White Nationalists Terrorize Houston Book Fair

Robert Warren Ray blogs for the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website.
Photo Credit: YouTube Screengrab

By Alex Reid Ross for AlterNet – Together, they raised their arms in a salute of “Sieg hiel.” On Sunday, September 24, about 25 men in masks and balaclavas descended on an anarchist book fair in Houston. The group call itself Patriot Front and is loosely affiliated with Vanguard Front, a fascist organization that includes Heather Heyer’s murderer, James Alex Fields, as one of its members. They rushed the door of a multicultural community center, igniting a pair of smoke bombs. Witnesses say the assault was led by construction worker and area neo-Nazi, William Fears. Fears, 30, has made a name for himself in recent weeks. After returning from the Charlottesville demonstration, he began camping out at the Robert E. Lee statue in Dallas before its eventual removal. Activists allege Fears also pulled a knife on unarmed protesters with the local migrant justice group, Indivisible Houston, at a rally at George Bush Intercontinental Airport earlier this year. “[The Patriot Front] were being really irresponsible,” a member of the San Antonio chapter of the Black Rose/Rosa Negra Anarchist Federation who witnessed the altercation told AlterNet. “There were children inside of that building, and they were outside with smoke bombs.” Volunteer security saw the fascist group approaching and rushed to lock down the building’s entrances, while organizers looked after the book fair’s attendees.

Toxic Waste Sites Flooded In Houston Area

In this Aug. 31, 2017 file photo, a barbed-wire fence encircles the Highlands Acid Pit that was flooded by water from the nearby San Jacinto River as a result from Harvey. (AP Photo/Jason Dearen)

By Jason Dearen and Michael Misecker for Associated Press. The Associated Press surveyed seven Superfund sites in and around Houston during the flooding. All had been inundated with water, in some cases many feet deep. On Saturday, hours after the AP published its first report, the EPA said it had reviewed aerial imagery confirming that 13 of the 41 Superfund sites in Texas were flooded by Harvey and were “experiencing possible damage” due to the storm. The statement confirmed the AP’s reporting that the EPA had not yet been able to physically visit the Houston-area sites, saying the sites had “not been accessible by response personnel.” EPA staff had checked on two Superfund sites in Corpus Christi on Thursday and found no significant damage. AP journalists used a boat to document the condition of one flooded Houston-area Superfund site, but accessed others with a vehicle or on foot. The EPA did not immediately respond to questions about why its personnel had not yet been able to do so.

Superfund Sites And Oil Refineries Already Poisoning Storm-Wracked Houston

The Flint Hills Resources oil refinery near downtown Houston on, Aug. 29, 2017. (AP/David J. Phillip)

By Whitney Webb for Mint Press News – Houston is still struggling to cope with the impact of Hurricane Harvey, as many parts of the city are still under water. But the worst damage done by the storm may be yet to come, as receding floodwaters have revealed widespread chemical contamination stemming from the city’s petrochemical plants. As the “apocalyptic” floodwaters in Houston and other parts of east Texas have been rising thanks to Hurricane Harvey, media attention has been largely focused on the immediate human impact, such as displacement and property damage. However, with much of Houston underwater, the environmental impact – and its short- and long-term effects on public health – deserve substantial attention as well. Houston is home to several toxic Superfund sites, as well as numerous petrochemical and oil refining facilities, many of which were found to be leaking during the storm. Though water levels are starting to decline, concern is growing that a new, more persistent crisis may be beginning for Houston residents. Texas is home to numerous Superfund sites, areas identified by the Environmental Protection Agency as containing highly hazardous waste. Such sites are usually targeted for cleanup efforts.

Can The Politicians Heed The Lessons Of Hurricane Harvey?

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By Ralph Nader of The Nader Page – Hovering Hurricane Harvey, loaded and reloading with trillions of gallons of water raining down on the greater Houston region—ironically the hub of the petroleum refining industry—is an unfolding, off the charts tragedy for millions of people. Many of those most affected are minorities and low-income families with no homes, health care or jobs to look forward to once the waters recede. Will this tragedy teach us the lessons that so many politicians and impulsive voters have been denying for so long? The first lesson is that America must come home: we must end the Empire of Militarism and of playing the role of policeman of the planet. Both of these habitual roles are backfiring and depleting trillions of taxpayer dollars that could be better used toward rebuilding our country’s infrastructure, strengthening our catastrophe-response networks and preparing for the coming megastorms like Hurricane Harvey. A projected trillion dollars being spent by Obama, and now Trump, just to upgrade nuclear weapons will only spur another arms race with Russia and China. This money could be more productively spent protecting Americans from immediate threats, such as natural disasters from man-made climate change.

As Houston Plots A Sustainable Path Forward, It’s Leaving This Neighborhood Behind

Grist / Amelia Bates

By Raj Mankad for Grist – Juan Parras gives one hell of a tour of Houston’s east side. He’s charming and funny. Wearing a beret, he strikes an old-world look, like he might lead you to a cafe on a plaza. He doesn’t charge a fee for his services. After all, you’re on a “toxic tour,” and Parras is on a mission. Parras grew up in 1950s West Texas. He remembers segregated schools, the restaurants that wouldn’t serve him, the unpaved roads, and the people who lived closest to the local refinery. Those experiences led him to a career as a social justice advocate. The resident of Houston’s heavily industrial east side has worked in a city housing department, for a union, for a law clinic, and on a campaign that stopped a PVC factory from being built in Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley.” For the last decade, he has served as executive director of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (better known as t.e.j.a.s.). Part of his work is leading tours past the heaping piles of scrap metal along Houston’s Buffalo Bayou and by Cesar Chavez High School, which opened in 2000 within a quarter-mile of three large petrochemical plants.

Unhappy Holidays: Houston Police Force Homeless People To Throw Away Food

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By Derrick Broze for The Anti-Media – On Thursday, the Houston Police Department targeted a group of homeless advocates who were attempting to hand out hot food and gifts to the homeless. Houston, TX – On Thursday, the Houston Police Department targeted a group of homeless advocates who were attempting to hand out hot food and gifts to the homeless. Local activists attempting to hand out food and gifts were shocked on Thursday afternoon when Houston police forced the homeless to throw away the donations. Around 1 pm on Thursday, several individuals met in downtown Houston to distribute plates of hot food, blankets, and other supplies to the city’s growing homeless population.

Houston Opt-Out Movement Ramps Up Boycott This Testing Season

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By Laura Isensee for Houston Public Media – There’s no official state policy on opting out, but the Houston school district says students won’t be disciplined for missing the exam. This week, thousands of students in Texas public schools will take the state’s standardized exams. They’re called the “STAAR.” Except some parents want their children to boycott the exams. Earlier this month, a few dozen people rallied outside of the headquarters of the Houston Independent School District.

Houston Residents Fear Impact Of Chemical Spill In Houston Channel

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The Healthy Port Communities Coalition (HPCC) calls on Houston’s petrochemical giants to act now to protect their neighbors after a collision in the Houston Ship Channel today led to a shelter-in-place order for several ship channel communities. “Houston’s petrochemical industry is often called the ‘economic engine’ in the region,” said Adrian Shelley, Director of Air Alliance Houston, “For many residents of ship channel communities, though, the industry is an engine of uncertainty and fear. It is disproportionately low-income and minority communities that suffer these negative impacts.” The people and environment of the Houston ship channel need better protection from the deadly risks associated with this industry. Today’s spill of MTBE in the ship channel is only the most recent disaster.

Occupy Houston Assassination Plot Records Won't Be Released

Photo By Cody Duty/Houston Chronicle  Occupy Houston protestors lay in the exit ramp of Loop 610 at the Port of Houston Authority Monday, Dec. 12, 2011, in Houston. The event, Occupy The Port, was part of a nationwide movement targeting the nation's ports. About 20 of the more than 100 protestors were arrested according to the Houston Police Department.

Details of a plot to kill Occupy Houston leaders won’t be released after a federal court upheld the FBI’s claim that the documents are legally exempted from the Freedom of Information Act. The FBI argued information was withheld, including 12 of 17 relevant pages, to protect the identity of confidential sources who were “members of organized violent groups,” according to Courthouse News Service. A heavily-redacted FBI document first revealed a Houston plot “to gather intelligence against the leaders of the protest groups and obtain photographs, then kill the leadership via suppressed sniper rifles.”

Grand Jury Fails To Indict White Cop In Death Of Unarmed Black Man

Protesting police brutality

It’s becoming an all-too-familiar story. After months of hearing testimony, a grand jury in Texas decided not to indict officer Juvenito Castro in the fatal shooting of Jordan Baker, an unarmed 26-year old, in January. Castro was off duty and was working as a private security officer at a strip mall when he confronted Baker on suspicion of burglary. Authorities indicated that a “brief struggle and foot chase” followed. Officers claim that at one point Baker stopped running and turned around. When he reached for his waistband, Castro fired. Castro was wearing his police uniform at the time of the incident. A string of burglaries had been reported at the mall that same month, though no evidence suggested that Baker was involved.