How on earth did people enjoy space missions before Twitter? In the past we might have had to wait a long time for such gems from astronaut Scott Kelly, who is currently spending a year on the International Space Station, but no more. As the Houston Chronicle notes, Kelly spent Saturday watching the Houston Texans play and later sent out this photo of a West Texas oil field:
— Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) August 23, 2015
Check out Kjell Lindgren, who is probably the funniest astronaut to ever tweet, for more Texans in space.
Bush, Whacked — The Rio Grande Valley seems to be as much of a required destination for presidential candidates as the Iowa State Fair, but it’s certainly no easy stroll. Jeb Bush made a stop in McAllen on Monday, taking swipes at Donald Trump’s recent visit and offering a more inclusive vision of a Republican immigration plan. But the effort backfired a little bit. “Speaking with reporters inside a Mexican restaurant, Bush grew visibly irritated when pressed about the term ‘anchor babies,'” the Texas Tribune reports. “He clarified — in English and Spanish — that his original use of the phrase had more to do with ‘organized efforts taking advantage’ of birthright citizenship, not necessarily by Latinos seeking to live in the United States.” Then he took an, um, interesting angle. “‘Frankly, it’s more related to Asian people coming into our country,’ Bush said, instantly setting off another round of Democratic outrage.”As the story notes, Bush became more than a little miffed at all the focus on the term, rather than the differences between his immigration program versus Trump’s. It hasn’t been smooth sailing for presidential candidates who are 1oo percent Texan, either. Rick Perry’s staff is apparently getting paid again after his campaign stopped providing funds for staff in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Texas. But it’s clear not everyone is happy with the struggling campaign. On Monday, Perry’s Iowa state chairman resigned, and for honest reasons. “He was leaving because the campaign was in transition and future compensation was uncertain,” writes the Associated Press. “He also insisted, though, that it was about more than the money.”
Never Retreat (But Somewhat Surrender) — If you thought the fight between the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and, like, everyone else was over, think again. The former Alamo caretakers “obtained a court order temporarily stopping a Texas state agency headed by George P. Bush from keeping the group away from a collection of artifacts and books at the historic site,” according to the AP. As with past fights, this one laid on the drama when, according to the San Antonio Express-News, “employees of a research library at the middle of a legal dispute [arriving] at work to find that the locks had been changed at the historic mission and battle site.” The fight continues a long tradition of almost comical battles of control for the Alamo’s stewardship, though this is something of a new chapter. “The exchange is the first public blowup in the group’s litigation with the Land Office over ownership of more than 38,000 items at the Alamo Research Center, formerly known as the DRT Library. The DRT sued the agency in March, accusing it of ‘illegally’ claiming ownership of most of the books, maps and other items in the collection.”
Austin v. Texas — The capital has always been its own little Republic within the Republic, but now it’s really drawing a line in the sand. The city of Austin has filed a lawsuit claiming Texas’s “property appraisal system is unconstitutional because it has allowed properties to be assigned ‘arbitrary and unreasonable’ values that are below their market values,” reports the Austin American-Statesman. Essentially, the city believes that commercial and vacant lots don’t accurately reflect market prices, which could mean trouble for homeowners. “The bulk of the lawsuit attacks oft-criticized features of the appraisal system that state legislators have proposed fixes for with little success. The lawsuit asks the court to declare that mandatory sales price disclosure in Texas is needed for appraisal districts to consistently appraise properties at the market value. Texas is one of a handful of states that doesn’t require the release of property sales prices.” There are now a few options, “from the Travis appraisal district and the city reaching an agreement to bringing the case to the Texas Supreme Court to asking the Texas Legislature to change state law.”
Big Bucks, Big Kids — Turns out, you can’t throw money at overweight kids and hope they get healthier. A new study found that a $37 million physical education grant for high-poverty schools “did little to reduce childhood obesity,” writes the Houston Chronicle. Apparently, students were a bit stronger — they could “do more push-ups and burst out a faster shuttle run” — but schools failed to follow the now-common knowledge that diet is just as important. “While the program, Texas Fitness Now, required schools to spend a quarter of their funding on nutrition, few schools actually did so – only 7 percent of grant funds were spent on nutrition in 2009 and 2010.” Clearly, needy kids were able to get some much-needed structured fitness (and they got much-need fitness equipment!), but overall, the program seems to have some inconsistent results. “When it launched, state officials touted the effort as a way not only to keep students healthy, but also to improve their academic performance. The study found that test scores in math and reading did not improve, but seventh- and eighth-graders who spent two to three years in participating schools did a little better on tests.” As one might expect, the grant did have some obvious, direct results.”[G]irls could do more curl-ups, complete a higher trunk lift and do a better sit and reach.”