Friday, September 30, 2011

Ironically, Austin Switches to All-Green Energy While Rick Perry Keeps Denying Climate Change

According to the Austin American-Statesmen, Austin became the nation's first major green-energy-only municipal operation today. Going "all green" will cost $8.5 million this year but is a key first step in the city's Climate Protection Plan. The initiative, which won former Mayor Will Wynn national acclaim when the City Council adopted it in 2007, is intended to cut Austin's contribution to global climate change by reducing the community's greenhouse-gas emissions over the next 50 years. Switching to renewable energy was seen as a way for the 12,000-employee city government to demonstrate leadership to the rest of the community.

"I agree with the scientific community; global warming is a reality, and we will continue to lead American cities by maintaining our community vision" for carbon reduction, Mayor Lee Leffingwell said in a statement. "I am hopeful that other cities will be inspired to follow suit, now that our vision has become a reality."

Meanwhile, tonight at a town hall-style debate in New Hampshire, Rick Perry said, “[Global Warming is] frankly not proven...the climate has been changing for thousands of years, and for us to take a snapshot in time and say, ‘The climate change that is going on is man’s fault, and we need to jeopardize America’s economy [to fix it.]’ I’m a skeptic about that."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Piranhas in Texas?

A pre-teen girl hooked a piranha in Tom Bass Park, Texas this summer. With a hot dog.

A photo of the piranha caught in Harris County. Photo courtesy of Texas Park and Wildlife Department. Photo: Texas Park And Wildlife Department. / HC 

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department fisheries staff identified, confirmed, and verified that the hot dog loving fish with teeth is in fact a red-bellied piranha.

Over the past few years, we've seen more and more of them being brought in," Robert Goodrich, assistant chief for fisheries law enforcement for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, said of prohibited exotic aquatic species. "The Internet has made it a whole lot easier for people to get them" - piranhas, freshwater stingrays, snakeheads and other dangerous and potentially dangerous or ecosystem-damaging fish.

According the Houston Chronicle, piranhas, evolved to live in consistently warm water, can't survive when water temperature drops below about 50 degrees. But research presented by the American Fisheries Society indicates piranhas "might" be able to "overwinter" in waters in parts of the Deep South, including the southern third of Texas. The research indicates piranhas "could" live in winter in deep South Texas and most of Florida.

Like we don't have enough problems. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

What Price Will Texas Pay For So Many Uninsured?

According to this scary report, the overall health care quality for Texas is poorer than in every other state, especially when it comes to preventive, acute, and chronic care, as well as care for diabetes, heart, and respiratory diseases, according to the 2010 report of the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. YIKES.
"Texas has the highest rate of uninsured people in the country - 24.6 percent - and the number of uninsured that has grown by 35 percent during Governor Rick Perry’s 11-year tenure. The burden of the Texas health care crisis falls largely on the working poor. Most of the state’s uninsured adults have jobs and are US citizens or legal residents, according to the nonpartisan Center for Public Policy Priorities. Working adults account for nearly two out of three uninsured Texans between ages 19 and 64, though most of them make less than $25,000 a year."
Ehh, but don't worry about the poors. They should just get a third job, amirite? Oh, and it doesn't matter if Governor Perry wins the White House or not. Things are gonna get worse for Texas no matter what.
"In the last legislative session that ended in May, the state cut two thirds of the funding for women’s health clinics and underfunded Medicaid by almost $4 billion, in addition to cutting hospital reimbursements. This follows other health cuts in the Perry years. Texas stands to benefit more than any other state under the federal health overhaul that President Obama signed into law last year."
But every other state is screwed if Perry sits on the throne. The Governor vows to repeal Obamacare if he becomes the commander-in-chief, so someday you all can enjoy ER trips for "vaccine-preventable diseases such as influenza and hepatitis A, uncontrolled asthma, diabetes, or untreated infections of the ear, sinus, or tooth spreading to the brain, requiring surgery, and bone infections that result in permanent disability."

You're so silly, tooth infection-gone-awry patient! Why, you should have elected to have health insurance. Don't be so dependent on the government for everything! Use your freedom! Freedom starting as low as $400 a month!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

One Last Middle Finger For Death Row Inmates

Texas is abolishing the "special last meal" for prisoners about to be executed.

"Enough is enough," state Senator John Whitmire wrote in a letter on Thursday to prison officials, prompting the move. "It is extremely inappropriate to give a person sentenced to death such a privilege. It's a privilege which the perpetrator did not provide to their victim."

Unless, of course, you're wrongly convicted. That never happens.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bad News For Perry (and Texans): Texas Unemployment Rises

The Texas unemployment rate reached 8.5 percent in August - an increase from 8.4 percent in July.
The Texas unemployment rate ranks 27th, tied with Colorado. Why does everyone in the nation think that Texas is doing so great? Ah, yes. The mighty prophet spews his rhetoric.

The Texas Workforce Commission says the state lost 1,300 jobs in August. Texas gained 8,100 private-sector jobs, but those jobs were negated by job losses in the public sector. For the year, Texas has added 272,000 jobs in the private sector but lost 19,000 government jobs. Last month, Texas lost 11,500 jobs in local government, for a net loss of 9,400 government jobs. I can't imagine why so many government jobs are being cut. Who's in charge of this ship again?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

OMFG IT'S RAINING IN TEXAS


As a high-pressure system broke down and moved south this week, a “cool” front moved into the Hill Country, west of Austin yesterday, and stalled out, drawing Gulf air and moisture to the region, said Chris Morris, meteorologist for the National Weather Service.
That’s pulled us away from the extreme triple-digit highs that have largely dominated the last four months and toward highs in the lower 90s, the service said. Lows will be in the low 70s, the service said.
A "cool" front. HILARIOUS. Low 90 degree temperatures actually feel freezing, compared to the summer we've had. 
This is also the second day we've had light showers and thunder, though we've only seen less than an inch of rain. Everything looks different, however, with the shimmery sheen of water coating it. It's been too long. 
20% chances of rain again tomorrow. Please, more!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Texas Still Burning

Airshp and Lindsay Braun of The Butler Bros have designed awesome t-shirts that are raising money for Central Texas Wildfire relief efforts. 100% of the net proceeds benefit those affected by the tragic wildfires in central Texas.

Here is the current situation according to the Texas Forest Service:

· Yesterday Texas Forest Service responded to 35 new fires for 9,752 acres including new large fires in Harris and Trinity counties.
· In the past seven days, Texas Forest Service has responded to 149 fires for 17,334 acres.
· The Leigh Community (#262) Fire in Harrison County was contained Wednesday at 518 acres.
· Assessment crews continue to survey the damage of numerous fires that occurred across Central and East Texas during the past week. It is currently estimated that 1,939 homes have been destroyed since Labor Day weekend.

Buy a T-shirt, help a family.
 
 ...and just as charred.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Texas Christian University Students Not Acting Very Christian

Three sexual-assaults have been reported in 9 days at Texas Christian University (and the semester just started!).

From the Star Telegram:
On Aug. 18, campus police received a report that a female student was sexually assaulted in a residence hall by someone she knew. Campus police received another report Aug. 22 of an attempted sexual assault, also by an acquaintance, that apparently occurred in a residence hall. On Aug. 26, Fort Worth police notified TCU police of a sexual assault several blocks south of the campus. The reported victim appeared to know the attacker in that case, too.

The period from the start of the semester through Thanksgiving break is sometimes called the "red zone," explained Melissa Lucchesi, outreach education coordinator for Security On Campus Inc. That time often has a higher incidence of crimes, she said. "It's the first time students are away from home," said Lucchesi, adding that students are living in a new setting and socializing. Sometimes, they experiment with alcohol or drugs.

 "I am a concerned parent," the mother of a TCU student wrote to the Star-Telegram. She asked not to be identified. "My concerns are that the school is out of control. There is too much on campus drinking and partying."
Excuse, me who are these Christian students and parents who think that being away from home and experimenting with drugs or alcohol is license to rape? Maybe it's the extensive sexual-crimes history at the school?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Texas Is Burning


See how fast wildfires spread: This is Bastrop State Park in the Lost Pines areas near Austin, home to the endangered Houston Toad. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Gov. Perry Responsible For Cutting State Funding For Volunteer Fire Departments

Anybody hear about the series of wildfires blazing across the state of Texas? Under Governor Perry this year, Texas slashed state funding for the volunteer fire departments that protect most of the state from wildfires like the ones that have recently destroyed more than 700 homes. And while Texas just broke an 86-year-old record for most days above 100 degrees with the worst single-year drought on record, that same Governor -- Presidential contender -- still denies climate change!

 
Flames roar near Bastrop State Park as a wildfire burns out of control near Bastrop, Texas, September 5, 2011. An estimated 1,000 homes are being threatened in Bastrop County, just east of Austin, as a 5700-hectare wildfire rages out of control, causing evacuations. Photography by: Mike Stone, REUTERS

Volunteer departments that were already facing financial strain were slated to have their funding cut from $30 million to $7 million, according to KVUE.

RawStory reports:
The majority of Texas is protected by volunteer fire departments. There are 879 volunteer fire departments in Texas and only 114 paid fire departments. Another 187 departments are a combination of volunteer and paid. For that reason, aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) could be more important than ever to the state where wildfires have recently been raging. At a press conference Monday, Perry promised to seek federal disaster relief and said that FEMA would be in the state by Wednesday.

While the Texas governor has been highly critical of FEMA in the past, he told CBS’ Erica Hill Tuesday that now was not the time to worry about reforming the agency.
Perry has harshly criticized the federal government in the past, and surely will the bashing while simultaneously expecting it to save the people he is responsible for putting in peril. His hypocrisy and poor management of resources continue to be flagrant. I can't believe people like this guy.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Texas Reminds You How It Loves Freedom With 673 New Laws That Take Effect Today

Literally hundreds of laws took effect today in Texas, while the most controversial, the law requiring women to receive a fetal sonogram and hear about its results at least 24 hours before an abortion, has been kiboshed by a federal judge. There is a preliminary injunction striking down portions of the law requiring doctors to share and discuss the sonogram with the pregnant woman. Thank you courts!

NPR reports: U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks said in his ruling that requiring a doctor to show women images from the sonogram and the sounds of the fetal heartbeat violates the First Amendment rights of doctors. The ruling also struck down a requirement that allows women to avoid seeing the sonogram images only if they sign a statement that they are pregnant because of sexual assault or incest. The state cannot compel a woman to disclose such private information that she may not even wish to tell police, Sparks ruled. Sparks ruled such disclosure is an attempt by the state to "permanently brand women who choose to get an abortion."

That's what I call justice!

From the Austin Ameican-Statesman, here are the laws most likely to actually affect Texans (editor's notes are mine):

• Newborn hearing screenings: Newborns in small Texas counties often cannot receive hearing tests, which have been offered in larger counties. Senate Bill 229 allows babies born in smaller communities to be screened.
• Spanking: House Bill 359, better known as the spanking bill, lets parents opt their children out of corporal punishment in public schools that allow the practice. Otherwise, spanking is OK. (The major school districts in Central Texas don't allow spanking.) [Editor's note: ONLY THE MAJOR ONES?!!]
• Summer nutrition: SB 89 requires school districts in which at least half the students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches to provide a summer nutrition program. [Editor's note: There is no such thing as a free lunch.]
• Teen violence: HB 2496 creates a 12-week teen-dating violence prevention program in the courts to educate teens and provide counseling and referrals. If offenders complete the program, they could have their criminal cases dismissed.
• Football helmets: Aimed at preventing concussions, HB 675 requires school districts to replace helmets that are 16 years old or older and to recondition, every two years, helmets that are 10 years old. [Editor's note: when common sense becomes law. Sigh.]
• Internet dating: Requires online dating services to disclose whether criminal history background screenings have been performed on their members. SB 488 also requires online dating services to publish a list and description of their safety measures.
• Cancer drugs: HB 438 requires health insurers to provide coverage for oral medications that fight cancer at the same coverage level as intravenous chemotherapy drugs. [Editor's note: Fuck cancer.]
• Elder care: HB 2903 expands the state-supported Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, which provides health care and assisted-living services for senior citizens who want to live independently rather than in nursing homes. [Editor's note: All the seniors, who independent, throw your all-inclusive care up at me.]
• Funerals: HB 718 addresses protests at funerals, which have been targeted in recent years by anti-war protesters. The new law prohibits demonstrations during funerals and three hours before and three hours after the service. Under previous law, demonstrations were banned one hour before and after a service. [Editor's note: While I am morally aligned with this law, I wonder how this infringes on First Amendment Rights.]
• Body parts: SB 187 requires more stringent chain-of-custody documentation for the transportation of bodies and body parts. The law was prompted by a 2007 incident in which a truck full of embalmed human heads used for medical training was found on a Texas highway without documentation. [Editor's note: ew.]