MWTX interviews Elijah Wood at Fantasticfest 2013

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Written by messwatx

2013/09/28 at 7:27 pm

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Texas Anti Abortion Emergency Session Resistance Update

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maddow texas all nighter

From Rachel Maddow, Friday 6-21-13

No embed, sorry.

Written by messwatx

2013/06/22 at 10:13 am

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TEXAS: Omnibus Anti-Choice Abortion Bill Now in Special Session. Help Stop It.

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Excerpt follows:

There are, very likely, going to be even more people in Texas who are going to be turned away from abortions VERY SOON. Yesterday, there was VERY bad news:

Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday added new abortion regulations to the Legislature’s special session workload, measures long pushed by conservatives that could signal two weeks of fierce ideological debate after an unusually harmonious regular session.

The governor’s office asked lawmakers to consider imposing more controls on abortion, abortion providers and facilities. […]

But Perry made it clear Tuesday he hasn’t forgotten the issues close to the hearts of his conservative base, saying in statement: “The horrors of the national late-term abortion industry are continuing to come to light, one atrocity at a time. Sadly, some of those same atrocities happen in our own state.”

“In Texas, we value all life, and we’ve worked to cultivate a culture that supports the birth of every child,” Perry said. “We have an obligation to protect unborn children, and to hold those who peddle these abortions to standards that would minimize the death, disease and pain they cause.”

During a special session, lawmakers can only consider topics Perry directs them to work on. Still, in hopes the governor might add abortion to the call, Republican Sen. Bob Deuell, a physician from Greenville, already filed a bill requiring abortion clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers.

If approved, it would mean that 90 percent of abortion clinics statewide would either have to spend millions to upgrade their facilities or shut down.

The bill is Senate Bill 5 (SB5), introduced by state senator Glenn Hegar.

Here are how special sessions work in Texas:

The purpose of aspecial session is to focus attention on a particular problem or to respond to a particular crisis. These sessions may last no more than thirty days and may only consider agenda items specified by the Governor. This places a premium on the precise wording used when the Governor calls for a special session.

Because special sessions are supposed to be used to deal with crises, they have more lax rules for voting. They don’t need a quorum and this can pass with a simple majority of whoever is there. There is a REAL fear that this bill will pass, nearly destroying access to abortion in the state of Texas.

Governor Perry’s press release about adding the abortion issue to this special session.

Last night, Lilith Fund, the abortion fund that services south and central Texas, tweeted what exactly SB5 will legislate (it’s horrific):

The Texas Legislature has decided to include abortion in its special session. SB 5 would close all but 5 clinics in our 268,000 square-mile state, regulate medication abortion (the abortion pill) almost out of existence, and ban abortions after 20 weeks, hurting lower-income women in particular.


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Written by messwatx

2013/06/15 at 5:09 pm

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TX focus on pot enforcement expanded since turn of century

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The number of marijuana arrests in Texas increased by 38.5% over the first decade of the 21st century, according to a new report (pdf) by the national ACLU. By contrast, the 2010 state population was just 21% higher than in the 2000 census, meaning pot enforcement expanded significantly more than can be accounted for by population growth. (In some jurisdictions, like Austin, marijuana arrests have grown at even greater rates.)

Texas law enforcement made 20,681 more marijuana arrests in 2010 than in 2001, according to the report, or 74,286 arrests total. Black folks made up about 26% of Texas pot arrests; by comparison, they make up 12% of the state population.

In New York and Texas, the two states with the most marijuana arrests in 2010, 97% were for possession, said the report.

All that said, the Lone Star State is less focused on marijuana enforcement than some jurisdictions. Texas ranked 15th in the rate of its citizens arrested for marijuana at 295 per 100,000, though that still comes in above the national average (256). Pot arrests were highest in D.C. (846), New York (535) and oddly, Nebraska (417).

See the full report (pdf) for much more detail, these are just the Texas-specific highlights.

Written by messwatx

2013/06/08 at 5:21 pm

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BBC: 10 reasons why so many people are moving to Texas

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1. Jobs

Critics have questioned whether the “Texas miracle” is a myth, based on cheap labour and poor regulation.

But Kotkin says Texas has plenty of high-wage, blue-collar jobs and jobs for university graduates, although people looking for very high-wage jobs would probably head to Seattle, San Francisco and New York.

Four of the top 10 metropolitan areas for job growth in 2013 are in Texas, according to Kotkin’s website, New Geography.

Texas also has a huge military presence, which grew as defence spending increased in the decade after 9/11. Many retired Texans first came to the state as service personnel.

2. It’s cheaper

“New York, LA and the [San Francisco] Bay Area are too expensive for most people to live, but Houston has the highest ‘effective’ pay cheque in the country.”

Kotkin came to this conclusion after looking at the average incomes in the country’s 51 largest metro areas, and adjusting them for the cost of living. His results put three Texan areas in the top 10.

Houston is top because of the region’s relatively low cost of living, including consumer prices, utilities and transport costs and, most importantly, housing prices, he says.

“The ratio of the median home price to median annual household income in Houston is only 2.9. In San Francisco, it’s 6.7.

“In New York, San Francisco and LA, if you’re blue-collar you will be renting forever and struggling to make ends meet. But people in Texas have a better shot at getting some of the things associated with middle-class life.”

3. Homes

Land is cheaper than elsewhere and the process of land acquisition very efficient, says Dr Ali Anari, research economist at the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.

“From the time of getting a building permit right through to the construction of homes, Texas is much quicker than other states.

“There is an abundant supply of land and fewer regulations and more friendly government, generally a much better business attitude here than other states.”

This flexibility, plus strict lending rules, helped to shield the state from the recent housing market crash.

4. Low tax

Texas is one of only seven states where residents pay no personal state income tax, says Kay Bell, contributing tax editor at Bankrate and Texan native.

The state has a disproportionate take from property taxes, which has become a big complaint among homeowners, she adds. But overall, only five states had a lower individual tax burden than Texas, according to Tax Foundation research.

There are also tax incentives for businesses and this week legislators cut more than $1bn off proposed business taxes.

5. Pick your own big city

Texas has six of the country’s 20 biggest cities, says Erica Grieder, author of Big, Hot, Cheap and Right: What America Can Learn from the Strange Genius of Texas.

Contrast this to, for example, Illinois, where if you want to live in a big city you can live in Chicago or you have to move out of state, she says.

But if you’re in Texas you can be in Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, or El Paso.

6. Austin in particular

“Houston is a city, San Antonio is a city but Austin doesn’t feel like that to me,” says Texan-born folk singer James McMurty.

“I like it because it’s equidistant to each coast so I can get in my van and drive to the west coast and drive around there for three weeks and then come home and do the same on the east coast and still have a life.

“It’s far enough south that it doesn’t get too cold and you don’t get many twisters. And it’s a blue dot [Democrat] in a red sea.”

Restaurant manager Christopher Hislop, 33, moved in 2007 from Los Angeles to Austin, where he met his wife and they now have a nine-month-old boy.

“I came to Austin for a wedding and thought it was a really cool city and the people were nice – it was everything that LA wasn’t but still had that hip vibe without pretension. The nightlife is great and there’s an emphasis on getting out and about – they maintain trailways and nature.

“It’s not Texas at all and that’s what I liked about it. I don’t know Texas very well, I grew up in Chicago, but Austin is not Texas because you think of 10-gallon hats and guys on horseback. It’s a cliché but Austin isn’t like that, it’s hip and in the now. The rest of Texas is very conservative.”

People like to perpetuate a myth that Austin is still the Austin it once was, says Joshua Long, author of Weird City: Sense of Place and Creative Resistance in Austin, Texas. So as it’s become a big city, a movement has developed to:

“keep it cool, keep it weird and keep it environmentally friendly”.

7. Family-friendly

Because of its good-value housing, Texas has been particularly popular with families, and some of its cities now have an above-average number of children. San Antonio is home to the largest community of gay parents.

In Texas, you can have a reasonable mortgage and pretty good schools, says Grieder. And restaurants are invariably family-friendly.

“You hear about the high drop-out rate but Texas education scores pretty well at national tests for 4th and 8th graders in math, reading and science. The aggregate is about average.

“The perception is that Texas has poor schools but it’s not correct. Across the country in general, we don’t have schools as good as we would like them to be.”

In eighth-grade maths, for instance, Texas scored higher than the national average and outscored the three other big states of California, New York and Florida. On Sunday, an education budget was approved that restored cuts made in 2011.

8. Fewer rules

  • The weather – summer is hot. Very hot
  • Congestion problems growing in big cities
  • Not well known for fun nightlife, outside Austin
  • If you hate American football (above, University of Texas Longhorns), you might be outnumbered

“Texas is liberal in the classic sense, it’s laissez-faire, so there’s a lack of regulations,” says Grieder, and this can apply to the obvious (business regulations) or the less obvious (city rules).

“The classic social contract is – we’re not going to do a ton to help you but we’re not going to get in your way. That’s not 100% true of the state but there’s that strand in the state.”

Mortgage lending is an obvious exception. But there has been strong opposition to banning texting while driving and a proposed tax on soda.

And Governor Rick Perry is poised to sign off the strongest email privacy laws in the US, which would require state law enforcement agencies to get a warrant before accessing emails.

9. Texans are normal people

The state likes to proclaim itself as an unpretentious, down-to-earth place where people are easy to get along with.

As John Steinbeck wrote: “Texas has a tight cohesiveness perhaps stronger than any other section of America.”

And for people with conservative values, it could be a natural home, although demographic shifts have prompted speculation it will be a Democratic state in the future.

People dream about moving to California, but they don’t dream about moving to Texas, says Grieder, yet many of those reluctant to move there end up liking it.

She adds: “[They] realise that Texans aren’t all Bible thumping, gun-toting people. The job is the trigger to come but you find it’s pretty nice to live here.”

10. And they’re not going anywhere

All this doesn’t just bring in new arrivals – native Texans aren’t leaving the state either. It is the “stickiest” state in the country, according to the latest figures from the Pew Research Center, which suggest that more than three-quarters of adults born in Texas still live there. Alaska is the least sticky.

Written by messwatx

2013/06/02 at 11:41 am

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Ground Broken May 30 on New Central Library

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Written by messwatx

2013/06/01 at 11:06 am

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MOTO X. (The X stands for Texas) June 26

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phoneGoogle revealed Thursday that it has two new sophisticated Android smartphones in the works, one of which will have the unprecedented distinction of being made in the United States.

An HTC One smartphone customized to be “Google’s take on Android” will make its US debut on June 26 at a price of $599, the head of Android, Chrome and Google Apps said at an AllThingsD conference in California.

“It’s a great device,” Google executive Sundar Pichai said during an on-stage interview.

Google Edition handsets by Taiwan-based HTC will be compatible with carriers AT&T and T-Mobile.

Pichai made the disclosure a day after Motorola Mobility head Dennis Woodside said on the same stage that the company’s was preparing to release its first smartphone since being bought by Google.

The smartphone would be called Moto X and be made in a facility near Fort Worth, Texas, Woodside said.

It is the first smartphone that is going to be built in the United States,” Woodside said, noting that the plant would employ about 2,000 people by August.

“We think that it is going to allow us to innovate and iterate that much faster.”

Components for Motorola smartphones will come from Taiwan, South Korea, the United States and elsewhere with about 70 percent of the assembly done in Texas, Woodside said.

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Written by messwatx

2013/05/31 at 1:26 am

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