Quote of the Day
Lights Out—If you’ve never seen the Marfa Lights, you might want to make the trek soon. According to Atlas Obscura, the key to the West Texas phenomenon is the “lack of human activity” in the area, but less than five miles away from the Marfa Lights Viewing Station, construction crews are laying down the Trans-Pecos pipeline, threatening the longevity of the legendary lights. “You can see the pipe from the viewing station with the naked eye,” Alyce Santoro, founder of the new activist group Marfa Lights Mystery Brigade, told Atlas Obscura. The group of about 30 people got together over the weekend to hold a protest against the pipeline in an attempt to keep the mysterious lights pure, even if they are probably just caused by “headlamps from passing automobiles and small fires,” as the Houston Chronicle reported on Tuesday. The battle, of course, is about more than just the lights. Writes Atlas Obscura: “Part of the fear is that this project will change the open landscapes of this part of Texas into just another gas field: there’s shale play underneath the Big Bend, which could entice gas companies to frack.” Meanwhile, if fracking boom continues in West Texas, the region could soon host a number of new, less-mysterious lights competing with the famous Marfa flicker.
Talkin’ Ted—The backlash came fast and hard against Ted Cruz after he called for law enforcement agencies to “secure and patrol” American Muslim neighborhoods in a statement following a suicide bombing in Brussels, for which ISIS claimed responsibility. As predicted, Cruz was unapologetic. Although this rhetoric is certainly not out of character for Cruz, who has said he wants to ban Muslim Syrians from entering the country and would “carpet bomb” ISIS, it was still a shock to hear for many civil rights groups. As the Texas Observer pointed out, besides the questionable constitutionality of whatever plan Cruz may have in mind, the major flaw in his argument is that law enforcement concentrating on Muslim communities would only help create the radicalization incubator he fears so much. “When people feel like they’re being disrespected and displaced by people who don’t like, accept or understand their culture and their faith, they get angry and violent,” writes the Observer’s Andrea Grimes. Meanwhile, perpetual thorn-in-Ted’s-side John Kasich took the opportunity to criticize Cruz, warning his opponent not to create a “war with Islam.”
Survival of the Hippest—There’s always a lot of griping about gentrifiers taking over Texas’s most popular metropolitan areas, forcing original residents out and changing the cityscape beyond recognition. But what about the birds? On Tuesday, National Geographic reported that Hill Country’s tech manufacturing explosion, newfound cultural appeal, and subsequent urban sprawl could spell disaster for more than a dozen endangered species living between Austin and San Antonio. Writes National Geographic: “The region’s canyons, springs, and caverns house 17 endangered species—a menagerie of odd animals and plants, some existing in just one spot, some blind, some of them beetles just 1/8-inch long. Some are so rare that they don’t yet have common names.” Plans to conserve the natural habitat for these critters and stay one step ahead of rapid real estate development have had mixed results, and the outlook for these rare species does not appear to be particularly positive. One conservationist told National Geographic that Hill Country’s biosphere is “under assault like no other place I’m aware of.”