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United Kicks Wedding Bound Couple Off Houston Flight: Your Texas Roundup

Plus: Texas is getting a new immigrant detention center, Ted Cruz’s constituents hold a town hall meeting on their own, and the Spurs and Rockets start their playoff pushes with a bang.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY


“He’s playing a character. He is a performance artist.”

—Attorney Randall Wilhite at a recent pretrial hearing in Travis County, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Whilhite is representing Austinite and media celebrity Alex Jones, the host of Infowars, in a child custody battle with Jones’s ex-wife. Depending on who you believe, Jones’ stage presence is either just a stunt or a very real danger to his children. A jury will likely have to parse out the truth eventually.


BIG NEWS


        

Alex Wong/Getty

Ready For Takeoff
Another United Airlines passenger fiasco happened in Houston on Sunday, after a couple on their way to their Costa Rica wedding were booted from a flight at George Bush Intercontinental Airport. According to KHOU, Michael Hohl and his fiancée, Amber Maxwell, were the last folks to board United Airlines Flight 1737 on Sunday, and they reportedly encountered a sleeping passenger stretched across their assigned seats. The soon-to-be married couple decided to just let it go and instead took a pair of empty seats three rows ahead. “We thought not a big deal, it’s not like we are trying to jump up into a first-class seat,” Hohl told KHOU. “We were simply in an economy row a few rows above our economy seat.” But Hohl and Maxwell had apparently entered the rarified air of “economy plus” seating.  A flight attendant asked them if they were in their assigned seats, and after Hohl and Maxwell tried to ask if they could be upgraded, they said they complied with the flight attendant’s orders and returned to their original seats. Then, according to Hohl, a U.S. Marshall boarded the plane and told them to get off. “They said that we were being disorderly and a hazard to the rest of the flight, to the safety of the other customers,” Hohl told KHOU. United’s story is a little different—the airline claimed in a statement that Hohl and Maxwell “repeatedly attempted to sit in upgraded seating which they did not purchase and they would not follow crew instructions to return to their assigned seats.” Whatever went down, the incident made national headlines, another public relations nightmare for an airline still reeling from the backlash after it left a doctor bloodied after literally dragging him off of an overbooked flight.


MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS


New Big House
Texas is getting a new privately-run immigrant detention center. According to the Texas Tribune, the GEO Group recently announced that its 100-bed, $110 million facility detention complex planned for Conroe, was green lit by President Donald Trump’s administration as part of a ten-year contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Construction should be completed by the end of 2018. GEO Group, one of the nation’s largest private prison operators, has what the Texas Tribune calls “troubled history” in Texas. Toward the end the previous administration, the feds were canceling contracts with private prison companies left and right. But with Trump’s executive actions aimed at bolstering border patrol and increasing deportations, private prisons are expected to be called upon to shoulder more of the burden. According to the Associated Press, the facility in Conroe is the first immigrant prison to be built under the Trump administration.

Where’s Ted?
Senator Ted Cruz apparently has no interest in participating in the recent wave of testy town hall meetings between lawmakers and concerned constituents, but that hasn’t stopped Texans from holding a Ted Cruz town hall meeting. On Saturday, grassroots organizers staged a symbolic town hall at an auditorium at Texas Southern University in Houston, according to the Houston Chronicle. Cruz was invited, but he didn’t show up. Cruz has repeatedly rejected requests from constituents who have hoped to nail him down for a town hall meeting, prompting some left-leaning groups to hold protests or paper neighborhoods with posters declaring Ted Cruz “missing.” In lieu of the man elected to represent them, folks at the town hall gathered a group of local experts on issues of particular concern to the constituents—including health care, immigration, education, and environmental policy—to answer questions and analyze Cruz’s past statements and positions on the issues.

Solid Start
Both the San Antonio Spurs and the Houston Rockets started their NBA playoffs with a bang over the weekend. The Spurs slaughtered the Memphis Grizzlies, 111-82, on Saturday, despite getting off to a sloppy start. At one point in the first quarter, they trailed the Grizzlies by thirteen points. But, as Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale said after the game, “that got ugly in a hurry.” The Spurs quickly took the lead, outscoring the Grizzlies by 42 points the rest of the way, according to the New York Times, and the veteran squad seems on track for another deep playoff run. Game two of the best-of-seven series is tonight. The Rockets, meanwhile, drubbed the Oklahoma City Thunder by 31 points on Sunday night, the first game of what should be an exciting matchup between MVP candidates James Harden of Houston and Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City. Harden bested his opponent in game one’s 118-87 win, dropping 37 points, while Westbrook scored 22, according to ESPN. If all goes well for the Spurs and the Rockets in the first round, the two Texas teams will face off in the Western Conference semi-finals.


WHAT WE’RE READING


Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.

Some Texans might be trapped in Mexico by Trump’s border wall Associated Press

An inside look at a day on the job as a CPS investigator in Texas Austin American-Statesman

The Elbow Room, a beloved Cheers-like bar in Dallas, serves its final drink Dallas Morning News

Here’s a story about a Midland man who basically came back from the dead KOSA

A whopping 25,000 easter eggs rained down from a helicopter over more than 2,000 kids in Killeen Killeen Daily Herald

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  • José

    If the fans and supporters of Alex Jones actually believe that the crazed conspiracy theorist is spouting truths then there is little merit to his legal defense that he is merely an entertainer. People who attend plays or watch magicians know that what they see is a harmless fiction. That’s not the case for the army of Infowars watchers. By many accounts Jones is simply a professional liar. It really doesn’t matter whether or not he is also a fraud.

    • St. Anger

      i’m not so sure. this seems like the sort of instance where the court would use a “reasonable person” standard. and a “reasonable person” might agree that he is obviously just a performer, even if none of his listeners would.

      this might be a good illustration of the problem with the “reasonable person” standard often used by the court. it matters little what we think a “reasonable person” would do when there are 60 million unreasonable people running around …

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