Texas puts ‘In God We Trust’ signs in schools. They’ll be getting some in Arabic, too.

As he rode his bike Sunday, longtime political prankster Chaz Stevens ruminated on a law that was irking him: A Texas statute requiring schools to post donated signs with the United States motto, “In God We Trust.” Texas legislators, Stevens thought, were trolling people who don’t believe in a Judeo-Christian God.

Now, Stevens wants to troll them back…

The South Florida activist had raised more than $14,000 as of Thursday evening to distribute “In God We Trust” signs to public schools across Texas. The catch? The phrase is in Arabic…

The Arabic text is meant to invoke Islam and some Christians’ discomfort with that faith, Stevens said. He’s hoping for even one school to hang up the poster — in his view, making a point about applying the controversial statute evenly to people of any religion or no religion.

But Stevens, a self-described “staunch atheist,” is also prepared to try to turn a loss into a win. If a school rejects his poster, he said, he plans to file a lawsuit and use the court case to challenge the statute itself.

Sock it to ’em, bro’!

Texas politicians turned women’s rights back to the 19th Century


Illustration by Anna Parini

Last summer, shortly after a date to Six Flags Over Texas, a thirteen-year-old girl in Dallas was falling in love for the first time. Her father could see it in the pencil drawings she made before bed. Instead of the usual, precise studies of koi fish and wildflowers, she’d sketched herself holding the hand of a boy in a Yankees cap, and enclosed the image in a pink-and-red heart. In the fall, the girl’s father permitted her to meet the boy, a tenth grader, after school one day a week. This spring, when he learned that his daughter was pregnant, he concluded that one day a week had been too many.

Within a day, his daughter, whom I’ll call Laura, came around to the idea that getting an abortion, soon, might be the best option…

One in four girls and women in the United States will, at some point in her life, seek an abortion. Yet, if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, which, in 1973, established a woman’s constitutional right to the procedure, the long journeys to oversubscribed clinics that have become a fact of life in Texas will almost certainly become the norm throughout much of the country. Post-Roe, legal authority will devolve to the states, thirteen of which have in place “trigger laws” that would ban all, or nearly all, abortions. Ultimately…twenty-six states are likely to outlaw the procedure. Some pregnant people in the U.S. who will be stripped of the right to legal abortion will go on to have illegal procedures. Others will be forced into motherhood…

And millions of families will find themselves grappling with the same calculations that Laura’s family was encountering this spring: How far are we able to go, financially and emotionally, to terminate a pregnancy? And, when it’s all done and paid for, how much farther down the socioeconomic ladder will we be?

Forcing women and families to make these choices because a shit-for-brains cluster of politicians have the power to impose their will is archaic and historically criminal. That these actions are legal is only further commentary on the backwardness of so-called States Rights. Inevitably enacting laws whose primary function is to take away rights guaranteed in states better educated, more advanced politically. Laws whose roots and reason exist again and again in attempts to drag people back into servitude based on gender and other equally stupid reasons.

Six Texas doctors received more than $1 million in kickback scheme

Six Texas doctors received more than $1 million in kickbacks for their referrals to two laboratories for diagnostic testing, the Department of Justice alleged in a civil complaint.

True Health Diagnostics of Frisco and Boston Heart Diagnostics of Framingham, Mass. allegedly conspired with small Texas hospitals to pay physicians to make referrals to the two labs for tests, according to the complaint. The complaint named one hospital, Rockdale Hospital, which was located in Rockdale, a city in central Texas with a population of about 5,000 people.

The scheme involved recruiters hired by the hospitals to enlist doctors to make referrals to the hospitals…Rockdale Hospital, now closed, and other hospitals allegedly paid a portion of their laboratory profits to recruiters, who in turn kicked back those funds to the referring physicians…

Nice work if you can get it…says the old song. Don’t think the lyrics include jail time.

Updates on Four of the Wildfires Burning in New Mexico


Calf Canyon–Hermits Peak Fire, 2 a.m. May 10, 2022 – Cory Carlson

The National Weather Service has taken the unusual step of issuing a a Red Flag Warning one and two days in advance for the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire 21 miles east of Santa Fe, New Mexico. This fire has become the largest fire in the recorded history of New Mexico. At 299,565 acres it has eclipsed the previous record set by the 297,845-acre Whitewater and Baldy Fires when they burned together in May of 2012 in Southwest New Mexico. On Tuesday it was again putting up a large smoke column while a 5 to 20 mph wind gusted out of of the northwest, west, and southwest at 25 mph. The humidity dropped to 10 percent in the afternoon. The prediction is for winds gusting from the west and southwest at more than 30 mph with single digit relative humidity. Similar conditions will exist at least on Thursday for the area of the Black and Bear Trap Fires in southwest New Mexico…

Just move around through the fires noted in this larger article. Depending on wind direction, we’re getting smoked here in Santa Fe County from either the Hermit’s Peak fire or Cerro Pelado.

Electricity manager for Texas wants AC settings raised during heat wave

With an early-season heat wave searing much of Texas over the weekend, the nonprofit that manages power to more than 26 million customers wants them to turn up their thermostats.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) made the appeal in a statement Friday…”We’re asking Texans to conserve power when they can by setting their thermostats to 78-degrees or above and avoiding the usage of large appliances (such as dishwashers, washers and dryers) during peak hours between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. through the weekend,” interim CEO Brad Jones said in the statement…

ERCOT came under scrutiny last year after record cold temperatures in February caused the state’s highest electricity demand and more than 200 people died during the power crisis, with the most common cause of death being hypothermia.

Wild temperature swings are a vaguely understood part of our changing climate. And scientific understanding means a lot less – politically – than public comprehension. Most symptomatic response continues fruitless and foolish in a state that believes that planning for public needs is so much less important than fully employed political hacks. The class that spawns most Texas bureaucrats.

Key commercial border crossing in Texas ready to double in size


Mahoney/Freightwaves

Since it opened in 1994, the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge has been one of the busiest commercial ports of entry on the U.S.-Mexico border. The city of Pharr, which operates the bridge, has reshaped itself over the decades from a small, dusty agricultural community into a booming border trade hub.

Trade at the South Texas border port totaled a record $42 billion in 2021 — a number that could skyrocket in the near future, as the city has been working on a project to build a second commercial bridge alongside the existing one.

“We are expanding because it’s a need, the demand is there,” Luis Bazán, director of the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, told FreightWaves. “Even through the pandemic, crossings skyrocketed in Pharr. We’re at 26% trade growth year-over-year [from 2020 to 2021], combined imports and exports — that is a telltale sign that good things are coming, production is booming.”

The bridge expansion project is a joint U.S.-Mexico venture. The cost of the U.S. side of the second span, which is being funded by the city, will be around $45 million and is 1.5 miles long. It will connect with another 1.5-mile portion of the bridge that Mexico is building at roughly the same cost south of the border.

In conjunction with the existing bridge at Pharr, the second bridge will create the Rio Grande Valley’s largest international cargo crossing with Mexico once completed. Land has already been cleared and Pharr officials are ready to begin construction once all hurdles have been cleared. No timetable has been set yet.The bridge expansion project is a joint U.S.-Mexico venture. The cost of the U.S. side of the second span, which is being funded by the city, will be around $45 million and is 1.5 miles long. It will connect with another 1.5-mile portion of the bridge that Mexico is building at roughly the same cost south of the border.

I have to smile when I bump into a tale like this. Traffic management, logistics, is how I earned my living for a few decades and more. I really enjoyed the work. A core component in the economics of a region, an industry, a critical category within commerce.

The problems of rapid economic growth that turn a small town like Pharr into a boomtown – are good problems. Doesn’t always make them easy to resolve.

Texas Commissioner calls on Abbott to end border inspections


Elias Valverde II
Yes – that’s Sid Miller in the photograph

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller pressed the governor on Tuesday to end a new inspection policy that is snarling traffic at the border and “turning a crisis into a catastrophe.”

In a strongly worded statement, Miller warned Gov. Greg Abbott that commercial vehicles are being forced to wait up to 12 hours to enter Texas from Mexico because of the stepped-up state inspections. As a result, Miller said, produce is rotting in idling trucks and ultimately, prices could spike for consumers.

“This is not solving the border problem, it is increasing the cost of food and adding to supply chain shortages,” said Miller, a two-term Republican who is up for reelection this year. “Such a misguided program is going to quickly lead to $2.00 lemons, $5.00 avocados and worse.”

This may surprise you; but, there is a possibility Texas voters just might lay blame for this mess at the feet of the neo-fascist bigot sitting in the governor’s office.

So, Texans are scared of birds

A Walmart in Texas that was overrun by thousands of birds has been hailed as a sign of “death,” “disaster” and the “apocalypse.”

Shoppers were seemingly trapped in their cars—and presumably the store—when the flock descended onto the supermarket’s parking lot, off highway 80 in Mesquite…

Houston Audubon, a non-profit focusing on “protecting the natural environment for birds and people,” explained these sights are not uncommon.

While the birds in the clips were unconfirmed, the site said: “Great-tailed Grackles are a permanent sight in Houston and can be found in any area inhabited by humans that has some trees.

“They tend to congregate in large flocks and prefer shopping centers and fast-food store parking lots where there’s trash for food and trees or light posts for perching…In the evening, raucous flocks pack neighborhood trees creating noisy roosting aggregations.”

I think these folks spend too much time watching horror movies. This is common behavior, especially near sunset this time of year, looking for a place to roost…though feeding time is OK for sighting what is termed a “murmuration” of blackbirds. Some parts of Texas are uptight about grackles, the largest black birds this side of their cousin crows. Flocks often include starlings [not related] or red-wing blackbirds [more crow relatives].

In our neck of the prairie, someone outdoors spots a murmuration coming, they holler to folks indoors to come out and watch. They’re beautiful.

NEWS from the Borowitz Report


Kalifa/Getty

In a judicial decision that has stirred controversy in the Lone Star State, Texas has been temporarily forced to recognize women as humans.

The incendiary decision, handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pitman, enables women to “come out of the shadows” and be granted rights similar to those enjoyed by other humans in Texas.

In an emotional press conference, the Texas governor, Greg Abbott, called the judge’s decision to confer human status on women “a dark day in the history of our great state.”

He warned that the state could face mass immigration from women “once word gets out that Texas considers them equivalent to human beings.”

“The voters of Texas did not put me in office to allow women to be treated as humans,” he said, choking back tears. “As long as I can draw a breath, this will not stand.”

For the few people (probably) in Texas who don’t get the concept of satire, I’ve been asked to include the words “this is satire” to make it clear and comprehensible even to Texas Republicans.

Think you and your kids are safe?


Timberview High School parking lot, Arlington, Texas

Watching the news, this morning. Shooting in a classroom in a Texas high school has come to this view. Dozens of cop cars…they’re trying to find the shooter.

“Let’s put it out on the local news and tell parents to stay away.” You know what’s going to happen, right away. Every parent who hears that jumps in the family cqr (or pickup) and heads to the school. Except the cops have already setup road blocks because they knew what would happen.

So, the freeway is backing up because parents are getting as close as possible to the school…and then simply parking along the edge of the freeway to climb over the railings, fence, to run to the school to help their kids, to help the cops.

Except, this is Texas, after all. Everyone learned how to be a hero from watching John Wayne movies. So, now – the biggest danger is from all the parents who grabbed their rifles – bring ’em along to help the cops, right?

I am so glad my wife and her kin moved out of Arlington and Texas, years ago.

************

Yes, I realize the TV reporter who told us about parents carrying their rifles to the school – might just be full of crap. All part of it, folks.