The State of Texas: Whose Listeria Is It Anyway?
Plus: A Houston Texans player raises his fist in protest, Ted Cruz’s quest to save the Internet falls flat in the U.S. Senate, and Texas experiences a firefly explosion.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“We expect great things from this truck.”
—Odessa City Manager Richard Morton during the unveiling of a brand new garbage truck, according to the Odessa American. The truck was made in Chihuahua, Mexico, so it came at a far cheaper cost to the city than if it were made stateside. Despite the fact that it came at a discount, Morton apparently still has big dreams for this trash tote on wheels.
Listeria Stare Down
Remember how Blue Bell issued a voluntary recall of two of its cookie dough-related flavors earlier this week? And remember that it was because of concerns that the ice cream may be contaminated with listeria, but also that the listeria came from ingredients supplied by a “third party” company, Aspen Hills, Inc., so it didn’t seem, like, that bad for Blue Bell because it wasn’t really their listeria problem? Well, Aspen Hills came out on Thursday and claimed that their stuff was listeria-less before it was shipped out to Blue Bell. According to the Associated Press, Aspen Hills said in a statement that “positive listeria results were obtained by Blue Bell only after our product had been in their control for almost two months,” and “our own product testing, conducted and certified by an independent lab, showed negative results for listeria and verified that the product was unadulterated when it left our production facility.” Someone here could be telling a bold-faced lie(steria). In an email to the Houston Chronicle, Blue Bell maintained that it had found the potential listeria problem in its chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Cookie Two Step flavors during test-and-hold procedures at its Brenham facility outside Houston (though the recall notice was for ice cream produced in its plant in Sylacauga, Alabama), and the company was apparently able to trace the contamination back to cookie dough ingredients supplied by Aspen Hills. When the Chronicle asked who was responsible for testing the third-party stuff before it made its way into the final product, Blue Bell responded that it expects suppliers to “provide us safe ingredients and to adhere to our supplier requirements.” This is shaping up to be quite the listeria mystery.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
Duane Brown of the Houston Texans became the first player from a Texas NFL team to protest during the national anthem, joining a wave of NFL players and other athletes inspired by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during “The Star Spangled Banner” in protest of racial injustice and police brutality. Brown, a veteran left tackle and one of the Texans’ team leaders, stood and raised his right fist during the anthem before the team’s primetime Thursday night matchup against the New England Patriots in Massachusetts (Brown, in street clothes, was listed as inactive while he recovers from a serious knee injury). As the Houston Chronicle noted, the move was reminiscent of the black-gloved protest by U.S. track athletes John Carlos and Tommie Smith during the 1968 Olympics. “Just a symbol of my support and raising awareness for the recent killings of unarmed black men, I think it’s something that needs to be changed,” Brown told the Chronicle. “I was just showing my support. It’s frustrating. I’ve showed my position. It keeps happening, so it’s very frustrating… I know it’s not a comfortable topic, it’s not comfortable for everybody to see it. It comes from a person in my position in our league. I can handle it.”
Ted Cruz’s plan to put a stop to the perceived deregulation of Internet domain names didn’t make it in the spending bill put forward by Republicans in the U.S. Senate on Thursday, according to the Dallas Morning News. Cruz had made it a priority to try to stop at the last minute a decision by the feds to transfer oversight of a non-profit that controls domain names to private global players. According to Cruz, this was a Pandora’s box move that would place freedom of speech protections at risk and allow authoritarian foreign powers to censor the Internet. As the Morning News notes, tech experts have said that controlling domain names is a “largely clerical responsibility and cannot affect content on the web.” Still, Cruz was devastated that his quest to supposedly save the Internet fell short. In a statement, Cruz told the Morning News that he was “profoundly disappointed,” and placed the blame on his fellow legislators for basically giving his provision the spinning pinwheel treatment, thus bending to “White House demands to hand over increased control of the Internet to authoritarian regimes like China, Russia, and Iran.”
Fireflies In The Sky
Summer is now officially over (RIP to the endless deluge of 100-degree days, don’t let the door hit you on your way out), and fall fireflies are experiencing a resurgence. According to the Victoria Advocate, this year’s plentiful amount of rain is primarily responsible for an uptick in fireflies, which lay eggs in damp, soft soil. The little larvae then feed on earthworms, dead insects, and snails. Apparently 2016 has seen a lot more snails than usual, so that’s also created an “accelerated schedule” for the glowing bugs. To see Texas’s fireflies, you need to be in the right place in the right time. They’re out and doing their thing during dusk, usually between seven and nine in the evening. According to the Advocate, all that flashing is meant to attract potential mates—if a female firefly likes a male’s flash, she’ll flash back, and they live happily ever after. Who knew their lighted butts were essential to the survival of the species? More important for human purposes, as expertly noted by eight-year-old firefly collector Zailey Flores, “they look cool.”
WHAT WE’RE READING
Here’s an important, sad story about mental illness and a horrible murder committed by a former Texas A&M football player ESPN
Scientists were able to determine that some Texas earthquakes were caused by oil and gas drilling Associated Press
A genius Rice University engineer won a MacArthur “genius grant” Houston Chronicle
Mexico is really good at getting Mexican nationals off of death row in the U.S. Marshall Project
A Houston astronaut will vote from space PBS NewsHour