How Close Is Your Child's School to a Dangerous Chemical Facility?

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Tesla.foreffectivegov.org
It's hard enough worrying about your school-age child getting a good lunch; now you have to worry about how close his or her school is to a plant that handles dangerous chemicals.

Reportedly, just under 100 schools in the area are within a mile of one of these facilities. In the map above, the orange dots are chemical facilities that report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Risk Management Program. The blue flags are the schools our kids go to.

Nationwide, 4.6 million children are within a mile of one of these facilities, which works out to around one in ten kids at risk from a chemical spill or plant explosion, according to the analysis by the Center for Effective Government.


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Why Do Robberies Keep Climbing at University of Houston?

Categories: Crime

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Photo by Sandrafdzh
Robberies at the school are inching toward 100 a year.
Ask any University of Houston student about the main campus, and he or she will acknowledge that he finds it a little sketchy outside, especially at night. Not to do any Third Ward bashing. We know the Tre's steadily working its way to up-and-coming neighborhood status. We know you see those brand-new condos springing up.

"During the day I feel fairly safe," said junior Stacy Hensley, who commutes to campus. "But there is definitely a time -- 7 p.m. -- where I no longer feel safe, and I start to hit the panic button."

This week the university's student newspaper, which often tackles the issue of crime and campus life, again had a story that looked at the most recent crime stats from the University police, which are about two years old, and it looks like students who live off campus are either not locking their back doors or are being subjected to a little preferential treatment by crooks.

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TxDOT Doesn't Want Mexicans to Drink and Drive this Easter

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Photo by Dyanna Hyde
What's missing is the card for El borracho, or the drunk.
This glorious Easter season, the Texas Department of Transportation has taken it upon themselves to disrespect the state's flourishing Latino population. How, you might ask?

By using the Mexican game of chance known as loterĂ­a. The game is part of the branding for an anti-drunk driving initiative directed toward the state's Latinos.

It's being labeled a "culturally relevant campaign" that runs through May 5 (yeah, Cinco de Mayo, which in all honesty is more of an American bro holiday than an outright Mexican celebration).

And get this, a lunch truck van will make the rounds in Laredo, McAllen, Corpus Christi and Lubbock, luring people to mass games of awareness over driving liquored up.

Playing on the law of averages TxDOT is doing their part to save lives, according to them:

In 2013, there were 25,158 DUI-alcohol crashes in Texas that resulted in 8,702 serious injuries and 1,022 deaths. Of those DUI-alcohol crashes, 11,867 - or nearly 37 percent - involved a Hispanic driver. Among young male drivers ages 17-34, Hispanics accounted for nearly half (47 percent) of all crashes where drivers were under the influence of alcohol.

So, according to those stats, it's Hispanics overall, not just Mexicans. Still, it makes sense to target Mexicans since stereotypically, they are what the folks at TxDOT see when they see a Spanish-speaking person.


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A Few PAC Names Better Than Houston Bookkeeper's 'Boats 'N Hoes'

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Photo by Reisende64
The name for the PAC with ties to GOP strategist is so disrespectful to women and boats.
This week state Republicans caught some bad press when the 'Boats N' Hoes' Super PAC was shut down Thursday. The Political Action Committee was started by a bookkeeper with Houston-based political strategy firm Blakemore & Associates, according to the Texas Tribune.

Houston consultant Allen Blakemore confirmed Wednesday evening that his firm's bookkeeper, Shaun Nowacki, started the PAC, which is a reference to a song from the 2008 film Step Brothers. The committee will be dissolved on Thursday, Blakemore said.


We can't really blame Nowacki for trying to be cheeky, perhaps to try and bolster interest from those apathetic millennials. Still, not a smooth move when the GOP is being called out again and again for disrespecting women. Maybe Nowacki needed to just put a little more thought into the name, rather than lifting it wholesale from a movie.

So, with that in mind, here are some better variations on the Boats 'N Hoes PAC theme that might have passed under the radar of the press.

Humvees N' Hynas
Our inner 15-year-old likes the way this sounds. Take notes GOP, it wouldn't be bad if you're looking to attract Latino voters.

Broads N' Bugatti's
The latest car model to be all over urban radio. This is a potential win for attracting young voters.

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2014 NBA Playoffs: Rockets-Blazers Preview and Predictions

Categories: Game Time, Sports

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It all begins Sunday. Fingers crossed.
After six long months, now comes the payoff.

From about the time that Yao Ming's feet stopped fully cooperating, through every single minor trade to flip a couple second round picks into a reserve player that could then be mixed into another trade for an eventual asset to land a superstar, through a league aborted trade for what he thought was that superstar (Pau, we barely knew ye!), and eventually through a meticulous recruitment that landed Dwight Howard, Daryl Morey has assembled this Rockets team for April.

And May. And June.

We hope.

And it all begins Sunday at Toyota Center, and all things considered, when you scout the West from top to bottom, and factor in all that went right and wrong for the Rockets this season, things line up as well as one could hope for a postseason run.

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Five Roles in the Sports World for Game of Thrones' King Joffrey

Categories: Game Time, Sports

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If he was a little taller, his jumper would be nice.
[SPOILER ALERT] Is it safe to openly discuss the last Game of Thrones episode now?

On Sunday, we finally got the moment that we've all been waiting for -- King Joffrey bit the dust, and thankfully for many of you that wanted him to suffer, suffer he did.

I don't know what the "spoiler" rules are in this day and age of social media and DVR proliferation. Each Monday, we've started doing a Game of Thrones recap segment on my radio show where we assign sports style power rankings to the main stars, and it appears (based on numerous angry text messages to the show) that Monday may be too soon after a Sunday show (although we do give ample warning prior to the segment).

But Joffrey is indeed gone, and he ain't coming back. For what it's worth, and since this is technically a sports blog, here are a few sports roles where it would be acceptable to reprise Joffrey's role:


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Texans Exercise J.J. Watt's Fifth-Year Option on His Rookie Contract

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The rookie cake scale is much sweeter.
When the NFL players and owners agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement prior to the 2011 season, one of the most crucial elements was the implementation of a rookie wage scale.

The key benefit at the time seemed pretty simple -- the scale would stop the marquee, high draft choice rookies from getting "second contract" money on their first contracts, before they've even played a snap in the league. (Sam Bradford's guarantee of $50 million in 2010 ultimately spoiled the fun for everyone. That seemed to be the rookie contract straw that broke the owners' backs.)

There's still a pecking order with respect to salaries, with the first overall pick making the most and so on down the line, but the starting numbers are far more sensible. That is probably the primary benefit, but it's followed closely by an element that is becoming relevant for the first time this off-season -- the fifth-year option on first-round picks.

Nowhere around the league is this clause more relevant than here in Houston, and Thursday the Texans put it to use, exercising J.J. Watt's fifth-year option for 2015.

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Astros Baseball: Player Name Misspellings, Team Misgivings

Categories: Baseball, Sports

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Photo by Marco Torres
Was this guy on the video board controls Wednesday?
Much hyped Astros super-phenom George Springer made his major league debut Wednesday night. His big league promotion became known Tuesday night, and Astros fans greeted Wednesday with the same glee Buddy the Elf greeted the fake Santa at Gimbels. Sure the Astros lost Springer's debut game, but finally, the future was in sight for the few remaining Astros fans.

The day was not without issues. The primary one being Springer's name being spelled as Gerorge Springer on the huge-ass video screen. Mistakes happen, but it was a pretty big mistake -- because that screen's huge -- and the media jumped all over it (making Deadspin is almost never a good thing). The thinking being, I guess, that the typo was just the embodiment of all things wrong with the Astros. (And yes, I also piled on about the mistake).

There are lots of things that embody the wreckage of the Houston Astros. There's the whole CSN Houston fiasco. There's being shifted to a radio station that most fans have trouble picking up outside the city. There was the debacle of the erector-set billboard that blocked the view out of left field. There's the current owner suing the former owner for fraud arising out of the sale of the team. There's firing a broadcast team because they weren't positive enough about a team losing 100-plus games.
Hell, there's even losing 100-plus games for three seasons in a row.


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Ten Underrated Things About Houston (For Now)

Categories: Spaced City

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Photo by Rpclod
Change is what Houston's all about these days. Last year's deserted Downtown is this year's Downtown Living Initiative. We never take what makes this place special for granted, so we took a look at a few things about Houston culture that make us happy to live here.

10. Westheimer Road
If you're new here, or maybe just terrible with directions, Westheimer becomes the default artery for getting around town, especially during a freeway traffic crush. In some ways, it's a pathway through all the socioeconomic levels of Houston from over-the-counter pharmaceuticals to lap dances.


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Rockets' "Meaningless" Finale Wasn't Meaningless for Gamblers

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YouTube.com
That time the dude from Big Bang Theory was lobbying for Dwight Howard.
I've said many times, we need a special corner of the sports media world for gamblers. A special channel, a special talk radio show, a special Tweetdeck. All of it.

People who don't wager generally don't care about the same nuances of a sporting event as people that do. That much was obvious on the final night of the NBA regular season, as the Rockets trotted a mish mash lineup of a few regular starters, a couple reserves, and a handful of guys who played more games in Rio Grande than Houston this season as they took on the New Orleans Pelicans in the finale.

Radio hosts and columnists called the game "meaningless." These people obviously didn't have a sawbuck or two on "ROCKETS OVER 54.5 WINS."

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