Breeder Group That Totally Swears it's not a Breeder Group is Fighting Law That Regulates Breeders

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Screenshot, responsiblepetowners.org
Is that a ferret on a St. Bernard?
A San Antonio-based commercial animal breeders' interest group is once again seeking to neuter a 2011 statute licensing and regulating people who own 11 or more female animals for breeding purposes.

The non-profit group, which calls itself Responsible Pet Owners Alliance and whose website largely eschews any mention of the B-word, wants the statute's oversight moved from the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation to the Department of Agriculture. The Secretary of Agriculture, Sid Miller, who voted against the 2011 statute when he was a state rep.

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Goat Milking is Way Harder Than it Looks

Categories: Rodeo

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Photo by Dianna Wray
Autumn the goat was ready to roll with the Celebrity Goat Milking.

It all seemed so easy on the practice goat. The udders were long and full, and when you pinched and squeezed, the way the instructor coached, they obligingly filled with milk that squirted easily into the bucket. But that was only the practice run. During the actual Celebrity Goat Milking Competition at this year's Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, I didn't get to use that wonderful practice goat (I also didn't catch her name, but I'll always remember her fondly).

No, instead I got a "fresh goat" to work with. It was round three of the Celebrity Goat Milking (some of the milkers like Outlaw Dave were famous, and then there were those of us who qualified as "famous" because we happen to be in the media, which probably explains how I qualified) on Tuesday afternoon at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Finally it was time to put together everything we knew about goats -- like the fact that a goat is not a sheep -- with the 30 seconds we'd spent milking one about 15 minutes before the competition began. That was when Amber, the official goat-milk-bucket-holder for place six and Bryce, the official goat handler for place six, introduced Autumn, my designated milking goat.


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Daughter of Man Killed at Texas City Refinery Watches USW Strike

Categories: Texas

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Photo by Max Burkhalter
Katherine Rodriguez has been following the USW strike, .
Since the start of the United Steelworkers strike at the oil refineries, Katherine Rodriguez has been watching the developments, and thinking of her father, Ray Gonzalez. "He would have loved this. He would have been out there on the picket line with them if he was still here," she says.

USW union members have been on strike since February 1. USW reps have rejected at least seven contract offers from Shell, and pulled more than 6,500 workers at 15 plants -- with about 5,000 coming from 12 oil refineries -- since the strike started. Locally, the strike started by pulling union workers out of LyondellBasell, Shell Deer Park, and the Texas City refinery where Rodriguez's father was fatally injured more than a decade ago. While the two sides are reportedly butting heads over a variety of things -- including contractors and rules that make sure fatigued workers aren't stuck on the job -- it's the safety issues that hit closest to home for Rodriguez.

Her father was killed from burns sustained in an accident at the then-British Petroleum Texas City refinery in September 2004. Gonzalez lived in the hospital for weeks after the accident and for a long time Rodriguez and her two sisters and their mother hoped that Gonzalez would pull through. But eventually his body began to fail and his organs started shutting down. The family was together with him at University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston when they turned off all the machines.

After that, Rodriguez couldn't stand to even talk about what had happened to her father, but she started researching the industry that employed him for most of his adult life. Only then did she begin to understand what it was really like behind the refinery fence. While he never said a word in front of his daughters about the dangers and the near-misses that were a part of life at the Texas City refinery, Gonzalez would tell his wife about the burns and how careful they had to be at the refinery, her mother later told her. "He kept that from us because he didn't want us to worry. If we had known we would have worried all the time," Rodriguez says now.

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State Rep. David Simpson Says God Wants to Legalize Weed

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Photo by United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Wikimedia Commons
"And the Lord said, 'Man, some Cheetos would hit the spot right now....'"
We don't agree with state Rep. David Simpson on a lot of things. Okay, most things. But the guy surprised us with a novel argument in favor of decriminalizing marijuana: It's what God would want.

"I don't believe that when God made marijuana, he made a mistake that government needs to fix," the Longview Republican wrote Monday for the Texas Tribune's TribTalk blog. (We like to picture him smoking a spliff rolled with papers ripped from Thessalonians, but that's probably never happened.)

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J.J. Watt's Cabin Is Really, Really Nice (with PICTURES)

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Photo by Groovehouse
"It's really minimalistic. The only thing I have to focus on is training and that's the way I like it. There's no frills, there's nothing to distract you up here. It's just an empty space and a log cabin and snow." -- J.J. Watt on his new offseason cabin in the "middle of nowhere"

Damn, these quotes had us so excited for the next chapter of the Legend of J.J. Watt, and quite honestly, for fans of the Rocky movies, perhaps the best chapter of the Legend of J.J. Watt.

A log cabin in the middle of nowhere in the dead of winter, it was Rocky IV all over again!

We all wanted to picture a bearded J.J. Watt shoulder pressing a rickshaw with a Texans cheerleader, Toro, and John Weeks sitting in it and then running ten miles in the snow to the top of a mountain and screaming "LUUUUUUUCCCCKKKKK!!!" We wanted that to be J.J.'s new winter reality.

Unfortunately, J.J. Watt's idea of "minimalistic" differs greatly from the actual definition.

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Fifth Circuit Court Disses Houston Federal Judge, Reassigns Case

Categories: Courts

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What a cluster...
In January, we took issue with U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Hughe's bizarre ruling in a suit against a Houston police officer who shot and killed an unarmed man in 2011, and now the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is taking issue with another Hughes ruling.

Texas Lawyer reports that, "in an extremely rare move," the circuit court has for the second time reversed Hughes' decision in a suit accusing Shell Exploration of withholding at least $19 million in royalties owed to the U.S. government -- only this time the higher court has ordered the case remanded to a different judge.

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Texans Talk Dominates, Even With Rockets Winning, Harden on MVP Pace

Categories: Basketball, Sports

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Photo by Groovehouse
Better pay attention, sports fans, this may be the league MVP.
On Sunday, about an hour before the Rockets took on the Cleveland Cavaliers on national television, pitting two MVP candidates and culminating in one of the most exciting overtime wins in recent memory for your local NBA team, KILT 610 was on my radio while I was running errands and the discussion surprised me.

James Harden and Lebron James were about to go, literally, one-on-one in what some believe is a battle for most valuable player for the year, and local sports talk was covering who would make a better backup quarterback for the Texans. Instead of Harden v. James, I got Savage v. Fitzpatrick.

Unfortunately, for fans of other sports, the Texans dominate the conversation among sports fans in Houston. The Rockets have one of the best teams in the NBA and a legitimate contender for best player in the league. The Astros are, once again, an interesting team with a young nucleus of players that could be part of a winning team in a year or two. More importantly, they are both on TV after the debacle that was CSN Houston over the last two seasons came to a conclusion.

But, Houston is a football town. Period. And for fans of any other sport, that sucks.

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Crossing the Line: Money, Safety, Power - What Makes a Union Strike at a Bad Time for Oil and Gas?

Categories: Cover Story

He had only an hour's notice. Lee Medley, local president of USW District 13-1, got the call from the national representatives of the United Steelworkers at 11 p.m. on January 31. There was no new contract, and he was going to have to lead 800 workers from Shell Deer Park out on strike. Nobody -- not the local negotiators, the Shell administrators, the workers or the president of the local United Steelworkers union, Medley himself -- thought it would happen.

As the weight of what he was about to do sank in, he pulled out his phone and texted his wife of more than 30 years, Connie Medley.

"There's no new contract. I have to take them out."

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Family of Woman Injured in Houston Rodeo Golf Cart Accident Settles

Categories: Courts

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Just over two years after Bonnie Herndon was injured in a golf cart accident at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in February 2013, the Herndon family has settled.

Herndon and her husband attended the Toby Keith concert that was put on in conjunction with the 2013 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo on opening night. After the show ended, the couple used the golf cart transportation service to return to their parked vehicle. Herndon was in the front seat with the driver and her husband was in the row behind her. The driver, operating on behalf of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, made a quick left turn, ejecting Herndon from the modified golf cart where she landed head-first on the pavement of the Reliant Stadium (now NRG) parking lot.

Herndon suffered a serious head injury and has remained comatose ever since.


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Houston Texans Decide the Andre Johnson Era Is Over

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Photo by LBking
"I know that we would like to have him back, we'd like to see him retire a Houston Texan. But again, I don't think retirement is in his mind. When I say that, I just mean in the future. We don't want him to play anywhere else. He's a Houston Texan and we want him back." -- Bill O'Brien at the NFL Combine two weeks ago

If you read Bill O'Brien's quotes from the NFL Combine a couple of weeks ago, he really seemed to want Andre Johnson back with the Houston Texans next season. He seemed adamant, almost enthusiastic, by God!

However, as is oftentimes the case, it's not so much what O'Brien said but what he didn't say. Scour the quotes again, and there's no mention of dollars, no mention of "at what price" the Texans would want Andre Johnson back. Just, "Hey, we'd love to have Andre Johnson back!"

Money can be a very polarizing issue in today's NFL, what with that darn salary cap and all, and when a big cap figure meets advancing age and declining production, rarely is happiness at that nexus. Unless you're an elite quarterback or willingly choose to walk away at a young age (Barry Sanders), if you are a highly paid franchise icon, you'll likely finish out your career toiling for another team. That's the way it is. That's the NFL.

Predictably, Andre Johnson and Texans fans learned this the hard way on Monday night.

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