The State of Texas: June 3, 2014
Music Video of The Day
Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, or at least the gentlemen playing the group in the touring Jersey Boys, wrapped up their El Paso run in a wonderfully appropriate way—singing Marty Robbins’s “El Paso” at none other than Rosa’s Cantina.
Migrating Problems — More than 400 unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in a single month is a big enough problem to capture the attention of President Barack Obama. “In a presidential memorandum, Obama called for a coordinated, multi-agency effort to address” the issue of child border-crossers, which saw a spike last month in the Rio Grande Valley sector, according to the Houston Chronicle. The situation is so dire, it’s almost an official state of emergency, with FEMA being tapped to help manage the immigrant problem (60,000 children are expect cross over this year). The main bureaucratic snag is that these children are “supposed to be turned over within 72 hours to the Office of Refugee Resettlement … But youths are coming into the system faster than they can be processed and released.” The result is a “logjam of more than 2,000 unaccompanied children in Border Patrol custody in the Valley. About half of them were there for more than 72 hours.” Texas would just fly these kids to Arizona for processing, like their adult counterparts, except Govenor Jane Brewer sent a strongly worded letter to Obama Monday, calling out Texas’s (and, to be fair, federal ICE agents’s) recent practice of shipping illegal immigrants from the RGV sector to Tucson to be processed, without any warning or notification. “The shortage of resources came to a head over Memorial Day weekend, when border agents in the Rio Grande Valley … flew more than 400 of those families to Tucson,” reports the Dallas Morning News. “ICE then dropped the migrants off by the busload at the Greyhound station in Tucson. The station became overwhelmed and ICE began transferring some migrants to the Phoenix station.” While Brewer’s objections are understandable, it’s more than a bit ironic that she—the same governor who vocally supported the state’s draconian immigration law last year—criticized the federal government for placing “expediency over basic humanitarian concerns.”
Storm’s Comin’ — That smog in the distance isn’t the product of some power plant, but a new and much larger Texas versus EPA dust-up. President Obama yesterday unveiled the Environmental Protection Agency’s new plan to cut CO2 emissions thirty percent nationally by 2030. Along with tougher standards for the state, Texas “would be expected to improve by 39 percent, compared to about a 33 percent average improvement per state nationally,” according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The whole issue is complicated (here’s “everything you need to know,” according to the Washington Post) but immediately, one thing was as clear as a summer Texas sky: state officials are going to fight this thing. Already, “29 members of the state’s congressional delegation — Republicans and Democrats — [have voiced] concern in a letter to the [EPA],” reports the Chronicle, which has the best Texas-based breakdown of the impending regulations. And if that wasn’t enough, both Attorney General Greg Abbott and Govenor Rick Perry immediately fired up their engines with some recycled hot air. “Previous EPA regulations have threatened to eliminate Texas jobs and stifle energy production, an industry at the very core of our state’s economy,” Abbott said. “Yet the Obama administration is doubling down on their job-killing agenda with this latest proposal.” Perry ditto’d that, calling the regulations “the most direct assault yet on the energy providers that employ thousands of Americans, and fuel both our homes and our nation’s economic growth.” One thing’s almost certain: Abbott—who’s sued Obama and the EPA seventeen times in his career as the state’s top lawyer—will soon celebrate his porcelain lawsuit anniversary.
Texas Fortune — There’s rich, and then there’s Texas-rich. And according to the rich-list, the Fortune 500, Texas-rich is still king. The state’s businesses dominated, with 52 companies making the grade. Completley unsurprising was that Exxon Mobile came in as number two company for the second year in a row; and of the five in the top fifty, four were energy companies. Half the companies on the list came from Houston, while Dallas had eighteen, although some score-keepers in Big D would like it stated for the record that their companies are more diversified. Perhaps a little surprising is that JC Penney managed to hang in there, although they did drop from 215 to the 235 spot.
Virtual Booze — Great news for all you booze-soaked, tech-savvy geeks: you can now buy liquor with your imaginary money. “In an inquiry submitted to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission [TABC], CoinVault ATM CEO Sheldon Weisfeld (who also happens to be a founding member of the Texas Coinitiative) sought to find the legal status of alcohol sales paid for in digital currency in the State of Texas,” according to the Bitcoin News Service (it’s like a specialized Associated Press). TABC’s official reply? “Unlike Ohio state law, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code does not require the customer to pay in money when purchasing an alcoholic beverage from a TABC-licensed establishment,” wrote TABC’s spokeswoman Carolyn Beck. “… The acceptance of digital currency such as Bitcoin from a consumer in this situation is the establishment’s choice.” So there are now two definite things you can buy Bitcoins with in Texas: booze and Steve Stockman campaigns. Bitcoin News Serivce may have buried the real story, however. Since Texas alcohol customers aren’t required to “pay in money,” the most pressing question is: which store would be most receptive to bartering?