Category - USA: Texas

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Natural gas flaring in Eagle Ford Shale already surpasses 2012 levels of waste and pollution

AP, December 21

San Antonio — Gas flaring in the most profitable shale field in the U.S. is on pace to surpass to 2013 levels of waste and pollution in South Texas, according to a newspaper analysis of state records published Sunday.

The Eagle Ford Shale burned off more than 20 billion cubic feet of natural gas in the first seven months of this year, according to the Railroad Commission of Texas, which oversees the oil and gas industry. The tons of pollutants released into the air already exceed levels for 2012.

Experts say plummeting oil prices likely won’t stifle Eagle Ford production anytime soon.

The San Antonio Express-News (http://bit.ly/1ATJFNW ) also found some of the top sources of flaring in 2014 lacked state-mandated permits to flare natural gas. The goal of flaring is to incinerate impurities, but it generates air pollution and carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that scientists say contributes to climate change.

Railroad Commission spokeswoman Ramona Nye said Friday that the agency sent violation notices to three energy companies after the newspaper asked about their permitting status.

Federal appeals court spares mentally ill man from execution – for now

Al Jazeera, By Lauren Carasik, December 4

On Wednesday, hours before his scheduled execution, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay for Scott Panetti, 56, amid a national outcry about the legality and morality of killing an inmate with a 35-year history of severe mental illness. Panetti’s guilt is not in doubt. In 1992, he shaved his head, donned military fatigues, grabbed a hunting rifle and shot his wife’s parents in their home as she and their daughter watched in horror.

Panetti’s long history of mental illness is well documented: He was diagnosed with schizophrenia more than a decade before the murders, and he was hospitalized, often involuntarily, more than a dozen times. Panetti’s lawyers maintain he did not have a “rational understanding” of the reasons for his impending execution, as required by a 2007 Supreme Court decision (PDF) on his case. Panetti claimed that the state of Texas wants to execute him for preaching the Gospel to other inmates, not in retribution for the murders he committed. But the state insists Panetti is malingering and clearly understands that the state intended to kill him and why. The planned execution has engendered a divisive debate about the United States’ evolving aversion to the death penalty, especially for those whose are severely impaired by mental illness.

Panetti was sentenced to death in 1995 after a circuslike trial that hardly represented a fair adjudication of his competence and culpability. Beset by paranoia, he dismissed his court-appointed counsel and represented himself. He proceeded to dress in purple cowboy attire and subpoenaed more than 200 witnesses, including Jesus Christ, the Pope and John F. Kennedy. At times, he testified as his alter ego “Sarge” to whom he attributed the murders, recounting the day in disjointed third-person ramblings. His standby counsel at the time characterized the trial as a “judicial farce and a mockery of self-representation.” It is incomprehensible how a judge intimately familiar with Panetti’s mental health history and bizarre conduct would allow him to represent himself in a proceeding to determine his fate.

Since then, Panetti and his attorneys waged a lengthy and circuitous legal battle to reverse the ruling. In August 2013 the conservative 5th Circuit appeared to reason that because he was sane enough to argue that he was mentally unfit for execution, he was not ill enough to be spared lethal injection.

Man Who Believes God Speaks to Us Through “Duck Dynasty” Is About to Be Texas’ Second-in-Command

Meet Dan Patrick, the next lieutenant governor of Texas.

Mother Jones, By Tim Murphy, October 21

As a Texas state senator, Dan Patrick has conducted himself in a manner consistent with the shock jock he once was. Patrick—who is now the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor—has railed against everything from separation of church and state to Mexican coyotes who supposedly speak Urdu. He’s even advised his followers that God is speaking to them through Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson.

A former sportscaster who once defended a football player who’d thrown a reporter through a door (Patrick believed it wasn’t the journalist’s job to do “negative reporting”), Patrick became a conservative talk radio host in the early 1990s—Houston’s answer to Rush Limbaugh. In 2006, he parlayed his radio fame into a state Senate seat—and kept the talk show going. In office, he proposed paying women $500 to turn over newborn babies to the state (to reduce abortions), led the charge against creeping liberalism in state textbooks, and pushed wave after wave of new abortion restrictions. For his efforts, Texas Monthly named Patrick one of the worst legislators of 2013.

With a victory on November 4, Patrick, who is leading Democratic state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte in the polls, would find himself next in line for the governor’s mansion of the nation’s second-largest state. (Rick Perry, the current Republican governor, was previously lieutenant governor.) But even if Patrick advances no further, he’d be in a position to shape public policy—Texas’ lieutenant governor is sometimes called the “most powerful office in Texas” because of the influence it has on both the legislative and executive branches.

Texas proposes rewriting school text books to deny man made climate change

Analysis of proposed 6th grade texts show they falsely claim scientific disagreement about global warming.

The Guardian, By Suzanne Goldenberg, September 16

Texas has proposed re-writing school text books to incorporate passages denying the existence of climate change and promoting the discredited views of an ultra-conservative think tank.

The proposed text books – which come up for public hearing at the Texas state board of education on Tuesday – were already attracting criticism when it emerged that the science section had been altered to reflect the doctrine of the Heartland Institute, which has been funded by the Koch oil billionaires.

A report from the Texas Freedom Network and the National Centre for Science Education on Monday found a number of instances where the proposed texts rejected recognised science.

In the proposed 6th grade texts, students were introduced to global warming amid false claims that there was scientific disagreement about its causes.

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas Is Indicted on Charge of Abuse of Power

New York Times, By Manny Fernandez, August 15

Austin, TX – A grand jury indicted Gov. Rick Perry on two felony counts on Friday, charging that he abused his power last year when he tried to pressure the district attorney here, a Democrat, to step down by threatening to cut off state financing to her office.

The indictment left Mr. Perry, a Republican, the first Texas governor in nearly 100 years to face criminal charges and presented a major roadblock to his presidential ambitions at the very time that he had been showing signs of making a comeback.
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Texas governor to deploy 1,000 National Guard troops to border

Reuters, By Jon Herskovitz, July 21

Austin, TX – Texas Governor Rick Perry said on Monday he planned to send 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to the Mexican border to boost security during an influx of illegal immigration by children, a move that could increase pressure on President Barack Obama.

Perry, seen as a possible Republican candidate in the 2016 presidential race, said the guard troops were needed because the flood of children crossing from Mexico had pushed federal border protection to its limits.

“The price of inaction is too high for Texas to pay,” Perry told a news conference.

The governor’s announcement came just days before Obama plans to meet with the leaders of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador on Friday to discuss cooperation dealing with the flow of child migrants from Central America.

The Rise of the DIY Abortion in Texas

A pill that revolutionized reproductive rights in Latin America is now gaining ground on the black market in South Texas.

The Atlantic, By Erica Hellerstein, June 27

The Alamo flea market sits right off South Texas’s lengthy Highway 83; a sprawling, dusty, labyrinth of a place. Under canopies in the converted parking lot, vendors in dark sunglasses stand behind tables heaped with piles of clothing, barking in Spanish and hawking their wares. The air is hot and muggy, thick with the scent of grilled corn and chili.

Customers browse simple items—miracle-diet teas, Barbie dolls or turquoise jeans stretched over curvy mannequins—but there are also shoppers scanning the market for goods that aren’t displayed in the stalls. Tables lined with bottles of medicine like Tylenol and NyQuil have double-meanings to those in the know: The over-the-counter drugs on top provide cover for the prescription drugs smuggled over the border from nearby cities in Mexico. Those, the dealer keeps out of sight.

I’m here to look for a small, white, hexagonal pill called misoprostol. Also known as miso or Cytotec, the drug induces an abortion that appears like a miscarriage during the early stages of a woman’s pregnancy. For women living in Latin America and other countries that have traditionally outlawed abortion, miso has been a lifeline—it’s been called “a noble medication,” “world-shaking” and “revolutionary.” But now, it’s not just an asset of the developing world.

Texas’ ban on gay marriage unconstitutional, judge says

AP, February 27

Austin, TX — A federal judge declared Texas’ ban on gay marriage unconstitutional yesterday, but left it in place until an appeals court can rule on the case.

Judge Orlando Garcia issued the preliminary injunction after two gay couples challenged a state constitutional amendment and a long-standing law. He said the couples are likely to win their case and the ban should be lifted, but he said he would give the state time to appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our United States Constitution,” Garcia wrote. “These Texas laws deny plaintiffs access to the institution of marriage and its numerous rights, privileges, and responsibilities for the sole reason that Plaintiffs wish to be married to a person of the same sex.”

The ruling is the latest in a series of victories for gay-rights activists following similar decisions in Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia.

But this is the first time a court in the conservative 5th Circuit has reached such a decision.

Wendy Davis: A strong, capable woman…who therefore must be destroyed

In an article that was published on Real Clear Politics Thursday morning, Ann Coulter claimed that Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis is nothing more than “a gold-digger who found a sugar daddy” who took advantage of her ex-husband Jeff Davis to get her way in life. Essentially, in her article, Coulter frames Davis as someone who never had a tough time in her life and who has always taken advantage of others to get what she wanted.

G-MommyWhiteRacistBS-thumb-220x150It was only a matter of time before the White Conservative power structure in Texas figured out that Wendy Davis represents a legitimate threat to its hegemony. That time has clearly arrived, and the (not so very) understated but clearly coordinated attempts to smear Davis have begun. It’s easy to recognize, because the attacks are personal and rarely have anything to do with her policy positions. Whether it’s a truly cheap shot (Ann Coulter calling Davis a “gold digger”) or twisting her path from poverty to prosperity into something dark and evil, it appears the Right-wing intends to attack early, often, and below the belt.

Feeling as if you’ve seen this movie before?? It’s what the Right does when they fear they can’t win based on their ideas- if you can’t beat e’em, destroy ‘em.
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Not from The Onion: Mr. Perry Goes to Davos to speak on healthcare

The Washington Spectator – If satire died the day Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize, it dies again this week when Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks on health care at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Rick Perry speaking to the Davos delegates on health care might be compared to Jeffrey Dahmer addressing an American Culinary Federation convention.

Consider.

For 14 years, Perry has served as governor of a state where 24 percent of the population lacks health care insurance. Sufficient time, you would think, to put in place a policy that would reduce that number, which has remained static since George Bush was governor.

To solve the health care crisis in his state, Perry has advanced the same private-sector solutions embraced by other Republican Governors engaged in a programmatic and ideological assault on the Affordable Care Act—apparently without wondering why those solutions aren’t working.

A Day In The Life of Oil Boom Texas

Laredo

 

It was hot by the time I pulled out of Hotel La Posada in downtown Laredo, but it’s always hot on the first of September. I took several lefts and rights and meandered through the rigid grid of one-way streets in central Laredo and then hit IH-35 North, put the car in fifth gear and sped off, leaving Starbucks, Palenque Taco, Target and Wal-mart behind for other dangers, like wind-shearing massive rigs on the interstate and hidden DPS officers.

About twenty miles north of Laredo I veered of north west onto Highway 83—a road I’d never traveled on. I’d decided earlier at breakfast while looking at my road atlas (I don’t use google maps) to take 83 north towards Catarina and then Carrizo Springs, Crystal City and then take the farm roads on further north to Highway 90 into San Antonio. This is an area of Texas I know little about and most of which I had never been before. Read the rest, here.

Was Cruz’s Texas Senate Election Legal?

Chris Nelson has some interesting thoughts on this topic and Texas moderates and Democrats ought to take notice, possibly start a lawsuit.

cruzSUMMARY: purely in the spirit of patriotic, non-partisan inquiry, Your Editor would like to know how come he was forced to go through the full US naturalization legal process back in 1962, but Sen. Ted Cruz (who is proud of having memorized the entire US Constitution) has so far, at least, not had to be “naturalized”…even though we have exactly and precisely the same natal circumstances: Canadian birth to a then-US citizen Ma but non-US citizen Pa.

We’ve been asking around, again, purely in the spirit of objective non-partisanship, and the consensus from non-attorneys who have had to deal with similar issues is that under current (1986) law, it no longer matters which parent is a US citizen, either will do, and only one is needed.

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A Texan tragedy: ample oil, no water

(The Guardian) – Fracking boom sucks away precious water from beneath the ground, leaving cattle dead, farms bone-dry and people thirsty

Three years of drought, decades of overuse and now the oil industry’s outsize demands on water for fracking are running down reservoirs and underground aquifers. And climate change is making things worse.

In Texas alone, about 30 communities could run out of water by the end of the year, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Nearly 15 million people are living under some form of water rationing, barred from freely sprinkling their lawns or refilling their swimming pools. In Barnhart’s case, the well appears to have run dry because the water was being extracted for shale gas fracking.

On John Graves and “Goodbye to a River”

I could wax all night on John Graves, just as I could Charles Bukowski. One a gentleman and a soldier, the other a drunken, fist-fighting postman. Neither have much in common except two things: I wanted to meet both but never did and I was affected strongly on the day each died. Bukowski passed in 1994 shortly after I graduated from university. John Graves passed away earlier today.

Graves was most noted for his 1960 book “Goodbye to a River.” As a book, or “text” as the Euros call it, it meant a great deal of something very complicated to me mostly because of when I read it and how I came to read it. More at the link.