Reminder: DPS Will Not Recognize Name Changes From Same-Sex Marriages

Max Burkhalter
Last year, after Connie married her partner of nine years in California, she took her wife's surname, legally changing her diver's license and Social Security card to Connie Wilson. Legally speaking, she is Connie Wilson.

When work required that Wilson and her partner move from California to Houston with their three kids this summer, she knew the State of Texas wouldn't recognize her marriage. What she didn't know is that she couldn't keep her name.

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Undercover Investigation Reveals Alleged Mistreatment at Monkey Lab

Categories: Whatever

Courtesy Humane Society of the United States
An undercover investigation of a major primate research lab in San Antonio revealed a pattern of mistreatment of its monkeys, including death, injury, overcrowding, and lack of medical care, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

The organization claims that a five-week investigation of the Southwest National Primate Research Center, which houses 3,000 primates, led to citations by federal inspectors for the death of an emaciated baboon suffering from an infection, and a rhesus monkey whose tail was partially severed in a fight.

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Depressing Photos From Northwest Mall

Monica Fuentes
Where did they film Dawn of the Dead again?
Northwest Mall, the 800,000 square-foot shopping center situated right behind the U.S. 290 and 610 Loop construction project, is up for sale, according to the Chron.

The listing company says the site is ideally suited for a hotel, multifamily housing, office, and retail development. The listing company, HFF, also told the Chron that most of the tenants could easily be moved as soon as the property sells for an expected $86 million.

That shouldn't be too hard, we think. We poked around the shopping-center ghost town yesterday and found it looking more like the outskirts of Chernobyl than a mall. Take a look.

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The Strange 9-1-1 Call in Ex-NFL Kicker Rob Bironas's Fatal Car Crash

Categories: Football, Sports

Rob Bironas
When it rains, it pours, and when it comes to bad news in the NFL, it's been a monsoon over the past few weeks.

The spate of domestic violence stories around the league, from Ray Rice to Jonathan Dwyer, were recently joined by child abuse charges against Adrian Peterson, and make no mistake, those stories are all horrific and hopefully a warning sign for awareness and a need to never repeat them.

But this weekend, the depressing violence was followed by the macabre story of the death of former Tennessee Titans kicker Rob Bironas, who passed away in a single-car accident on Saturday night.

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HPD Has a Machine That Can Steal Your Phone's Data, Says ACLU

Categories: Crime, Tech

Matthew Pearce
Craig Estes is about as conservative as they come in the Texas Senate. He helped kill Sen. Wendy Davis' midnight filibuster over abortion regulations. The "Craig on the issues" portion of his website features photos of placards blaring, "Pro-Life, Pro-God, Pro-Gun," "No! Amnesty," and "Must Show ID To Vote." He's not the kind of politician you'd expect to heed to warnings from the American Civil Liberties Union, a group that, at least in conservative circles, has long been synonymous with opposition to the death penalty, support for gay rights and same-sex marriage, and defense of abortion rights.

But Estes listened earnestly at a senate committee hearing last week as an ACLU expert warned lawmakers of surveillance-state tactics trickling down from the feds to local police departments. The testimony that appeared to most rattle Estes came from Chris Soghoian, chief technologist with the ACLU's Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, on cell phone-tracking technology that's made it into the hands of local cops. These so-called "cell site simulators" or "IMSI catchers" essentially mimic a cell-phone tower, Soghoian explained, sending out a signal that tricks every phone in the area into reporting back its location and other identifying information, which cops can then scoop up.

And, Soghoian warned, the Houston Police Department is one of only two law enforcement agencies that we know of in the state that has one (the other being the Fort Worth Police Department). While HPD is mum on the issue (department reps wouldn't respond to specific questions last week), here's what we do know, thanks to public records and a document obtained by the ACLU.

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Worst Freeway Interchange in Houston to Get Partial Makeover

Categories: Traffic

Photo by TexasDarkHorse
Traffic at every interchange in Houston, but will it improve with a new change?
In February, I wrote about what I considered to be the three worst freeway interchanges in Houston. One of them, the 290/North Loop/Interstate 10 mangle that came in third, is undergoing extensive renovations slated to be completed in January as part of the larger project to widen and improve Highway 290 out to the Grand Parkway. Now, according to a report from the Houston Chronicle, the number one worst interchange on the list is about to be given a two-year, multimillion dollar makeover.

The Texas Department of Transportation has decided to change the way traffic merges onto Highway 59 from Interstate 45 South as it moves north into downtown, creating elevated lanes parallel to the existing raised stretch of road that deposits drivers in downtown. The project is meant to ease the awful traffic that occurs when drivers, unclear about how or where to be so they can merge onto 59, weave all over the road.

It is certainly a serious problem, but will it make a substantial difference to the entire interchange?

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Another Cat Mutilated in Timbergrove

Categories: Crime

This cat killer is one sick puppy.
Timbergrove residents are upset after yet another dead and dismembered cat was discovered over the weekend.

The September 20th discovery is the latest in a string of grisly killings in the otherwise peaceful community just west of the Heights. Jennifer Estopinal, who lives in the adjacent Lazybrook neighborhood and runs a Facebook page about the incidents, told us in an email that the cat's owners "discovered his mutilated remains laid out as a display in center of front yard; no blood."

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College Football, Week 4: The Weekend in Tweets, Vines and YouTube

Debbie R
We rate teams according to the super-scientific "Iron Sheik" scale.
We're still waiting, college football.

Still waiting on that "Holy shit!" weekend of games where some foundational pieces of the Top 25 get shaken up and we see the earth shift a little bit in this brave new world of college football where all roads lead to a post season playoff, albeit a miniature four-teamer.

(This is where I gaze longingly at a cartoon "thought bubble" over my head with a bracket for a 16 team playoff, and a tear slides down my face like the Native American in the old commercial where he sees some regular American folks tossing trash on the ground in our great nation.)

This weekend was flush with opportunity -- spunky, revived West Virginia hosting Oklahoma, Mike Leach hosting a somewhat overrated Oregon, Auburn traveling to take on Bill Snyder at night, and of course, Clemson taking on the Jameis-less Seminoles.

In the end, we got a little bit of entertaining football, numerous opportunities to make fun of Jameis Winston, another Dabo meltdown, and the rankings all pretty much look status quo, save Dan Mullen and Mississippi State finally beating LSU (in Baton Rouge at night, no less!).

Thankfully, even ho-hum college football is still college football, and we were given a few nuggets that will make you chuckle from the weekend.

Like these....

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Steven Hotze Reams Gays in Conference Call

This book will not be found in the LGBT section.
If there's one think Steven Hotze has thought long and hard about, it's sex between a man and a boy.

As elder statesman of Houston's homophobic right-wingnutters, the doctor (we use that term loosely) wants everyone to know what will happen if the gays aren't forced back into the closet where they belong. Which is why Hotze joined Texas GOP chair candidate Jared Woodfill and anti-gay "pro-family" group leader Brian Camenker, in a "Marriage Battle Plan" conference call earlier this month. Fortunately, Media Matters sat in on the call and has captured the crazy.

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Giants 30, Texans 17: 4 Winners, 4 Losers

So I guess the Texans aren't going undefeated. Damn.

Through the first three weeks of the season, it's readily apparent that Bill O'Brien and his staff have made some headway in fixing some of what ailed this team in 2013. However, after Sunday's 30-17 loss to the New York Giants, it's equally apparent that there is still a long way to go to make this team a consistent week to week threat to win football games.

The first half saw the Texans get a heavy dosage of what has become their customary, weekly turnover luck, with the Giants fumbling inside the Texans' ten yard line as well as mishandling a snap on a field goal. Yet still, at halftime, it was 14-0 in favor of the Giants, and could've been 24-0 easily.

The Texans fought back in the second half, cutting the lead to 17-10 late in the third quarter, but in the end, the defense's inability to stop the run (Rashad Jenning just gained another ten yards as you read this sentence), the offensive line's inability to protect Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Ryan Fitzpatrick's inability to protect us all from Evil Ryan Fitzpatrick (three INT's) all led to this team's first loss.

Hey, no harm, no foul, even if the Giants were 0-2. Hell, you could argue, if anything, the Giants' desperation explains a big part of the convincing nature of the win. They needed this. The Texans were overwhelmed, and maybe a little tired (West coast last week, East coast this week).

As always, there were winners and losers. Let's quickly roll through them, shall we?

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