Skyline of the Day
There’s been plenty of fog in Central and North Texas this week. But have you ever seen Houston look like Cloud City from Star Wars?
— Travis Herzog (@HerzogWeather) January 8, 2016
Bad Terrorist Apples — A Palestinian refugee in Houston and another in California were arrested Thursday in connect to an alleged terrorist plan, according to federal officials. The Houston man was “charged with three counts – attempting to provide material support to ISIS, unlawfully procuring citizenship or naturalization and making false statements,” writes the Houston Chronicle. Top officials in Texas took a very humble approach to the arrest: told ya so! In a statement, Governor Greg Abbott said, “This is precisely why I called for a halt to refugees entering the U.S. from countries substantially controlled by terrorists. I once again urge the president to halt the resettlement of these refugees in the United States until there is an effective vetting process that will ensure refugees do not compromise the safety of Americans and Texans.” Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick chimed in, too: “This is exactly what we have repeatedly told the Obama administration could happen and why we do not want refugees coming to Texas.” It’s important to note, by the way, that these guys are not Syrian. No word yet from Ted Cruz if this just points to the righteousness of Christians who never, ever do anything wrong.
Stand-Down — Oregon’s stand-off with militiamen is cute and all, but as always, it’s bigger in Texas. No, no, it’s nothing like the Waco siege, but the longevity is impressive. The New York Times has a interesting piece on John Joe Gray, who “quietly carried out what some call the longest standoff in America — a few days shy of 15 years,” near Dallas in Henderson County. “It officially ended in 2014 when a district attorney dropped charges, but continued nonetheless because Mr. Gray and many law enforcement officials appeared to be unaware the charges had been dropped until they were told by a reporter this week.” The story details Mr. Gray, who was “linked” to militia groups, and his armed foxhole efforts after a failure-to-appear charge. He, his wife, and extended family hide in plain sight, “never leaving the compound even after the power was cut off and living off the grid.” The story has lots of fun details about Mr. Gray’s situation (he’s still living as if under siege). More importantly, “Mr. Gray’s case illustrates just how long an antigovernment standoff can last when officials choose to wait out the other side. And it provides one other lesson: Long-running standoffs can drag on for so many years that both sides can fail to recognize when the end has come.”
Disorder in the Court — Hell hath no fury like a judge shot. Which, totally understandable! State District Judge Julie Kocurek returned to court for the first time since a gunman shot her in her driveway. “For two hours, Kocurek joined her fellow criminal judges in a private meeting with [Travis County] District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg and Sheriff Greg Hamilton to question them, pointedly at times, about their agencies’ handling of a threat three weeks to the day before a gunman fired at Kocurek on Nov. 6,” writes the Austin American-Statesman. The judges called the meeting because they were obviously “angry and frustrated that they weren’t notified of the Oct. 16 threat that was phoned into Lehmberg’s office. Judges also are seeking to establish a more formal protocol for how such threats will be handled in the future.” Lehmberg just keeps making new friends every day, doesn’t she? That said, the lack of communication between the various groups seems to have been the result of a failure of communication within the sheriff’s and DA’s office themselves. Attacks on judges sounds like something out of the old West or a country song, but it is very much a real thing—NPR discussed the issue from a more personal angle in 2013. Meanwhile, Texas Lawyer has a calm look at the problem, though it does note that “actual attacks on Texas judges are rare; it is more common for them to receive threats.”