The State of Texas: May 8, 2015
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Science of the Day
Here’s something cooler than a megablockbuster superhero move, mostly because it’s real. “Scientists at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio have, for the first time, obtained an image of thunder by ‘visually capturing’ sound waves created by artificially triggered lightning,” writes the San Antonio Express-News.
Recovering – There are a few small developments in the Garland shooting that caught the nation’s attention. For starters, the “five police officers involved in a shooting at a provocative cartoon contest in Texas says they have yet to return to work but are ‘doing well,’” their lawyer tells the Associated Press. It’s something of an odd announcement, since those five officers are not the ones who got shot (that would be the security guard). Still, great news! As for other bulletins, it looks like the FBI did as much as it could before the attack, which isn’t saying a whole lot. “Federal investigators learned several hours before [the] contest . . . that a man under investigation for extremist activities might show up and alerted local authorities, but had no indication that he planned to attack the event,” according to the AP’s other report. Much of the focus has been on shooter Elton Simpson’s social media use (he and his partner are considered “lone wolf” operatives), and the FBI said “the attempted attack highlights the difficulties the FBI faces, at a time when social media has helped facilitate communication between potential homegrown extremists, in differentiating between those who merely make inflammatory comments online and those prepared to act on them,” which is another way of saying, you might be arrested and thrown in jail, even if you’re just a sarcastic Texas teen.
DARE to Dream – The impossible seems to be happening in Texas, albeit through very incremental and maybe-false-hope steps. Yesterday, the Senate passed a bill that “would legalize oils containing cannabidiol (CBD), a component found in marijuana known to treat epilepsy and other chronic medical conditions. If the measure passes the House, by 2018, the state would be able to regulate and distribute the oils to patients whose symptoms have not responded to federally approved medication,” according to the Texas Tribune. It’s a small step, but this is after the House actually, seriously, considered three bills just last month. Not that everyone should break out the lighters and black-light posters just yet, but the end of (costly) prohibition got another boost when “the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee approved legislation Wednesday that would make it legal to buy and sell marijuana in the state,” writes the Houston Chronicle. As the story notes, the proposal “has virtually no chance of clearing any other hurdles on the path to becoming law in this year's legislative session. Still, advocates described the committee vote as a big step toward future success.” That’s dope.
Broken Bell – It looks like it was really just a matter of time before Blue Bell had a recall. A new report from the FDA found that “Blue Bell ice cream had evidence of listeria bacteria in its Oklahoma manufacturing plant as far back as March 2013,” according to the Associated Press. To make matters worse, the company apparently “continued to ship ice cream produced in that plant after what the Food and Drug Administration says was inadequate cleaning.” Perhaps they’re learning their lesson despite the fantastic product loyalty? The company announced that “it will be at least several months before its products are back in stores” as it continues with “ongoing cleaning and sanitizing of its four productions facilities in Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama, along with new training for employees.”
Another Lap – Lance Armstrong would really prefer not to give back all the money he made while lying about his superhuman abilities. Which is understandable, especially considering what’s at stake. “According to court documents filed in Dallas county this week, Armstrong and Tailwind Sports, which owned the U.S. Postal Service team for which Armstrong raced, are asking a judge to vacate” a mind-blowing $10 million settlement, writes the Dallas Morning News’s Robert Wilonsky. A three-judge arbitration panel had ruled Armstrong owed a Dallas-based sports promotion company the money he earned Tour de Frauding for three consecutive years. “These are the same arguments that Armstrong [made] when he was trying to avoid the arbitration altogether. They were rejected then and will be rejected now,” the company’s attorney told the Morning News.