The State of Texas: June 10, 2014
Contest of the Day
USA Today is holding its Readers’ Choice Awards, one category of which is “Best Quirky Land Mark.” As it should be, Big Tex is burning up the competition. Polls are open until June 30 and readers can vote in the same category once every single day. Texas, you know what to do.
Austin words is hard. Thankfully, KUT has a fun guide just for you out-of-towners: “How To Sound Like You’re From Austin (In 90 Seconds)”
Mi Shelter Es Su Shelter — As has been widely reported, Texas border patrol is struggling with an unprecedented stream of undocumented immigrants entering through the Rio Grande Valley, and now the federal government is asking El Paso homeless shelters to assist with housing the undocumented. “The surge [from the Rio Grande Valley sector] forced the Department of Homeland Security last week to create a task force to deal with the large numbers of unaccompanied minors entering Texas, though in El Paso undocumented immigrants who need shelter are all family units and not children who have crossed alone, said Ruben Garcia, the director of … a migrant and homeless shelter,” reports the Texas Tribune. Garcia said the effort got underway soon after Arizona protested Texas and ICE officials sending people across the state border for holding and processing. It might also have something to do with the appalling conditions made public last week in photos obtained by Breitbart News. ICE officials apparently told coordinators that “We do not have the ability to detain people and so we’re going to — after we process [them] — release them on their own recognizance” to family members already in the states. Lest anyone is worried that ICE is simply outsourcing its policing, the area commander for the Salvation Army made it clear their groups duty: “Shelter employees do not act as guards who monitor the immigrants to make sure that they don’t abscond or that they make their court dates. Their roles are in a humanitarian capacity only.”
All’s Farrah Now — A settlement has finally been reached concerning an Andy Warhol portrait of Farrah Fawcett. “After nearly three years of litigation and more than $1 million in costs, the [University of Texas] has quietly dropped its appeal and settled a lawsuit with [Fawcett’s on-again-off-again boyfriend Ryan] O’Neal, conceding a Los Angeles jury’s December ruling that he owned the portrait of Fawcett,” according to the McClatchy wire service. “It is, effectively, a total victory for O’Neal, who will get $25,000 in court costs from the university as part of the agreement.” On the bright side, UT and O’Neal have what amounts to joint-custody of a paper napkin drawing by Warhol, which will be sold at auction and profit-split, 50-50. It’s no small sum, either. “[E]xperts for the university valued the napkin at $3,500.” For more, be sure to read the great pieces by Texas Monthly‘s own Farrah beat reporter Skip Hollandsworth.
Supreme Secrets — The headline, “Supreme Court: Texas can withhold drug source name” is, perhaps, a little misleading, but one thing’s pretty clear: Texas can and will continue to keep its execution drug supplier secret. “The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused an appeal from a Texas death row inmate whose attorneys had demanded that state officials disclose the source of drugs intended to execute him,” according to the Associated Press. Why the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal isn’t made clear, only that the decision “was in line with similar rulings from the high court, which so far has not halted an execution based on a state’s refusal to reveal its lethal injection drug supplier.” Not that the inmate will necessary get the needle. The court still “agreed to give [the death row inmate’s] lawyers time to pursue claims that he’s mentally impaired and ineligible for the death penalty. That issue is still pending.”
Explosions in the Sky — … it’s not just a great Texas band; Lone Star scientists actually found one in the night sky. “Texas scientists have spotted a massive explosion in space that dates back 12 billion years, almost to the time of the Big Bang,” reports the AP. The stargazers at Southern Methodist University and the McDonald Observatory believe they’re watching the collapse of a star. Why does any of this matter? For one, it’s awesome in the most awesome sense. Secondly, “You’re looking at things a long time ago in the universe, you can get a sense for the movie of the universe,” said Robert Kehoe, physics professor and leader of the SMU astronomy team. “It’s the evolution of the universe.”
The Mack Effect — And speaking of Big Bangs, it would seem that Mack Brown’s resignation had, in real numbers, a massive effect on the football world. According to an insanely intricate (even by sports nuts’ standards) piece by ESPN, “Directly or indirectly, Brown’s decision to leave Texas affected the jobs of 103 coaches and influenced coaching changes at 47 college programs, four NFL organizations and two high schools. The impact of the legendary coach’s departure was felt at every level of the game.” What follows in the article is writer Max Olson’s breakdown of that influence, a breakdown that rivals the detail and characters of a Shelby Foote civil war history. It also includes a few interesting numbers for those looking for quick play calling. “Of the 1,280-plus head and assistant coaches in FBS football, the jobs of at least 5 percent were impacted by Mack Brown’s decision to step down.”