Don't Call Al Hoang a Communist or He'll Sue

Categories: Courts

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Photo courtesy of Al Hoang
Al Hoang, himself.

Politics is an ugly business, but things went from ugly to violent this week when supporters of state Rep. Hubert Vo, Democrat, and those backing Republican opponent Al Hoang showed up at an early voting center in District 149 on Monday afternoon.

Hoang's party took offense to a banner that Vo's supporters had allegedly hung proclaiming that Hoang was a communist spy for the Vietnamese government. Things devolved from there with fighting and at least one box cutter, according to KPRC.

The crazy thing is this isn't even the first time someone has accused Hoang of being a communist.

It sounds like something from the bad old days of the McCarthy hearings, a time when just being accused of communist leanings or communist sympathies was enough to destroy your reputation, your livelihood and your life. We've (hopefully) moved on from that in the United States, but the threat of communism, and the smear that comes with being associated with it, is still alive in Vietnamese American communities.


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Study Focuses on Youth Pot Use, Should Focus on Pill Popping Instead

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Regional Needs Assessment
The Prevention Resource Center at the Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston has released its annual Regional Needs Assessment, which gathers a ton of data and compiles it to identify everything you need to know about substance abuse.

The study shines a light on what's going on in our area (Region 6, officially), which includes data compiled from Harris and 12 other counties, with a focus on the adolescent population in Houston.

While it's certainly beneficial to have data on adolescent drug use, what's unusual is how focused on pot the study appears to be. Buried under some fear-mongering statistics about weed -- juveniles are most often arrested for weed! synthetic marijuana may fool kids! -- there are some seriously harrowing statistics on alcohol and prescription pill use among kids in the Houston area.

Let's read between the lines, shall we?


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Brian Cushing to Miss Titans Game, Possibly More With Sore Knee

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Photo by Groovehouse
From the rubble of the 2013 season, the rebuild of the Houston Texans was going to begin with the construction of a fearsome front seven on defense.

You already had a built-in starting point with the best defensive player in football in J.J. Watt. From there, you unleash a nuclear pass rush by using the first overall pick in the draft on "generational talent" Jadeveon Clowney to play outside linebacker. And then, with the return of inside linebacker Brian Cushing from his knee injury, the middle of the field would have its own (potential) Pro Bowler to handle things.

It was all gonna be so awesome. Or so the story goes. But these knees. These goddamn knees.

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Police Say Two Dead in Murder-Suicide at Ben Taub Hospital

Categories: Breaking News

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Two employees at Ben Taub Hospital were shot and killed during an apparent murder-suicide, according to HPD.

The shooting took place Wednesday around 2:15 p.m. at the hospital's outpatient pharmacy, which is attached to the hospital and accessible through the main building. Police say a pharmacist and a pharmacy tech were shot during an altercation. Both employees were behind the glass during the incident.

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Complementary Football: How the Texans Bury Themselves Each Week

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Photo by Marco Torres
Bill O'Brien loves him some "complementary football," Obie-speak for the optimal combination of offensive, defensive and special teams proficiency to bring the hometown team a victory each Sunday (and God willing, the occasional Thursday or Monday, the last two games notwithstanding).

For these 2014 Houston Texans, complementary football is almost a necessity. Against 90 percent of the league, this team has to have each facet of the machine running smoothly in order to emerge with a victory. For good teams with great quarterbacks, complementary football is a luxury, because the superhero under center can mask a lot of flaws.

The Houston Texans right now are neither a good football team nor employing a great quarterback (or even an average quarterback, for that matter), therefore.....COMPLEMENTARY FOOTBALL, YO!!


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10 Signs You Went to the University of Houston

Categories: Education

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Katie Haugland

No matter when you attended the University of Houston, there are some things nearly all students have in common.

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These Cannabis Bills Could Change Toking in Texas for Good

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Remember the first time you met that good old bill, who was just sitting on Capitol Hill? Yep, Schoolhouse Rock was the learning bomb, and it knew just how to explain complicated subjects with catchy little songs like "Conjunction Junction" and "Mother Necessity."

Well, those Schoolhouse Rockers may want to add a new cannabis-themed ditty to their repertoire, given all of the recent marijuana bills inundating lawmakers across the nation.
But if we may, we would like to suggest that this time, rather than the little bill sitting on Capitol Hill, the tune should take place in Texas.

After all, three new marijuana reform bills are being drafted under Marijuana Policy Project's multi-year legislative campaign in Texas. The first bill is aimed at decriminalization of marijuana in Texas, but MPP is hardly stopping there.

Rather, the three bills are stepping stones to the full monty, covering not only decriminalization but medical and recreational marijuana as well, which leaves all facets of legalization on the table for lawmakers to decide in the next legislative session.


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With Riverside Hospital Shut Down, Patients Scramble for a Place in Houston's Recovery Care System

Categories: Cover Story

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Photo by Daniel Kramer
It's a late morning in August as Verenice Lopez leans against the passenger seat window of her boyfriend's pickup truck, watching the leafy residential streets of Houston's Fifth Ward speed by. They're on their way to Riverside General Hospital's drug treatment center on Lyons Avenue, which had been Verenice's home for the past three months. She isn't talking much, so her boyfriend cranks up the radio to Country Legends 97.1.

Verenice's mind is on the certificate waiting for her at the hospital, proof of all the work she's put into an intensive 30-hour-a-week drug treatment program to kick her crack addiction. She's proud of that, but she's also worried about where to go next. What she needs is just a little more help, this time to find a halfway house that will ease her into living alone.

A part of her is afraid that if she returns home to old friends and falls back into an old grind, she'll want to use again. Detox and rehabilitation were only the first steps on the road to recovery. It's like what a tech told her when she graduated from Riverside just the day before: "Get ready for your new life to be uncomfortable."

The recovery campus looms up around the corner, a four-story, 100,000-square-foot facility tucked behind a metal wire fence that runs the length of the block. As they pull into the parking lot, maneuvering around potholes cratering the gravel, Verenice sits up. There's a thin cluster of patients gathered outside, arms full of their personal things.

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TCEQ Scientist Says the Smog Is Fine Because Texans Stay Indoors

Categories: Environment

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The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has never exactly been on point when it comes to, you know, protecting the environment (this is Texas after all, land where the only good environmental regulation is a nonexistent one) but the state agency came out with a doozy this week.

See, the federal Environmental Protection Agency is considering changing the regulations governing the acceptable limit of smog (more politely known as Ozone) after a panel of scientists reviewed the current standards of 75 parts per billion and decided unanimously that the standard was too high. The EPA subsequently issued a mandate that will lower ozone air quality regulations to 60 parts per billion which will likely put a whole bunch of Texas cities into non-attainment, according to TCEQ toxicologist Dr. Michael Honeycutt.

Honeycutt, the top toxicologist in the state, is the one leading the charge against making any changes at all to air quality standards. He and a bunch of TCEQ scientists have followed in the footsteps of Republicans in Texas and across the country in vowing to oppose EPA air quality changes until the end of time.

First and foremost, according to Honeycutt, it will cost a whole bunch of money to get Texas air pollution rates down to the new lower regulatory levels. Besides, he explained in an article posted on the TCEQ website, smog is only a problem if you go outside. Specifically:

"Ozone is an outdoor air pollutant, because systems such as air conditioning remove it from indoor air. Since most people spend more than 90 percent of their time indoors, we (and the people in the epidemiology studies used to justify lowering the standard) are rarely exposed to significant levels of ozone."

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All of Houston's Nationally Ranked "Top ZIP Codes" Are Kinda White

Categories: Surreal Estate

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Another day, another Houston-centric list.

Our fair city has earned its way onto quite a few lists as of late, thanks to all the attention being paid to our growth and steady job market. The latest Houston nod comes courtesy of a California real estate blog, Movoto, and a list of the "Best ZIP Codes in America."

Movoto recently ranked the top ZIP codes in the nation by looking at a few factors -- median household income, unemployment rate, average commute time, median rent, median house value, poverty levels and education -- and landing in the top 100 of those spots are six -- count 'em, six -- of Houston's ZIP codes.

And while those ZIP codes -- 77005, 77401, 77046, 77024, 77056 and 77030 -- may indeed be centrally located, there's a bit of an issue with that "Best ZIP" moniker. You see, all of the neighborhoods that made it onto Movoto's list are not only high on the median rent and home value scales, they are also predominantly white. Like, really really white.

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