Tag: Texas

Anti-pipeline action targets Kelcy Warren’s borderland hideout

There may have been a snarling dog in the patrol truck in the play-Western “town” of the Lajitas Golf Resort, but it was an Indian dog, the deputy said. As for the man waving an American Indian Movement flag near the main offices of the multi-million-dollar resort shouting that its billionaire owner, Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, was a “criminal” and an “evil man”?

Rate of Prison Spending Growth Outpaces Schools

Texas spending on prisons and jails is the highest in the nation, a new federal study concludes, and has grown about five times faster than the state’s rate of spending growth on elementary and secondary education over the past three decades. But the state still spends significantly more on its schools than its prisons.

A new analysis of federal data released last week by the U.S. Department of Education found that Texas corrections spending increased by 850 percent between 1989 and 2013, while the rate of funding for pre-kindergarten to grade 12 education grew by 182 percent. In the 1979-80 fiscal year, for example, Texas spent $14 billion on education and almost $604 million on corrections. In 2013, it spent about $41 billion on schools and $5 billion on incarceration (in constant 2013 dollars).

The Tragic Inevitability of the Dallas Shootings

I woke this morning to the news that there were five dead and seven wounded after a shooting in Dallas. I wasn’t shocked; I was hardly even surprised. It seems like every day in America, there is some shooting, some mass murder. As Malcolm X said in the 1960’s, “violence is as American as cherry pie,” and that certainly has not changed in the intervening period of time. When I learned that the victims in this case were police officers, I was still utterly unsurprised. It was, sadly, only a matter of time.

I woke this morning with the intention of writing about Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. My point, in that piece, was to contrast their slayings by police with the recent extrajudicial police killings in the Phillipines. If people can be killed on the street without trial, I was going to argue, why bother with legal proceedings at all? We can simply elect a strongman dictator and allow the police to act as judge, jury, and executioner. My goal was to show the inherent immorality of such a system, how such a system is inherently prone to abuse, and how it would only lead to civil unrest and increased violence.

Dispatches: US Supreme Court Strikes Down Abortion Restrictions

Calls Texas Measures an ‘Undue Burden’

The United States Supreme Court stood up for women’s health and rights today by striking down parts of a Texas law that imposes onerous restrictions on abortion providers. With the 9th seat on the court vacant since Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February, the remaining justices ruled 5-3 that parts of the law were unconstitutional, creating an undue burden on a woman’s right to decide whether to have an abortion. The decision is a resounding defeat for abortion opponents in the US who have sought to block women’s access to the procedure with laws that regulate clinics out of business under the guise of safety.

The Texas law – HB 2 – requires abortion clinics to meet standards for ambulatory surgical centers and doctors who provide abortions to maintain admitting privileges at local hospitals. While proponents claim these measures protect women’s health, the restrictions don’t reflect reality as abortion procedures are low-risk and safer than other procedures, like colonoscopies, that are regularly performed in doctors’ offices or outpatient clinics. Instead, the law makes it prohibitively expensive and logistically unworkable for many clinics to remain open. More than half of the 42 abortion providers in Texas have closed since portions of HB 2 went into effect in 2014.

Lawmakers to Consider Fetal Tissue Laws

Texas lawmakers will meet Thursday to examine policies on how human fetal tissue can be used for scientific research. It will be the first hearing on the subject since a Harris County grand jury in January indicted two undercover videographers who circulated videos about how fetal tissue was procured at Planned Parenthood clinics.

The issue came under heavy scrutiny from Republican leaders in Texas last year after the videographers, David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, accused Planned Parenthood of breaking a federal law that bans the sale of fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood has vehemently denied the accusations, which were dismissed by a Houston grand jury. That grand jury instead chose to indict the videographers on charges of tampering with a governmental record.