,” Borrego says.
Borrego says normally only meerkats would be gifted roaches. But with the overwhelming reaction the zoo received, it’s decided to spread the love to other animals like marmosets and other primates.
“They also really enjoy cockroaches as an enrichment. And we’re also doing a couple of our birds and our shrew; they enjoy cockroaches as well,” Borrego says.
While it was free for the public to submit names of their onetime loves, Borrego says the zoo has also received several donations.
Thursday afternoon, the El Paso Zoo will be streaming the animals feasting on the roaches on its Facebook page.
Kids who identify as LGBTQ are disproportionately represented in foster care. That’s according to new research from the University of Texas at Austin published in the journal Pediatrics. KUT’s Sangita Menon has more on the findings:
Researchers looked at data from over half a million surveys from students in California. The surveys included questions on how students identified sexually, and their current housing situation. Six percent of students in traditional living situations self-identified as being LGBTQ. But in the foster-care system, that jumped to over 25 percent. And those kids in foster care were more likely to be bullied, have mental-health problems and lower grades.
Stephen Russell is chair of UT’s Department of Human Development and Family Sciences, and was one of the researchers on the study. He says LGBTQ youths in foster care are an especially vulnerable group within an already vulnerable group.
“And I think this is, you know, another dimension of evidence that, you know, some of the most vulnerable children are the ones that make their way into the child-welfare system. And we really need a child-welfare system that is strong and supported and capable of responding to the needs of diverse and vulnerable young people.”
Russell says there’s a need for child-welfare-system employees to understand and support LGBTQ youth, and perhaps for more LGBTQ families to become foster parents.
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas describes the bipartisan deal on border security as a “down payment” on future efforts.
The proposed compromise sets aside nearly $1.4 billion for physical barriers in the Rio Grande Valley. That’s far less than the $5.7 billion President Donald Trump demanded at the end of last year, which triggered the longest partial government shutdown in American history.
Cornyn told reporters Wednesday he thinks Trump is open to the deal, but that he expects Trump to take funds from other areas and put it toward border security.
“I expect he’ll be making an announcement. I’m not sure the specifics, but I do think that is going to be forthcoming. One thing I do not expect to happen, though, is for him to dip into disaster-relief funds like those for Hurricane Harvey,” Cornyn said.
The House and Senate are expected to vote on the bipartisan deal Thursday.
President Trump would need to sign the deal by midnight Friday to avoid another government shutdown.