The State of Texas: September 5, 2014
Slideshow of the Day
Following the Internet’s grand tradition of loving click-bait slideshows, the Houston Chronicle has published one that is perhaps less exciting than most, but is definitely a smarty-pants conversation starter: “which Texas counties the unaccompanied [migrant] children have relocated [to].” According to the list, Harris County leads the country in the number of unaccompanied migrant children released to some kind of adult supervision.
While Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis spar over who loves the Dallas Cowboys more, Deadspin has decided to just quarterback-sack the whole crew. For the final installment of “Why Your Team Sucks,” the nation’s number-one sports heckler has turned an ugly eye to the Cowboys. And it is brutal. For Houston Texans’s fans, it’s a must read. For Cowboys fans like Abbott, it’s like debates: best to avoid.
The Spoils of Oil — When oil-related news comes out, it flows like a BP well. Right on the heels of Halliburton’s settlement, “U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier concluded that [BP] showed a ‘conscious disregard of known risks’ during the drilling operation and bears most of the responsibility” for the 2010 disaster, according to the Associated Press. “In the next stage of the case, set to begin in January, the judge will decide precisely how much BP must pay.” And it won’t be no chump change, either, as more than $18 billion could leak from BP’s coffers (the company made $24 billion last year). Among other fines, BP’s already forked over $2.5 billion for environmental restoration, and it looks like Texas will see about $270 million for its own Gulf Coast projects, reports the Austin American-Statesman. The state’s already put some of that cash to good use, having “accepted the donation of a 17,351-acre coastal ranch, bought largely with $34.5 million from that fund.”
Held Back — The children of Texas, our future, are in some serious academic trouble. “More than 76,000 Texas students in the fifth and eighth grades — about 1 in 10 pupils — were unable to pass the STAAR math or reading tests on the third try this summer,” reports the Dallas Morning News. “New results compiled by the Texas Education Agency showed that 11 percent of fifth-graders failed in reading and 9 percent failed the math section. Among eighth-graders, 9 percent failed in reading and 11 percent in math.” In theory, these kids who can’t count or read good are supposed to be held back. In practice, the law “allows a student to be promoted if his or her principal, teacher and parents agree to overlook the test results,” according to the AP, which is exactly what happened with most of the kids.
Slight Insurance Assurance — Obamacare didn’t go over like gangbusters in Texas, but it wasn’t a complete failure, either. According to a new study from Rice University, an “estimated 378,684 additional Texans, or 2.4 percent of the state’s uninsured population, now have health insurance following the closing of the ACA Marketplace’s enrollment period,” reports the Houston Business Journal. Though a significant factor had to do with the Texas Miracle, specifically “more people covered under employer insurance.” Texas, which refused the Medicaid expansion, seemed to well with insurance enrollment numbers despite that fact. “States that did take the Medicaid expansion saw around a 6 percent decrease [while] the average decrease for other states that chose not to take the expansion was only 1.7 percent.”
Good Hearted Auction — The outlaw country singer, Waylon Jennings, also had some out-there personal effects. And now, they could be yours. “New York City-based auction house Guernsey’s will hold the auction of over 2,000 items Oct. 5 at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix,” according to the AP. In case you were curious, some of the items include “a rare 1958 motorcycle originally owned by Buddy Holly” and perhaps the ultimate Texan Holy Grail, “locks of Willie Nelson’s braided hair.” While guitars that tune good and firm feelin’ women are what make life worth livin’, a Buddy Holly motorcycle and Willie Nelson pigtail ain’t bad additions.
Fat Of the Land — Texas has a new record! Don’t celebrate too much, though, or you might get winded. “Obesity in Texas reached a high of 30.9 percent last year, after what seemed like a promising if slight decline in 2012,” reports the Morning News. “Texas obesity went from 30.4 percent in 2011 to 29.2 percent in 2012. In 1990, the state’s obesity rate was 10.7 percent of the population.” Despite the Lone Star state’s many beautiful outdoor attractions, we apparently don’t get out much. Maybe it has something to do with all our vehicles. “The report also notes that Texans are among the least physically active Americans. More than thirty percent reported no exercise outside of their normal jobs in the past month.” We may not be as fat as Mississippi, but we sure are gaining.