News Roundup: Texas Politicians Mourn John McCain

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelAugust 27, 2018 11:55 am

Texas politicians have been sharing remembrances and praise for Arizona Sen. John McCain. McCain died Saturday at the age of 81, after a year-long treatment for brain cancer.

Fellow U.S. Sen. John Cornyn issued a statement and said as McCain’s loss is mourned, we’re “called to be stronger patriots and better citizens.” On Twitter, Sen. Ted Cruz described McCain as an “extraordinary war hero.”

Cruz’s opponent for the senate, Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke, also reflected on McCain during a campaign stop this weekend. The El Paso representative described him as someone who defines “service and sacrifice and character and integrity.”

Gov. Greg Abbott described McCain as a born leader.

Another Texan, former president George W. Bush, is expected to speak at a funeral service for McCain in Washington D.C. later this week.

Around the world, air pollution reduces life expectancy by more than one year. That’s according to a study from researchers at the University of Texas at Austin. They looked at 185 countries and studied how inhaling what’s known as particulate matter impacts human health.

Assistant professor Josh Apte lead the study. He explains particulate matter comes from many places, including vehicles, “especially older vehicles and trucks,” plus agriculture, fires, power plants – “especially coal-fired power plants” – and other sources.

Apte says this is the first time researchers have measured the effect of air pollution in terms of how it influences life expectancy.

“One of the things we’re quite interested in is not just knowing whether people die or not, because of course we all die in the end, but how much it’s shortening our lives,” Apte says. “And that’s the important new bit of evidence.”

Apte says people in the United States lose four months of their lifespan on average –  but that figure is higher in other parts of the world. In countries with high levels of air pollution, like Egypt and India, air pollution can shorten lives by at least a year-and-a-half.

An endangered migratory bird is expected to show up in record numbers in Texas this year. The whooping or “hooping” crane winters at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, near Rockport. (You can check out their loud, bugle-like call captured by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology here.)

“It’s been the home historically of the whooping crane for decades,”

says David Sikes with the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, noting that during the 1940s, “the cranes had plummeted to a population of about 15 or 16.”

Sikes says more than 500 whooping cranes are anticipated this fall; last year there were 430. Sikes explains one reason high turnout is predicted is that there are a lot crane nests in Canada this year. And it helps that their habitat in Texas is in good shape too.

“Hurricane Harvey – I’m not going to go so far as to said it did them a favor,” Sikes says. “But a lot of fresh water is really good for that habitat, it’s kind of a brackish habitat, a marshy area. Fresh water boosts the population of blue crabs which is one of their primary diet items, and a little berry called the wolf berry.”

Sikes says the flocks usually start arriving in mid-October.