World's First Commercial Launchpad Coming to Texas

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Photo from SpaceX.com
SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft is super cute in orbit.

It's been a months-long courting process complete with millions of dollars in offered incentives, but private rocket company SpaceX finally gave in to Texas' incessant beckoning to establish the world's first commercial spaceport in Brownsville.

The San Francisco headquartered company has toyed with the idea of planting a launchpad in Texas, and CEO Elon Musk's decision leaves broken hearts in runner-up Cape Canaveral, home of Space Florida.

"We appreciate the support of Gov. Perry and numerous other federal, state and local officials who have partnered with us to make this vision a reality," Musk said in a news release. "In addition to creating hundreds of high tech jobs for the Texas workforce, this site will inspire students, expand the supplier base and attract tourists to the South Texas area."


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Houston Chronicle Saying Bye to Downtown, Heading for Just Inside the 610 Loop

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Photo by Ed Uthman
The old Houston Post building inside the 610 Loop near the Southwest Freeway will become the new home for most all of the Houston Chronicle's operations, it was announced today.

Promising to develop a "state of the art" facility, the Houston Chronicle Media Group, publisher of the Houston Chronicle, La Voz, Chron.com and HoustonChronicle.com, is going to start the bid process for renovations of the new/old campus. It already runs its press operations, circulation, and sales out of that office.

A press release says " it will be exploring alternatives for its downtown facility" and whether that means sale or something else, we don't know. Some of the newsroom will stay downtown to cover business and government, Chron officials said.


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UPDATED: 4 Children Among Those Killed in Spring Shooting That Leads to Tense Standoff

Categories: Breaking News

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Screengrab from KTRK
A shooting has reportedly claimed the lives of six people, and led to standoff.

Update: 8:33p.m.: This story has been updated with information about the standoff and the deceased.

In a Wednesday afternoon shooting in the Spring area, seven people have been shot, including six who died, according to TV station KTRK. Among the dead, according to KTRK, are four children and two adults. The station reports that five of the bodies were discovered at a home, while two other victims, a child and an adult, were taken to the hospital. That child was later reported dead.

Harris County Constable Precinct 4 Deputies responded to the late afternoon shooting. According to reports the shooting may have stemmed from a domestic dispute.

A KRTK live feed shows a police stand-off in a cul-de-sac where around a dozen police cruisers are blocking in a silver Honda. It's unclear how the vehicle is connected with the shooting, but reports say police chased the vehicle into the area. Officers in tactical gear are positioned behind an SUV. Authorities currently have the vehicle pinned between two larger vehicles including a SWAT van. The driver, reportedly in his 40s, is said to have a gun to his head.


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Mayor Annise Parker Looks Forward to Tossing Out Anti-HERO Petition

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Photo by Susan Du
Mayor Annise Parker greets fellow HERO supporters at City Hall on Thursday before her address responding to a petition submitted for repeal of the anti-discrimination law.

Mayor Annise Parker's seen some shit, least of which are sloppy petitions.

Opponents of Houston's newly passed anti-discrimination law submitted a petition to repeal it in the 11th hour today, boasting 50,000 signatures for a measure that only required about 17,000. The mayor responded in an announcement at City Hall that she's looking forward to throwing out a high number of them in the counting process.

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Breaking News (Updated): Apocalyptic Fire Ravaging Montrose Apartment Complex (w/ Video)

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Photo by Margaret Downing

Check out our slideshow of the fire.
Update:The Houston Fire Department declared the fire under control at 2:56 p.m. They say all the construction workers were accounted for and there were no injuries reported.

Update 2:32 p.m.: We talked to eyewitness Kim Cortez who works in the Wortham Tower across from the fire. She says that in less than five minutes it went from being a small fire on the roof of the apartments to the full on blaze you see in the photos above and below. "At first people were just watching and taking photos," she says, "and within five minutes you could tell it was just getting worse and worse."

We also have some more video from the scene as supplied by Houston Press Editor Margaret Downing:

Update 2:01 p.m.: Fire officials are saying that if you live in anywhere near the 2400 block of W. Dallas you should avoid the area. Crews are working to protect nearby buildings, but the winds are a problem today. One construction worker was rescued from the scene and fortunately there have been no injuries reported.

Update 1:39p.m.: The Houston Fire Department upgraded the response to a 3-alarm at about 12:50 and to a 4-alarm at 1:04 p.m. By 1:25 p.m. the fire at the complex in the 2400 block of W. Dallas Street was upgraded to a 5-alarm fire.
The fire department responded with 70 units and nearly 200 people.

Original story:
The Houston Fire Department is fighting a 2-alarm fire at an apartment complex at West Dallas and Marconi, just off Montrose.
Smoke can be seen downtown. People on their lunch break were describing a black wall of smoke.

Here's Instagram video by Melanie Tep taken from the Chase tower.


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Raul Hernandez Case: Electricians Charged in Hilton Hotel Pool Death

Categories: Breaking News

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Contributed photo
Raul Hernandez died after being electrocuted in the Westchase Hilton pool.
Three months after 27-year-old Raul Hernandez was electrocuted in the pool of the Westchase Hilton Hotel, the Harris County District Attorney's Office has charged two electricians who worked on the pool with criminally negligent homicide.

Assistant District Attorney Bill Exley said he began looking into the case based on Houston Police Officer K. Ferguson's report. Hernandez and his family had been spending the afternoon at the pool after Hernandez that day. Most of the people had left when Hernandez's mother, Maria Isabel Duran, called to her youngest son, David Duran, to get out of the pool.

Hernandez and his girlfriend were sitting on the edge of the pool. David was moving to the edge of the pool when the electric pool lights flicked on and he began convulsing. Duran moved through the water, trying to get to her son, but couldn't. Hernandez jumped into the water and managed to shove his baby brother to the side. He and his mother were still in the pool, electricity coursing through them, when someone turned the lights off. Hernandez never regained consciousness and died a few days later.

Jason Gorczyca and James Pyle have been charged with criminally negligent homicide, a charge that carries a penalty of six months to two years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000, for their work on the pool.

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UPDATED Sources: Michael Brown Is Dead

Categories: Breaking News

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RIP
Multiple sources close to the case, including Rachel Brown's divorce lawyer David Brown, are telling us that Michael Brown died after he was taken off life support Thursday. Will have more soon.

A Brown obit:

When defense attorney Dick DeGuerin told the jury in Michael Brown's 2011 assault case, in which he was accused of assaulting his fourth wife Rachel -- and for which he was acquitted -- DeGuerin told the jury he was honored to represent Brown. (Update: See the last page for some thoughts from other lawyers).

It was remarkable theater. We're still not sure what DeGuerin could have meant. Which part was he most honored by -- when Brown beat his then-pregnant wife Darlina's face to a pulp in a drunken rage; when he wrote letters to his infant daughter, telling her how to sexually please her future husband; for spending money on bedding strippers a third his age instead of paying child support; for losing his medical license to continued drug abuse; for allegedly following a lawyer representing his ex-wife out into the parking lot and threatening to kill her; for choking flight attendants; for threatening to destroy perceived enemies and ultimately costing dozens upon dozens of hardworking employees their jobs?

Or was DeGuerin, like every lawyer who chomped at the bit to tap the Brown Piggy Bank, simply but eloquently full of baloney? Did DeGuerin really know Brown? Did he understand how tortured and self-destructive this self-described bipolar man was? Did he or anyone else -- including Rachel Brown -- try to save him from himself, or were they simply parasites attaching themselves to an extremely wealthy host? Could no one see that giving Brown 30 days to surrender to authorities, instead of shuttling him to federal prison straight from court, was flirting with disaster?

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UPDATED Guardian/Litigant Says Michael Brown Collapsed at Home, Not at Party

Categories: Breaking News

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Michael Brown's saga continues.
Michael Brown's former right-hand man and current guardian Ray von Proctor has released a somewhat vague statement about Brown's hospitalization.

Contrary to recent reports by 'unnamed sources' Michael Glyn Brown collapsed at approximately 5:45 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday 24 October 2013 at his private residence in Miami, Florida. Dr. Brown was not at a party, nor did he suffer 'a massive heart attack' as stated by unknowledgable [claimants.] Staff was present when he collapsed with cardiac arrest and he was rushed to a hospital by ambulance. Due to the uncertified length of time he may have been without oxygen and the need for physicians to treat underlying health concerns, including a lung infection, there have been delays in completing all testing necessary to ascertain his long-term health status. As of this date he remains in [the] hospital in a non-induced coma-like state.
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UPDATED With Good News: Rushmore's Doug's Barbershop, Heights Institution, Not Closing After All

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Still from Rushmore
Jason Schwartzman, as Max Fischer in Rushmore, barbering in Doug's Barber Shop.

Things looked bad for Doug's Barbershop on Friday. The Heights institution -- known for being a continuously working barbershop since 1929 and made even more famous when part of Wes Anderson's 1998 film Rushmore was filmed there -- had received an eviction notice from the owner of the property, J. Conti Interests LLC.

The notice would have forced Doug's Barbershop to close on November 15, proprietor Doug Dreher said. The eviction notice was served because the landlord said Dreher had not paid rent or shown the company proof of insurance, he said. Dreher remembered dropping off the October rent check before going out of town for a few weeks. When he got back to town, just before the end of the month, he was notified that his business, located at 219 East 11th Street, was being evicted in two weeks.


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UPDATED: Federal Judge Blocked Part of Texas Abortion Law

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Photo by Francisco Montes
And now the courts have decided

UPDATE: Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Ted Cruz have both issued statements about Yeakel's decision and we're shocked to report they're both agin' it. In other news, the world is round! Puppies are cute! There's gambling in Casablanca!

Anyways, Perry said he'll continue the fight (or something John Wayne-ish like that):

"Today's decision will not stop our ongoing efforts to protect life and ensure the women of our state aren't exposed to any more of the abortion-mill horror stories that have made headlines recently. We will continue fighting to implement the laws passed by the duly-elected officials of our state, laws that reflect the will and values of Texans," Perry stated.

Meanwhile, Cruz went with crossing his fingers that the whole thing will be ruled a bad dream by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals:

"Texas passed commonsense legislation to protect the health of women and their unborn children. This law is constitutional and consistent with U.S. Supreme Court precedent protecting the life and health of the mother and child. I hope the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will uphold Texas' reasonable law," Cruz stated.

The Texas abortion law has been judged. And found wanting.

After hearing three days of arguments in Austin last week, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled on whether the controversial law -- the one that launched Sen. Wendy Davis into the political stratosphere and elicited heated protests and debate on both sides of the issue -- is actually constitutional. Yeakel ruled new abortion regulations are unconstitutional. The regulations were slated to go into effect Tuesday, which obviously won't be happening now, according to the Associated Press.

Yeakel ruled that the regulations violated the rights of abortion doctors to do what they think is best for their patients and would unreasonably restrict a woman's access to abortion clinics, according to AP.

In the days leading up to the ruling, Yeakel said he would rule on the law before it was actually implemented on Tuesday, but he noted his ruling would be based on only the constitution thing.

"The abortion issue is a big issue in this country and it's a divisive issue," Yeakel said, according to the Associated Press. "This court is not to rule on whether women should be allowed to have abortions ... or my personal beliefs."

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