Chanting "we want our family here now" and holding signs that read "#SaveAfghanWomen" or "#SanctionPakistan," dozens of Afghan Austinites gathered in front of the Texas Capitol to make a plea to save their families and raise local awareness for the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan.
Men, women and children waving Afghanistan flags met in front of the Capitol on W. 11th Street and Congress Ave. Tuesday at 4:45 p.m.
Many of the protesters served alongside the U.S. Military, often as translators, including protest attendee Maverick, who declined to give his real name for the safety of his relatives.
Maverick, the name that was written on his uniform, said he hasn't been able to speak to any of his eight immediate family members stuck in Kabul for four days as the government-run phone services are collapsing.
"I've been getting gray hairs, I'm getting eyebags. I've never had this much stress on me before," Maverick said. "My immediate family is at great risk—they're stranded there."
Maverick is a U.S. citizen and can file visa petitions for his family but since they are on a first-come-first-serve basis, the process can take years to complete. Even if he filed on behalf of his family, the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan is shut down, so they couldn't complete the process.
After serving with the army for four years, Maverick said his family will be put in danger due to his service. He thinks Afghan families of servicemen need to be evacuated. Others at the protest reflected his thoughts, carrying signs that read "We helped you! You help us! Save our families!"
"God forbid if there's anything that bad happened here in America, I will be the first one to go help because we received help and we're really grateful for the help that the U.S. provided," Maverick said. "I was hoping that maybe they would get evacuated. If it was peaceable, if it was safe, I would go through every step (but) there's like zero hope right now."
The group also hoped to clear up any fears from the public—Maverick said he's heard people say they're worried about sleeper cells for the Taliban coming in as evacuations continue.
"The U.S. government can vet them however they want—as long as they get to safety, vetting is not a problem," Maverick said. "We helped the troops, we saved their lives and now we want something in return, which is just to save our family."
Before the end of September, 574 Afghan refugees will be resettled in Texas, of which Austin will receive 185. The number could increase, as President Joe Biden told CBS News last week that more than 50,000 Afghan allies were still in need of evacuation.
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East Austin restaurant la Barbecue has been robbed a third time in less than three months, according to a post on the restaurant's Instagram.
In the post, the restaurant included photos of what appeared to be a man exiting a minivan from surveillance footage.
"This guy pulled up in a car full of stuff… he ripped our gate open and stole a couple empty kegs," the post said. "The ring system scared him off so he did not venture back into the area. PLEASE EVERYONE ON THE EAST SIDE BE CAREFUL!!! This guy goes back into his car to grab something before he goes in. I am hoping he won’t be back!!"
The robbery comes as many restaurant and food truck owners have been on guard from recent break-ins. East Austin cheesesteak truck R&B's Steak and Fries has also been robbed three times in around three months, according to owner Kris Elliott. Elliot said the truck was last robbed around a month and a half ago.
"When the weather gets cold, it seems like these things start to happen more often," Elliott said. "We're just happy no one got hurt."
Additionally, he said all 5 of the food trucks in their lot have experienced burglaries. The landlord of the space is taking action by investing in alarm and camera systems. "Been very tough dealing with this problem as us small business owners are just trying to survive during the pandemic," Elliott said.
And it's not just in East Austin. North Austin restaurants Eldorado Cafe and Chez Zee Bistro were both broken into and robbed on the weekend of Jan. 8, while over a dozen food truck robberies and break-ins were reported in the latter half of 2021.
Some, like Chez Zee's Deborah Velasco, wonder if the understaffed Austin Police Department's decision to no longer respond to non-emergency calls is part of the problem. Xose Velasco, owner of East Austin's Discada, said owners are keeping their guard up in the wake of the robberies as he was robbed twice within a month of reopening in November 2021.
"We try to keep the lights on," Velasco said. "We're a little bit more careful."
After 12 months, the long-anticipated massive Tesla factory in Southeast Travis County is up and operating and everyone wants a look inside.
Phase 1 of Giga Texas appears to be tied up as production of the Model Y Tesla is underway, the electric car company revealed on Wednesday in its fourth-quarter earnings call. The factory, located on the former Harold Green-turned Tesla Road, sits on more than 2,000 acres of land in southeast Travis County.
Here's a glimpse inside the factory.
Model Ys will be the first Teslas to come out of Giga Texas with an estimated delivery of August. The wait estimate comes after Tesla noted supply chain issues have affected their factories, which have been running below capacity for several quarters. A deep blue metallic like this goes for $1,000 more than a white or silver Model Y, totaling $61,990.
Model Ys began being produced at Giga Texas at the end of 2020. In general assembly at the factory, the Teslas get their major interior components to finish the vehicle.
Workers at Austin's Gigafactory are attaching seats to a structural battery pack. It's been described by some as the biggest difference between Texas-made Model Y's and the current version at the Fremont, California factory. It shouldn't have a major impact on the owner's experience, but Tesla has updated instructions for the jacking procedure, as the lift points are different.
With a sleek, open office setup, workers can take in a view of the factory from their seats. It's a component CEO Elon Musk wanted for what is now the headquarters of Tesla.
On the Austin, Texas public location Snapchat, a photo of inside Giga Texas has appeared. On the left you can see a sneak peek of a Model Y body.pic.twitter.com/N7zliZ5vkL— Sawyer Merritt (@Sawyer Merritt) 1643081462
With Snapchat's maps, anyone can look at everyday activity happening at the factory. To view these geographically-linked stories, click the bottom left "map" icon and search "Tesla Giga Texas." Once you've found it, you can view the Snapchat story of those in and around the facility. While most stories stay up for only 24 hours, Giga Texas is a designated place on Snapchat, allowing users to view a collection of photos and videos from the inside.
Following Model Ys, Texas-made Teslas will include the Cybertruck, Semi and Model 3. But it might be a while before those other models arrive. EV makers have been hit hard by the chip shortage, and it's thought that changing features are contributing to Cybertruck delays as Tesla works to compete in the electric pickup market.
Joe Rogan paid a visit to buddy Elon Musk this week. The two have been seen around town since both moving to Texas. Naturally, Rogan was impressed with the prototype.
If you're dying to get a closer look at this factory, you just might get to. In December, Musk said the factory would have tours available to the community early this year.
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