Quote of the Day
“JFK wanted to send a man to the moon. Obama wants to send a man to the women’s restroom. We must get our country back on track.”
—Governor Greg Abbott wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. There’s a lot going on in this tweet, and none of it makes much sense. Such is the sorry state of bathroom politics in Texas.
Singing the Blues—This year has been brutal to the music world so far, claiming the lives of legends David Bowie and Prince. Texas in particular was dealt dual devastating blows on Tuesday morning alone, when it was announced that iconic singer-songwriter Guy Clark, 74, had passed away and Tejano music star Emilio Navaira, just 53, had been found dead at his home on Monday night after an apparent heart attack. Navaira, a native of San Antonio, was known as the King of Tejano, a showman who entertained crowds with his passionate “pop polkas” and dominated the Tejano music since since the 1990’s, according to the San Antonio Express-News, which noted that Navaira was “one of the few Tejano artists to cross over to the mainstream.” Clark, meanwhile, was “a King of Texas Troubadours,” according to the New York Times. Born in a small West Texas town, Clark was known for his rugged lifestyle and narrative lyrics. As the Times puts it, “His songwriting evinced not just a keen eye for narrative detail but also an unerring ear for spoken vernacular and a wry, existentialist bent akin to that of Kris Kristofferson or John Prine.”
Texas Tremors—Why does Texas shake? Earthquakes here, and particularly in North Texas, have been on the rise since around 2008, and studies have attributed that quake cluster to the man-made meddling with the earth’s crust, also known as fracking. But according to a new University of Texas study, earthquakes all over the state have been our, uh, fault for about a century. The study found that only about 13 percent of Texas’s tremors between 1975 and 2015 were natural. The rest were “almost certainly,” “probably” or “possibly” caused by petroleum production. The study says the first man-made earthquake hit east of Houston in 1925, in the Goose Creek oil field. That one was caused by Humble Oil, which the study says “had extracted so much oil that the ground sank and caused houses to shake and dishes to crash to the floor,” writes the Dallas Morning News. The study also notes that fracking is likely to be the main quake culprit since 2008, but it found that the state’s quake clusters extend far outside North Texas, uncovering hot spots in the Permian Basin in West Texas and the Eagle Ford Shale basin in the south as well as the panhandle. The Railroad Commission dismissed the study, claiming its findings are “arbitrary.”
Double Checking—In an effort to boost Texas’s so-far unsuccessful bid to block Syrian refugees from resettling within the Lone Star state, Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a legal opinion on Tuesday claiming that Texas is well within its legal rights to conduct background checks on incoming refugees separate from the existing federal background-checking process. In his opinion, Paxton wrote that “any conditions placed on a state’s acceptance of federal refugee dollars that are not found in the text of a federal statute are unenforceable,” so Texas should be free to do its background checks without facing financial backlash from the feds. Of course, Paxton’s opinion is just that—an opinion. As the Dallas Morning News notes, it does not “carry the force of law,” and the state’s attempts to block Syrian refugees have already been shot down by a federal judge twice. Paxton’s opinion was met with criticism from both legal experts, who said it wouldn’t hold in court, and humanitarian groups, who questioned the morality of the state’s attempts to turn away refugees. According to the Austin American-Statesman, the American Civil Liberties Union said Paxton’s opinion is based on “irrational fear of widows and orphans fleeing violence and war.”