The State of Texas: May 5, 2014
Photo of the Day
Maybe we shouldn’t be so afraid of the mythical chupacabra: there’s a real nightmare-worthy creature swimming around out there. Shrimpers in the Gulf of Mexico recently pulled up a “Goblin Shark,” for only the second-time ever. It is expectedly frightening:
A Death (Penalty) Grip — Despite the mishap during the botched Oklahoma execution heard ’round the world, Texas and other death-penalty states probably won’t discontinue the practice, according to a clear-eyed report from the Associated Press that examines the politics of capital punishment. From a legislative perspective, not much is expected to change in most of these states, although “juries in Texas are already giving fewer death sentences, suggesting a larger shift.” In the end, it appears that legislators will act in accordance with the will of their constituents. Governor Rick Perry unsurprisingly invoked states’ rights on Sunday’s Meet the Press: “…whether it’s on this question of how states deal with the death penalty, [Obama] looks for a one-size-fits-all solution, centric to Washington, D.C. … We’re a very diverse country and allow the states on these issues that are not addressed directly by the Constitution to come up with the solutions.” But Perry did acknowledge that something went wrong in Oklahoma when he said, “I don’t know whether [Oklahoma’s recent execution] was inhumane or not but it was botched.” For a counterweight, the Houston Chronicle talked with former Texas Governor Mark White, who is now seeking death penalty reforms. “I’m not a bleeding heart,” White said. “Nobody has accused me of that. But there’s no reason for the state to be cruel.”
Finish Strong — Dallas is rounding the final curve in the qualifying sprint to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, and the city giving it everything it’s got. The Olympic Committee will decide “by next month” if Dallas is to become one of two or three finalists for the big games, according to the Dallas Morning News. The recent NCAA Final Four and Super Bowl have offered good supporting evidence that the city can handle an invasion of fans. And what might a Dallas Olympics look like? “In the proposal, an Olympic Village would be created near Fair Park and house about 15,000. … A renovated Cotton Bowl would probably host track and field events. … American Airlines Center, Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, the Trinity River corridor, Toyota Stadium in Frisco and existing and proposed facilities at Southern Methodist University would all be major event sites. … AT&T Stadium to be used for some of the largest-attended events. That would include gymnastics and the medal rounds of high-profile sports, such as basketball and boxing.” No word yet on where they’ll put all the people unaccustomed to Dallas summer heat.
Reefer-ish Madness — “There are now 27 reports of K2 overdoses in the Downtown Austin area since the string of overdoses began on Wednesday afternoon,” according to KVUE. Dallas, too, has experienced a strange rash of K2 overdoses over the weekend. On Saturday alone, “more than 30 people overdosed on it in Dallas and had to be hospitalized.” Overdosing on this fake drug sounds very unpleasant indeed. “Several of them came in with similar symptoms of psychosis, altered mental status, abnormal behavior — ranged from very sedated to an agitated state,” said one doctor. The synthetic “drug” known as K2 is banned in Texas, so it’s not clear how so many people are getting access to the stuff. Regardless, expect a fake-drug crackdown in the coming weeks. And if you think this mini-epidemic is evidence that perhaps Texas should consider legalizing or decriminalizing actual, safe, non-psychosis-inducing weed, then you might want to get yourself checked out at the local hospital as well.
Socialable Drinking — Speaking of being overly concerned about intoxicants, things are looking good for newly wet Lubbock. Five years after intense local debate and the eventual approval for the sale of alcohol, Lubbock is still standing. Not much has changed, actually, “other than the ability to pick up a six-pack while grocery shopping,” according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. “Opponents of the measure warned expanding alcohol sales would bring more crime to the city. But police officials say they haven’t seen that. “City statistics show alcohol-related collisions and DWI arrests in Lubbock were steadily dropping from 2007 to 2011. DWI arrests did spike significantly in 2012, but [officials] attributes that to increased enforcement of DWI laws with an addition of a pair of squads cracking down on drunken driving.”
The Decision — The Houston Texans are facing a dilemma on par with Solomon’s Choice: Take homestate hero Johnny Manziel in order to inject a little bit of showbiz and pizzazz, or pick a kid that may be less likely to break in half after being trampled by an NFL defensman. In the last week, the question has become a favorite game among the faithful, both here and abroad. ESPN and Grantland game theorist Bill Barnwell recently published a 2,600-word, mult-scenario draft-day prediction, all predicated on what Houston will do. USAToday’s Jarrett Bell had a bit more fun, saying flat-out: “I dare you to open the draft by selecting Johnny Manziel.” For those less inclined toward footbal, all this handwringing is like Friends‘ will-they-or-won’t-they scenario involving Ross and Rachel, but with more body hits and product endorsements.