Houston Cop Tells Senate Committee "We Are Not the NSA," Argues Against Cell-Phone Privacy Protections

Categories: Tech, Texas

flickr user ario
Houston police officer James Taylor really wants you to know one thing about local cops: HPD is not the National Security Agency, "nor are we the federal government."

Taylor repeated the mantra several times in testimony before the Texas Senate's State Affairs Committee this week, insisting efforts to limit cops' access to cell-phone location data will - and, in fact, already has - fatally hamstrung the efforts of local police. Whether you believe that depends on how you read a dizzying, hatchet-job law that lawmakers updated last session and whether you think such "metadata" - call log information, location data, and other records - is inherently sensitive and deserving of strict safeguards against police snooping.

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A Tradition Like No Other: NFL Jackasses Getting Arrested For Domestic Violence

Parker Anderson
Ok, NFL, you are seriously ridiculous.

Perhaps it's unfair of me to address the league as one collective entity, because honestly, most of the guys in the league, all of the ones I've associated closely with, are seemingly good people. They do things for charities, they're kind to other adults and to children, they look you in the eye when they address you.

However, the commissioner of the NFL is a goddamn clown (the Michael Scott to the NFL's Dunder Mifflin), a vast contingency of the owners and coaches are wishy-washy, flippy-floppy billionaire empty suits, and yes, I'm sorry players, but this small little cadre of wife and child beaters are ruining the bunch for me right now.

Yesterday, I joked that maybe we would make it through one radio show (NOTE: I do four hours from 2-6 p.m. every day on Sports Radio 610.) without a domestic violence incident involving an NFL player being reported.

Well, I was partially right. There wasn't a single one.

There were actually two.

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Texas Nursing Homes Worst In The Nation

Categories: Public Health

Photo by Ulrich Joho

Nursing homes in Texas can't seem to get it right, complained a Florida advocacy group. Texas was ranked last for the second year in a row according to Families for Better Care, receiving an walloping "F" across six out of eight categories of measurement.

According to the group's report card, staff-to-resident ratio decreased overall in Texas over the past year, resulting in less than 20 percent of the state's nursing homes scoring above average inspection ratings. Nearly 95 percent of facilities were cited for some violation of federal or state laws.

Texas' best category was a "C" in the number of facilities with "severe deficiencies," which means that only about 17 percent of nursing homes are major failures. Which is something?

"Nursing home owners and state officials can't seem to get nursing home care right in the Lone Star state," said Brian Lee, executive director of Families for Better Care. "Failing to improve the state's already dreadful nursing home record is absolutely shameful."

The group went on to scold local nursing homes for providing residents only two hours of direct care a day on average, but Texas' firm handle on last place seems to suggest there's no urgency to improve conditions in the state. If you love your elders, send them to Rhode Island, which Families for Better Care ranked first in the nation.

Root! Root! For Root Sports Houston!

Say hello to the new name of CSN Houston
If Judge Marvin Isgur approves the bankruptcy plan proposed for CSN Houston, Houston sports fans will be able to watch the Rockets this season. They'll no longer be able to watch the Dynamo, or any of the Houston-centric sportscasts aired by CSN Houston, but the return of the World Poker Tour should make up for that, right?

Word came down Tuesday that if the plan is approved, 75 of the network's 105 employees will lose their jobs. That includes most of the on-air talent and the behind-the-scenes personnel such as camera and graphics operators, producers, statisticians, and other support personnel. These people aren't required for DirecTV/AT&T operations because with these entities local product is strongly discouraged.

Most of Houston never had the chance to see CSN Houston because of disputes between network owners and the other various cable/satellite providers over the cost of distributing the network. AT&T/DirecTV will tell you the cost was too high. Astros owner/network partner Jim Crane says that that price point was established by Drayton McLane and Les Alexander so they're the ones at fault, and Crane has filed a lawsuit against McLane alleging fraud because of this. And if you talk to McLane, he'll strongly dispute this contention. But no matter who was at fault -- something which may only be known after many years of lawsuits -- the fact remains that over 60-percent of the Houston market was unable to view the network.

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Appeals Court Strikes Down "Improper Photography" Law

Categories: Courts

chris white
A Texas appeals court has ruled the state can't ban "improper photography" in public places, striking down a sweeping law that criminalized photos taken in public "with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person."

Like many free speech battles, the underlying case that triggered the ruling involves some rather creepy behavior. San Antonio prosecutors charged Ronald Thompson, a middle-aged Kentucky man, with "improper photography" alleging that in 2011 parents at a local SeaWorld waterpark found him swimming with and snapping photos of children in their bathing suits. "It's not a bunch of kids with smiles on their faces and that's it. I don't think you have a First Amendment privilege to invade someone's sexuality," Bexar County DA Susan Reed told the local paper when the case was appealed last year.

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TMZ: Dwight Howard "Blows More Reds Than Communist Hooker"

Categories: Basketball, Sports

Photo by Jeff Balke
Howard is seeing red...lights. What?
Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard is a happy, free spirited guy to go with his tremendous talent on the court. He is also, apparently, a scofflaw, at least in Florida. According to a report by TMZ , Howard recently had his Florida license suspended for multiple traffic violations, mostly running red lights.

Red light cameras -- those things we see all over Houston that pissed off Houstonians so much that they were rescinded, but the equipment remains atop our intersections because government -- caught Howard running lights nine times in 10 months beginning in 2012 and once more in 2014 for a total of 10 violations. Court records indicate he paid for nine of the tickets, but the one outstanding ticket -- for a whopping $285 -- is outstanding triggering the suspension.

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Adrian Peterson's Childhood Beatings Recalled By Family Members

Police photos obtained by CBS Minnesota allegedly showing injuries sustained by Peterson's abused child.
If it comes down to a jury trial, Adrian Peterson's potential lack of guilt in his recent indictment on charges of child abuse are held together by one simple premise:

Adrian Peterson's brutal discipline methods (used on at least one of his children) are a product of the same (or possibly worse) punishments doled out to him by his father and others when he was a young boy in Palestine, TX.

Even the other recent sports world transgressions that were so lopsided in the court of public opinion had at least some divisive or polarizing element to them. Should Ray Rice really be suspended indefinitely just because video turned up of the punch that already got him a two game suspension? Was it fair that Donald Sterling's racist comments were recorded without his consent by his girlfriend?

In those cases, there's little debate that Ray Rice and Donald Sterling are not very good people. The questions are more about how their respective offenses were handled.

With Peterson, the moral debate is more complicated.

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10 Things You Never Hear Houstonians Say

Categories: Houston 101

"Everything is bigger in Texas."

"If you don't like the weather here, wait."

"Hey, y'all."

There are certain phrases synonymous with Texas. Some of them you hear with regularity. Yes, we do occasionally quip about everything being bigger here and warn people not to mess with us. We even use y'all when it strikes our fancy. Houston too has its own colloquialisms. We refer to all soft drinks as "Cokes" for example. All cities have sayings they call their own.

This is not a list of those things. Instead, we figured that giving a rundown of all the things you would never hear us say would be enough to clue you in to who we are as Houstonians. Because you won't hear a native utter anything on this list unless he is drunk or being sarcastic.

It should be noted that there are certainly more than just these, so feel free to add your own in the comments.

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Minnesota Vikings Reverse Course, Remove Adrian Peterson From Team Activities

MN National Guard
With pressure from state government and corporate sponsors mounting, the Minnesota Vikings did an about face early Wednesday morning and decided to remove Adrian Peterson from all team activities until his child-abuse case in Montgomery County is resolved, placing the Pro Bowl running back on the exempt/commissioner's permission list.

The decision, which comes just two days after the Vikings had reinstated Peterson following deactivation for the Vikings-Patriots game last Sunday, was announced in a statement by team owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf:

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SpaceX, Boeing to Launch Humans Under NASA's Watch

Categories: Spaced City

Photo from SpaceX

For the first time in American history, commercial spaceflight companies will send astronauts to the International Space Station.

SpaceX and Boeing have been awarded NASA contracts to pursue the technology necessary for sustaining human life in space. Pending certification by NASA, American astronauts will again travel to and from the space station via commercial American rockets, which hasn't been possible since the federal shuttle program shut down in 2011.

Over the past few years, NASA has had to pay exorbitant prices to seat their astronauts on Russian rockets. The SpaceX and Boeing contracts will allow the U.S. to end its sole reliance on Russia by 2017, according to a NASA news release. Tasking commercial companies with sending astronauts to the International Space Station will hopefully free up NASA to focus on outer space missions, such as eventually landing people on Mars.

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