Mapping the Legacy of Prison Hunger Strikes in Texas
The Texas Observer
by Michelle Pitcher
16h ago
The letter made the incarcerated men’s intentions clear. Decrying decades of “lies of improved conditions, abuse of power, deprivations of our senses, inhumane treatment and conditions,” they called on state leaders to dramatically alter the prison system’s solitary confinement practices. If not, they vowed to “escalate efforts.”  Their words, typed up in small font and sent out in October, were ignored for months, and the promised escalation came: Hundreds of people in Texas prisons began a hunger strike campaign on January 10, the first day of the 88th legislative session. The strike ma ..read more
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A Tree Grows in Texas
The Texas Observer
by Roberto Ontiveros
1d ago
When Dagoberto Gilb came to serve as writer-in-residence at the University of Houston-Victoria and found a literary center, he was assured he’d only have to teach one course per semester.  “I had a contract, an agreement whose validity all academics take for granted based on academic traditions and guarantees that are honored across the country,” Gilb told the Texas Observer.  After eight years and under new leadership, the university asked Gilb to teach two more classes. Gilb sued for breach of contract and discrimination in state court, characterizing this as part of a campaign to ..read more
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Bingeworthy Shows from a Red State Star
The Texas Observer
by Craig D. Lindsey
1d ago
Once upon a time, Taylor Sheridan was just a working actor with chiseled good looks.  Born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and raised in Texas (where he hung with the fam on a ranch in Cranfills Gap), Sheridan spent the ’90s and the aughts doing guest shots on various primetime dramas, landing steady gigs on Veronica Mars and Sons of Anarchy. He later turned his talents to screenwriting, scripting such bullet-riddled, testosterone-fueled crime yarns as the Sicario movies and Hell or High Water (which got him an Oscar nod for best original screenplay). Now, Sheridan has become television’s ..read more
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Texas Lawyers Violated Legal Ethics Over Expired Execution Drugs
The Texas Observer
by Stephen Cooper
4d ago
Earlier this month human rights advocates, legal experts, and other conscientious citizens had their eyes squarely fixed on Texas as it was primed to execute Robert Fratta on January 15. In the process of exterminating Fratta, state lawyers discarded their ethical obligations in a rush to kill. Fratta had joined a lawsuit filed by Wesley Ruiz (whose execution is scheduled for February 1) and John Balentine (whose execution is scheduled for February 8); as the Associated Press reported at the time, the men argued in Texas trial and appellate courts that the state “plans to use expired and unsaf ..read more
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From Austin with Zombies
The Texas Observer
by Gregory Wakeman
1w ago
When actor Gabriel Luna first picked up a Playstation controller and played The Last Of Us all the way back in 2013, he surprisingly felt a pang of pride.  “The first thing I noticed was that the inciting incident for the game was in Austin,” recalled Luna, who was born in the city’s Ascension Seton Medical Center, raised on the east and south side, and even attended St. Edward’s University. “I’m an Austin boy through and through. I was surprised and proud that the city was being represented in the best video game for years.” Before his Hollywood career kicked off, actor Gabriel Luna work ..read more
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San Antonio to End Use of Coal Within Five Years
The Texas Observer
by Delger Erdenesanaa
1w ago
In 2010, coal use in the United States was already dropping precipitously in favor of cheaper and more environmentally friendly options, including natural gas and renewables. That year, San Antonio’s electric utility made the anachronistic decision to add a new coal-fired generator to its J. K. Spruce power plant. But soon after, the facility struggled financially to compete with fracked gas, solar, and wind energy. Community members were against heavy pollution generated by burning coal. Clearly, Spruce’s days were numbered. This week, board members of CPS Energy voted to stop using coal at t ..read more
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Former Star-Telegram Conservative Columnist Spews Hate in Student Chatroom
The Texas Observer
by Steven Monacelli
1w ago
Last year, Carlos Turcios regularly wrote columns for the Fort Worth Star Telegram that criticized Fort Worth Independent School District (FWISD) while simultaneously working for a PAC that opposed so-called “critical race theory” and called for organizing protests against FWISD policies—facts that were rarely disclosed in his essays. On January 25, 2022, the Star-Telegram announced a handful of new conservative columnists who they hoped would fill what they described at the time as a “dearth of content” in the area of “conservative commentary on local and state issues.” Nevermind the right-ce ..read more
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‘Colossal Waste of Money’: Texas Nears $1 Billion in Border Wall Contracts
The Texas Observer
by Justin Miller
1w ago
As Governor Greg Abbott’s scheme to wall off Texas from Mexico quickly and quietly accelerates, the state has now doled out $830 million in contracts to raise over 30 miles of border barrier. Last week, the Texas Facilities Commission approved its fifth construction contract for the project, worth $137 million, to erect nearly 7 miles of steel-bollard fencing along the border in Webb and Zapata counties. That’s on top of the over 9 miles that the state contracted to build in Webb earlier this month.  Home to the cross-border economic hub of Laredo, vast Webb County has fought to remain th ..read more
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Destiny Returns to Wolfforth
The Texas Observer
by Andrew Logan
1w ago
When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned almost 50 years of legal precedent last June by stripping away the constitutional right to abortion, Destiny Adams was horrified. She foresaw devastating consequences for her community in Wolfforth, a tiny West Texas suburb of Lubbock with little access to contraception. She couldn’t stand by and do nothing. “Women that aren’t prepared to have a child should have the right to say, ‘Hey, I can’t give this child the best life it could have. I need an abortion,’” Adams told the Texas Observer. “It shouldn’t be anyone else’s choice except for the mother.”&nbs ..read more
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Lost Children—A Texas Tragedy
The Texas Observer
by Lise Olsen
1w ago
We Were Once a Family opens with something alarming that a German tourist traveling the scenic Pacific Coast Highway spotted on the rocky shore on March 26, 2018: “a crumpled SUV flipped on its hood, with the vehicle’s undercarriage exposed.” The passengers were six Texas children whose adoptive mothers had blogged about “saving” foster kids, posted cute pictures on Facebook, then conspired to drive their brood off a cliff. We Were Once a Family: A Story of Love, Death, and Child Removal in America By Roxanna Asgarian Farrar, Straus & Giroux March 2023 Texas investigative journalist Roxan ..read more
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