The State of Texas: April 14, 2014
Video of the Day
Jeff Francoeur, outfielder for the El Paso Chihuahuas, is the victim of a rather elaborate, month-long prank involving his entire team, a player’s wife, and even a waitress. Playing on Francoeur’s sincerity, the team convinced him that pitcher Jorge Reyes was deaf. True, there were some tell-tale signs that all was not as it should be. But good man that he is, Francoeur supported fully his teammate, who’s “overcome obviously a lot … and to see the way he’s done it and handled himself has been awesome.” Set aside some time and watch the prank unfold in this seven-minute video:
Photo of the Day
The lights at night are big and bright (and super mysterious!), deep in the heart of El Paso. On Saturday, a fireball streaked across the sky. Officials are saying it was simply a meteor “around a foot in diameter” (of course they would say that). Luckily, NewsChannel 9 has obtained a photo so you may decide for yourself:
One-Armed Banditos — What happens in Vegas … might happen here: the Texas Lottery Commission is set to consider allowing bingo halls to operate electronic devices similar to slot machines. Or, semi-slot machines. The proposal under consideration would allow bingo players to use “‘video confirmation’ to show whether pull-tag tickets, which are similar to lottery scratch-off tickets, are winners,” according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Supporters say this proposal could draw more people to bingo halls, generating more money for Texas charities.” Opponents, however, are arguing that “the machines will look and act much like slot machines, essentially bringing a form of casino-style gambling to Texas.” As with all things involving money games, drinking, and gangs of older Americans imbibing in both, the bingo/slot-machine debate has an interesting operational history, which the Star-Telegram covers admirably in its very interesting piece.
Getting Cleared For Takeoff — Great news for all you astrophiles hoping to somebody venture into the final frontier. The private-commercial space company, SpaceX, cleared a major hurdle (or one giant step), in being able to send regular citizens into orbit from Boca Chica. On Friday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued an environmental impact report regarding the project and found that it is “not likely to jeopardize” the lives of several important species, and will not “adversely modify” the habitat for a particular fowl. “The federal opinion also contains specific recommendations and conditions to avoid and minimize impact to species in the area,” according to the Valley Morning Star. In sum, SpaceX is almost ready for liftoff. While the company’s mysterious billionare owner Elon Musk could not be reached for comment, the Cameron County Administrator sure could. “This is great news. It is a critical part of the project. It will ensure that the project gets final clearance from the FAA,” he said. As there are already fifty flights on the manifest, book your trip now.
How The Other Half Rehabs — After Ethan Couch, the infamous “affluenza” teen, was sentenced to ten years in rehab, many assumed his wealthy family would pay for the recovery bill, but it’s been reported that the family “will pay for just a fraction of his court-ordered treatment,” according to the Associated Press. The total damages will be “$1,170 a month for his rehab treatment — far less than the actual cost of his treatment … $715 per day.” Translation: Somebody will have to come up with about $20,280 a month. The facility made the decision based on a “sliding-scale,” and $1,170 is apparently the maximum amount. To be fair, before Judge Jean Boyd’s original probation ruling, “the teen’s family previously had offered to pay for Couch to go to a $450,000-a-year rehabilitation center near Newport Beach, Calif.,” a request Boyd rejected. “As a taxpayer, I probably feel exactly like you do,” said Greg Coontz, the civil attorney for relatives of one of the four killed said. “It seems like maybe that ought to be a little different and should be addressed if there’s the ability to pay.”
Davisgate (Round Two) — From the reporter who brought you the first Wendy Davis gubernatorial controversy comes the sequel! Back in January, Wayne Slater, senior political reporter at the Dallas Morning News, looked into Davis’s much-publicized background, and the resulting portrait of a politician spit-shining his/her personal background left many angry and many boastful. On Saturday, Slater’s returned for another round. This time, he investigated whether Davis “has voted on bills affecting clients and her law firm’s bottom line. … Records show Davis supported legislation governing a toll-road project for which the North Texas Tollway Authority hired her firm.” Like the first bombshell, this piece could be read several different ways, particular since Slater takes pains to note how Texas politicians of both parties have found themselves in similar situations. He also notes that “both Davis and Republican opponent Greg Abbott have made ethics an issue in the race for governor.” And Davis fired right back. “I have never done anything in a way that represents a conflict in my voting and something that would benefit me personally.”