The State of Texas: February 13, 2015
Video of the Day
File under “do not try at home.” Despite looking tough, Mustangs aren’t that great. But a Houston-area auto shop did a little tinkering with the engine of a factory model, and the vehicle now can hit speeds at 195 miles per hour, according to the Houston Chronicle. This video’s for you, speed freaks and gearheads:
Goin’ Gun Nuts – It was a heck of a gun show yesterday at the state capitol. After “hearing more than eight hours of passionate public testimony from both sides of the debate,” a Senate panel approved both the controversial open carry bill and a campus carry bill 7–2, reports the Houston Chronicle. Indeed, everyone seemed to have an opinion on the bills. “Business associations had a noticeable presence,” writes the Austin Business Journal, noting that a number of business groups came out in support of the bills but that businesses and “restaurant owners [also] want to protect their ability to control activity on their property.” The feeling, however, was mixed among education leaders. “[S]enators got dueling views from the chancellors of the state’s two flagship university systems [UT and A&M] on whether allowing concealed handguns would affect student safety,” reports the Texas Tribune. And it looks like this higher-than-normal Texas gun fever is hitting the national stage. The Guardian reports that U.S. senator John Cornyn introduced a bill that “would [require] concealed weapons permits issued in one state to be recognized in any state.”
Hall of Glory – It would seem that UT regent Wallace Hall, despite all his annoying document requests and his stubbornness, has been vindicated. According to an independent report from a firm hired by the UT system, “President Bill Powers . . . helped secure college admittance for some students over the objections of the admissions office” and that “Powers and his chief of staff . . . ‘misled’ a previous inquiry into outside influence on admissions by answering specific questions but making ‘material omissions,’ the new report found,” according to the Texas Tribune. The below-average applicants “were typically recommended by state legislators, members of the UT System Board of Regents, donors, alumni, and other influential people,” reports the Austin American-Statesman. However, “the report found ‘no evidence that any applicants have been admitted as a result of a quid pro quo or other inappropriate promise or exchange,’” which, given the findings, seems rather naive. “Powers’ office has acknowledged overruling the admissions office but insists that decisions are always made with the ‘best interests of the university’ in mind.” A completely true statement when “best interests” includes high-powered back-scratching.
Splitting the Big Difference – Governor Greg Abbott finally joined in the country’s heated vaccine debate and, well, is trying to have it both ways. “Abbott recognizes the public health benefits of vaccines and encourages all parents to have their children vaccinated,” said the governor’s spokeswoman, according to the Houston Chronicle. Don’t worry! Abbott would never step on your right as an American or Texan to be truly independent (and/or a danger to society). In the same breath, the governor’s spokeswoman said the governor “supports current Texas law that he believes strikes the right balance of requiring vaccinations while still allowing parents to opt out under certain circumstances.” To be fair, Abbott’s lukewarm position is on par with other politicians. “The power to cite religious views to object is on the books in 48 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, while the objection on personal beliefs exists in 20 states.”
American Trial – Lawyers for Eddie Ray Routh, the man who allegedly murdered “American Sniper” Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield, is pushing the insanity defense pretty hard. And during the trial yesterday, they offered many examples of his mental state. A conversation Routh had with officers after the shooting was played for jurors today, according to the Dallas Morning News. In that recording “Routh talked about hell, voodoo, and the apocalypse. ‘Everything’s just happening so fast. . . . I don’t know if I’m going insane,’ Routh can be heard telling a police officer in his driveway.” As the Morning News seems to indicate, the prosecution’s response was not the strongest ever seen in a courtroom. The prosecutor “sought to emphasize that the discussion centered around Routh’s unwillingness to leave the truck. She suggested talk of the apocalypse could have been metaphorical references to world problems.” A medical examiner also testified Thursday, offering specific details of how Kyle and Littlefield died.