The State of Texas: October 16, 2014
What’s better then listening to a little country and drinking a little beer? How about drinking beer made by a country legend? It appears Robert Earl Keen is expanding his interests from writing songs to making suds. The crooner released his own brand of beer yesterday in San Antonio. Let the booze go on forever:
Ebola Watch: Day 15 — The Ebola crisis is really starting to impact the world in other ways than sickness and death. For starters, “Shares of the biggest U.S. airlines tumbled between 5 and 8 percent before recovering in afternoon trading,” reports the Associated Press. Close call is it may be, the companies are vocally concerned that about how Ebola will effect business, especially since the second nurse took a plane flight when infected. At Navarro College near Dallas, student applications from Ebola-stricken countries will no longer be accepted, according to the Daily Beast. And the crisis has also been a buzz kill for Rick Perry who “is cutting short an economic development trip through Europe” partly because of Ebola and partly because “President Barack Obama called off plans for a fundraising trip to New Jersey and Connecticut on Wednesday when a second Dallas health care worker was diagnosed with Ebola,” reports CNN. At least the U.S. made it about two weeks before major politicians started making Ebola political. But now? “Ron Natinsky, the Republican candidate for Dallas County judge, on Tuesday accused incumbent Democrat Clay Jenkins of ‘spin’ in the way Jenkins has talked about the science behind the Ebola infection,” according to the Dallas Morning News. Natinsky also called Jenkins efforts to talk to the family of Thomas Duncan “a reckless political stunt.” In his accusations, Natinsky offers no hint of irony, nor much understanding of science (he makes that pretty clear), although he has “read articles suggesting that scientists aren’t positive about the ways Ebola is transmitted.”
Back To Work? — Abortion clinics throughout the state may be allowed to reopen thanks to the Supreme Court’s recent injection, but that’s easier said than done. “Celebration among some abortion providers, however, was muted by logistics and fears that the victory is only temporary. Women seeking abortions kept phone lines busy at the Routh Street Women’s Clinic in Dallas, where a former staff of 17 people is down to to single digits after the procedure was halted by the law earlier this month,” according to the AP. The Dallas Mornings News has a good look at the impact the back-and-forth of the abortion laws have affected women seeking assistance. “Wait times increased as the remaining clinics reached capacity. “According to Misty Garcia, a board member of the Lilith Fund, which helps women fund abortion procedures, the soonest appointment some women have been able to schedule is two weeks away.” And “Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas … said numbers to their call center ‘shot up significantly’ following the initial closures. ‘There was a scramble to fit in women who had appointments with facilities that had to close.’” Of course, how long the facilities will be open is completely up in the air once the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals gets its hands on the case again.
Occupy Texas — Kidding! Don’t do that. It’d cause even worse traffic jams. But there’s plenty of fodder for those upset about the fat cats making big stacks. A federal judge ruled Wendesday that “Texas’ biggest power company may reward its executives with up to $20 million in bonuses even as it navigates one of the largest bankruptcies in U.S. history,” according to the Texas Tribune. “Under the [company’s bonus package] plans, 26 of the company’s executives will be eligible for bonuses totaling up to $20 million – most going to the top seven executives. The payments hinge on whether the employees meet tough performance targets, the company says.”
Rechecking IDs — In more, didn’t-they-talk-about-this-yesterday news, “Opponents of Texas’ voter identification law asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday to block an order from a lower court that gave the go-ahead to keep the state’s strict voter ID law in place for the Nov. 4 election,” reports the Austin American-Statesman. As with the abortion back-and-forth, the ID argument seemed settled not two days ago with the Fifth Court of Appeals (popular fellas) saying the law could stay in effect through the November 4 elections. At this rate, not a single Texan will know what they need to bring to vote. So be sure to bring everything, including a pay stub, details to your Netflix account, an H-E-B rewards card in your name, and a blood-signed oath with your BFF.
Judging Edith — Remember that Houston-based federal appeals judge who was “accused of publicly mocking the appeals of the mentally disabled and Mexican-born defendants and of describing African-Americans and Hispanics as ‘sadly’ more likely to commit crimes”? You may not be surprised to know that other judges judged the judge to be fit for more judging. “Three judges and a court-appointed attorney probed whether [Edith] Jones, a former chief circuit judge, improperly discussed pending death row cases and whether she made discriminatory remarks in public,” according to the Houston Chronicle. “Ultimately, that investigative committee concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence to justify disciplining Jones, despite affidavits from five law students and an attorney who thought her actions constituted misconduct. The judicial council, the ruling body of the Washington, D.C. circuit, then adopted the recommendations in August in a related 73-page order and report …” In Jones’s defense (not that she really deserves one, based on the reported comments that even she doesn’t dispute), it appears most of the very injudicious opinions were made during a speech and not the court room. Still, as the Chronicle notes, “It is only one of a handful of times in U.S. history that a federal circuit judge has been the subject of a public judicial misconduct complaint and a formal disciplinary review.”