Columns/Opinions

Tue
25
Oct

Desperate woman risks it all at the Niagara Falls

By Bartee Haile

The first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel took the historic plunge on October 24, 1901 and lived to tell about it. In fact, Annie Edson Taylor, who survived the death-defying stunt with nothing worse than a few cuts and bruises, talked about little else for the rest of her miserable life. But the 63 year old former schoolteacher from Texas might have been better off had she perished in the foolhardy attempt.

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Tue
25
Oct

Judge reaffirms, expands reach in bathroom directive

By Ed Sterling

AUSTIN — Fort Worth-based U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor has reaffirmed his Aug. 21 injunction placing a temporary hold on federal guidelines for accommodating transgender students in the use of public school bathrooms and locker rooms. In his order last week, O’Connor also denied a request by the Obama administration to limit the injunction to Texas and 12 other states that signed on as plaintiffs.

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Tue
18
Oct

Promoter turn tiny college into pigskin power

By Bartee Haile

The Oct. 16, 1939 issue of “Life” magazine featured a two-page spread on the Rattlers of St. Mary’s and the surprising prediction that the tiny Catholic college was “well on its way to becoming a major football power.” Those startling words were music to the ears of John Clark “Mose” Simms, the colorful promoter whose publicity stunts had made the team the talk of Texas and the entire nation. But the controversial hustler was fast wearing out his welcome at the San Antonio school.

 

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Tue
18
Oct

Abbott, Patrick, Straus call for action by Child Protective

By Ed Sterling

AUSTIN — Texas’ top three officeholders on Oct. 12 instructed the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to improve the protection of children at risk of abuse. With recent data showing the agency is struggling to see children in a timely manner, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus sent a letter to Department of Family and Protective Services Commissioner Hank Whitman, calling for immediate action to more quickly help vulnerable children.

 

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Tue
11
Oct

High court refuses to rehear Texas immigration case

By Ed Sterling

AUSTIN — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 3 denied the Obama administration’s petition for a rehearing of United States v. Texas, a high-profile immigration case. Heard by the eight-member high court in April, the case ended in a 4-4 deadlock in a late-June ruling. The deadlock left in place a Texas federal district court’s temporary injunction freezing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s November 2014 policies known as “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” and “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents.

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Tue
11
Oct

Normal colleges where Texans learned to teach

By Bartee Haile

Oct. 10, 1879 was the first day of classes at Sam Houston Normal Institute, Texas’ third tax-supported college and the first devoted to training teachers. With the end of the post-Civil War occupation and the restoration of popular rule in 1874, Texans finally turned their attention to the long neglected issue of education. Gov. Richard Coke cited the lack of “a sufficient number of educated and trained teachers,” a void the handful of small private institutions of higher learning could not be expected to fill.

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Tue
04
Oct

Surgeon’s son chooses acting over medicine

By Bartee Haile

The life and career of actor Zachary Scott, handsome star of stage and screen, were cut short by cancer on Oct. 3, 1965. Zachary Thomson Scott, Jr. was born in Austin in 1914. The son of a surgeon was expected to follow in his father’s footsteps but never showed the slightest interest in medicine. He was drawn instead to drama and began appearing in plays while still in high school.

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Tue
04
Oct

State opts out of federal refugee resettlement program

By Ed Sterling

AUSTIN — Texas has acted on its threat to withdraw from the federal refugee resettlement program, Gov. Greg Abbott said on Sept. 30. Texas had demanded enhanced FBI screening of individuals “from terrorist-based nations” and expressed resistance to the federal government’s request that the Lone Star State increase by 25 percent the number of refugees to be resettled. An estimated 7,000 refugees have taken up residence in Texas in the past year.

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Wed
14
Sep

Texans survive first U-boat sinking in WWII

By Bartee Haile

A Houston judge learned on Sep. 8, 1939 that his daughter not only had survived the U-boat sinking of the British passenger ship Athenia but also had been hailed as a heroine by the American ambassador. In her last letter before leaving Europe, Helen Hannay told her parents not to worry. “There may be a delay, but we will get out all right. We aren’t in the least afraid.” The teenaged traveler closed on a prophetic note: “I am certainly glad to have had this lovely trip and to have seen all the beautiful things before they are blown up.”

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Wed
14
Sep

Paxton says subpoena violated First Amendment

By Ed Sterling

AUSTIN — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Sept. 9 announced he had filed a friend-of-the-court brief “in defense of the First Amendment.” The brief, he said, explains that Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Tracy Healey “exceeded her constitutional authority by attempting to shut down a viewpoint on an issue of scientific debate — climate change.”

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