HOUSTON–  Engage Cuba Texas State Council member, Felix Chevalier welcomed today’s U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announcement approving commercial flights from Houston to Havana, Cuba. The announcement follows a historic vote in the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee to lift the travel ban on Cuba

On June 10, DOT approved six U.S. airlines to provide commercial flights to additional Cuban cities. Today, 8 airlines received authorization to fly into Havana. More information on flight routes is available here

“Flights between Houston and Cuba’s capital will continue to improve diplomatic relations between our two countries and create jobs in Texas. In a few months, 
Texans will be able to book commercial flights to one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world: 

Felix Chevalier

Havana, Cuba,” said Felix Chevalier, for Engage Cuba. “I think many Texans will be surprised to learn that even with daily U.S. commercial flights to our island neighbor, you still cannot travel to Cuba as a tourist. Now that the Administration has restored commercial flights, it’s time for Congress to allow Texans to travel freely to Cuba and lift the travel ban.” 

Felix Chevalier is a member of the Engage Cuba Texas State Council, a coalition of agriculture, business, manufacturing, and government leaders working to build statewide support to lift the travel and trade embargo on Cuba. More information on the Engage Cuba Texas State Council is available here

About Engage Cuba
Engage Cuba is the leading coalition of private companies and organizations working to end the travel and trade embargo on Cuba. As a 501(c)(4) bipartisan non-profit whose funds are entirely dedicated to advocacy efforts, Engage Cuba is the only organization whose focus is U.S.-Cuba legislative advocacy. Engage Cuba is also committed to supporting the Cuban people and helping organizations and businesses navigate Cuban and U.S. regulations. The organization has the largest bipartisan lobbying operation working on U.S.-Cuba policy. Together with the Engage Cuba Policy Council of renowned experts, Engage Cuba provides timely updates on opportunities for U.S. business in Cuba, regulations, and market analysis. To get involved with Engage Cuba’s mission or learn more, visit: http://www.engagecuba.org.

It’s time for the Spencer Johnson NOXSPENCE youth football camp.  The camp will take place on July 16th at the Houston Sports Park from 9am -1pm and is completely free of charge to the youth.  Spencer was a 9yr NFL vet  who was most recently with the Buffalo Bills.

Friends in Baton Rouge tell me tempers are flaring in the Black community after an African American man was gunned down by Baton Rouge police officers Tuesday morning.

The video of the incident has surfaced on social media and has gone viral.

Many question why the officers shot and killed 37 year old Alton Sterling who appeared to be subdued by two officers. 

In the video you see a struggle and then one officer who pulls his gun.

The next thing you see is the trigger being pulled and then you hear those who are video taping the incident scream saying the man has been shot. 

These are the latest pictures from Baton Rouge Tuesday night where people are gathering at the scene of the shooting.

The location is Foster Drive and Fairfield Avenue. 

The cororner has ruled Sterling’s death a homicide. 


Last year we were able to raise enough to give out 40+ air conditioners to senior citizens. Our goal is not that high this year but let’s see if we can come up with enough for at least 20 @ $150 each…hopefully some local retailers will give us some good deals like they did last year. There are hundreds of low income seniors in Houston who are sweating this time of year. Let’s see if we can cool them off with your good will. Another friends of the Factor Air Conditioner drive:


Help spread the word!


Today, a Harris County Grand Jury indicted two Harris County Sheriff’s Deputies on charges of Official Oppression, both Misdemeanors.

The indictments come following a 2015 allegation that Deputies R. Pierre and W. Strong violated a defendant’s rights during a traffic stop and narcotics seizure.

Both Deputies were placed on administrative duties following the 2015 allegation, and have now been suspended from duty following the Grand Jury’s decision today.

The judicial process will render a final determination of any wrongdoing.


An alarming spike of boating-related fatalities on Texas waterways, including many involving paddle craft such as canoes and kayaks, is prompting a call for boaters to wear life jackets, avoid drinking alcohol and follow other safety practices heading into the peak summer boating season.

Texas Game Wardens report more than a dozen boating-related fatalities have occurred thus far in the state during 2016 and almost half involved kayaks. Another four open water fatalities took place across the state this past weekend, including drownings and boating accidents involving motor and paddle craft.

“These tragedies represent an alarming trend we’re seeing not just in Texas, but nationwide,” said Texas Game Warden Asst. Cmdr. Cody Jones, TPWD’s head of boating law enforcement. “In 2015, over 40 percent of boating-related fatalities in Texas involved paddle craft.”

Weather conditions, including heavy rains that caused flooding and increased water flows along most rivers and creeks, have been the most significant contributing factor in paddle craft fatalities this year. TPWD Boating Education Manager Tim Spice stresses that many of those tragedies could have been avoided with safe boating practices.

“Just as you wouldn’t get behind the wheel of a vehicle without first learning safe driving practices, it is critical to become familiar with paddle craft safety and operation before you launch,” said Spice.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard statistics at least 85 percent of people who drown in boating accidents were not wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) at the time.

“It is important to wear your PFD at all times when in, on and around the water,” Spice said. “This is especially true in the case of small boats or paddle craft due to the increased chance of capsizing. A canoe or kayak can capsize even in calm waters. PFDs can save lives, but only when worn.”

When choosing a PFD, always ensure that it has the ability to support your size and weight and is approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. The U.S. Coast Guard requires one wearable PFD for each person onboard, of appropriate size for the person intended.

TPWD offers online resources for a wide range of boater education and safety training, including a free online paddle craft safety course, on the agency boater ed web page. Also, anyone born on or after September 1, 1993 must complete a boater education course to operate a personal watercraft or a boat with a horsepower rating of more than 15 hp.

Boaters are reminded that Texas game wardens actively monitor water activities throughout the year and particularly during the summer months to ensure safe boating practices. Last year during the Fourth of July holiday weekend, game wardens made contact with over 30,000 boaters and arrested 58 operators for boating under the influence.

Water safety extends beyond boating and with most of the state’s reservoirs at or near capacity, game wardens are urging extra vigilance to stay safe heading into the busy Fourth of July holiday weekend.

There have also been more than 34 non-boating related drownings reported in Texas since January; over a third of those fatalities have occurred just since May.

“Enough is enough,” said Texas Game Warden Col. Craig Hunter, TPWD Director of Law Enforcement. “A day on the water in Texas should be all about the fun and following the basic rules of water safety can help keep your loved ones from harm. If you don’t know how to swim, learn and if you are impaired or unfamiliar with the water conditions don’t put yourself in jeopardy by taking unnecessary risks. Keep an eye on kids especially. It only takes a second to turn a fun day on the water into a tragedy.”

The American Red Cross offers swimming lessons by certified instructors across the state on its swimming web page.

Video documentaries online at TPWD’s water safety page put water and boating-related accidents into perspective, including “Never Happens,” the true stories of water tragedies told by teen witnesses and survivors, and “Beautiful but Gone,” which tells the story of boating and swimming-related accidents from the parents of teens featured in “Never Happens.”

Also, a video news report is now available based on the “Never Happens” longer video. See it on the TPWD YouTube Channel or download a high resolution version on the TPWD FTP site — look for file “VNR_ Never Happens.”

Stressed in the “Never Happens” video are four basic precautions for boaters of any age:

Wear a life jacket. Most persons who have died in a boating accident would be alive today if they had worn a life jacket.
Use the ignition safety switch. Commonly called a “kill switch,” it stops the engine if you fall overboard so you won’t be stranded or run over by your boat.
Learn how to swim.
Closely supervise children.



Chambers County game wardens recently completed a year-long investigation of an Operation Game Thief case resulting in the arrest of six subjects. In February 2015, a caller claimed to have heard an oyster boat operating after dark near his waterside home. The wardens responded to the area by boat and as they idled toward the dock, they surveyed the area with night vision. Two vehicles and a few individuals were seen fleeing the scene. At the dock, they found an oyster boat full of unsacked oysters. The wardens maintained surveillance of the scene well into the morning. At about 9:15 a.m. a vehicle returned to the scene and two men began sacking up the oysters. The wardens made contact with the suspects and began their investigation. Sixteen sacks of oysters were returned to the reef and the three subjects were released. Over the next few months phone records were subpoenaed helping to corroborate the details of the case and arrest warrants were obtained for night dredging. Cases pending.



It’s good news for employees at the Houston Independent School District. 

Their direct deposits are now correct in their bank accounts.

It was earlier this week when we reported a computer problem caused some funny business with payroll at HISD. 

Thousands of  district workers who are paid by direct deposit found themselves in some cases being shortchanged while others were overpaid. 

This was the result of the wrong direct deposit file being used.

HISD Trsutee Jolanda Jones says the problem was identified and addressed.

July is Parks and Recreation Month at City Hall. City leaders and kids came together downtown for the big kickoff!





Left to right Council Member David W. Robinson At-Large Position 2; Kay Joshua Division Manager, HPARD Recreation and Wellness Division; youth; Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner; youth; Debra Lathan, Assistant Director – Recreation and Wellness Division; Joe Turner, Director Houston Parks and Recreation Department

HPARD Summer Enrichment Program Youth at City Hall

Front Row Left to right: Kay Joshua Division Manager, HPARD Recreation and Wellness Division; Destini Atkins; Cha’liyah Atkins; Council Member David W. Robinson At-Large Position 2; 

                      2nd Row Left to right: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner; Debra Lathan, Assistant Director – Recreation and Wellness Division

                      3rd Row: Joe Turner, Director Houston Parks and Recreation Department

IMB 5539 – Front Row Left to right: Destini Atkins and Cha’liyah Atkins

                   Back Row Left to right: Kay Joshua Division Manager, HPARD Recreation and Wellness Division; Council Member David W. Robinson At-Large Position 2; 



It’s valued at $70 million.
Lesedi La Rona, an uncut diamond that weighs 1,109 carats, will be auctioned off this evening in a public auction at Sotheby’s  BID 2.56%  in London.

The diamond—which is the size of a tennis ball—was unearthed in Botswana by the Lucara Diamond Corporation. Previous reports said it was expected to be worth a total of $70 million and net about $35 million for the company.

Large cut diamonds have fetched record prices. For example, an 813 carat diamond called “The Constellation” sold for $63.1 million back in May. It also set the record for being the world’s most expensive diamond. And another, a 14.6 carat diamond called the “Oppenheimer Blue,” sold for $57.6 million at an auction.

Normally large stones, like the ones listed previously, are offered to a handful of sophisticated dealers in the diamond industry. These dealers then study the diamond for weeks to determine how many cut stones the rough one will yield. Once they figure how much the stones will be worth, they submit a sealed bid to the mining company, according to the New York Times.

However, selling the Lesedi La Rona at a public auction breaks this tradition. In order to get the broadest exposure for Lucara’s record-setting find, the diamond corporation has been working with Sotheby’s and Julius Baer, a Swiss bank that has many wealthy private clients around the world, according to the Times.

Whoever buys the Lesedi La Rona, which means “our light” in Setswana, will pay Sotheby’s buyer’s premium, or a 12% fee, on the hammer price for anything over the first $3 million, and a higher percentage of the first $3 million. According to the Times, there is a reserve price below which Lucara would not sell, although that figure is not public.

Since the diamond could be cut to 400 carats, the hammer price does not include whatever the buyer would have to pay to have the stone cut, should he or she decide to do so.

“Nobody knows what a 400-carat diamond is worth,” said William Lamb, chief executive of the Lucara Diamond Corporation.