Houston the Top City for Rising Credit Card Debt

It seems that Houstonians are getting pretty darn comfortable swiping that plastic at the register again. So comfortable, in fact, that Houston has become the top city in the United States for rising credit card debt. We've finally made it onto the top of a list for something other than pollution, traffic, or humidity, folks.

According to the National Consumer Trends Credit Report -- which was compiled by the credit giant Equifax -- Houston is right in first place as the top metropolitan city for rising credit card debt.

The report compared credit card data from the second quarter of last year to this year's second quarter, and found that the nation overall increased their credit card debt by about 2.9 percent during that time.

It's not surprising that Houston saw a rise in credit card debt, considering that the results of Equinox's report showed that consumers in each of the nation's 25 largest metropolitan areas increased their credit card debt in the second quarter of 2014. What is surprising, however, is how much it went up compared to the national average.

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This Weekend's Best Bets: College Football Is Here

207 days. That's how long I've been waiting.

When the piece of cheese sitting at the end of the summer-long maze is redemption, the clock ticks slowly. The pages get ripped off the calendar at a glacial speed. August couldn't get here soon enough. Because here's the thing -- I sucked at giving you picks last year. Absolutely terrible.

44-70-4, to be exact.

That was my record. It was a brutal 2013 campaign. The only thing at all appropriate about my 2013 handicapping was that I am based out of Houston, where 2-14 on the field is the equivalent of 44-70-4 when handicapping.

So let's hope that 2014's theme is redemption. Redemption for me, and redemption for Toro! And a trickle of cash for all of us! (Except you, Toro.)

Let's hit some college games for the first weekend, shall we?

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UPDATED: Most Texas Abortion Clinics Will NOT Close Next Week

Photo by Francisco Montes
Texas is working on it.

UPDATE: Yeakel issued his ruling on Friday afternoon, and to the surprise of pretty much no one he struck down the requirement that all abortion clinics be certified ambulatory surgical centers, according to the Texas Tribune. The lawsuit also asked that Yeakel suspend the admitting privileges requirement for two clinics -- Whole Woman's Health in McAllen and Reproductive Services in El Paso -- which were forced to close because of said requirement. Yeakel granted that request, meaning there might just be an abortion clinic option west of San Antonio within the Lone Star State again.

In his ruling, Yeakel said HB 2's ambulatory-surgical-center requirement "burdens Texas women in a way incompatible with the principles of personal freedom and privacy protected by the United States Constitution for the 40 years since Roe v. Wade."

Here's another choice line from Yeakel's decision:

When viewed in the context of the other state-imposed obstacles a woman faces when seeking an abortion in Texas -- including a sonogram requirement, a waiting period, and the reduced number of abortion-performing physicians resulting from the admitting-privilege requirement -- the court is firmly convinced that the State has placed unreasonable obstacles in the path of a woman's ability to obtain a previability abortion. These substantial obstacles have reached a tipping point that threatens to "chip away at the private choice shielded by Roe," Stenberg v. Carhart, 530 U.S. 914, 952 (2000) (Ginsburg, J., concurring), and effectively reduce or eliminate meaningful access to safe abortion care for a significant, but ultimately unknowable, number of women throughout Texas.

The decision is pretty much gilt-edge guaranteed to be appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, so this is not, most likely, the final word on the matter of HB2. You can read Yeakel's entire ruling at the end of this post.

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Gambling! Five College Football Season Win Total Bets You Should Play

Each week in this space, I plan to give you, the faithful HoustonPress.com news blog reader, six picks against the spread for the upcoming football weekend.

I would encourage you to read them even if you don't plan to wager as they serve the dual purpose of conveying football predictions as well as force-feeding you references to Breaking Bad, Star Wars, and adult film stars. However, perhaps there are some of you who would like to have some action out there, but aren't up for the game to game grind of weekly wagering.

You want a long-term investment, a way to enjoy the thrill of gambling while still getting analogies comparing Nick Saban to a combination of Walter White, Darth Vader, and Peter North.

Well, my friend, may I interest you in the magic of the Season Win Total Bet?

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Houston Rent May Be Skyrocketing, But These Five Areas are Still Affordable

Apartment Guide

Looking for an affordable apartment? Good luck -- and we mean that. Houston's rental prices are increasing at the fastest pace on record, and those sky-high apartment tags are no longer limited to the inner loop.

As of July 2014, the average apartment rent in Houston is about $1,249 a month, and recent data shows that apartment rents are increasing at around 4.9 percent every year in the Houston region. The housing market for buyers is also kinda rough -- as in there's not very much to buy -- and residents in Houston are also making a shift from owning to renting.

The data was released by CBRE, a Los Angeles-based real estate brokerage firm with offices in Houston, shows that rents are growing at the fastest pace on record at that 4.9 percent rate. And that growth isn't all in areas one would expect, either.

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Texas Man No Longer Faces Life in Prison for Pot Brownies

Categories: Get Lit

Jacob Lavoro Mugshot
Prosecutors have dropped the first-degree felony charges against Jacob Lavoro, the Round Rock teenager who faced life in prison for running a small-time edibles operation.

Lavoro's case made national headlines in May after Round Rock police caught the 19 year old with about a pound and a half of marijuana edibles, a container of THC, $1,600 in cash and an apparent client list.

Police had claimed Lavoro was running a low-level edibles operation, charging him with felony possession with intent to deliver, which carries a prison term between five and 99 years, aka life, in prison.

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Niners-Texans: Five Players To Watch

By now, four weeks into the preseason, fans should at least have a general idea of how good (or bad) we think their team will be.

Yet, here we are on the morning of the final preseason game, and I'm no closer to knowing exactly what the Texans will be in 2014 than I was when Andre Johnson decided to return to the building on July 25.

Consider the following training camp variables you have to factor into any rational assessment of this team:

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The 2014 Best of Houston® Readers' Poll: Vote Now for the Best of Houston!

Live somewhere long enough and you develop a collection of favorite locations, places you can always count on to deliver a good times or good service. You have your favorite museum to explore, your favorite bike trail, your favorite local sports star, so on and so forth.

In a few weeks, our Best of Houston® 2014 issue is going to drop and we'll have our list of favorites for you to read and check out. Of course, we also know that you feel very passionate about some of the subjects, which is why we're giving you the chance to let us know what your favorite spots are.

That's right, it's time for the 2014 Best of Houston® Readers' Poll.

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Anonymous Tip Leads to Large Pot Bust in North Harris County

Categories: Get Lit

An anonymous tip to the Harris County Sheriff's Office led deputies to a large marijuana grow operation in North Harris County on Tuesday, according to sheriff's officials.

Several marijuana grow areas were discovered in a wooded area off of I-45 N and Rankin Road, near a cemetery, after investigators used HCSO helicopter to pinpoint the location.

Deputies estimate that the fields -- four in total -- contained approximately 1,000 marijuana plants, which had grown between 2 and 4 feet high. The sheriff's office puts the plants' street value at about a half million dollars.

The seizure in North Harris County follows a number of other major marijuana busts in the region this month.

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Trial Set For Case Against Bellaire Cop Who Shot Unarmed Black Man

Categories: Courts

A federal judge has set a trial date for the civil suit against a white Bellaire police officer who shot an unarmed black man in his parents' driveway.

A federal magistrate on Wednesday put Robbie Tolan's lawsuit against Bellaire police officer Jeffrey Cotton on course for a September 2015 trial, court records show. Tolan's family filed the lawsuit in 2009 shortly after a jury acquitted Cotton on state charges of first-degree aggravated assault. The civil suit had stalled until a May 2014 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that overturned a lower court ruling dismissing the claims against Cotton. In June, a three-judge panel on the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to the trial court, paving the way for an eventual courtroom showdown.

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