The State of Texas: February 27, 2015
Hipness of the Day
The only thing more hipster than hipster glasses is turning that look into T-shirt art. And that is exactly what’s happened with Rick Perry at the always-hip Conservative Political Action Conference, going on now in Maryland. For millenials, this is our Wooderson T-shirt.
It’s not like you’re going to be working all that hard today anyway, so why not play the Houston Chronicle’s Texas-themed ‘Would You Rather” game. It is not easy. For example, would you rather drive in no traffic on a road full of potholes or be in gridlock on a smooth road?
Ferguson, TX? – Troubling details are emerging in the story of an unarmed Mexican immigrant named Rubén García Villalpando, who, after exiting his car, putting his hands up and basically asking police not to shoot him, was shot to death in Grapevine. A video of the incident has been seen by the victim’s family but has not yet been released to the media, writes the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. But yesterday, “the Mexican government condemned Grapevine police for the shooting and complained that its consulate in Dallas was not notified promptly by police.” About two hundred people attended the funeral of the 31-year-old, and the Dallas Morning News notes that both this case and a similar one in Washington state earlier this month “are drawing scrutiny by those who compare the two deaths of the unarmed men to that of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and to other killings of unarmed minorities around the nation.”
Southern Threat – There had been some chuckles when Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, back when he was a state senator running for his current job, and others said that terrorists could be among those crossing the state’s border with Mexico. Even the Homeland Security chief called the idea silly. But now, DPS is saying there’s some truth to those claims. In a recent report to Texas officials, DPS said it has “apprehended several members of known Islamist terrorist organizations crossing the southern border in recent years,” according to the Washington Post. Those include some “known members of al-Shabab,” the Somali group responsible for the Westgate shopping mall massacre in Nairobi, Kenya. But there is, according to a DPS spokesman, “no known intelligence that specifically links undocumented immigrants to terrorism plots,” and the real trouble is still the cartels, which, the report states, have been “effective in corrupting U.S. law enforcement officials at all levels.” DPS did report some good news, though. The report says the law enforcement “surge” at the border “has worked to stem” the flow of illegal migrant crossings. And the “number of arrests per week had fallen from a high of about 6,000 to around 2,000.”
Goods and Services – On the heels of RadioShack’s recent backruptcy, another iconic Texas retailer finds itself in trouble. J.C. Penney reported a “loss of $59 million, or 19 cents a share in the quarter ended Jan. 31,” reports the Dallas Morning News. The figure doesn’t tell the whole story, especially since J.C. Penney’s “store sales increased 4.4 percent. Total sales increased 2.9 percent to $3.89 billion from $3.78 billion a year ago. Online sales were $428 million for the quarter, up 12.5 percent versus the same period last year.” So they’re probably doing okay. Also doing okay is Texas exports, which “reached a record $289 billion in 2014,” according to the Houston Business Journal. No surprise that we mostly exported goods related to gas and energy, and another no-surprise is that “Houston has led all U.S. metropolitan areas in exporting over the past couple of years. The Bayou City first surpassed New York in 2012, and it continued to hold the top spot in 2013, when $115 billion in goods were shipped from the Houston metro area to other countries.”