The State of Texas: Tax-Free Weekend!
Plus: Dallas’s dog problem, the Baylor football player arrested for stalking had previously been accused of sexual assault, and alleged crooks in Houston used laptops to steal cars.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Tear up Texas.”
—An undercover FBI agent to Elton Simpson, prior to his shooting attack on a Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest in Garland last year, according to The Intercept. The undercover agent’s online correspondence with Simpson was revealed in court documents related to this week’s arrest of a North Carolina man suspected of recruiting people online to join ISIS. The affidavit also shows that an undercover agent was at the cartoon contest, communicating with the alleged ISIS recruiter about security at the event. As The Intercept notes, this “raises questions about whether the FBI knew, or should have known, that the event was a likely target of attack.”
Today marks the start of Texas’s annual tax-free weekend, and there are deals to be had. So, so many deals. Among the merchandise included in the zero-tax coverage: most clothing, kicks, backpacks, and school supplies, according to the Austin American-Statesman. According to the Dallas Morning News, Texans will spend a total of more than $1 billion over the weekend and will save a collective $92 million in state and local taxes. The Morning News also notes that golf shoes and football cleats are for some reason not included in the deal. And if an item is more than $100, then you’re still going to be paying sales tax. Otherwise, Texans, you’ll be saving 8.25 cents for every dollar you throw down at checkout this weekend. What a time to be alive! Plenty of stores and shopping malls will have special sales and extended hours to celebrate the shop-a-palooza, and your local newspaper probably has a list of popular stores near you that have updated opening and closing times. You could celebrate this special weekend for its true meaning, and get your back-to-school supplies shopping done without breaking the bank. You could also use the tax break for the greater good, as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram suggested in an editorial, by “buying a few extra pencil packs and rulers for underserved kids” or donating your savings to charity. Or, you could also just be a Tax Holiday Heathen and make a beeline for the cool, non-school stuff that’s a little cheaper than usual. You know. Treat yourself.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
Who Let The Dogs Out?
A new study of loose dogs in Dallas shows some pretty shocking numbers, according to the Dallas Morning News. The report comes as Dallas deals with a string of dog attacks, including one woman who was mauled to death by a pack of roaming canines in May. Most of the attacks have occurred in the southern part of the city, so it’s unsurprising to see the statistics back that anecdotal information. The Boston Consulting Group, a private firm hired by donors to quantify Dallas’s dog problem after the May mauling, estimated that nearly 9,000 dogs roam free in South Dallas. There’s also a troubling disparity between southern Dallas and the more affluent parts of the city to the north. According to the Morning News, “Researchers found so few dogs in northern Dallas that they could not accurately predict how many wander the streets there.” The dog problem has only worsened over the years. The analysis found that reported dog bites have increased 15 percent annually since 2013.
Bear-ers of Bad News
The Baylor football player arrested earlier this week for stalking his ex-girlfriend had previously been accused of sexual assault by a different woman, according to ESPN’s “Outside the Lines”. Last fall, according to ESPN, a woman reported to Baylor’s Title IX program that offensive lineman Rami Haddad sexually assaulted her, then requested a no-contact order from Baylor after Haddad confronted her about why she reported him. She was able to get the order, but Haddad confronted her again a few days later, prompting her and several witnesses to report the incident to the police. The woman told ESPN that she chose not to press charges because she felt the Title IX office would handle things. Instead, a judicial affairs trial resulted in the school telling her to take a special exit route from a campus building to avoid contact with Haddad, and that she would need to get approval from the school’s chief judicial officer 24 hours before she entered any building on campus outside of her scheduled class time. “I felt like I was being punished and treated like a criminal,” the woman told ESPN. Despite the accusations and apparently breaking the no-contact order, Haddad still continued to suit up for the rest of the Bears’ season, playing thirteen games. Haddad was suspended from team activities after his stalking arrest on Monday.
The Houston Police Department arrested two men suspected of stealing more than 100 vehicles in the Houston area over the course of only a few months. How’d they do it? With their laptops. According to KTRK, police said the men used pirated software to hack into the vehicles and start the engines. It would only take them a little more than five minutes to get the cars revved up. No keys, no hot-wiring. Police said they’d been hearing reports of stolen vehicles for a while, but were stumped about the string of thefts until surveillance video surfaced showing a guy sitting in the front seat of a car that wasn’t his, tapping away at his laptop keys, before the car miraculously starts and he takes off. These aren’t your grandma’s car thieves. According to the Houston Chronicle, the suspects would transport the cars into Mexico, where they were later sold. The thieves apparently preferred newer models of American cars, particularly Jeeps and Dodges.
WHAT WE’RE READING
It’s hot out there for a chimp Austin American-Statesman
Alamo excavators may have found the structure’s main gate San Antonio Express-News
By the year 2100, more than 46,000 Texas homes might be underwater Houston Agent Magazine
Someone stole a bunch of guns and Texas law enforcement badges from the back of a pick-up truck Amarillo Globe-News
An in-depth look at why so many Texas children are dying in hot cars KHOU