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The State of Texas: October 29, 2015

Examining the new normal of forest fires and debating God’s existence in Katy.

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Twitter Thursday

Here’s a perfect explanation as to why T. Boone Pickens is the coolest grandfather you’ll never have, all in one tweet. But if the 140 character limit won’t deliver your T. Boone fix, there’s an entire article to go with it.

Daily Roundup

Smokey the Scare — Now that the Hidden Pines fires have been completely snuffed, it may be time to start preparing for the next one. Or better yet, learning how to prevent it completely. The Associated Press has a very interesting, if kinda scary, look at the increasing frequency and size of wildfires in the state. “Texas had 157,000 wildfires over a nine-year period ending in 2014, said Mark Stanford, fire chief of the Texas A&M Forest Service. Nearly 80 percent of those fires raged within 2 miles of a community, he said.” Stanford said the threat to neighborhoods was “unheard of” when he started, and that wildfires primarily affected rural areas. The problem is partly due to community expansion, but continued drought conditions are also to blame. Experts speaking to the AP point to increased community awareness and more controlled burns as possible solutions, but as Texas continues to grow it needs to take a serious look at the problem before the worst happens: we become California.

Matter of Fact — The story of a Texas seventh grader is quickly gaining attention after she told the Katy ISD school board that her reading teacher said, “God is a myth.” Jordan Wooley, a student at West Memorial Junior High, said that while completing an exercise in which she was asked to distinguish statements from opinion, factual claim, or commonplace assertion, the twelve-year-old marked the statement “There is a God” as both a fact and an opinion. According to Wooley, that was when her teacher told her God was a myth. This did not go over well. An argument ensured, books were slammed, apparently one child began went home crying. “I didn’t feel like it was fair for my faith and my religion to have anything to do with what I’m learning about in school,” Wooley told the school board. The incident has really fired up Christians, most publicly conservatives (even Governor Greg Abbott offered his opinion), but school officials are pleading for a bit of understanding. Wonderfully understated, officials called the activity “ill-conceived,” but disputed some of how the student described the scene, and stressed that the teacher “is distraught by this incident, as some commentary has gone as far as to vilify her without knowing her, her Christian faith, or the context of the classroom activity.”

Medicaid Madness — Who’s in charge of Planned Parenthood and what’s it allowed to do? State officials seemed pretty sure it was under their jurisdiction last week when they raided numerous Planned Parenthood offices as part of an ongoing effort to cut Medicaid funding for the organization. Now the Obama Administration is (gingerly) making the argument that it’s the federal government calling the shots. “Officials with the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services contacted the state Medicaid director on Tuesday to give notice that removing Planned Parenthood from the program ‘may be in conflict with federal law’ because poor women who obtain family planning services through Medicaid would be limited from receiving health care from the qualified provider of their choice,” according to the Texas Tribune. In other Texas Medicaid news, the cuts to therapy funding for disabled children is back in the news, as state officials would very much like to proceed with that plan. Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office filed a motion with the Third District Court of Appeals “to override a judge’s order that prevented the Health and Human Services Commission from immediately implementing $150 million in cuts,” according to the Houston Chronicle. As the story notes, the motion “had been expected” and “kicks off a new chapter in what could be a long legal battle over the controversial cuts ordered by the state Legislature earlier this year.”

Clickity Bits

We’ve Got One of the World’s Best Chocolatiers, Y’all 

Entire Mary Kay Company is Getting the Equivalent of a Pink Cadillac

People Are Really Fascinated by this ‘Babydoll’ Cartel Trafficker Who Fled From Texas

Is the Fracking Debate Over? Some Activists Trying to Ensure the Answer is “No”

In Texas, You Still Can’t Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight”

Woman Held Captive, Used in ‘Blood Ritual’

Texas Man Carving Pumpkins with Daughter Stabs Would-Be Intruder

Did we miss something? Got a hot tip? Email us at [email protected]. Or tweet@TexasMonthly and @ThatWinkler.

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  • enp1955

    Teachers and school administrators show a remarkable ability to “step in it” over and over again. And every time they do, it makes front page news somewhere. Of course, God is not a ‘fact’ – that’s why they call it faith! But more important, why in the world would a teacher use that as an example??? There are plenty of other statements that would prove the same point, without causing such a ruckus.

    • Jed

      the difficulty that the faith-based community has in telling the difference between statements of fact (science) and faith (not science) is epidemic, and it is VERY relevant to the challenge confronted when trying to educate their kids on things relevant to school learning, like the scientific method, or critical thought in social studies, history, etc.

      not only is there no better way to make the point than this example (this example IS the point), the reaction it got (even in this article) underscores how many people still need this point made for them, even as adults.

      if these kids and parents don’t want to learn the difference between fact and belief, and that religion is the latter not the former, they should be homeschooling. that’s what it’s for. you don’t have to learn anything there.

      • enp1955

        I actually agree as to the relevance and the issues between faith and science. But we all know this example is fraught with peril. If it is to be used, the teacher could use the response as a better teaching point – scientific method, observable and provable, all that kind of stuff. But responding that “God is a myth” (if indeed that is what was said) is hardly a well-constructed teaching method. Even noting that ‘myth’ and ‘opinion’ is not synonymous. And I still believe that you can find other examples that would make better teaching points and not introduce as much controversy into what should be an excellent (and well needed) lesson.

  • José

    One expects that the thugs behind the raids on Planned Parenthood might be charged with violations of the RICO Act were they not official agents of the Inspector General of the proud State of Texas. Whatever misguided mission they had, it certainly wasn’t to further the personal freedom and liberty of Texans.