The State of Texas: May 29, 2014
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A HERO’s Tale — It was a long, often heated debate but Wednesday night, Houston passed an ordinance “extending equal rights protections to gay and transgender residents,” according to the Houston Chronicle. “Despite weeks of discussion and dissent over the measure, the final vote was 11-6, a count that matched guesses made months ago, when Mayor Annise Parker — the first openly lesbian mayor of a major American city — said she planned to bring forward such a measure.” In the word’s of Vice President Joe Biden, this is a BFD. The city council heard testimony from more than two hundred people over the course of nine hours, reports The Advocate. The country’s fourth-largest city, Houston “had been the largest one without such an ordinance.” The ordinance bans discrimination “based not just on sexual orientation and gender identity but also, as federal laws do, sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, religion, disability, pregnancy and genetic information, as well as family, marital or military status.” So it should be interesting to see what kind, if any, legal cases occur as a result. Regardless, discriminators better be ready to pony up. “The fine for violation goes up to $5,000.”
Passing On Gas — The Texas Railroad Commission issued a report Wednesday saying it’s just a coinkydink that there’s several Parker County wells have seen an increase in methane levels at the same time as increased gas drilling activity. More accurately, the commission “has determined that the evidence is insufficient to conclude that Barnett Shale production activities have caused or contributed to methane contamination beneath the neighborhood,” reports the Fort Worth-Star Telegram, a conclusion that contradicts the findings of two independent scientists. And because there’s insufficient evidence, the commission is doing the obvious thing and stopping any further investigation into the matter except to recommend residents “properly ventilate and aerate their water systems.” Just how good of a filtration system will residents need? One resident, Steve Lipsky, showed just how much methane he had by lighting his well water on fire. That’s in addition to an emergency order issued by the EPA back in 2010. As one might expect, Lipsky is none-too-happy about the report. “‘They are not going to allow anything’ that makes the industry look bad. ‘Everything I try to give them, they bury.'” Let’s hope its not buried near any other residential wells.
Chasing Tornado Dreams — This is why physicists can’t have nice things. A scientist (theoretical, one presumes) at Temple University in Philadelphia believes he has the perfect solution to Tornado Alley that sounds suspiciously like an anti-immigration border plan. It’s a “giant wall stretching a hundred miles and almost a 1,000 feet high across southeast Texas and Louisiana,” as well as two more up the center of the country, according to the Houston Chronicle. The physicist “has had this idea published once and is just about to get it in another high-profile science journal as a viable suggestion to end the threat of the twisters that regularly strike.” As few of us are actually rocket scientists, this plan may be indeed “sound” in some ways. In other ways, there might be a better chance at utilizing worm holes for space-time travel. “It would come at a cost — $16 billion each — but would stop tornadoes forever.”
Dates With Destiny — After some expected squabbling between the two camps, Team Wendy Davis and Team Greg Abbott have agreed on two debates (Davis wanted six), to be held in McAllen and Dallas. So, in the words of Batman villain Bane, let the game’s begin. Despite Abbott and Davis both focusing impressively well on actual issues in the past few months, it’ll probably be the ugly sideshows that get the most attention, if the Lieutenant Governor’s primary race was any indication. The “games” started yesterday, in fact, with none other than Time magazine writing up the mini-controversy surrounding an Abbott supporter who hired an artists to create posters of Wendy Davis depicted as an unclothed, pregnant Barbie beside a pair of scissors. It’s going to be a long five months.