Texas Finds a New Drug Dealer

Categories: Courts, Crime

Texas prison officials said Wednesday they've acquired a new "small supply" of pentobarbital, the barbiturate Texas uses to execute prisoners by lethal injection, according to the AP. That means Texas has at least enough lethal-injection drugs on hand to kill all four prisoners slated for execution in April.

And, as is becoming standard practice in death penalty states across the country, Texas won't disclose the supplier of its new batch of death drugs.

More »

Will a Bill to Regulate Texas Payday Lenders Finally Pass?

Such a noble enterprise.
There are few legal enterprises in this country as despicable as the payday-loan and rent-to-own businesses. They share the same parasitic business model -- one that achieves maximum profit potential the more desperate and/or unsophisticated a consumer is.

That's partly why Houston and other cities throughout Texas have regulated these businesses, and why Woodville Republican state Rep. James White has introduced a bill to implement some of those regulations statewide. Thing is, this would affect the bottom line of his fellow lawmaker, Rep. Gary Elkins of Houston, whose bottom-feeding Power Finance Texas chain somehow manages to skirt usury laws while charging APR rates between 739 and 792 percent.

More »

Islamic Advocacy Group Asks Ted Cruz to Skip Conference Featuring an Anti-Muslim Leader


It's only been a few days since Sen. Ted Cruz formally admitted he's running for the GOP nomination for president for 2016, but an Islamic advocacy group is already weighing in and urging Cruz to skip a conference they claim has ties to white supremacists and anti-Muslims.

More »

GOP Lawmakers Want to Make It Harder for Minors to Get an Abortion Without a Parent's Consent

Six years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade, legalizing abortion across the country and protecting it as a woman's constitutional right, the high court took up another thorny issue: are pregnant minors afforded that same right?

The 1979 case Bellotti v. Baird challenged a Massachusetts law requiring pregnant minors to get parental consent before obtaining an abortion. In writing the plurality opinion, Justice Lewis Powell explained that the court had to balance two competing interests. Noting the "peculiar vulnerability of children," Powell wrote that the "rights of children cannot be equated with those of adults." However, Powell also said the decision of whether or not to end a pregnancy "differs in important ways from other decisions facing minors." While states may reasonably want to ensure that parents are in on the decision, Powell wrote that parents should not be allowed to exercise an "absolute, and possibly arbitrary, veto" over a girl's choice to have an abortion.

The ruling meant a couple of things. First, states could still have parental consent laws on the books if they wanted to (the court refused to extend full abortion rights given to adult women under Roe to minors). But states also had to provide an escape hatch: girls could petition a judge for approval if their parents wouldn't consent or if girls were too afraid to ask them.

Ever since, anti-abortion activists have been trying to restrict that process, known as judicial bypass, and this session there are a slate of bills filed by Republican lawmakers in the Texas Legislature that would make it increasingly difficult, if not impossible, for many teenage girls to get an abortion without the approval of a parent.

More »

Brock Lesnar Announces He's Staying With WWE

Categories: Game Time, Sports

Even though it's flagship show is the most watched show on cable television, WWE has always had to work to get coverage in the mainstream. Oftentimes, when it does happen, it's because WWE will inject some mainstream star into their universe, the perfect excuse for high brow cable like ESPN and CNN to "cross over" and acknowledge "sports entertainment."

Back in the day, Hulk Hogan was once on the cover of Sports Illustrated, but that was because he was partnered with Mr.T and Cyndi Lauper as the key players at the first Wrestlemania. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin wound up on Sportscenter one night back in 1998, but that was because he was tussling with Mike Tyson.

Donald Trump, Pete Rose, Floyd Mayweather, Snooki. All of them athletes or celebs whose magnetic attraction pulled the mainstream spotlight to WWE for a minute or two.

That's what makes Brock Lesnar's appearance on Sportscenter Tuesday night so significant. There was no garden variety celeb taking Lesnar along for the ride. Brock Lesnar was the star.

More »

Animal "Crush" Couple Will Again Face Federal Charges

Categories: Courts

Going back to federal court.
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review an appeal in what's believed to be the first prosecution of an animal torture video under a 2010 statute, meaning the Houston couple accused of producing "crush" videos will once again face federal prosecution.

Ashley Richards and Brent Justice also faced state animal cruelty charges for the actions depicted in one of many gruesome videos they sold to consumers; Richards pleaded guilty in 2013 and sentenced to ten years. She's expected to testify against Justice, whose trial is set for May 1.

More »

Free Agency 2015: Texans Re-Sign Inside Linebacker Akeem Dent

Categories: Game Time, Sports

An underrated subplot of the Texans' last two off seasons, 2014 and the current one in 2015, has been their ability to somehow flip their discarded quarterback into actual NFL transaction currency. Instead of Matt Schaub, T.J. yates, Case Keenum, and Ryan Fitzpatrick being NFL garbage, the Texans were actually able to convince teams they were NFL recyclables.

Schaub was legendarily traded to the Raiders for a sixth round pick (which was eventually used on running back Alfred Blue), Keenum was flipped for a conditional late round pick in 2016, as was Fitzpatrick.

The only discarded quarterback they moved for an actual player was Yates, who was traded to Atlanta for inside linebacker Akeem Dent. Affirmation that this was a deal the Texans feel like they won came Tuesday when they chose to bring back Dent next season on a two year contract.

More »

Ted Cruz's Presidential Run Could Actually Be Way More Entertaining Than Rick Perry's

Thumbnail image for tedcruzsoturesponse.png
Rick Perry's awkward 2011 slog around the GOP presidential primary circuit felt kind of like putting a once-powerful horse out to pasture. A formidable politician, Perry led from the Texas governor's mansion for more than a decade using his power of appointment to leave a lasting conservative mark on things large and small before jumping into the fickle world of presidential politics.

Then things got weird. In his reported pain pill-fueled push for the GOP nomination for president, Perry at turns forgot what state he was in, oops-ed his way through a nationally-televised debate, and merrily sang "I've Been Working on the Railroad" to keep himself occupied entertained. At least he got a consolation prize: fresh off the heels of an embarrassing campaign, in Perry's final 2013 ride through the capitol he oversaw a session that even further legislated every uterus in Texas.

But Rick "felony-indictment" Perry is old news. Sure, he's put on his smart-guy glasses, formed a political action committee and set off to join the pack of hopefuls delivering far-right speeches to far-right crowds in early primary states. But more punchline than viable candidate, Perry's inevitable run is sure to be a way-more-depressing repeat of his last go at the GOP presidential nomination.

That Ted Cruz, though. He's the guy to watch. To the surprise of no one, Texas' firebrand freshman GOP senator announced his presidential campaign yesterday at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, saying he hopes to channel support from the "silent plurality," ostensibly the die-hard evangelical crowd that thinks gay-luvin' America is just as doomed as Cruz does.

More »

J.J. Watt Restructures His Contract, Opens Up $8 Million in Cap Space

Categories: Game Time, Sports

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for jj-watt-groovehouse.jpg
Photo by Groovehouse
It goes without saying that this has been the Texans' most active offseason in free agency since the lockout-shortened offseason of 2011, when they signed Johnathan Joseph and Danieal Manning within 24 hours of each other.

They've re-signed cornerback Kareem Jackson, tackle Derek Newton and quarterback Ryan Mallett. They've brought in newly signed free agents in safety Rahim Moore, wide receiver Cecil Shorts and nose tackle Vince Wilfork.

All of this was done courtesy of a very un-Texan-like $30 million in cap space, opened up in large part through the releases of veterans Andre Johnson and Chris Myers. Heading into this morning, the Texans had whittled that down to about $3 million in cap space.

However, if you're looking for the telltale sign that the Texans are not done shopping yet, it came this morning.

More »

New $243 Million Astrodome Renovation Plan a Hodgepodge of Recycled Ideas

Categories: Houston 101

Photo by Jeff Balke
A legitimate idea or just a way to get all the neighbors to play nice?
When the Urban Land Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based organization, released its report on Monday detailing what it recommended for preserving the Astrodome, it sounded an awful lot like what had been previously proposed. The suggestions included a large indoor park, meeting space for the massive annual Offshore Technology Conference, an area for Rodeo events, a history museum, a pre-game activity center for Texans games and even additional parking buried beneath the structure. The only former suggestions not represented were an indoor amusement park, a luxury hotel and a giant fake ski slope.

In all, the proposed renovations were rather underwhelming considering the iconic nature of the building. I am someone who has written about preserving the old gal for future generations and I respect the findings of the ULI, but I have to wonder just who they surveyed and how much influence the plans already on the table had on their findings.

More »