A bill that would criminalize TSA agents who conduct airport patdown searches was scuttled Tuesday night after the federal government threatened to ground all flights out of Texas. The proposed law would have levied misdemeanor charges against security agents who "intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly [touch] the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of the other person, including touching through clothing, or touching the other person in a manner that would be offensive to a reasonable person." An earlier version of House Bill 1937 would have made such action a felony. [Story continues]Fox 7 reports:
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HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The death of Osama bin Laden is related to an investigation of a teacher at Clear Brook High School. The teacher is accused of making a racially insensitive comment to a student in front of the entire class. A Friendswood mom says she was offended by what her daughter says happened Monday in ninth grade algebra. She said, "The teacher told the student that 'I bet you're grieving.' And she basically looked at him and said what are you talking about? And he said I heard about your uncle's death and she said wow, because she understood that he was referring about Osama bin Laden being killed and was racially profiling her."...
Wildfire is ravaging the Texas landscape on a never-before-seen scale which will shatter previous records.
Governor Rick Perry’s response? He has commanded residents to pray for rain. No, not in a passing remark in a speech, but with an official decree designating “Days of Prayer for Rain” on which Texans will “offer prayers on that day for the healing of our land and the restoration of our normal way of life” and “to humbly seek an end to these dangerous wildfires.” No further comment needed.
The state of Texas will have to wait until another day to try out a newly formulated death-inducing mixture which critics say could cause agonizing suffering. Cleve Foster, a Desert Storm veteran convicted of the murder of a woman he’d met in a bar, was scheduled to be executed tonight; this afternoon the Supreme Court blocked his execution for reasons including “questions related to his guilt.” The Atlantic Wire elaborates:
Foster has maintained his innocence for years, writing that he is “on death row waiting to die for a crime another man has confessed to.” He’s referring to Sheldon Ward, who was convicted alongside Foster in 2004 and has since died in prison of a brain tumor.
The drugs the state would have used to execute Foster–a cocktail of pentobarbital, pancuronium bromide, and potassium chloride–have never been used in a Texas execution before.
If the cocktail doesn’t work properly, says Stafford Smith, director of the human-rights organization Reprieve, then during his execution, Foster will experience “excruciating pain that has been likened to having one’s veins set on fire.”
Really interesting article from Paul R. Abramson and L.J. Williamson in LA Weekly:
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In fact, in case you haven’t heard, Texas Republicans want sodomy to be a crime again. Last June, the Texas Republican Party embraced a political platform that opposed the legalization of sodomy.
To be clear, sodomy law refers to either oral or anal sex. It would be a bleak day if Congress made the eradication of the backdoor and the blow job a priority over war, economic upheaval and environmental disasters, but that’s beside the point. The bigger question is, does sex, sodomy included, warrant constitutional protection?
The answer is no. You have only a “right to privacy,” and in 1965, when that right first came into being, anyone who wasn’t married missed the boat. Privacy rights are more inclusive now, but they’re still only tangential to sex; they’re more akin to a cone of silence than an affirmative right to sexual activity.
SAN ANTONIO — An atheist student group at UTSA is again offering to trade porn for bibles. Atheist Agenda set up a booth on the UTSA campus on the Northwest Side and asked students to bring in their bibles in exchange for pornographic magazines. The event is called "Smut for Smut" and, obviously, brings with it some big controversy. "It is to send a message that the stuff in the bible, and the Quran, and the Torah, and all that sort of thing is, in our case worse, in our opinion worse, than pornography," explained UTSA student Kyle Bush. "I can see that God can definitely use this for a greater purpose," UTSA student Alex Liu said. "And I see a lot of Christian organizations coming together, you know, to be brothers and sisters standing up for their faith."
Workers with the U.S. Coast Guard and the Texas General Land Office used pitchforks on Wednesday to pierce and remove chunks of beef fat clogging the Houston Ship Channel, shutting down nearly a mile of one of the nation's busiest marine arteries. No ship traffic is delayed, however, because the spill occurred at the end of the waterway, said Richard Brahms, a spokesman with the Coast Guard. Some 15,000 gallons of animal fat poured into the channel through a storm drain on Tuesday after an onshore storage tank owned by agricultural company Jacob Sterns and Sons leaked 250,000 gallons of the greasy substance, Brahms said.
With conservative politicians riding high on their broad electoral success, red-dominated regions of the country are already considering sweeping changes: in Texas, lawmakers are debating the possibility of opting out of the federal Medicaid program. Will this mark the start of a trend of right-wing states, fed up with the federal government, seeking to withdraw and “go it alone”? From the Texas Tribune:
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Some Republican lawmakers — still reveling in Tuesday’s statewide election sweep — are proposing an unprecedented solution to the state’s estimated $25 billion budget shortfall: dropping out of the federal Medicaid program.
Far-right conservatives are offering that possibility in post-victory news conferences. Moderate Republicans are studying it behind closed doors. And the party’s advisers on health care policy say it’s being discussed more seriously than ever, though they admit it may be as much a huge in-your-face to Washington as anything else.
“With Obamacare mandates coming down, we have a situation where we cannot reduce benefits or change eligibility” to cut costs, said State Rep.
The wisdom of Spock has guided us all for years, but now it's enshrined in Texas law. Ruling on the limits of police power, the Texas Supreme Court quoted from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Ruling in Robinson vs. Crown Cork Seal Company (PDF), Justice Don Willett writes: Appropriately weighty principles guide our course. First, we recognize that police power draws from the credo that "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." Second, while this maxim rings utilitarian and Dickensian (not to mention Vulcan), it is cabined by something contrarian and Texan: distrust of intrusive government and a belief that police power is justified only by urgency, not expediency. And there's this footnote after the word Vulcan: See STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (Paramount Pictures 1982). The film references several works of classic literature, none more prominently than A Tale of Two Cities. Spock gives Admiral Kirk an antique copy as a birthday present, and the film itself is bookended with the book's opening and closing passages. Most memorable, of course, is Spock's famous line from his moment of sacrifice: "Don't grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many outweigh . . ." to which Kirk replies, "the needs of the few."