Image of the Day

The Longhorn basketball team has been in Shanghai for the past week preparing for their season opener against the University of Washington. So it’s fitting that the team got a visit from China’s unofficial basketball ambassador Yao Ming, who began and ended his NBA career in Houston, on Thursday.

Daily Roundup

Branded — On Thursday the Texas A&M Forestry Service released its report on last month’s Hidden Pines Fire in Bastrop County, saying it was caused by farming equipment at the Luecke family property. The spot became that much easier to identify because of the family’s name, which was carved into the trees on the property and visible from satellite photos. The report determines “that [the fire] first ignited in an area ‘west of the space between the ‘letters’ ‘C’ and ‘K’ of trees forming the name ‘LUECKE’’ on the property,” writes the Austin American-Statesman. Accident or not, 22 families who lost their home are suing the property owners alleging “that proper care was not taken by Luecke farm during the warning of ‘elevated fire weather,'” according to KXAN. The families are not only seeking compensation for the extensive damages but “additional compensation for wages lost by people and profits lost by businesses; as well as the costs of court and temporary housing.”

Women’s Health-ish — Texas doesn’t need no stinkin’ Planned Parenthood. Or at least that’s the working theory among Texas officials four years after the state cut off funding to the organization. Despite there being 46 less PP clinics than there were in 2010, “figures provided to Reuters by Texas health officials [show that] the state’s retooled family-planning programs reached 317,393 women in the 2014 fiscal year, nearly as many as the 320,044 the state served in fiscal 2010, before it cut off funding to Planned Parenthood,” writes Reuters. The biggest challenge now, according to officials, “is getting the word out.” “There is access for every woman in Texas to be able to receive the services she needs,” Lesley French, the head honcho for women’s health programs at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, told Reuters. But despite positive numbers, the primarily anti-abortion and anti-government healthcare plan hasn’t been all rosy. “One in three Texas women in 2014 said she had no regular health-care provider, up from 1 in 5 in 2010, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.” Time will tell if Texas’s work around on women’s health will succeed. For now, however, Reuters notes that “there is no statistical evidence to date that the changes have led to more unwanted pregnancies. Texas birth rates have fallen and abortions have dropped, in line with national trends.”

End of the Tail — Remember the great cobra panic of 2015? There was one that terrified a luxury condo complex in Houston, but before that was the cobra loose in Austin after having bitten and killed its handler. At the time, authorities suggested that perhaps the eighteen-year-old reptile lover had intentionally let the snake bit him in his car outside a Lowe’s hardware store in July. That suspicion has been made official, as an autopsy report has ruled the young man’s death a suicide. The conclusion comes primarily from the “’multiple separate bites’ on each arm, [which] showed no evidence that he tried to pull away from the snake as it struck,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. “The bites ‘appeared to be intentional injection sites,'” and the report noted that the young man “had a history of suicidal ideation.”

Where’s the Villain? — While potty advocates had warned of cross-dressing men assaulting little girls in the restroom, those pushing for Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance had warned of an economic apocalypse should the effort be voted down. The first claim is a rather imaginative one. The second? Well, so far, “any visible backlash has yet to materialize and Houston appears at no risk of losing two upcoming major sporting events,” writes the Texas Tribune. Both the NCAA Final Four and the Super Bowl are going full steam ahead with their respective 2016 and 2017 events. As the story notes, attitudes were a bit different after Arizona and Indiana dealt with anti-religious discrimination legislation, which brought major backlash to both states. But “the response to Houston’s vote [has been] relatively quiet outside the LGBT advocacy community” and “HERO advocates say they aren’t sure why the latest developments in Houston aren’t attracting as much attention.” The managing director of Texas Competes, a business coalition lobbying for LGBT issues, is quoted as saying it’s “impossible to predict to what extent the business community will react to what has happened in Houston.”

Clickity Bits

Ashes of Late ‘Star Wars’ Fan Might Reside in a Darth Vader Light Saber Urn

Washington Post’ Interviews Willie Without Reporter Getting Stoned

Wanna Act in the Jade Helm Sequel? Then The Military Wants You

One Vet’s Last Patriotic Stand at Ray Hubbard Bridge

The Weird Reason You Can’t Kill Those Annoying Grackles

Prison Phone Company Hacked in Massive Attack

Investigation into Newest Charge of Mistreatment in Waller County Jail

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