Rice University Dorm Leader Resigns After Lap Dance Vid Goes Viral

Categories: Education

And the Ms. Oscar goes to....
The recently elected student head of a Rice University dormitory has resigned after videos and images of him receiving a lap dance from a stripper during a victory celebration February 20 went viral.

The student paper, the Rice Thresher, did not identify the student president, but included an emailed apology in a story Tuesday that stated "No gender, race, or ethnicity should ever be objectified in any manner, and I fully admit to violating this ethical standard. To be clear, we have a zero-tolerance policy on this type of behavior, which can lead to things such as sexual harassment, and I definitely made a mistake Saturday night to which I fully admit."

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Judge Has to Remind HCC That Board Trustees Are Representatives of the Public

Categories: Courts, Education

As it fought to seal some internal records in a legal fight against its former general counsel, lawyers for Houston Community College trotted out a strange argument in court earlier this month.

Along with a swath of internal memos, emails and transcripts HCC wanted to seal or redact, the publicly-funded college system also argued against disclosing certain communications between college lawyers and HCC trustees. Here was the college's basic argument: The HCC Board of Trustees are "representatives of the college," and anything shared with them by an HCC attorney remained attorney-client privileged information, and therefore isn't public.

It was an argument Harris County District Court Judge Jeff Shadwick literally scoffed at when HCC attorneys and lawyers for Renee Byas, the college's former general counsel who was fired and ultimately sued by the college last year, showed up in court on February 9 to argue over a temporary injunction to keep certain records in the lawsuit hidden from public view.

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Derrick Rose Out for the Season, NBA Injury Carnage Pileup Continues

Categories: Game Time, Sports

By nikk_la (Flickr: IMG_2227) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Take one look at the NBA standings, and you can tell this has been a weird NBA season. The two teams that are leading their respective conferences are Atlanta in the East and Golden State in the West. Last season, those two teams were their respective conferences' eight and six seeds.

So much has been turned upside down in both conferences, and it's not due solely to player movement in the offseason. Honestly, the only player of any material, standings-altering significance to change teams in the offseason was LeBron James (whose team barely has home court in the first round right now...like I said, weird).

Yes, certain teams have improved through either logical progression and growth (Atlanta, Memphis, Golden State) or addition by subtraction (beat it, Mark Jackson). But when this postseason rolls around, perhaps the defining characteristic of this season will ultimately be how injuries reshaped the landscape.

And the latest in this disturbing trend of players going down hurt might be the most catastrophic long-term, as Derrick Rose's season ended last night with another knee injury.

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Bill Calls for Outside Prosecutors to Present Cop-on-Civilian Shootings to Grand Juries

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Courtesy of Janet Baker
Jordan Baker was unarmed when HPD officer Juventino Castro shot and killed him last January
Jordan Baker was riding his bike near a strip mall off 5700 West Little York last January when he encountered Juventino Castro, an HPD officer of over a decade. Castro was moonlighting as a security guard, hired by a group of stores that had recently reported a string of burglaries. Police say Castro, who was in uniform, flagged 26-year-old Baker because he looked suspicious and matched the description of the robbery suspects -- the "description" being that Baker was a black man wearing a hoodie.

Investigators would later say there's no reason to think Baker had anything to do with the robberies at the strip center. He had a kid at home, was studying to become a welder, and had no criminal record to speak of (he'd been charged with misdemeanor pot possession and evading arrest when he was a teenager, but those charges were dismissed). Yet for some reason, "a brief struggle and foot chase ensued" when Castro tried to stop and talk to Baker, according to police. Castro later claimed that, for some reason, Baker stopped running at some point, turned toward the officer and reached for his waistband, even though he was unarmed. Castro fired once, killing Baker.

As with all officer-involved shootings, the Harris County District Attorney's Office presented the case to grand jury in December to decide whether Castro was justified in shooting and killing an unarmed man. According to the DA's office, there were no witnesses to the shooting; it was Castro's word against that of a dead man. And, as has been the case in every single HPD-involved shooting for over a decade, the grand jury cleared Castro.

Invoking Baker's name, Missouri City state Rep. Ron Reynolds has filed a bill to take officer-involved shootings out of the hands of local district attorneys, and would instead call for a special Attorney General-appointed prosecutor to investigate and present such cases to a grand jury. "Jordan Baker. Mike Brown. Eric Garner. There are blatant problems with the criminal justice system, and many of you have demanded change," Reynolds said in a statement announcing his HB 1840.

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HISD Stands to Lose $17 Million in Federal Funding if Student Success Act Passes

Categories: Education

Screenshot from Houston ISD
Roosevelt Elementary is just one of the many Title I schools in HISD.

Houston ISD, like urban districts throughout the country, came out swinging Tuesday, saying that it will lose $17 million in Title I grant funds if the so-called Student Success Act passes -- a rewrite of the No Child Left Behind Act that supporters say will return control of public schools to their local communities.

At issue is what's called "portability," which basically means the Title I funds designated to help low-income students would travel with a child wherever he or she goes to school and could even be taken to private and charter schools instead of being assigned to public schools with high concentrations of economically disadvantaged children as they are now.

According to HISD, 262 of its campuses would see their supplementary funds decrease and the majority of these schools are at least 75 percent economically disadvantaged.

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McConaughey's Booking Agency Doesn't Want You to Know How Much UH Is Paying Him

Categories: Whatever

McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club
Matthew McConaughey's celebrity booking agency won't let the University of Houston disclose how much it's paying him to deliver the school's much-anticipated May commencement speech.

Due to an unusual confidentiality clause in UH's contract with Celebrity Talent International, the school can't release the cost of booking McConaughey without first letting the booking agency file an appeal with the state AG's office requesting the information be withheld from the public. The Chron evidently discovered the rare secrecy clause in McConaughey's contract when a reporter requested details about the actor's upcoming commencement-speech gig.

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Donna Campbell Struggles to Defend Pointless Alamo Bill

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Photo illustration by Monica Fuentes
State Sen. Donna Campbell is still protecting the Alamo from foreign invaders
Most people think it's a good thing the Alamo, the site of the 13 Days of Glory, has been nominated to become a World Heritage Site through the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Considering the deal is expected to bring in lots of money (more than $100 million) and jobs (more than 1,000) by 2025, officials down in Bexar County and with the state's General Land Office, which manages the historic site and surrounding properties, love the idea.

But GOP State Sen. Donna Campbell still thinks the Alamo is still under attack by foreign invaders. "I can tell you, anything that starts with 'the UN' gives me cause for concern," Campbell said during an utterly absurd discussion about her proposed "Protect the Alamo Act" in a Senate committee hearing yesterday.

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As Promised, Obama Vetoes Bill to Force Keystone XL Pipeline

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In a move that should surprise absolutely no one, President Obama today followed through on his promise to veto a Republican-led bill that would have forced approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. It was the first major veto of his presidency.

The proposed 1,179-mile pipeline, which would ship some 830,000 barrels of Canadian tar sands crude down to Port Arthur, has been debated ad nauseam throughout much the Obama presidency. While industry has trotted out suspect jobs figures and insisted that the pipeline could ween us off big, bad, scary Middle-East oil, environmentalists have called Keystone a defining moment for action against climate change.

In a letter announcing the veto, Obama chided Congress for attempting to override the State Department review and approval process. He even threw a bone to the loud environmentalist movement that's clamored against the pipeline (notice his passing reference to the "environmental" issue):

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Michael Sam Reportedly Slated for Next Season of Dancing With The Stars

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Of all the marquee reality television shows, the one that has utilized current and former NFL players to the greatest extent (and it's really not even that close) is ABC's Dancing With The Stars.

Former NFL standouts Emmitt Smith and Hines Ward are former DWTS champions, and in seasons past, the show has also featured Jerry Rice, Warren Sapp and Jason Taylor coming in second place. Former Houston Texan Jacoby Jones parlayed his 15 minutes of good football into a berth on the show in 2013.

However, those players all had certain things in common. They were either retired or, in the case of Jones, an established player under a lucrative contract.

Michael Sam is neither retired nor established. However, he will reportedly become the first hopeful NFL player to appear on the program this coming season.

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Houston's Rape-Kit Backlog Got 850 Matches in FBI DNA Database

Categories: Crime

BlueRidgeKitties via Flickr Creative Commons

By William Darnell

City officials announced Monday that Houston's massive, decade-spanning rape kit backlog has been eliminated.

Mayor Annise Parker, joined at City Hall by Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson and law enforcement officials, said the more than 6,000 previously untested rape kits were now tested and uploaded to a national database. Parker called it "significant" that Houston was one of the first cities to bring its backlog up to date.

"This was not a Houston problem, this was not a Texas problem, this was a nationwide issue that built up over years and years," Parker said. "This milestone is of special importance to rape survivors and their families and friends because it means their cases are receiving the attention they should have years ago."

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