Commentary of the Day
Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich is the politician we need, mostly because his reaction to actual politicians mirrors a lot of America’s. He gets us. He gets it.
— SB Nation NBA (@SBNationNBA) February 10, 2016
Texas By the Numbers
Ground Control — Amount of brisket consumed at the Austin Airport last year: 65.5 tons. Increase from previous year: 5.5 percent. Number of breakfast tacos consumed: 693,375. Increase from previous year: 11.5 percent. Number of “Keep Austin Weird” t-shirts sold: 51,278. Increase: 41.5 percent.
The Ranch King — Asking price for the historic W.T. Waggoner Estate Ranch, just purchased by the owner of the NFL Rams: $725 million. Amount of land: 520,527 acres. Number of other ranches owned by Rams owner: 11. Highest asking price of previous big-ranch sale: $175 million.
Bad Habit — The state’s grade for tobacco prevention and cessation funding, according to the American Lung Association: F. Grade for smoke-free air: F. Tobacco-related taxes: F. Access to cessation services: F.
Whoa, Nellie — At this point, it might just be more interesting to bet on whether “historical racing” will be survive, rather actually playing the slots-like randomness of the game itself. Pulling the reins on vice-hating conservatives and the Bingo lobby, a judge approved a temporary restraining order preventing the Texas Racing Commission from voting to repeal the rule allowing historical racing on Tuesday. The order came at the nick of time, too, as the commission had been scheduled to vote (under pressure and presumably in favor of the anti-betting crowd, which put a new commissioner in place) on the issue that same day. The temporary restraining order was filed by the Texas Greyhound Association, which, like everyone else in the track-betting business, has struggled in Texas in the past few years. With the suit, expect the controversy to continue for much longer. “Horsemen and horsewomen said the new restraining order gives the courts time to take up a separate lawsuit filed earlier this year by those in the horse industry,” writes the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in its detailed and extensive look at the issue.
Bourgeois Slavery — When people think of the slave trade, they likely think of something akin to concubines held by dirty men in dirty houses. But this version is just as insidious: “A Houston-area couple forced a Nigerian woman to care for their five children and home without pay during a two-year period in which she was physically and verbally abused, made to work nearly 20 hours a day and told to sleep on the floor, federal authorities say,” writes the Associated Press. “Chudy and Sandra Nsobundu were arrested Monday on charges of forced labor, withholding documents, conspiracy to harbor an illegal immigrant and visa fraud. Authorities say the couple seized the nanny’s passport, so she was unable to leave.” After their arrest, Chudy apparently tried to get a court-appointed attorney, which is just poor planning on his part after committing an egregious felony. Still, the Katy resident was allowed to post bond Tuesday. The former nanny/slave sought help last October, and it’s great news that she got out. “The complaint said the nanny would work every day from 5:30 a.m. to 1 a.m., couldn’t take breaks and had to eat leftovers and not fresh food, including being forced to only drink milk left in bowls in which the children had eaten cereal. She also couldn’t take hot showers.” It’s too early yet to know just how enslaved the couple will be to the American prison system.
Incompetent — A judge has ruled that Shannon Miles, the man who shot and killed a Harris County Sheriff’s deputy execution-style, is incompetent to stand trial. “State District Judge Susan Brown committed Miles, 31, to a Vernon state mental hospital for 120 days in an effort for mental health professionals to medicate him and work with him to restore competency,” according to the Houston Chronicle. “The move puts Miles ‘in limbo’ until he is moved to the state facility, a transfer that could take more than three months, said his lawyer, Anthony Osso. … Only after his competency is regained will defense attorneys be able to look into whether they will pursue a defense of not guilty by reason of incompetence in the Aug. 28 shooting death of sheriff’s deputy Darren Goforth.”
Near-to-Last Rites — Better late then never, really. “John Feit, a former priest with Sacred Heart Catholic Church, was arrested by the Texas Rangers, Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office investigators and McAllen police in Arizona on Tuesday. He was never charged with killing 25-year-old beauty queen Irene Garza in 1960, but was widely accused of the crime, reports The Monitor. “Rodriguez said the next step is to see whether or not Feit will contest his extradition to Texas or waive it.” The case looms over McAllen, its residence and elected officials who’ve occasionally turned it into a cause when running for office. If the story seems familiar to Texas Monthly readers, Pam Colloff took a deep dive into the story eleven years ago. Catch up on the latest details then read (or re-read) her deeply haunting piece.
Art, Y’all — The Damien Hurst/Marina Abramovic of Texas is back. On Monday, Texas State student Monika Rostvold “laid flat on a picnic table outside the student center wearing a bra, panties and covered in Chick-fil-A waffle fries and showered in ketchup,” writes the San Antonio Express-News. As is common practice for the art community, especially in these post-post-modern days, Rostvold had a mission-y statement: “I think the fact that food being craved and satisfied relates to how we satisfy our emotional and physical relationships now a days and just questioning, is this what we want,” she said. “People can take whatever they want from my performance,” Rostvold told the student-run paper. “I’m very open to opinions (about hook-up culture). Is it good? Is it bad? Is it healthy? I feel like people were debating and talking about what I was doing, so it got people talking about it.” If Rostvold’s performance seems familiar, it’s because it’s something of an encore. Last semester, she sat mostly nude outside the Texas State library as a commentary on the objectification of women. At this rate, her senior project should be a real doozy.