Fight Toxic Prison 2017 Convergence Ends With Rowdy #CloseCarswell Noise Demo

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By Staff of The Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons – After 3 days of networking, movement building and organizing at the Fight Toxic Prisons (FTP) Convergence in Denton, TX, approximately 50 organizers and revolutionaries from across the country gathered outside the Carswell federal prison. The protest marched to the remote back gates of the facility, which is located on a massive military base that has a long history of environmental contamination and contains a repressive, secretive Administrative Unit. Today’s demonstration kicked-off of an international effort to demand the immediate closure of Carswell’s Administrative Unit, a unit similar to draconian Communication Management Units. The Carswell Admin Unit has been used to isolate female and trans political prisoners as well as prisoners with serious mental health needs. Armed with a mobile sound system and bullhorn, the demonstration was able to create a loud disruption for guards and establish contact with prisoners across the razor wire fences with amplified chants of “You are not forgotten, you are not alone, we will fight to bring you home!”

Exxon Fights Back Against Legal Actions On Climate

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By David Hasemyer for Inside Climate News – Ted Wells, one of the nation’s most prominent litigators for big corporations, was about to win again as he sat with his team in a Dallas courtroom last fall, representing ExxonMobil. U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade looked their way and joked, “Y’all have 300 lawyers on your side.” Wells, 66, had come before Kinkeade to thwart fraud investigations launched by the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts, who are looking into whether the mammoth oil company has misled investors and the public for years about the dangers of climate change. Kinkeade, with his folksy joshing and pointed comments, made little secret of his sympathies. He kidded that his horse was tied up outside and he might need an interpreter to pierce the Boston accent of the Massachusetts counsel. He wondered aloud if those Northern officials would be as worried about the climate if their states had as much oil as his native Texas. “I’m just saying, think about it.” A little more than three weeks later, he handed Exxon a major victory, ruling that Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey may have acted in “bad faith.”

Texas Lawmaker Calls ICE To Report Immigration Protesters

On the last day of the 85th legislative session, protesters opposed to Senate Bill 4 — the "sanctuary cities" law, fill up the rotunda of the state Capitol in Austin on May 29, 2017.
 Julian Aguilar/The Texas Tribune

By Matthew Watkins, Alexi Ura And Julian Aguilar for The Texas Tribune – The normally ceremonial last day of the legislative session briefly descended into chaos on Monday, as proceedings in the House were disrupted by large protests and at least one Republican lawmaker called immigration authorities on the protesters. State Rep. Matt Rinaldi, R-Irving, said he called U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement while hundreds of people dressed in red T-shirts unfurled banners and chanted in opposition to the state’s new sanctuary cities law. His action enraged Hispanic legislators nearby, leading to a tussle in which each side accused the other of threats and violence. In a statement, Rinaldi said state Rep. Poncho Nevárez, D-Eagle Pass, “threatened my life on the House floor,” and that Rinaldi is currently under the protection of the Department of Public Safety as a result. The Texas Tribune thanks its sponsors. Become one. “I was pushed, jostled and someone threatened to kill me,” Rinaldi said. “It was basically just bullying.” Nevárez said in an interview with the Tribune that he put his hands on Rinaldi and told him to take his argument outside the House chamber. “But was I going to shoot the guy? No,” he said.

Texas House Votes To Stop Jailing Those Too Poor To Pay Fines

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By Johnathan Silver for Mint Press News – Legislation that would make it easier for poor people to satisfy traffic tickets with alternatives to payment cleared the Texas House on Tuesday on a vote of 75-70. The bill needs to be approved by the Senate again before moving to Gov. Greg Abbott‘s desk. Senate Bill 1913, by state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, would allow courts to ask defendants if they are too poor to pay for traffic tickets; fines for other low-level and fine-only offenses; or court costs. After making that determination, courts would be allowed to reduce or waive fines and costs and offer community service as an alternative. “They’re not getting off scot-free. We’re getting something for something,” the bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, told members Monday. “We are filling our jails up with people who should not be there.” For fine-only offenses, jail time only comes into the picture when someone doesn’t pay their fine — a risk borne by thousands of Texans, according to a recently released report by Texas Appleseed and the Texas Fair Defense Project. Those who can’t afford to pay often find themselves hit with additional fines or other restrictions, such as being blocked from renewing their driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations. Critics call it debtors’ prison.

Infamous Phoenix Tent Prison Closed After 23 Years

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By Megan Cassidy and Laura Gómez for The Republic – Penzone made the announcement Tuesday based on the recommendation of an advisory committee that he appointed after taking office in January. The tents served as a prominent symbol of Penzone’s predecessor, Joe Arpaio, who erected the facility in 1993, his first year in office, and held it up as an inexpensive solution to overcrowded jails. Penzone defeated Arpaio in last year’s general election, ending his 24-year span as sheriff. At an afternoon press conference Tuesday, Penzone said Tent City has become the preferred location for inmates and a liability for understaffed detention officers. Shuttering the facility will save the county approximately $4.5 million a year, he said.

Indigenous-Led Direct Action Campaign Continues In West Texas

An Indigenous Water Protector with the Frontera Water Protection Alliance locks to a track hoe, a machine being used to construct Energy Transfer Partner's Comanche Trail pipeline in El Paso County, on Friday, January 13, 2017. (Photo: Courtesy of Frontera Water Protection Alliance)

By Candice Bernd for Truthout – Marfa, Texas—A new Indigenous-led direct action campaign is gaining momentum with two more lockdown actions targeting Energy Transfer Partners’ (ETP) twin pipeline projects in far West Texas. An Indigenous Water Protector and an Alpine resident were arrested Saturday, January 14, after locking themselves to pipe-laying equipment at an ETP easement and work site in Presidio County, Texas. The lockdown disrupted construction on the company’s 148-mile Trans-Pecos pipeline that, if completed, would carry 1.4 billion cubic feet of fracked gas from West Texas to Mexico every day.

Texas Water Protector Locks Herself To Construction Equipment

A water protector who has chosen to remain unnamed locks herself to a piece of construction equipment on January 12, 2017. She was not arrested. Courtesy of Clavo P. Martinez / Facebook

By Yessenia Funes for Colorlines – Her action was in direct opposition to the Comanche Trail Pipeline, a 195-mile long natural gas pipeline in the Texas town of San Elizario. Local opponents to the Comanche Trail Pipeline in San Elizario, Texas, took direct action against the 195-mile long natural gas pipeline today (January 12). The pipeline is a project of Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline. One water protector who has chosen to go unnamed locked herself to an excavator around 7 a.m. MST on a construction site for the pipeline, a tactic also used during the #NoDAPL battle in Standing Rock, North Dakota.

Lockdown At Trans-Pecos Pipeline Site In West Texas

Frankie Orona with the Society of Native Nations speaks with Truthout as an Indigenous Water Protector and an Alpine, Texas, resident lock themselves to pipe-laying equipment, temporarily shutting the site down, Saturday, January 7, 2017. (Photo: Garrett Graham)

By Candice Bernd for Truth Out – An Indigenous Water Protector and an Alpine, Texas, resident were arrested Saturday morning after locking themselves to pipe-laying equipment at an Energy Transfer Partner (ETP) easement and work site in Presidio County, Texas. The lockdown temporarily halted construction on the company’s 143-mile Trans-Pecos pipeline that, if completed, would carry 1.4 billion cubic feet of fracked gas from West Texas to Mexico every day. The action was the first to be organized by a new Indigenous-led prayer and resistance camp on private land in far west Texas’ pristine Big Bend region.

Energy Transfer Partners Pipeline Targeted In West Texas Protests

A sign held at an anti-Enbridge protest in Vancouver. (Photo: travis blanston/flickr/cc)

By Liz Hampton for Reuters – Two people were arrested Tuesday at a pipeline protest in West Texas, bringing an intensifying political battle against oil and gas infrastructure to a state where the energy industry typically enjoys wide support. About 40 protesters gathered outside the construction site of Energy Transfer Partners’ Trans-Pecos pipeline near Alpine, Texas on Tuesday morning, and three locked themselves to the gate surrounding the site, according to Lori Glover, a member of the Big Bend Defense Coalition, which organized the event. The group intended to slow down construction, said Glover, who said she was arrested, along with one other protestor, for criminal trespassing.

Water Protectors Arrested In West Texas After Blocking Construction

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By Staff of Austin Environmental Justice Team – ALPINE, TEXAS – A mourning vigil at 4 AM Tuesday organized by the Big Bend Defense Coalition (BBDC) in front of Energy Transfer Partners’ Pumpco/Trans-Pecos Pipeline laydown yard in Alpine, Texas netted three arrests. Energy Transfer Partners is constructing the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. The three water protectors arrested are Lori Glover, mother of four and founder of the BBDC; Arajoe Battista, a former oil field worker; and Roger Siglin, a veteran, were jailed on unknown charges by the Brewster County Sheriff’s office. “The fight in Standing Rock extends down here to Texas. The Black Snake is not dead. It is alive and well in the Big Bend

Uncovering Texas’ Strategy To Slash Much-Needed Special Education Services

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By Charles Ornstein for Pro Publica – Federal law mandates that school districts provide special education services to students with disabilities–physical, emotional or developmental. But outside the public’s view, the state of Texas has decided that fewer students should get those services. It pressured school districts to meet an artificial benchmark of 8.5 percent, a rate far below that of any state, according to aHouston Chronicle investigation. The article, by Brian M. Rosenthal, documents how “unelected state officials have quietly devised a system that has kept thousands of disabled kids” out of special education.

Texas Defied Court’s Voting Rights Order And The Court Is Angry

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By Ian Millhiser for Think Progress. Earlier this month, the Justice Department informed a federal court that Texas is violating a recent court order that sought to keep the state from disenfranchising voters. After an appeals court struck down the state’s voter ID law, a common form of voter suppression favored by conservative lawmakers, the state agreed to be bound by an order that would permit voters to cast a ballot in the 2016 election if they “cannot reasonably obtain” photo ID. Despite this order, Texas published press releases, voter education materials, and training manuals for poll workers that effectively stated that a voter without ID cannot vote unless it is literally impossible for that voter to obtain a photo ID. Thus, for example, a voter who had to make multiple day long trips to a government office and make burdensome document requests to obtain an ID would not be able to vote, under Texas’ standard, unless that voter was willing to jump through all of these considerable hoops. On Tuesday, Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, the judge overseeing this case, weighed in on Texas’ defiance of the court order. And, if the order she issued on Tuesday is any indication, she’s pissed.

Fate Of KXL Pipeline Could Be Decided In Texas Court

Michael Bishop on his land in Douglas, Texas ©2016 Julie Dermansky

By Julie Dermansky for Desmog – Texas landowner Michael Bishop continues to challenge TransCanada’s right to build the southern route of the Keystone XL pipeline, renamed the Gulf Coast pipeline when the project was divided into segments. Meanwhile,TransCanada is suing the United States for not being granted the presidential permit needed in order to build the Keystone XL’s northern route. A win for Bishop in his suit against TransCanada Keystone Pipeline L.P. in Nacogdoches County District Court could complicate TransCanada’s North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) challenge.

Texas Prison Objects To Ruling That It Must Provide Arsenic-Free Water

A prison guard on horseback watches inmates return from a farm work detail. A federal judge is ordering Texas prison officials to stop forcing inmates to drink water laced with dangerous levels of arsenic.

By Kit O’Connell for Mint Press News – AUSTIN, Texas — As summer sun sends temperatures soaring across much of the country, a federal judge has ordered the Lone Star State to stop giving poisonous drinking water to some of its most vulnerable prisoners. On June 21, U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison gave prison officials 15 days to replace the arsenic-laden water supply at the Wallace Pack Unit, a minimum security facility northwest of Houston that houses mostly elderly and chronically ill inmates.

Texas Police Officer Who Manhandled Black Teens At Pool Party Not Facing Charges

Video shows McKinney, Texas, police officer manhandling a 14-year-old girl after a pool party June 5, 2015. YOUTUBE SCREENSHOT

By Julia Craven for The Huffington Post – WASHINGTON — A Texas grand jury has decided not to indict McKinney Police Officer Eric Casebolt in the manhandling of a black teenager at a pool party last June. After police responded to disturbance calls at Craig Ranch North Community Pool, a cell phone video caught Casebolt yanking 15-year-old Dajerria Becton to the ground and pulling his gun on two other teens. One of the teens, Miles Jai Thomas, told The Huffington Post that the cops showed up after a fight between two adults and “started cursing and yelling at us.”