Jockey Faces Criminal Charges for Shocking Horse at Sam Houston Race Park

Categories: Sports, Texas

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Via the Paulick Report

A jockey is now facing criminal charges for allegedly fixing a race at Sam Houston Race Park.

When Quiet Acceleration galloped to victory with jockey Roman Chapa aboard in the $50,000 Richard King Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park on January 17, the photos showed a small man riding a thoroughbred horse to victory. Of course, it turns out that the pictures taken in that moment also showed something more sinister. Chapa, 43, was caught allegedly gripping a small nude-colored object in his left palm along with the reins.


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More Signs of the Times: A Pipeline Company Merger and a Texas Manufacturing Slump

Categories: Texas

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Photo by shannonpatrick17

Despite some relentlessly sunny interpretations from Texas economists, it's becoming increasingly clear that things aren't exactly getting better in the oil industry.

The latest sign of trouble comes in the form of yet another merger. This time it's a couple of pipeline giants, Energy Transfer Partners and Regency Energy Partners. The companies announced on Monday that they plan to, you know, merge in an $18 billion stocks-and-cash deal that will create the second largest energy infrastructure company in the United States (the largest being Kinder Morgan).


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Big Oil's Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Month

Categories: Texas

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It's been a rough go of it for the oil industry these days and it's a safe bet things won't be getting better anytime soon based on the first month of the year.

People started looking worried back in June when the oil prices began to slip. After all, the experts had said it was impossible for the boom -- the shale-driven oil boom that brought Texas to record production levels and sparked the Texas Miracle and a renaissance of U.S. oil that most thought was impossible -- to ever so much as sag, let alone to bust. And yet, the prices dropped.

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Gun Enthusiasts Re-Enact Paris Massacre in Plano for Some Reason

Categories: Texas

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Screenshot from thetruthaboutguns.com
As far as we're concerned, there's only one appropriate way to respond to a tragedy like the Charlie Hedbo massacre, and that's to re-enact it with paintguns in a nondescript Plano business park.

Most people might think that's weird, but fortunately, the reasonable folks at The Truth About Guns were on the same page -- which is why they staged a simulation Tuesday of the shooting that claimed 12 lives at a firearm training facility called Patriot Protection.

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Rockets, Dynamo on Texas Custom License Plate Chopping Block...and a Few Other Surprises

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Dr Pepper? Say it ain't so!
Maybe you didn't realize. Maybe you were so busy working and doing whatever it is you do in your life that you didn't know these poor bastards were about to see their lifespans cruelly cut short. You must be a terrible, heartless, uncaring jerk if you didn't take the time to help these lost souls.

No, not children in Africa or the homeless or victims of violence or stray animals. We're talking about custom license plates here, the truly tragic losers in this cold, unforgiving world.

You see, Texas offers dozens of custom license plate options to spruce up the caboose of your giant, gas guzzling truck (or minivan for you soccer moms). Colleges, sports teams and charities line up to get their names and logos emblazoned on little metal rectangles to be affixed to vehicles across the Lone Star state. They demonstrate pride, respect and the recognition you have enough time and money on your hands to dress up your ride with class.

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Open-Carry Activists Get Kicked Out of Lawmaker's Office on First Day of Legislative Session

Categories: Texas

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Robert Nelson via Flickr creative commons

Anti-gun lawmakers in Texas are like anti-cheese members of the Wisconsin State Assembly. Both are breeds of politician that don't really exist in their respective states.

We're a gun-totin' constituency here, and, when you consider background checks submitted to the feds for gun-purchase applications every year, it looks like we buy more firearms than any other state. When the progressive, abortion rights-crusading Wendy Davis hit the campaign trail in her ill-fated quest for the governor's seat last year, even she (to the ire of many liberals) championed expanding gun rights in Texas (post-election, however, Davis says she regrets taking that position).

And, if the first day of the 84th Texas Legislature is any indicator, gun rights could become a strange, sleeping wedge issue this session, one that simmers beneath the surface dividing run-of-the-mill Second Amendment believers from the true die-hard gun buffs.

While the state's political press yesterday focused heavily on the customary biennial pageantry of Texas Lege: Day One -- in which a fringe group of state lawmakers pretend they've drummed up enough support confirm a new, hard-right leaning Tea Party House Speaker, only to have the House vote to maintain the status quo -- the so-called open carry movement made a noticeable showing at the Texas Capitol. Outside on the statehouse steps, a demonstration of shotgun- and assault rifle-toting activists circulated throughout opening day. Inside the capitol, open carry activists were even kicked out of a state lawmaker's office after calling him "a tyrant to the Constitution of the United States of America."

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Californication: Greg Abbott's Right, We Are Becoming California...

Categories: Texas, Whatever

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Monica Fuentes
Governor-elect Greg Abbott is not just a shrewd politician. Texas' soon-to-be 48th governor evidently moonlights as a fortune teller, and he's come to warn the Lone Star State of impending doom.

Abbott's message is not about the state's nearly 6 million uninsured residents, the anti-science and anti-history mentality that's seeped into our textbooks, or our public school funding scheme that's twice been ruled unconstitutional. No, this was Abbott's prognostication on the eve of a brand new legislative session:

"Texas is being California-ized and you may not even be noticing it," Abbott told a crowd of conservative think-tankers at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, decrying "a patchwork quilt of bans and rules and regulations that is eroding the Texas model."

Abbott's warning is simple: Texas lawmakers this session need to crack down on cities (re: the big, scary left-leaning pockets of the state) that, due to years of inaction at the state level, have started to regulate a whole lot of stuff locally -- everything from banning fracking in city limits to LGBT non-discrimination ordinances and plastic bag bans. To Abbott, this all means the "Texas miracle" could soon become a "California nightmare."

And Abbott's not entirely wrong. If you look closely, we've got plenty more in common with our left-coast cousins than just an abundance of sunshine or plenty of beach-front real estate. Listen to Abbott. Take heed. Or else we could soon morph into that horror that is the Sunshine Golden State. We pick up where Abbott left off, and present to you a few harbinger's of the coming "California-ization" of Texas:


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5 Craziest Bills Already Filed With the Texas Legislature

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Photo from the Texas Legislature

The 84th biennial Texas Legislature convenes on Tuesday, and based on recent developments -- namely the sweeping Republican victories in the midterms -- this session is going to see one of the most conservative crews ever to sit down and legislate in Austin. But never fear, all is not lost.

A tightly held Republican state legislature (a.k.a. the best every-other-year reality show around) will feature the usual focus on abortion rights (and how to get rid of them) and education funding (and what else can be cut after the budget was already scraped to the bone back in 2013.) But there are also going to be some extra-special ridiculous bills being looked at over the next few months. We've rounded up some of our favorites so far ("favorites" translates to "the ones that made us want to smack our head on the desk") of the more than 700 bills already filed since back in November. Keep in mind that state legislators will be able to file bills until March, so what follows is by no means the last word on that which some (a.k.a. we) see as just this side of crazy-pants crazy.

5. The one where everybody gets all the guns. HB 195: Relating to the carrying of handguns; providing for the open carrying of handguns; and removing the requirement that a person who may lawfully possess handguns obtain a Concealed Handgun License in order to carry a handgun lawfully in the state of Texas.

There are lots of Open Carry bills that have been filed, but the one by Rep. John Strickland is a real honey of a creation. See, Strickland not only wants to allow people to openly carry pistols and the other smaller firearms, he wants to make it so that all the people can carry all the guns all the time. HB 195 even proposes getting rid of concealed handgun licenses entirely. It's practically impossible to see how this one could, you know, backfire. Despite what you'd expect, this being shoot-em'-up Texas and all, the Lone Star State has had a 140-year ban on openly carrying firearms. If this or any of the other bills filed actually get through the Lege, Texas will become the largest state to allow this type of pistol packing.

4. The one that's trying to quash gay marriage just in case it becomes legal in Texas. HB 623: Relating to the funding, issuing, and litigation of certain marriage licenses.

It's hard to believe it, but as of right now, gay marriage has been recognized in 36 states that contain roughly 70 percent of the country's population. It's quite possible that Texas may become one of the next states to be legally on board with same-sex marriage judging from the response of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals last Friday. But of course, Texas lawmakers can't just go quietly and get along on this issue.

Last week Rep. Cecil Bell filed HB 623, a bill that will, among other things, prohibit the use of taxpayer funds for the licensing and support of same-sex marriage. It will also bar any government employee who recognizes gay marriage from being paid. Gay marriage is such a hot-button issue right now, this is only one of a slew of bills filed touching on the subject. However, considering where things stand and the fact that Texas may well be on the brink of becoming the next state to recognize same-sex marriages, the timing of and calculation behind this bill make it particularly exasperating.


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Will Sid Miller Do Better Than Todd Staples as Ag Commissioner?

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Today Sid Miller will become the new Texas Commissioner of Agriculture. However, it's a fair bet that from the moment he is sworn in, Miller will follow the grand tradition of ag commissioners as he starts angling to end up somewhere higher in the political food chain.

Predecessor Todd Staples spent eight years in the office trying to finagle some political traction, mainly by obsessing over the border, but also by railing against things like the introduction of "Meatless Mondays" in Texas school districts and against gay marriage as a sort of side project, as the Texas Observer has noted.

But Staples seemed to believe the border would be his ticket to the office of his dreams, lieutenant governor. He even went out and created a taxpayer-funded website, "Protect Your Texas Border," that got him all kinds of bad press. However, after losing to Dan Patrick, Staples galloped off into the sunset back in September. (Translation: He became president of the Texas Oil & Gas Association after failing to get the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor last March.)


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3.5 Magnitude Earthquake Shakes Dallas

Categories: Texas

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USGS
The United States Geological Survey has confirmed that a mid-afternoon rumble felt across the Dallas area was, in fact, a 3.5 magnitude earthquake with an epicenter in Irving.


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