‘There Have to Be Limits’: Lawsuit Urges Scorching Prisons to Cool Down
Texas Observer Magazine
by Michelle Pitcher
16h ago
Last June, Bernhardt Tiede suffered a likely stroke while living in a prison cell that regularly got up to around 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The 65-year-old—whose story inspired the 2011 Richard Linklater film “Bernie”—is housed at the Estelle Unit in Huntsville. Now, several new parties have joined and expanded a lawsuit Tiede filed last year against the prison system and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton related to its inadequate heat safety measures. On Monday, Tiede’s attorneys filed an amended complaint, along with the nonprofits Texas Prisons Community Advocates, Lioness: Justice Impacted W ..read more
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Poem: elegy for the [insert school shooting] children’s f—
Texas Observer Magazine
by Sara Bawany
2d ago
To submit a poem, please send an email, with the poem as an attachment, to poetry@texasobserver.org. We are looking for previously unpublished works of no more than 30 lines, by Texas poets who have not been published by the Observer in the last two years. Pay is $100 on publication. The post Poem: elegy for the [insert school shooting] children’s f— appeared first on The Texas Observer ..read more
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‘Forever Chemicals,’ Religion, and Family Tragedy in Texas
Texas Observer Magazine
by Kathleen Dorothy Blackburn
4d ago
Editor’s Note: This excerpt is adapted from Loose of Earth: A Memoir (April 2024) with permission from University of Texas Press. The Environmental Protection Agency announced limits on PFAS in drinking water earlier this month. A blade of light glances off my grandparents’ white Lincoln. They park at the curb. A torque of despair turns in my stomach at the way Dad draws his mother into his arms. There’s a tumor in Dad’s colon. That’s all anyone knows. Mom has continued to say they’ve caught it early, and Dad has agreed and recovered his nonchalance. But my grandmother’s hands pass over his ba ..read more
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In Travis County, a Fight over Bail Hearings Has Big Stakes for Criminal Defendants
Texas Observer Magazine
by Michelle Pitcher
1w ago
In Travis County, the magistration process—the initial bail hearing after someone is arrested—isn’t cinematic. Arrestees are either led to a small room within the jail’s central booking area, or a Travis County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) employee might bring a computer to their holding cell. At the end of a short conversation, during which the arrestee can either remain silent or try to plead their case to get released on a personal bond instead of cash or surety bail, a magistrate—a judge who handles pre-trial hearings—determines the conditions of release. These routine hearings can have huge im ..read more
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Saving Lone Star Literary Life
Texas Observer Magazine
by Lise Olsen
1w ago
Out in West Texas, a pair of aspiring novelists and enterprising small-town newspaper owners, Barbara Brannon and Kay Ellington, were dismayed by the number of publications that were dropping book sections, cutting critics, and otherwise decimating literary coverage, especially in the Lone Star State. By the 2010s, “93 percent of the state’s newspapers offer no regular books coverage of any kind,” they told the Writers’ League of Texas. Both newswomen worried that Texas authors in particular just weren’t getting enough attention—though plenty deserved it. Out of that gaping hole emerged, fitti ..read more
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Water Scarcity and Clean Energy Collide in South Texas
Texas Observer Magazine
by Dylan Baddour
1w ago
An Indian chemical company, Avina Clean Hydrogen Inc., has purchased the last available water supply from the Nueces River of South Texas, raising concerns as reservoirs dwindle and drought persists.  Avina’s Nueces Green Ammonia plant plans to separate the hydrogen from water, convert it to ammonia and export it as a high-tech fuel alternative to oil and gas. It’s one of several such projects currently proposed in Texas, driven by federal subsidies. Governments and scientists say this technology plays an important role in the transition away from fossil fuels.  But officials in the ..read more
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Is Ted Cruz’s Podcast PAC Payoff Scheme Illegal?
Texas Observer Magazine
by Justin Miller
1w ago
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz is facing yet another complaint to the Federal Elections Commission that claims he has “brazenly” violated federal campaign finance laws through his podcast deal with one of the nation’s largest media conglomerates.  Cruz struck a deal in 2022 with San Antonio-based radio giant iHeartMedia to pay for the production, marketing, and distribution of his “Verdict” podcast, where he pontificates about various right-wing grievances several times a week. The sweetheart arrangement has raised myriad ethics concerns ever since.  The complaint, filed Tuesday, comes amid r ..read more
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Loon Star State: Cult of the All-Powerful Orange Czar
Texas Observer Magazine
by Ben Sargent
1w ago
Ben Sargent Ben Sargent Ben Sargent To see more political cartoons from Ben Sargent, visit our Loon Star State section, or find Observer political reporting here. The post Loon Star State: Cult of the All-Powerful Orange Czar appeared first on The Texas Observer ..read more
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TPPF’s Long Love Affair with Ken Paxton
Texas Observer Magazine
by Toni Aguilar Rosenthal
2w ago
Ken Paxton has spent almost the entirety of his decade leading the Office of the Texas Attorney General while also under felony indictment for alleged securities fraud. Yet, like every other time Paxton has faced allegations of wrongdoing, including misuse of office, retaliatory firings, and criminal misdeeds, he has once again managed to evade real punishment. By no small measure, this has been enabled by Paxton’s masterful use of state resources to court (and to bolster) the influence of extremely well-funded conservative legal organizations and networks, at the expense of the public interes ..read more
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Nine Years, Nine Lives: Paxton’s Latest Legal Escape
Texas Observer Magazine
by Justin Miller
2w ago
Call him Kevlar Ken. Once again, Texas’ attorney general has proven to possess an impenetrable shield of impunity.  Last week, special prosecutors struck a deal to essentially let Ken Paxton off the hook for three felony securities fraud charges just before the nearly decade-old case was set to go to trial in Houston. The charges will get dropped in exchange for Paxton paying his alleged victims a little under $300,000, among other terms.  Thus came the shockingly abrupt end to a legal saga that has hung over Paxton for almost the entirety of his tenure as attorney general. The longe ..read more
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