Lawsuit: Texas's largest jail is full of people who are locked up for being poor

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According the the filings in a lawsuit brought by Equal Justice Under Law against Harris County, Texas, 77% of the inmates in Harris County Jail -- largest in Texas, third largest in America -- are there because they couldn't make a bail payment of $5,000 or less. Read the rest

Texas: prisoners whose families maintain their social media presence face 45 days in solitary

Cellule du quartier d'isolement de la prison Jacques-Cartier de Rennes (France), à travers le judas.

According to a new offender manual from Texas Department of Criminal Justice, prisoners whose families maintain a social media presence to call attention to their incarceration will be liable to harsh punishment, including up to 45 days in solitary, loss of privileges, and extra work duty. Read the rest

Man exonerated after video shows unprovoked police beating, cops insist all is well

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Three officers from the Caldwell County, Texas Sheriff's Department -- Sgt. Dustin Yost, Deputy Michael Taylor and Deputy Houseston -- beat the shit out of Larry Faulkenberry in his driveway and lied about it, a fact that only came to light when Faulkenberry produced footage from a CCTV that (ironically) the same police department had advised him to install after a burglary. Read the rest

Texas Board of Education candidate claims Obama worked as a prostitute

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Why does United States President Barack Obama have a soft spot for homosexuals? Because he was a gay hooker in the '80s, reports Mary Lou Bruner, a Republican candidate for the Texas State Board of Education.

"That’s how he paid for his drugs. He has admitted he was addicted to drugs when he was young and he is sympathetic with homosexuals; but he hasn’t come out of the closet about his own homosexual/bisexual background."

This is only one tread among many in the bright tapestry of Bruner's moral rug.

Meanwhile, “Climate change has nothing to do with weather or climate, it’s all about system change from capitalism (free enterprise) to Socialism-Communism. The Climate Change HOAX was Karl Marx’s idea. It took time to ‘condition’ the people so they would believe such a HOAX!”

Salon's article offers a smorgasbord of similarly spectacular Republicans from the Lone Star State.

Correction: The headline of this article originally identified Bruner as a mayor. She is a retired teacher. Read the rest

Stop paying your student loans and debt collectors can send US Marshals to arrest you

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Student debt is a life-destroying trap, engineered by Wall Street and backed by the US government. Read the rest

Vehicle surveillance company's "free" deal turns Texas cops into bill-collectors

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Vigilant Solutions is "one of the country’s largest brokers of vehicle surveillance technology" and they've got a great deal for Texas police forces: install our license-readers and we'll alert you every time someone with an overdue fine drives through your town. You pull them over and offer them a trip to jail or immediate payment, using our credit-card machines, for which we charge a 25% "fee" which goes straight into our pockets. Read the rest

Texas' state run psychiatric hospitals are now gun friendly

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An unintentional oversight in a new Texas law, enabling open-carry advocates to make the world even more dangerous, has opened up Texas state run psychiatric hospitals to guns. Formerly even law enforcement officers would lock up their guns before entering, now everyone is free to defend themselves.

This from the Austin American-Statesman:

Licensed gun owners can now bring their firearms into Texas’ 10 state psychiatric hospitals.

Before the state’s new open carry law went into effect, guns were banned at those state facilities. No one — visitors, deliverymen and the like — could bring firearms anywhere on campus. Even local law enforcement officers, who were already allowed to bring their weapons into the facilities, regularly lock up their guns before entering Austin State Hospital out of an abundance of caution.

Now visitors can bring guns into the buildings where patients live. Employees are still prohibited from bringing them on campus.

The stars at night, are big and bright. Makes it easier to aim. Read the rest

In Texas, a 12 year old Sikh boy was arrested for "terrorism" over a solar charger

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Dallas cops put Armaan Singh Sarai in jail for three days because someone mistook the solar panel on his phone-charging backpack for a bomb. Read the rest

Over 100,000 women in Texas have tried to give themselves an abortion, study finds

Pills to induce abortion like Misoprostol (Cytotec) and Mifepristone (RU-486) are legal, cheap, and easy to find in Mexico. KUT NEWS

Hundreds of thousands of women in Texas women may have tried to self-induce abortions, according to a “first of its kind” study from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP).

Read the rest

Patent trolls: The Eastern District of Texas must die so that we all may live

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Ever since VE Holding, a 1990 Federal Circuit decision, patent holders have been able to sue their adversaries in practically any court in America, leading to competition among jurisdictions to see which one bend the furthest backwards to deliver patent-friendly decisions and so tempt the nation's most litigious companies to sue in their local courthouse. Read the rest

Ahmed Mohamed and family will move to Qatar

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After the 14 year old maker/tinkerer was arrested on bullshit terrorism charges in his family's adoptive home in the small Texas town of Inving, many Americans spoke up in support of him, including President Obama and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Read the rest

Watch Ahmed Mohamed's awesome press conference about being a rogue clockmaker in America

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Zomg, the kid is charming. He reveals that he's switching high-schools, thanks his supporters, discussing his inventing and tinkering, and talks about his delight at being invited to the White House. Read the rest

Irving police violated Ahmed Mohamed's civil rights

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Ahmed Mohamed was repeatedly denied access to counsel and to his parents, a direct and glaring violation of Texas Family Code section 52.025, which states "A child may not be left unattended in a juvenile processing office and is entitled to be accompanied by the child's parent, guardian, or other custodian or by the child’s attorney."

Also: every cop show in the history of America has made it clear to even the thickest planks that you get to have a lawyer present during questioning. This apparently escaped the notice of Irving's finest, though.

The Texas ACLU is all over this, and points out that MacArthur High principal Daniel Cummings's attempt to get Mohamed to sign a confession could have given the police the tools to arrest him on terrorism charges and secure a conviction.

Irving Police Chief Larry Boyd said he did “not have answers to [that] specific question” when reporters asked him Wednesday why Mohamed was not allowed to speak to his parents.

The executive director of the Texas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said that answer is not good enough.

“Once they’re being questioned, they have a right to refuse answering,” Terri Burke told The Daily Beast. “And, unless it's something like a traffic violation, [police] immediately need to release the child to their parents.”

At the very least, Mohamed should have been able to speak with his parents.

“If a child seeks to have a short conference with his parents, [the police] cannot deny them that.

Read the rest

Notorious Islamophobic mayor of Irving, TX worried Ahmed Mohamed's arrest will negatively impact town police

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Irving mayor Beth Van Duyne is a notorious racist and is also the sworn mayor of the townspeople of Irving, TX, where Ahmed Mohamed and his family live.

On hearing the news that her police chief had dropped criminal charges against Ahmed Mohamed, a boy who made a clock because he wanted to engage with the makers in his new high school, Mayor Van Duyne posted to Facebook, exonerating the police and asking townsfolk not to hold their grotesque abuse of authority and farcically bad judgment against them:

I do not fault the school or the police for looking into what they saw as a potential threat. They have procedures to run when a possible threat or criminal act is discovered. They follow these procedures in the sole interest of protecting our children and school personnel. To the best of my knowledge, they followed protocol for investigating whether this was an attempt to bring a Hoax Bomb to a school campus. Following this investigation, Irving PD has stated no charges will be filed against the student. I hope this incident does not serve as a deterrent against our police and school personnel from maintaining the safety and security of our schools.

Later, she appended a little weak-kneed blurb about how it's nice that kids are creative to her initial victim-blaming, bad-cop-exonerating post.

Police Drop Case Against Kid Who Made Clock, While Mayor Worries About The Impact... On The Police [Mike Masnick/Techdirt]

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Making while brown: Texas schoolchild arrested for bringing homemade clock to school UPDATED

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Ahmed Mohamed is a gifted, driven maker-kid who's in the ninth grade at MacArthur High in Irving, Texas. When he showed the homemade clock he soldered and pieced together to his engineering teacher, he was told to keep it in his bag. But when the alarm went off in English class, his teacher accused him of bringing a bomb to school.

He told the teacher, and then the principal, and then the police offers who'd been summoned, that it was a digital clock he'd made and brought to school to show as evidence of the kinds of things he was making. He'd loved robotics club in middle school and was hoping to connect to a similar peer group in his new high school.

He was arrested, handcuffed, and paraded through the school with an officer on each arm, wearing his NASA shirt.

When he was brought before the school police, the officer who arrested him looked at him and said, "Yup. That’s who I thought it was." Ahmed Mohamed and his family (and the Council on Islamic American Relations) believe that the officer was referring to the color of his skin and his name.

Police spokesman James McLellan admits that Mohamed always maintained that the device was a clock, not a bomb, "but there was no broader explanation." When the Dallas Morning News asked him what "broader explanation" he was looking for, McLellan said, “It could reasonably be mistaken as a device if left in a bathroom or under a car. Read the rest

Texas doctor's consent form for women seeking abortions

Redditor Mystharia terminated a pregnancy for medical reasons last week; her doctor gave her this consent form, mandated by -- and scathingly attacking -- the Texas legislature, which requires the doctor to enumerate an eye-wateringly detailed account of the foetal development before termination. (Icon: Kevin Dooley/CC-BY) Read the rest

EFF-Austin panel commemmorating the 20th anniversary of the Steve Jackson Games raid

The Secret Service raid on Austin's Steve Jackson Games started the fight over freedom and privacy online, and resulted in the founding of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and EFF-Austin. Read the rest

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