The State of Texas: March 26, 2014
Hero Of The Day
The headline pretty much says it all: “Texas CPR Instructor Uses Skills To Save Puppy.” Pretty much. Turns out, saving the newborn pup was also the first time the Talty woman ever put her very important skills to the test. Consolation prize: she’s keeping the pup, bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase “rescue dog.”
Image of the Day
Construction of a Houston apartment complex has been delayed because the entire structure burnt to the ground. The scale of the massive five-alarm blaze is mindboggling. Miraculously, no injuries were reported (although there was one close call). Watch here:
Texas By The Numbers
Black Mark — Estimated amount of oil spilled in the Houston Ship Channel accident: 168,000 gallons. Total gallons damaged barge held: 900,000. Miles of coastline damaged so far: 15.5. Number of feet of containment boom deployed: 71,000. Total boom feet available for use: 232,600. Number of vessels waiting for passage: 101. Number of people working to contain spill: 750. Number of birds affected so far: 18. Number of birds dead because of oil: 10.
High Cost of Living — Average rent in Austin: $1,074. In Dallas: $913. In Houston: $926. Income, per hour, needed to afford a two bedroom apartment in Austin: $20.65. Average in San Antonio: $16.48. Average in Texas: $16.77. U.S. average: $18.92.
Smuggle Trouble — Five men have been charged in the human smuggling ring busted in Houston last week, which saw the rescue of 115 people who were being held in a 1,300-square-foot stash house. The defendants “stood handcuffed and shackled during a brief court appearance Tuesday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy on hostage-taking, weapons and conspiracy charges,” according to the AP. Spanish translation of the proceedings was provided over headphones for all five men, two of whom are Mexican nationals. Hostages were stripped of their clothes to prevent them from running away, and, per the AP, “doors were locked with dead bolts and windows were covered with plywood.” Weapons, including a stun gun, wooden paddle, and a shotgun, were found in the house. The men allegedly sought ransom from their hostages and their families before they would allow them to “continue their illegal entry into the United States.”
No Minor Debate — A novel concept is experiencing something of a growth spurt. Namely, that legal children be treated as such in court. What a crazy idea! “Pressure is growing … to raise the age of adulthood to 18 for criminal matters, a move that could save tax money, reduce arrest rates and simplify jail procedures, according to testimony Tuesday before the state House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee at the Capitol,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. Texas is one of eight states that automatically funnel seventeen-year-olds accused of crimes into the adult criminal justice system. But the possible changes wouldn’t include felonies, for which the adult threshold is fifteen. The committee is considering these minor reforms in preparation of the 2015 legislative session.
Real World: Fort Worth — It’s like The Truman Show, but with guns! The Fort Worth Police Department announced that its purchased 400 new body cameras for its officers, in addition to the 200 already in use. “We now have more cameras deployed than any other law enforcement agency in the U.S,” Police Chief Jeff Halstead told WFAA. “We’ll have the capacity to look at over 200,000 videos in our library in a given week.” Lest anyone has any Big Brother concerns, don’t worry. Having the body cameras, says the chief, means “that public trust will be at its highest level ever.” Presumably because, in cop talk, trust = surveillance? The chief told the Star-Telegram that the lipstick-sized devices, which are are clipped to officers’ collars or glasses, will help clear up many citizen complaints about officer behavior, because the footage will provide a clear record of officer conduct and cannot be tampered with.
Land Of A Thousand Complaints — It was only a matter of time before Ted Nugent responded to Longview’s decision to keep the musician away from local children. The city recently paid The Nuge $16,250 to not play at its annual July 4th concert. The Nuge was not the least bit happy (albeit he’s now the least bit richer). “Somebody has bamboozled the good citizens of Longview,” he told the News-Journal. “The lie that my concerts are inappropriate for any city anywhere is absurd … My family friendly concerts are legendary and will continue to be all summer long in 2014.”