The San Antonio Express-News points to a rather hubristic trend in Alaska, namely bumper stickers and t-shirts with an illustration of our state nestled inside theirs, along with the phrase “Isn’t Texas cute?” As the Express-News so perfectly notes, Alaska may be the physically bigger state but “but it is still a barren wasteland that is the meat in a Russia-Canada sandwich.”
Tweet of the Day
It’s that corn maze time of year! Some maze makers opt for geometric shapes or something related to the Halloween season, but not in Georgia! A couple now has a maze honoring Texan Chris Kyle, the subject of blockbuster American Sniper. Because, well, America.
— FOX 5 Atlanta (@FOX5Atlanta) September 8, 2015
Immune From Punishment — It’s been a few weeks, but the Sandra Bland case was back in headlines Wednesday when lawyers for the state asked that a wrongful-death suit filed by the family be dismissed. “In a court filing Tuesday, the Texas Attorney General’s office asked U.S. District Judge David Hittner to dismiss the complaint, arguing that state agencies are constitutionally immune from such lawsuits filed in federal court,” according to the Associated Press. “In addition, Dennis said the Bland family’s lawsuit raised vague and insufficient allegations of civil rights violations. Dennis asked that if the court refused to dismiss the lawsuit against Encinia, that lawyers for the family be directed to specify what constitutional claims they are alleging and ‘what (Encinia) did to violate that right.’” In a separate filing from last week, it’s clear officials will argue that Bland gave no indication of her mental health status, with a Waller County attorney saying that she “denied she was contemplating suicide and that she ‘provided inconsistent information to the jailers regarding her relevant history.’”
Culture Shock — Official handwringing (and legit criminal investigations) are underway in the case of a targeted hit of a high school referee during Friday’s game between John Jay High School and Marble Falls. Wednesday, the University Interscholastic League held an “emergency hearing” in Round Rock to discuss “the culture surrounding Jay’s football team” in light of the incident, the Express-News reports. Northside ISD superintendent Brian Woods and athletic director Stan Laing were grilled by the UIL’s State Executive Committee, which did more speechifying than anything else. “There seems to be some incidents reported from the officials that the behavior from the sideline and the players in the game could signal that there is a culture issue,” UIL executive director Charles Breithaupt said afterward. “I think they need more than just one game report to make that determination.” UIL deputy director Jamey Harrison added that the incident was “in no way indicative of what high school football is like in the state of Texas.” But as Texas Monthly‘s Dan Solomon wrote Wednesday, football culture isn’t as bright-eyed and wholesome as we’d like to think it is, or as fictional Coach Taylor makes it out to be. As for the criminal charges for the students involved, there could be more developments later this week. The Marble Falls Police Department had originally scheduled a Thursday press conference, but canceled it Wednesday because there weren’t too many new findings in the case. The referee’s lawyer “said he expects the Burnet County prosecutor’s office to pursue criminal charges after his client completes his statement to police” and that his client, still injured he says, is considering a civil lawsuit. In about two weeks, the committee will meet again “for further discussions and possible action.”
Cuba Invasion! — It was somewhat expected as U.S. and Cuban relations began to thaw, but now it’s happening — Cubans are comin’ to Texas in droves. “From October 2014 to June 2015, about 18,520 Cubans have sought entry to the United States through Texas’ Laredo field office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which includes ports from Del Rio to Brownsville. That’s compared to the 18,240 unaccompanied minors that were caught or surrendered to U.S. Border Patrol in the Rio Grande Valley from October 2014 through July of this year, according to CBP statistics,” the Texas Tribune writes. “If current trend holds, the number of Cubans seeking entry through Laredo will be about 24,700 this fiscal year. That’s about 60 percent more than 2014’s 15,600 and nearly twice as many as 2013’s 12,445.” As the story notes, lawmakers and officials are complaining less about Cubans entering the U.S. (they do vote Republican, or at least in Florida) than, say, the flood of Central American children last year. And the long-held special status that allows Cubans to apply for a green card and travel through the U.S. is complicating the normal narrative of Latin American migrants flooding over the border. The Tribune piece lays out the complicated road Texas and other U.S. Gulf states are bound to traverse as travel between the two countries as becomes more fluid.
Trouble in Space Paradise — Bloomberg has an interesting (and gossipy!) story on Elon Musk and his reception in the South Texas town where he hopes to build his commercial rocket port. In short, Musk isn’t exactly getting friendly with the 26 locals in Boca Chica Village. “The residents say SpaceX representatives told them recently they would be required to register with the county, wear badges and pass through checkpoints on launch days, which will occur about once a month beginning as soon as next year. During a 15- hour launch time frame, their movement around the village could be restricted. If they happen to be picking up groceries past a designated ‘point of no return,’ forget about going home,” according to the piece. “SpaceX’s proposed methods to enforce the safety rules — sweeping the beach with drones and video surveillance — aren’t helping matters. While the rules still might change, all this makes residents wish SpaceX would go away, with some even talking about acts of civil disobedience or maybe a lawsuit.” Some residents are already so ticked off they’r comparing it to, um, “Nazi Germany.” Meanwhile, SpaceX officials had no comment. As the story notes, “The town’s not-in-my-backyard eruption isn’t what Texas officials had in mind when they wooed SpaceX, or Space Exploration Technologies Corp., with about $15 million worth of economic incentives.” So maybe we’ll see our very first galactic war before any rocket actually leaves earth.