The State of Texas: February 23, 2015
Tweet of the Day
In Texas, ice and snow is often just a theoretical. Even when it does arrive, such weather is hard to truly comprehend. Drive safe, North Texans!
— Dallas Morning News (@dallasnews) February 23, 2015
Oscar the Grouch – The biggest criticism leveled against the Oscars® is that they’re a crock, an awards ceremony that is politically motivated and fails to reward true artistry. This could not have been made more obvious last night since Texas did not win big. Richard Linklater’s groundbreaking Boyhood lost to Birdman, an old trope of Hollywood meta-commentary. The general consensus is that this was a terrible decision (the Brits were particularly loud about this). Apart from the word “snubbed” being used in multiple headlines, Slate went all in, declaring that “The Academy’s Failure to Recognize Boyhood Is Their Worst Mistake in 20 Years.” Texas-born Wes Anderson, while no longer of the Lone Star mindset, had some victories with Grand Budapest Hotel, which won four technical awards, all deserved, including best costume design, makeup, production design, and score. Perhaps the most talked-about moment of the night was Patricia Arquette’s acceptance speech for best supporting actress. After the usual thanks, the Boyhood mom tore into gender inequality. “It is our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America!” It was a fantastic moment. Anyone who disagrees will have to take their complaint to Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez.
Prison Break – In case you missed it, South Texas had a pretty intense weekend. A privately operated Raymondville prison that housed mostly “low level” migrants who crossed the border illegally was the site of an uprising on Friday. About two thousand inmates participated after some refused their work detail, amid other complaints regarding the medical services. There were only minor injuries. By Saturday evening the uprising seems to have calmed, with prisoners being “compliant,” according to the prison company, and by Sunday, security personnel had regained control. “Officials said the inmates damaged facilities in the area where food is served, refrigeration units and plumbing in some of the housing units,” according to the Valley Morning Star, which noted that inmates have already begun to be moved out of the prison, a process that is “expected to continue through the week.”
Turning the Other Cheek – Since some local Christians seem to have forgotten what it means to love thy neighbor and show compassion, Islamic leaders have taken it upon themselves to demonstrate proper religious values. “Leaders at the Quba Islamic Institute near Ellington Field said they will not be pressing charges against the man who allegedly burned down a piece of their property. The leaders urged prosecutors to follow suit,” according to KHOU. While responders were still trying to put out the fire, a homeless man volunteered his own culpability in the blaze, although a clear motive has yet to be established. And despite the call for forgiveness by the Islamic leaders, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office doesn’t plan to drop the case, according to ABC13.
Which Side Are You On? – The steelworkers’ strike just got real serious and real local. The United Steekworkers “expanded its strike to the nation’s biggest refinery, Motiva Enterprise’s plant in Port Arthur, where 800 workers walked off the job early Saturday,” according to the Houston Chronicle. “Union workers struck the Port Arthur site, a joint venture between Shell and a unit of Saudi Aramco that has the capacity to turn 600,000 barrels of oil a day into gasoline and other refined products.” About 20 percent of the country’s energy facilities are now experiencing strikes, with five in Houston alone. Contract negotiations reportedly broke down after “growing frustration among union officials that key health, safety and employment security concerns aren’t getting attention.” Company officials claim that “the central issue blocking a settlement is not safety, fatigue, health care or wages. … It is the union’s demand that Shell replace routine maintenance contractors with union-represented employees.” Apparently, the energy companies are already working on hiring scabs.
The Fugitive – Brownsville can rest easy. After about five days on the run, a kudu antelope that escaped from the Gladys Porter Zoo has finally been captured. It was no small feat capturing the elusive beast, either. “A helicopter that had been brought in then went airborne and the crew fired a tranquilizing dart at the kudu, allowing authorities to recapture it without incident,” writes the McAllen Monitor. “After the dart was fired it took the animal about three minutes to go down. The helicopter landed, and pilot Ben Ellis rushed in to hold up the animal’s head to keep him breathing while tranquilized. The kudu was immediately vaccinated, had blood drawn, and was given fluids to aid with dehydration.” The incident was much more tame than the Great Gorilla Escape of 2004, when Jabari, a 300-pound low-land gorilla escaped from the Dallas Zoo, injuring four people before he was shot and killed.