The State of Texas: February 19, 2015
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They tell pregnant woman to avoid alcohol, tobacco, soft cheeses, and raw fish. However, no one gave Jai Le Bait the memo about sword swallowing. The nine-months-pregnant woman will put her circus skills on display during World Sword Swallower’s Day, in Grand Prairie on February 28. Before then, here’s a preview of Le Bait’s skills, along with a super interesting piece from the Dallas Morning News.
If Anyone Objects to This Union . . . – A day after a Travis County judge ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, Attorney General Ken Paxton has asked the Supreme Court of Texas to “reaffirm the state’s ban,” reports the Associated Press. Specifically, Paxton is “petitioning the state’s highest court to immediately halt the ruling’s effect because it is ‘unnecessary and overly broad’ and could give rise to ‘legal chaos’ if county clerks interpret it to mean they can begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples,” writes the Texas Tribune. There is some good news for same-sex partners, however, so long as they work for the city of Dallas. The city council yesterday approved giving retirement benefits to same-sex spouses, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Cast Out and Homeless – It’s a situation that has no good outcome: the state has no idea what it’s going to do with our least desirables. According to the Texas Tribune, the Office of Violent Sex Offender Management has told lawmakers that it’s about to face a massive housing shortage. “Contracts with the agency’s two largest housing vendors, which provide housing for 136 individuals, are set to expire this year, and the vendors have indicated they’re not planning to renew them,” writes Alexa Ura. “The two housing vendors have stopped taking in new sex offenders and instructed the state to find other housing for its current tenants before August 31.” So far, other housing facility options have proved to be too expensive. Oh, and “further complicating the housing troubles is the 100 new sex offenders the agency is anticipating it will take in over the next two years at an increased cost.” The Houston Chronicle points out that “more than 360 convicted sex offenders have been ordered into the program since it began, but not a single one has completed treatment and been set free in that time.”
Scraping the Oil Barrel – With the price of oil hovering around $50 a barrel, it’s the same bad news out of the industry every week. “Baker Hughes and a driller in the Permian Basin added to the growing roster of laid-off Texas oil field workers Tuesday, announcing they plan to cut 150 jobs combined,” according to the Midland Reporter-Telegram. “Roughly 300 drilling rigs have idled in the Texas land market since October, according to Baker Hughes’ rig count. Baker Hughes also notified the Texas Workforce Commission it plans to shutter a plant and cut 51 jobs in Alice, Texas, close to the Eagle Ford Shale.” The continued bad news was the theme of a recent economic summit in Houston earlier this month. According to an economic forecast that predicts that the Bayou City will experience the brunt of the oil-related bust, “Houston will need 18 to 24 months to recover from the drop in oil prices. The major energy companies are thus pushing ahead with plans to construct various chemical industrial plants in anticipation of the bounce back,” writes the Houston Business Journal.
Texas Mercenaries – Move over French Foreign Legion, Texans are finding other foreign forces to take up arms with. The San Antonio Express-News highlights a story from the Daily Mail about an American who has joined a Christian militia in Iraq to fight against ISIS. Known only as “Brett,” the former Marine “describes himself as a crusader with a tattoo of Jesus with a crown of thorns on one arm and a machine gun on the other,” writes the Daily Mail. While it is unclear which state Brett hails from, he’s tasked with recruiting other foreign fighters, and, naturally, “Brett’s first recruit was a retired former U.S. Marine from Texas called Louis Park.” Park told the Daily Mail, “I’m patriotic as hell. If my government won’t fight them, I will.” But Louis isn’t the only Texas mercenary in the news lately. Recall, just a few weeks ago, that Ukrainian separatists declared their solidarity with Texas secessionists. Well, this week brings news that a unnamed man from Texas, who describes himself as a communist and an anti-fascist, has moved to Donetsk to fight with the Donetsk People’s Republic. He recently sat for an interview with another foreign fighter, which is available in Spanish with Russian subtitles here.