Cover Story: When the NASA Love Is Lost

Categories: Cover Story

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Illustration by Jesse Lenz
SpaceX completed another successful mission toting cargo to the International Space Station on Sunday. The launch was livestreamed from Cape Canaveral, but it was all focused in Florida and Johnson Space Center was never mentioned. There was a time this would have been unthinkable.

Check out our cover story: Houston's Space Problem: Johnson Space Center Has Lost Its Identity and Purpose

When JSC first opened in Houston it was the place to be. The people working there were going to send an astronaut from the Earth to the moon. They were going to find a way to send people to Mars. It all seemed possible because it had never been tried before. But that was then. Today JSC has been sidelined while the government funds commercial spaceflight companies and announces plans for manned missions to an asteroid in the 2020s and to Mars in the 2030s. People don't think about traveling in space the way they used to. "The romance of spaceflight has lost its glamour," Chris Kraft, the first director of Johnson Space Center, said.

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A Homeless Life With Cats on Allen's Landing (Video)

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Photos by Daniel Kramer

As you walk along the banks of Buffalo Bayou near Allen's Landing, the first thing noticeable about Percy Lyons, the subject of this week's feature on Houston's hidden homeless, is not his camp or his cots, but the cats.

In fact, the 16 cats that live up in Percy's camp are the only thing that may clue you into his whereabouts. It seems a plausible idea that someone living high up under the bridge where we spotted those collared, well-fed cats running around, but from the sidewalk below, it is impossible to tell.

It's impossible to tell where anyone's living in the area, really.

Continue, to see a video of Percy's cat camp on Buffalo Bayou.


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Putting Lives Back Together at Beacon Day Shelter

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There is a shelter smack dab in the middle of downtown Houston where those who are homeless are welcome to go. There are no beds, and no overnight hours.

This place, decorated with a scattered array of cafeteria tables and not much more, is known as The Beacon. This is a homeless shelter for the daylight hours.

See more: Houston's Hidden Homeless

Clients can use the phone, eat a warm meal, or simply find a seat or a corner to rest in. Shower and restroom facilities are available, as are laundry services. Beacon clients are even offered a set of scrubs to wear while volunteers wash their clothing, because that's often the only clothing they own.

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Cover Story: Trapped in Houston's Traffic Nightmare

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Not an exaggeration.
If you are under 40 and live inside the 610 Loop, where many young professionals have moved in the last 10 years and continue to do so with the kind of frenzied pace normally reserved for the Loop itself, your solutions to traffic are probably quite different than if you live in Clear Lake.

When asked, most inner loopers will tell you that an expanded rail service, more hike and bike paths, better sidewalks and street repairs to some of our worst roads should be at the top of the list. Ask a suburban dweller and the answer is probably wider freeways, more Park and Ride options and better HOV lanes. Both ignore those forced to use public transportation every day in a city built by people who value their vehicles like they value their own lives.

But, at least we can agree on one thing: Houston traffic sucks.

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Cover Story: Fighting for Control

Categories: Cover Story

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Buffalo Bayou has been a controversy that hits at the very heart of Houston for decades.

It all started in the 1960s, when a group of concerned citizens, mostly wealthy and well-connected, learned that the Harris County Flood Control District planned to cement and channelize a vein of Buffalo Bayou lined with forest that still snaked through Houston. The project was abandoned then, but now there's another project proposed by Harris County Flood Control, the Memorial Park Demonstration Project.

The Memorial Park Demonstration Project is being pitched by the folks at Harris County Flood Control District as a way to stop erosion and improve water quality, but some of the people who have worked for decades to preserve this section of Buffalo Bayou have their doubts.


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Cover Story: Charlotte Rowell Believes She Knows Who Killed Her Son, Craft Beer Distributor Ashley Rowell, Ten Months Ago. And She Wants to Know Why They Aren't Behind Bars.

Categories: Cover Story

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Nearly a year later, and Ashley Rowell's killer is still free.
Ten months ago, Ashley "Ash" Rowell, a 35-year-old father of three, and a beloved figure in Houston's craft beer community, was gunned down in his Montrose home. Police said Ash knew his killer.

Ash's mother, Charlotte, agreed with the police. In fact, she believes she knows who's behind the killing, and she can't believe there hasn't been an arrest. Several years earlier, according to Charlotte, Ash's brothers-in-law threatened not only Ash's life, but hers as well. Friends told The Houston Press that Ash talked to them about these threats as well -- and he took them seriously.


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Cover Story: The Best Movies of 2013 and Joaquin Phoenix

Categories: Cover Story

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This year, in addition to a feature on the star of Her -- one Joaquin Phoenix -- we offer you not one but three Best Movies lists from an assortment of film critics.

This is your chance to see if your tastes most closely mirror film critic Amy Nicholson who likes The Act of Killing, Her and Nebraska, among others.

Or are you closer to Stephanie Zacharek who singles out Gravity, Blue Is the Warmest Color and Inside Llewyn Davis in her best of assessment.


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Why Is It So Many HISD Kids Can't Read on Grade Level (& It's More Than You Think)

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Dr. Billy Reagan is 83 years old and even though his days as superintendent of the Houston ISD are long behind him, he still keeps a careful watch over the largest public school district in the state.

According to Reagan, who bases his conclusions on analyses of HISD scores on the national Stanford Diagnostic Reading Test done by his consulting company, Unlimited Access Educational Systems Inc., many kids in HISD, particularly if they are Hispanic or Aftican-American, can't read -- at least not at at their grade level.

One principal told us that 80 percent of the ninth graders who arrive at that particular high school, are reading at the fourth or fifth grade level.

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They're Heeeeere....The 2013 Turkeys of the Year!

Categories: Cover Story

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Illustration by Dan Andreasen
Who's hungry?
To gobble or not to gobble -- that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the giblets and gravy of outrageous turkiness, or to throw up arms and just grab Whataburger. To sleep off the tryptophan -- perchance to dream: ay, where's the spicy rub?

It's that time once again; time for the Turkeys of the Year to stand before us and be judged. Be they elected officials, celebrities, or sports figures, they have elevated themselves beyond garden-variety idiocy and into the rarified air of abject turkidom (or turkey-dumb?)

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Cover Story: Kinky Friedman Is Running for Agriculture Commish on a Marijuana Legalization Platform

Categories: Cover Story

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Politics are as frustrating as they are compelling. They can also be strange, sometimes really strange. In Texas, where we often push the level on the political weirdo-meter into the red, there is a battle brewing in the race for Texas Agriculture Commissioner that promises to add some celebrity intrigue to the already bizarre fray.

Kinky Friedman, the musician, writer and renaissance man, has decided to throw his considerably large black cowboy hat into the ring for the once obscure, but not somewhat coveted government post. Friedman always brings with him both a cigar-wielding charm and outspoken controversial nature that is as entertaining for Texans as it is annoying for political insiders, which is why his platform of legalizing marijuana is simultaneously confounding as it is hilarious.

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