The Daily Show Pitches a New Name for Rice University

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Nobody wants anything to do with Ray Rice just now. Go figure, beating your significant other to the point she's knocked unconscious will tend to cause public opinion to go sour. Eventually. At least once TMZ gets hold of a tape of the beating and it is plastered all over the media and is so embarrassing that even the NFL can't ignore it anymore. In case you've been living under a rock, Rice was bounced from the Baltimore Ravens. Finally. He even lost his Nike deal. Anyways, people are turning in their Ray Rice jerseys, and demanding their money back and all that sort of thing.

While everyone is avoiding all association with all things Rice, The Daily Show's Jon Stewart had some suggestions about some brand-protecting changes that could be made. Specifically, "Rice-a-Roni" could become "Simmered Grain-a-Roni." He also had a suggestion for a certain rather prestigious college around these parts.

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Five Reasons to Give HPD Funding for Body Cameras

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HPD
Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland is asking City Hall for $8 million to equip 3,500 police officers over three years in order to arm HPD officers with small body cameras in a bid toward police transparency.

The push for department-wide body cameras is an expansion on a pilot program that began last year, in which 100 HPD officers were fitted with the devices during the test run. The so-called body cameras clip to the front of officers' uniform shirts and are capable of recording both video and audio of police encounters while on duty.


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Texas Among the Worst for Gender Equality

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WalletHub

Let's talk about gender (in)equality, shall we?

In 2013, the U.S. failed to make the top 10 -- or even the top 20 -- of the World Economic Forum's list of the most gender-equal countries. And we're guessing that little issue is, at least in part, because of the big ol' state of Texas.

A recent study from WalletHub ranked Texas 47 out of all 50 states for gender equity because, according to the data, Texas is near the bottom when it comes to how states treat women.

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Meyerland Hipster Church Courts Impossible Demographic

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Photo by Susan Du
Kathy McDougall, Angie Boudreaux, Jenni Fairbanks, Earl Fairbanks and Jackie Brown gather for a fellowship dinner at the Fairbankses' house.

Angie Boudreaux grew up in her grandmother's conservative Southern Baptist church an odd child who loved going every week just to hear the preacher preach. Eventually, she became a Sunday school teacher and made her living helping young girls read the Bible.

It would have been a straightforward story, except a super-awkward thing happened to Boudreaux at the end of high school. After much internal wrangling over whether hanging out with lesbians all the time was just something that jock girls did, Boudreaux had to admit she had fallen in love with her best friend, another woman.

She cried, she prayed and others prayed with her, but she stayed gay. Some years later, when church leadership found out, they told her she couldn't be trusted with teaching children.

Jackie Brown is not gay. But after college, when she tried to reconnect with Christianity, a church leader called her an adulteress for living with her then-boyfriend (now husband). It didn't help that she was then barred from singing in the church choir because she also sang at a bar on weeknights.

"The church didn't pay me," Brown said. "The bar did."

The Rev. Jenni Fairbanks was quick to interject that her church hired Brown precisely because of her professional experience. "She logged her hours," Fairbanks said with a shrug.

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Bikers, Skateboarders Tug of War Over Skate Park

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Despite 78,000 square feet of ramps, rails, pipes and pyramids, Houston skateboarders believe the city's newest skatepark still isn't big enough to share with BMXers.

Spring Skate Park currently stands at Kuykendahl and Rankin as America's largest statepark. Opening day last week drew huge crowds of eager skateboarders, many of whom have traveled from out of state just to careen and crash over the park's beautiful concrete slopes.

Yet as skateboarders made use of the free facilities, bikers loudly protested their exclusion. Spring Skate Park won't allow cyclists to share the space, citing safety concerns over mixing four-wheelers and two-wheelers even though skateparks the world over have traditionally allowed both groups.

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Sheriff's Deputy Sues Over New HCSO Social Media Policy

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If you're a Harris County Sheriff's Office employee, good luck sticking to the new restrictions put in place by the HCSO higher-ups that dictate what you can and can't post on social media.

Under the new policy, HCSO employees risk disciplinary action if their Facebook or Twitter posts "cause undue embarrassment or damage the reputation of and/or erode the public's confidence" in the sheriff's office. Posts containing any HCSO logos, badges or personal photographs that show employees in HCSO garb or uniform are prohibited without prior approval from a chief. Also: "speech containing crude, blasphemy (sic), negative, or untrue claims about the HCSO and/or any HCSO personnel is forbidden and therefore will be grounds for disciplinary action."

Similarly, HCSO employees now face disciplinary action for any comments on social media that "negatively affect the public perception of the HCSO."

Sound overly broad to you? It does to Harris County sheriff's deputy Carl Pittman, who sued Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia in federal court Monday over the 15-page policy implemented by HCSO last month. Pittman argues in his lawsuit that HCSO's new policy is chock-full of language that unlawfully curtails employees' First Amendment rights to free speech.

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Open Carry Texas Says It Still Wants to March in the Fifth Ward

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Photo by Teknorat
This weekend marked the second time Open Carry Texas planned to march in one of Houston's historically African American neighborhoods. And, for the second time, the Open Carry Texas folks called it off.

Why? Well, things got pretty ugly last week when representatives of the Fifth Ward, led by Quanell X, head of the New Black Panther Party in Houston, and representatives of the Houston branch of Open Carry Texas, led by David Amad, sat down to hash things out. The original plan was to hold a rally to encourage people in the historically African American neighborhood to get armed and do some of that gun-toting stuff that is so near and dear to the hearts of those in the Open Carry movement. Amad says he sees the rallies a way of encouraging African Americans to exercise their Second-Amendment rights to carry guns. The problem is many representatives of the Fifth Ward don't exactly see things from that angle.

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Equal Rights Law Bound for Trial After Pointless Hearing

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Photo by Susan Du
Anti-HERO lawyer Andy Taylor called Friday's hearing a great success. Nothing changes in Houston.

Legal jargon, heated accusations and random baseball metaphors aside, Friday's Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) hearing accomplished nothing. The law is suspended until its supporters and opponents duke it out at trial, set for January 2015.

HERO is Mayor Annise Parker's anti-discrimination law that gives legal protection to citizens who are maltreated because of their age, religion, race, gender and sexual orientation. Private businesses and government are subject to comply, but religious institutions are exempt.

Nevertheless, representatives of the religious right have banded together in an effort to repeal HERO ever since it became law in late May. Anti-HERO activists circulated a petition to put the ordinance on the November ballot for a referendum vote and gathered more than 50,000 signatures - well more than the 17,269 required for the measure. After review, the city found that only 15,249 were valid, trashing the petition.

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Local Pickup Artist Is at War With Women

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Photo by Susan Du
I don't get drunk I get me.

A boys' football coach by day, after hours Russell Carter coaches hardened men in an entirely different game. The playing field is Saint Dane's on a Tuesday night. The ball is in the court of the first beautiful woman who catches his eye -- anyone who rates a nine or 10.

Carter introduces himself. He's 25, tall and muscular with a winning smile. He's a natural comedian, so conversation is easy-flowing. Suddenly he leans in, squinting at the woman's nose. "Wow, you've got a bit of a schnoozle there don't you?" At that point, she recoils, reaching up to cover her face. Carter laughs and apologizes for acting like a kid on a playground. He explains that he likes her but doesn't know how to tell her yet. She relaxes a bit.

In the pickup-artist world, it's a technique called "negging," uplifting a woman's self-esteem, razing it to the ground, and then building her back up again. The thinking goes, if you can control a woman's emotions, you pretty much have her in the "battle for the pussy," says Carter, a newly established dating coach with a handful of clients throughout Houston.

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The Whole World Is Tweeting: Social Media and Social Justice

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Twitter and other forms of social media are now legitimate tools in the fight for social justice.
In 1968 outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, all hell broke loose. Antiwar protesters had gathered outside the Hilton Hotel, but what was a peaceful demonstration turned violent when police arrested and even beat some of those being arrested, all while TV cameras were trained on the scene. As they were being loaded into police vans, protesters chanted "the whole world is watching."

Sound familiar?

With the dawn of live TV in the 1960s and the advent of better, more portable videocameras and recording technology, the average American was, for the first time, able to put moving pictures with words. From Chicago to the south where police unleashed dogs and fire hoses on blacks to images of body bags brought home from Asian battlefields, these powerful visual images shocked a nation, helped bring an end to the war and even altered the state of race relations in the country.

Today, we have Twitter...and Facebook...and YouTube...and Instagram. And, in Ferguson, home to the the most recent and disturbing social unrest in America, the world is once again watching.

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