All Right! All Right! All Right! Matthew McConaughey to give Commencement Address at UH

Categories: Education

McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club.

It may be one of the best attended commencements ever in the history of the University of Houston. UH has just announced that Academy Award winning actor Matthew McConaughey will give the inaugural commencement address on Friday, May 15 at the TDECU Stadium before 5,000 graduates.

Turns out, UH had an "in." His dad, "Big Jim" McConaughey once played college football at the University of Houston, according to University of Houston President Renu Khator.

As a result, the nearly 5,000 University of Houston students who will don caps and gowns for spring Commencement ceremonies can be forgiven if they yell a collective, "All right! All right! All right!"

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Wade Phillips Hired By Gary Kubiak As The Defensive Coordinator In Denver

Photo by Marco Torres
Wade Phillips
So the construction (or reconstruction, as it were) of Gary Kubiak's coaching staff in Denver is now complete.

On the heels of announcing earlier in the week that Reggie Herring, who coached linebackers for Kubiak in Houston, would be taking on that exact same role with the Broncos, the announcement was made yesterday that Wade Phillips, after a year out of football, would be returning to the game as Kubiak's defensive coordinator, a position he also held in Houston for three seasons.

In fact, for a majority of the positions that really matter on Kubiak's coaching staff, the Mad Libs phrase "he also coached _______ for Kubiak in Houston" applies. Just fill in the blank with any football coaching function, and in all likelihood, this would be a true statement for the applicable Broncos' staff member.

So I ask you, Bronco fans, how does that make you feel? After peeling away all of the warm, fuzzy feelings of your son returning home, how do you truly feel?

I ask this because your team's management has basically reassembled the same staff that secured the number one overall pick in the 2014 draft by going 2-14 in 2013.

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Judge's Opinion in HPD Shooting Death Isn't Tethered to the Facts

Categories: Courts

Sergeant Curtis W. Hampton was cleared in the shooting of Blake Pate.
A Houston federal court judge based his recent dismissal of a wrongful death case on a misreading of toxicology results, relying on HPD's Internal Affairs officers' use of Wikipedia to determine drug levels, and chiding the plaintiffs for questioning the judgment of the officer at the center of the case, a man who once assaulted a woman -- a fellow officer -- to such an extent that she had to bite his penis in order to escape his home and call 911.

According to the Houston Press' reading of documents filed by Patsy Pate, whose son Blake Pate was shot to death by an HPD sergeant on Christmas Day in 2011, some HPD authorities coddled a man with a history of sexual violence toward his fellow officers. After Patsy Pate raised the issue of how those officers said Hampton made them fear for their lives, the judge admonished her by writing off Hampton's predatory behavior as "character assault." Yet Hampton's record speaks for itself -- not character assault, but character description. The officer's lack of judgment in those incidents dovetail with a judge's bizarrely written opinion dismissing Pate's wrongful death case and call into question just what happened the night Sgt. Curtis Hampton shot Blake Pate to death.

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Super Bowl XLIX Notebook: Marshawn Lynch Snubs The Media Again

Liz Matthews via YouTube
Marshawn Lynch continues to dare the NFL to empty his bank account.
So yesterday was Wednesday at the Super Bowl, one day closer to the game, one more series of checklist items knocked off.

On Radio Row, traffic began to pick up with current and former players coming to town to shill everything from jock itch cream to six inch subs provide thoughtful, energetic interviews like half the time. For the two teams, after Media Day on Tuesday, it was time for individual press sessions on Wednesday (more on this in a second).

And guess what? For the first time in like ten days, there was nothing new on the Deflate-Gate front! No science experiments, no demands for apologies, no crying Baltimore Ravens. NOTHING!! It was kind of nice.

So let's get you up to speed on what, aside from Deflate-Gate, has been a fairly drama free week of Super Bowl ramp-up hype.

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Pissed Off Inmate Admits to Mailing Judge Threatening Letter

Categories: Crime

Parée via flickr
In 2005, George Yarbrough filed a boilerplate, handwritten civil rights complaint in federal court, claiming Texas prison guards in Huntsville pummeled him and broke his jaw while handcuffing him back in 2002.

Locked up on multiple charges -- evading arrest, unauthorized use of a vehicle, assault on a public servant -- Yarbrough sued Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials, claiming they failed to properly investigate his case and ignored his grievance. Nine days after filing his lawsuit, local U.S. District Judge David Hittner threw out the case.

Yarbrough appealed, to no avail. Court records show he wrote numerous letters to Hittner's court asking for an update on his case. When he filed a motion asking Hittner to clarify his decision to toss the case, Hittner rejected that, too.

Evidently Yarbrough let his anger toward Hittner stew for a while. Last September, while still in prison, Yarbrough wrote a whole different kind of letter to the court.

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The Chinese Are Shipping A Lot of Illegal Honey to Houston, Feds Say

Categories: Whatever

Barrels of honey seized by ICE
Federal authorities in Houston are seizing a lot of sticky icky icky of a whole different kind (although they certainly catch a lot of weed, too). According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the feds have caught over 400 pounds of illegally imported Chinese honey here in recent months.

Since October, the feds have seized 448 pounds of the stuff shipped to Houston, valued at some $2.45 million. ICE claims the honey is of Chinese origin, dumped on the U.S. market to be sold at super low prices, thereby undermining domestic honey producers.

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Texas Uses Of Mice and Men Standards to Execute Mentally Disabled Man

Photo courtesy of the ACLU
Robert Ladd

Barring a last-minute intervention from the U.S. Supreme Court, Texas will execute a man with an IQ score of 67 tonight.

Robert Ladd is scheduled for execution by lethal injection at 6 p.m. Thursday for the 1996 murder of Vicki Ann Garner. This is despite the fact that the Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that executing a mentally disabled person for murder is unconstitutional. Stranger still, Texas has once again used standards derived from John Steinbeck's classic 1937 novella, Of Mice and Men, to justify executing a man that meets the clinical definition of intellectually disabled.

"Anywhere else in the country, Mr. Ladd's IQ of 67 would have meant a life sentence, not death," Brian Stull, Ladd's attorney, said in a statement. "But the Texas courts insist on severely misjudging his intellectual capacity, relying on standards for gauging intelligence crafted from 'Of Mice and Men' and other sources that have nothing to do with science or medicine. Robert Ladd's fate shouldn't depend on a novella."

And yet.

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Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao Meet for the First Time

We interrupt coverage from Super Bowl XLIX to give you a story on, of all things, boxing? Yes, boxing.

With its lunch getting eaten by MMA and WWE (and, to a large extent, cannibalization of itself with it's murky structure and shady perception), boxing doesn't have a whole lot left to offer the pay per view buying community. Despite perhaps having missed the window where aesthetically the fight itself would be a classic, "Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao" still has enough cachet to be a winner at the box office and on pay per view.

Amazingly, and I'll admit I had no idea this was the case, the two have never met in person before. Until last night. It happened! And it happened at, of all places, at an NBA game.

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Why Do People Plead Guilty to Drug Crimes When They Don't Have Drugs?

Categories: Courts, Crime

Thumbnail image for labshot.jpg
iT@C via flickr
In its annual report released this week, the National Registry of Exonerations highlights a troubling oddity of the criminal justice system that's become more visible in Harris County than perhaps anywhere else in the country: People convicted of drug crimes in cases where there's no evidence of a controlled substance.

Back in October, the Houston Press received copies of hundreds of notices the Harris County District Attorney's Office sent out to defendants who'd pleaded guilty to drug offenses, telling them that forensic lab reports ultimately showed they were "convicted in error." In some of those cases, testing showed a lesser quantity of the drug than they were convicted for (the difference between, say, class A and class B misdemeanor possession). But in many of those cases lab reports simply showed there was no controlled substance whatsoever.

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Super Bowl XLIX: Media Day Recap

Sean Pendergast
Tom Brady. So hot right now.
If you're a sports media junkie, a diehard listener to sports talk radio or a rabid viewer of sports on television, Radio Row at the Super Bowl is like your Disney World. That's how I felt the first time I traveled to the Super Bowl to cover the week leading up the big game.

Wow, over there, it's Mike Francesa doing his show for WFAN in New York! (NOTE: I grew up listening to Francesa.)

Hey, there's Jim Rome doing his show on the CBS set! (NOTE: I was once a critically acclaimed caller to Rome's show.)

You can fill in any number of a few more dozen TV and radio personalities, and for me, a life long fan of the genre, the Disney World analogy holds up. This is my amusement park, these are my characters. But if Radio Row is media's Disney World, then Media Day is like the cantina scene in Star Wars (or Wal-Mart after midnight).

Freaks, goofs, and media posers galore. Tuesday was Media Day for Super Bowl XLIX. Here are a few of the highlights....

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