Could ExxonMobil Buy BP?

Categories: Spaced City

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Imagine a world where the largest energy company in the world becomes even more massive by gobbling up one of the most notorious energy companies around. Got it? Okay, now prepare yourself because the rumors are swirling that such a thing could actually happen. Bloomberg is reporting that ExxonMobil, the largest energy company in the world, has plans to issue an $8 billion bond offering, the largest it has ever put out. Why? Well, that's where things get really interesting, because the Houston Business Journal is reporting that Irving-based Exxon could have plans to buy London-based British Petroleum.

Yeah. BP, the one with the oil spill.


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Woo-Hoo! Houston Getting Another Low-Cost Spay-Neuter Clinic

Categories: Spaced City

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Photo by OakleyOriginals/Flickr
"They'll have treats, too, right? RIGHT?"
Awesome news: Houston will be getting another low-cost spay/neuter clinic in the spring. City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to give Austin-based Emancipet $260,000 for the clinic, which will be located at 4410 Navigation Blvd.

"The clinic will be able to spay/neuter 7,000-8,000 animals per year and provide approximately 10,000 preventive care visits" for things like microchipping and vaccinations, according to an Emancipet press release. This is definitely a huge step toward tackling Houston's homeless animal population, which is estimated at between 800,000-1.2 million.

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Memorial Hermann's Dr. Mahasti Chalajour Is the First Dentist a Lot of Poor Kids Ever See

Categories: Spaced City

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Photo by Margaret Downing
Inside the van with Thomas Toledo and his mother, Efigenia.
One basic direction Dr. Mahasti Chalajour gave dental assistant Miriam Montelongo from the start: "You never show a reaction." When a child comes to them for the first time, no matter how many rotting teeth, no matter what his or her breath smells like, no matter how terrible the damage that neglect, bad nutrition or ignorance caused -- you don't gasp, you don't exclaim, you don't look stricken.

Instead they smile. They thank the child for coming and they set to their task, trying to salvage whatever they can, trying to work as painlessly as possible. Because they know in most cases, it's pain that's brought the child in and they try not to add to that.

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Meth, Mistaken Identity Lead to Kidnapping Attempt

Categories: Crime, Spaced City

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HPD
Shane Davis
Shane Davis, 41, lives in Houston. Davis does have a five-year-old daughter, but she does not live in Houston. Unfortunately, meth can make simple details like these very difficult to remember.

On the morning of January 28, a 37-year-old woman and her three-year-old daughter, neither of whom are named Nellie, were taking what was probably a delightful stroll through Memorial Park when a stranger, later identified as Davis, approached them yelling the name "Nellie." The mother tried to ignore Davis but he persisted, yelling, "Ma'am, you have my daughter, that's my daughter, give her back to me," according to court records.

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Yay, the New Buffalo Bayou Dog Park Is Open!

Categories: Spaced City

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Photo by Craig Malisow
A much fancier park to poop in.
After more than a year, Houston's long-awaited Johnny Steele Dog Park opened January 17, and I'm looking forward to when the hype is over. Because it will probably take a couple of weeks before the $1.5 million, postcard-perfect grounds are utilized by lovers of dogs, and not lovers of shiny new things.

The Buffalo Bayou Partnership is so proud of its accomplishment that, when we visited Sunday, we saw that a security guard and a gentleman in a Partnership-logo shirt weren't enforcing the park rules. We saw plenty of children under 12, which park rules prohibit. But it was so crowded that I didn't stick around to check the enforcement of another weird rule: a one-hour time limit for each dog.

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UPDATED Investigators Seeking Owner of Starved, Dead Horses in Acres Homes

Categories: Spaced City

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Facebook screenshot
Update, Jan. 16: Necropsies of the horses show they were starved to death, according to a press release from Crime Stoppers of Houston. If you have information on this case or any other felony crimes, please call Crime Stoppers at 713.222.TIPS(8477). You may be eligible for a reward of up to $5,000 if you have information that leads to an arrest. All calls can be anonymous.

Harris County Sheriff's investigators are trying to locate the owner of two emaciated horses that were found dead in Acres Homes January 10.

Deputies responding to a call about the horses in the 7600 block of Bramar also took a donkey from the same property, HCSO Spokesperson Tebben Lewis told us. She did not have information on the donkey's condition.

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Lawsuit Claims Houston Attorneys Threatened to Out Former Mob Boss Living in Witness Protection During Strip Club Deal

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Tom Parnell via Flickr creative commons
The saga of a Westheimer strip club and the former mob boss who used to run it has taken another strange turn.

First, a little background: Lisa Hansegard bought the now-shuttered Baby Dolls strip club from the estate of Aris Mylonas, the father of her child, after Mylonas died in 2005, and shortly thereafter entered into an agreement with James Cabella to operate the club -- Cabella already owned a strip joint, the Penthouse Club, across the street and was apparently looking to expand his reach in the local strip-club scene. Hansegard claims in court documents that when she later started negotiating with Cabella to sell him Baby Dolls, she discovered through the strip-joint grapevine that Cabella was really Vincent Palermo, aka "Vinny Ocean," former acting boss of the New Jersey-based DeCavalcante crime family. After being indicted in the late 1990s on several federal charges, Palermo admitted to taking part in multiple murders, agreed to help the feds take down the DeCavalcante family, and, after spending two years in prison, entered the federal witness protection program (some have said that Tony Soprano was loosely based on Palermo's life in the DeCavalcante family).

The New York Post and KPRC identified Cabella as Vinny Ocean back in 2009, right around the time the Penthouse Club was suing the City of Houston over its sexually oriented business ordinance. But in 2007, it was still a fairly well-kept secret that a former mob boss was running strip clubs on Westheimer.

According to a lawsuit Hansegard filed in Harris County this week, her then attorneys Howard Steele and Charles Sturm (collectively Steele Sturm PLLC) tried to leverage that bit of information while negotiating the sale of Baby Dolls to Cabella. Unbeknownst to Hansegard, she alleges, Steele Sturm made thinly-veiled threats to publicly out Cabella as Vinny Ocean when he tried to back out of the sale in May 2007.


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Rice Crew Coaches Want a Boathouse on the Bayou, So They're Going to Row the Atlantic to Fundraise

Categories: Spaced City

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Courtesy Michael Matson
David Avilar boats the Bayou
It's the day after Christmas, and David Alviar and Michael Matson are pissed.

Matson and Alviar are coaches for the Rice University crew team. They've come on Dec. 26 to a part of Buffalo Bayou on Houston's East Side to check on the team's boats, and upon opening their storage unit Alviar finds trouble. Graffiti is zigzagged along the white exterior of one boat. Spray painters -- Alviar would probably prefer the term vandals -- have also tagged the exterior of another shipping container.

Alviar and Matson moved the team's practice spot to Buffalo Bayou in September. The duo says it's a lot more convenient than the team's old practice location, the Bay Area Rowing Club in Clear Lake. The drive from campus is shorter, which is crucial for a team that practices early in the morning. The Bayou's water height is more predictable, too.


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Epic Facebook Fails and the Girl on the Torture Board: Our Most-Read Features From 2014

Categories: Spaced City

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From harrowing tales of survival to features ranging from fracking to pot legalization, 2014 was a kick-ass year for longform storytelling at the Houston Press. Here's some of our most-read work from the year past:

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Appeals Court Overturns "Stand Your Ground" Case Because Jury Instructions Were Too Confusing

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Robert Nelson via Flickr creative commons

By most accounts, Raul Rodriguez was looking for a fight the night of May 2, 2010.

Pete Fornols, who lived next door to the retired firefighter, testified in court how Rodriguez called him numerous times that evening, seething about a loud party down the block in their rural northeast Harris County neighborhood. Rodriguez eventually stopped by Fornols' house, "rambling on about the noise" coming from Kelly Danaher's place, Fornols testified.

Rodriguez seemed aggressive, the neighbor said. "His eyes were bulgy, and he was in a -- almost like a frantic state, like, you know, he was just about to pop."


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