The State of Texas: October 23, 2015
A gang of emus is on the loose, the Planned Parenthood crackdown, and J.C. Penney’s rough year.
“She’s from Houston … they don’t have pizza there.”
— Jay Z speaking about his wife, Beyonce.
Is H-Town famous for its pizza? No. But the problem with New Yorkers and their empire state of mind is they think the world revolves around them. It doesn’t. The world revolves around Texas. And tacos.
Jailbreak of the Day
Huey, Dewey, Louie, and gang leader Emmitt, are emus. They live in Round Rock. They’ve been on the loose since Thursday, and are apparently impossible to catch. They are also the greatest thing to happen in Texas Thursday.
Planned Attack — For a state that prides itself for its aversion to Big Brother, Texas sure did go all out Thursday. State investigators essentially raided Planned Parenthood locations in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Brownsville, presenting identical subpoenas “demanding thousands of pages of documents regarding patient Medicaid records stretching back five years,” reports the San Antonio Express-News, and several other outlets. Investigators with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission also wanted “confidential information on clinic staff — including birth dates, Social Security numbers, home addresses and employment history,” as well as “similar information on the relatives of staff members, other than spouses.” Although the state wouldn’t comment on the investigation, its seems that it’s all part of Texas’s ongoing look into the controversy surrounding the federally funded group’s work with fetal tissue that erupted in July. The Texas Tribune described it as “Texas Republicans’ efforts to cut off taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood provider,” as the state looks to “no longer allow any Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas to receive Medicaid funding for well-woman care such as cancer screenings and birth control.” Earlier this week, Governor Greg Abbott castigated the group for its “harvesting of baby body parts,” but as Reuters notes, “the state has released no evidence of illegal activity by the group.”
Its Rainin’ Men(ish) — Austin is about to get a whole lot weirder. Just recently efforts by UT-Austin students to protest the state’s impending campus gun laws by walking around with dildos made national headlines. Asking the important questions, the Houston Chronicle digs into the logistics of providing a bunch of sex toys to college students. Perhaps it should’ve been expected, but the industry is about love, not war, and very much supports of the planned protest effort. “A handful of local sex shops and national retailers have pledged to provide free or discounted sex toys to UT students or others planning to take part in the event.” As Lauren McGaughy reports, “no fewer than three retailers are offering dildo deals, said [protest organizer Jessica Jin]. Dreamers, a family-owned company that helped overturn Texas’ ban on owning sex toys, is giving away hundreds of dildos beginning Oct. 23 to individuals with a UT student ID. Gamelink, an online adult store, is offering free dildos to the first 69 students who contact the site with valid IDs and all other students will receive 20 percent [sic] off any dildo or vibrator.”
A Foreign Idea — Not to be overshadowed by his brother Julián, U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro made a splash in the headlines by calling on the federal government to remove the word “alien” from all its laws and official documents. The bill he’s introduced to Congress would replace the word with “foreign national,” according to multiple outlets. “[Castro] pointed out that alien is used not only to describe people who arrived or stayed in the country illegally, but also those who have come to the country with legal permission” and “said precedent exists for changing words used by the federal government, for instance the government has removed use of the word ‘lunatic’ and ‘mentally retarded’ from statutes,” NBC News reports. The effort, while no doubt earnest, is more of a political move than anything else. As the San Antonio Express-News notes, the “chances of winning passage would seem remote given the brief time remaining in the 2015 session and the protracted inability of Congress to reach agreement on virtually any matter related to immigration.”
Pining for the End — The near two week battle against the Hidden Pines fire continues, even despite the rain the area is expecting. In fact, the rain may actually make things difficult for the clean-up effort. “The next 48 hours may change the paradigm. We may go from flash drought to flash flood,” said Mike Fisher, emergency management coordinator for Bastrop County, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Residents have already begun sandbagging in anticipation of the impending deluge that even the Washington Post describes as a “massive rain event.” As for the fire itself, authorities are still trying to get a solid handle on its cause. At first it was suspected that some farming equipment overheated. Then there was the suspicion that it all began with an illegal burn pile. It’s serious stuff. The family that owns the property where the fire appears to have started now has a lawyer pushing back against the suggestion.
Penney Pinchers — Is nothing sacred? Just after Neiman Marcus alaid off 500 workers due to new stores and acquisitions, Plano-based J.C. Penney is following the trend. The company cut 300 jobs at its headquarters, about nine percent of its staff there, “as part of an ongoing effort to cut costs as Penney tries to become profitable again,” the Dallas Morning News writes. “Last year, Penney outlined a three-year recovery plan to increase sales by $2 billion by the end of 2017 and report earnings before taxes and other items of $1.2 billion.”