The State of Texas: August 28, 2014
Quote of the Day
“You know, Whole Foods is more of a dating agency than a shop. If you’re gonna go shopping for food in Austin, go to Fiesta …”
— former (temporary) Texas resident Robert Plant
Photo of the Day
The back-to-Texas-school story that the rest of the nation seems keen to share is the armed teachers now protecting a few ISDs. Below is the warning sign from the most notable of such places, Argyle. How far will teachers go in the name of protection? Will they protect kids even from helicopter parents?
Border Blues — A thousand National Guard soldiers have arrived at the border and the move is “drawing praise by some who say the state is taking the lead in securing the border while the federal government falls flat in its mission. But others say the deployment is overkill and hampers the local economy,” according to Texas Tribune’s first-look at the “surge.” As the piece indicates, pro/con arguments for the deployment seem to be split along party-ish lines. And amid the contentious arrival of more officers, the “family of a Mexican man shot and killed by Border Patrol agents … sued the officials involved and the U.S. Government for $40 million,” reports the Associated Press. Agents say they were responding to Mexican rock throwers, while the family contends the shooting was unprovoked. For a great look at that particular incident, be sure to read this piece from Texas Monthly‘s own Nate Blakeslee.
Droning On — Maybe it has something to do with all the wide-open spaces, but Texas is drone country. There’s the drone search-and-rescue team that frequently makes the news, of course. But now others are getting into the act (or entire Book of Acts). “A North Texas megachurch pastor is using drones, which have killed more than 4,700 people in the past decade, to spread his message of the omniscient power of God through sermons and in a 45-second video ad,” reports the San Antonio Express-News. The story’s headline — “Texas megachurch pastor uses drones to spread his message” — sounds ominous, possibly by accident. But the specifics are something to behold: “The ad … promotes ‘Drone Month’ at Pastor Ed Young’s Fellowship Church in Grapevine. The video features Young, standing in front of a predator drone armed with missiles, comparing drones’ ability to ‘know it all’ and ‘see it all’ to God …” The most terrifying element of the video? Pastor Ed sells his gospel “while dubstep music plays in the background.” Thankfully, drone use isn’t all fire and brimstone. “Unmanned aircraft or drones are gaining popularity in the agriculture industry. They’re providing a unique perspective from above the field,” according to a Wednesday KHON2 story. “The Texas Tech and Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service scientist says the new unmanned aircraft is equipped with an infrared lens and can take both still shots and video.”
Acquitted — The father on trial for murdering the drunk driver who fatally hit his children has been acquitted by a jury of his peers. The story has made national news, likely because the tragic details seem like something playwright David Mamet would conjure up. “Prosecutors alleged that Barajas killed 20-year-old Jose Banda in a fit of rage after Banda plowed into Barajas and his sons in December of 2012 while they were pushing a truck on a road near their home because it had run out of gas,” according to the Associated Press. However, the “gun used to kill [Jose] Banda wasn’t found and there was little physical evidence tying [David] Barajas to the killing.” What was found were matching bullets and an empty holster at Barajas’s house, though the defense claimed Banda was just one very unlucky fool who was killed shortly after he ran over two children. Evidence aside, prosecutors had a tough case. They had to “overcome jury sympathy for Barajas, who had the support of many residents of Alvin, about 30 miles southeast of Houston. Further complicating their case was that there were no witnesses who identified Barajas as the shooter.” After the verdict, Barajas told reporters that he “hopes to move forward with his life and find closure.”
Amber Alerts — Authorities do not mess around with an Amber alert, that’s why you’ve got to pick your getaway cars carefully. For instance, don’t take an SUV loaded with five children. “The Houston Police Department issued the alert after the SUV was stolen around 6:15pm Wednesday from a Jack in the Box in the 8600 block of West Bellfort,” reports ABC13. “Police say its driver went inside the restaurant, left the children behind and kept the vehicle running. That’s when a man jumped into the driver’s seat and took off.” The vehicle, kids, and driver were located about three hours later, followed by a short chase (“about 90 seconds”). The kids are safe and the thief is in jail. “Witnesses say he might be homeless. He now faces charges of auto theft and kidnapping.”