The State of Texas: December 3, 2015
Texas sues to for more control over refugees, and a confusing look at how Irving has become the protest capital of Texas.
Maybe, one day, this won’t be an example of necessity being the mother of all invention. That said, the Houston Chronicle reports that a Wimberley woman is seeking a patent for her Booby Trap Bra, which allows the wearer to stash pepper spray or a specifically designed knife (perfectly legally, she notes!) in a tiny pocket in the front.
Resettled, Unsettled — Just days after a Dallas group thumbed its nose at Governor Greg Abbott over extending a hand to Syria refugees, Texas has a response. “In a lawsuit filed Wednesday afternoon in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Attorney General Ken Paxton claims the federal government and the International Rescue Committee — one of about 20 private nonprofits that have a state contract to resettle refugees in Texas — are violating federal law by moving forward with the planned resettlement of two Syrian families,” the Texas Tribune writes. The lawsuit, filed as a temporary restraining order, “argues that federal officials violated the Refugee Act of 1980, which requires that the federal government ‘shall consult regularly’ with the state regarding the placement of refugees. Texas also alleges that [Dallas’s] International Rescue Committee violated a separate provision of the act requiring the nonprofit work ‘in close cooperation and advance consultation’ with the state,” according to the Texas Tribune. The continued insistence that the state can block refugees from coming in is an interesting move, considering that most legal scholars and federal officials have said that Abbott, or any state, doesn’t have the legal power to play refugee gatekeeper. The Associated Press ran with a companion story that takes a humanizing look at some Syrian refugees in Texas, with a reminder that Texas has taken in more refugees than any other state in the last year, including 243 Syrians.
With Friends Like These … — Speaking of xenophobia, the reporter who brought Ahmed “Clock Boy” Mohamed to the forefront of our national consciousness has a wonderfully ironic story about various groups of angry white men. The beginning of the Dallas Morning News piece about the various groups protesting around the DFW area is so good that it’s worth quoting in full. “The man who took a tactical shotgun to an Irving mosque doesn’t want his group confused with the self-styled Ku Klux Klan chapter planning to rally in the same city,” writes Avi Selk. “‘It’s not like we’re racist, homophobic bigots,’ said David Wright, spokesman for the well-armed Bureau on American Islamic Relations. ‘We just have a certain level of distrust for certain Islamic people.’ Meanwhile, the leader of the Texas Rebel Knights of the Ku Klux Klan said he wants nothing to do with Wright’s guns when his people don hoods in Irving.” As Selk deadpans, “Residents are having trouble keeping up with all the counter-protests and counter-counter-protests that have followed. With RSVPs from bikers, Methodists, peace activists, race separatists and Democratic Party organizers, Irving has been booked into next spring by clashing countercultures.” No matter your feelings, the piece is a really enjoyable look at the hotbed of angry protests that have been cooking in the area for some time. The white supremacist group is planning on holding its rally December 12 in front of the Irving Islamic center, you know, if that’s your thing.
Alamo Expansion — Say goodbye to some of those gaudy, tacky businesses in front of the Alamo. Maybe. As promised, “the Texas General Land Office has closed the purchase of three buildings on the west side of Alamo Plaza,” writes the San Antonio Express-News. “The city, Land Office and endowment are working cooperatively on a master plan process for the state-owned complex, city-owned plaza and surrounding area. The structures involved in the purchase by the Land Office … face the Alamo church, and are occupied by tenants that include first-floor amusement attractions.” It wasn’t a fire sale, either, with the purchase going for a cool $14.4 million. As the Morning News notes, the announcement came with a little pizzazz of its own: drone footage! As Land Commish George P. Bush was eager to point out, it was a stellar year for the Alamo. Since giving the boot to the controversy-prone Daughters of the Republic of Texas, “we upgraded the state’s management of the Alamo complex, re-established the Alamo Endowment Board with Texas titans, begun work with San Antonio on the master plan, and now with the Texas Legislature’s support the state purchased irreplaceable properties adjacent to the plaza,” said Bush. As for those tourist traps, however, George P. said that “while there will be no immediate changes for the tenants, having the state own these buildings will help as we all work together to make the Alamo the destination that it should be.”