Opinion


Castillo: Bastrop revives Texas’ undertold story of ‘Mexican’ schools

Texas didn’t always treat all schoolchildren as equals. It treated some differently based on the color of their skin or the language they spoke. The justice system would make things right, but it’s a chapter in the historical saga of Texas that doesn’t get told as often as more romanticized ones. Draw your own conclusions. HISTORY: 5 things you should know about Bastrop’s Mina...


Herman: Paxton opines on freedom for the jennets of Fannin County

Herman: Paxton opines on freedom for the jennets of Fannin County

From time to time, state Attorney General Ken Paxton has to officially opine. People covet opinions from attorneys general, which makes them different from columnists. Attorney general opinions matter, and they touch on all matters of life in Texas. From way up in Almost Oklahoma came a request for the attorney general’s opinion (certified mail, return receipt requested) from Fannin County District...
Commentary: Texas-size signage fuels duel among businesses, gun groups

Commentary: Texas-size signage fuels duel among businesses, gun groups

Gun extremists appear to have developed a pattern of targeting small businesses in Texas that legally elect to prohibit guns on their property. Bee Cave patisserie Baguette et Chocolat legally opted out of Texas’ concealed and open handgun carry laws by posting visible and compliant signage prohibiting the open and concealed carry of handguns. HOW WE GOT HERE: Bakery deletes Facebook page after...
Commentary: Let’s debunk falsehoods about school choice and special ed

Commentary: Let’s debunk falsehoods about school choice and special ed

As kids begin a new school year, it’s deeply unfortunate that some of the most disadvantaged students in Texas still lack access to a quality education. When the special session for the Texas Legislature abruptly ended, the move killed two bills that would have created a tax-credit scholarship program for students with special needs. This common-sense reform received bipartisan support and the...
Commentary: Senate health care plan creates ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’

Commentary: Senate health care plan creates ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’

Sixteen words from my doctor changed my life: “What worries me is that I think you are in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease.” I was 48 years old. Recently, I stopped by my local Walgreen’s pharmacy to pick up my Parkinson’s medication. As I waited in line, a woman told the pharmacy tech, “I absolutely have to have those pills,” pointing to a small white...
Commentary: Fix up the Gulf Coast — but not at the expense of safety

Commentary: Fix up the Gulf Coast — but not at the expense of safety

The Gulf Coast is an industrial powerhouse, home to nearly a quarter of U.S. oil refining capacity and half of the nation’s chemical manufacturing. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, dozens of these refineries and factories have been sidelined. Companies will move quickly to get their facilities up and running. Fair enough: An idle business means lost paychecks, lost profits and lost tax...
Commentary: Let’s change Vietnam’s legacy of land mines and Agent Orange

Commentary: Let’s change Vietnam’s legacy of land mines and Agent Orange

In March 1975, the United States fled from a protracted war in Vietnam, which claimed more than 58,000 Americans, and close to two million Vietnamese soldiers and civilians. The U.S. also left behind a behind a devastated landscape, riddled with millions of hard-to-locate landmines and unexploded ordnances — and a once fertile land now defoliated by millions of gallons of Agent Orange, a carcinogen...
Commentary: Sanders’ drug plan puts Texas patients, companies in peril

Commentary: Sanders’ drug plan puts Texas patients, companies in peril

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and some of his fellow lawmakers are attempting to pass a bill that would make it legal to import prescription drugs. They claim doing so would expand the free market – an interesting claim from a band of lawmakers led by a self-declared socialist. The bill is a veiled attempt to import price controls into the United States, which would undermine the free market, hurt...
Dana Milbank: No one listens to women when they speak around here

Dana Milbank: No one listens to women when they speak around here

WASHINGTON — Over the weekend, the president of the United States retweeted to his 38 million Twitter followers a video clip doctored to show him driving a golf ball off the tee and between the shoulder blades of Hillary Clinton — “CrookedHillary” in the tweet — knocking the former secretary of state and Democratic presidential nominee to the ground. Eighty-four thousand...
Ruben Navarrette Jr.: Feisty, outspoken Dreamers are true Americans

Ruben Navarrette Jr.: Feisty, outspoken Dreamers are true Americans

SAN DIEGO — Immigrant advocates have always said that Dreamers deserve to have a voice in their own fate. I definitely see the value in that — now that a group of these undocumented young people have used their voices to shout down Nancy Pelosi. Angry Dreamers called out the House Minority Leader Monday in her own back yard of San Francisco for meeting in private with President Trump and...
Roger Cohen: It’s act five of the Greek tragedy

Roger Cohen: It’s act five of the Greek tragedy

ATHENS, Greece — After almost a decade in Greece, David Horner, president of the American College of Greece, has seen it all: fury at Americans under George W. Bush, near reverence under Barack Obama, and outright dismay now that Donald Trump is president. “We’ve gone in short order from the outhouse, to the penthouse, to the loony bin,” he told me. If being an American in...
Herman: Fame or shame for the guy who delivered Confederate mail?

Herman: Fame or shame for the guy who delivered Confederate mail?

Once again, and with unprecedented fervor, we’re wrestling with what to do about statues of and things named for Confederate leaders. That means we’re again talking about Texan John H. Reagan, who’s always identified as postmaster general of the Confederacy. It’s a perennial reference that often makes you say, “Wait a minute, the Confederacy had a postal service?&rdquo...
Herman: Gov. Greg Abbott’s one-word answer to my two-part question

Herman: Gov. Greg Abbott’s one-word answer to my two-part question

It was a moment. A fleeting one, yes. And probably not the kind that, 20 years from now, you’re going to remember where you were when it happened. That kind of moment is reserved for huge moments, like remembering where you were when you got married. The event was Gov. Greg Abbott’s Monday announcement of what he called “probably the worst-kept secret in Austin, Texas,&rdquo...
Commentary: Department of Justice should stay focused on civil rights

Commentary: Department of Justice should stay focused on civil rights

This month marks the 60th anniversary of the implementation of the 1957 Civil Rights Act, which enshrines the right of all U.S. citizens to vote regardless of race, ethnicity or gender. It also established the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, which has been instrumental in helping to ensure the rights of minorities and women. As we reflect on this legacy and the path that it opened...
Commentary: Why it’s urgent to stabilize central Austin neighborhoods

Commentary: Why it’s urgent to stabilize central Austin neighborhoods

“Displaced” is sometimes used to describe what occurs in war torn zones, where a military presence forces out the population through use of weapons of war and claim the land as their own. There is an intersection between the description above and what continues to occur to individuals who lived and owned property in the area of Austin that has been identified as the “desired development...
Commentary: How Texas can stop the ‘death spiral’ of health insurance

Commentary: How Texas can stop the ‘death spiral’ of health insurance

When Congressional Republicans developed a plan to repeal Obamacare, they did so with the promise of offering states flexibility. The legislation eliminated the expansion of Medicaid, too, and sought to turn that program into one that allow states to supposedly use money more effectively. But the legislation would have removed about $800 billion of health care funding before telling the states to...
Commentary: Travis County commissioners can protect taxpayers and poor

Commentary: Travis County commissioners can protect taxpayers and poor

Travis County taxpayers generously voted in 2012 to raise Central Health Hospital District’s tax rate to fund additional medical care for our poor residents. This additional care included a medical school consistent with Central Health’s only mission by law to provide health care for the poor. During the 2012 election, Central Health and Austin’s political leaders assured voters...
Commentary: What Trump’s erasing of Obama’s work says to people of color

Commentary: What Trump’s erasing of Obama’s work says to people of color

During the tyranny of apartheid in South Africa, there was the phenomenon of “black spot” removal. This referred to the dismantling of shanty towns or settlements set up by black South Africans in areas designated for whites only. The dismantlement of the shabby, fly-by-night structures of these settlements was usually conducted forcefully by the police, whether necessary or not...
Big or small, efforts to help Harvey victims need accountability

Big or small, efforts to help Harvey victims need accountability

The University of Houston Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, led by the football team and head coach Major Applewhite, held a Hurricane Harvey collection day. (RALPH BARRERA / AMERICAN-STATESMAN) It didn’t take long after the first images appeared of the destruction Hurricane Harvey caused for Texans to help those in need. Good-hearted Americans...
Castillo: A quiet vigilance against hate takes on an added urgency

Castillo: A quiet vigilance against hate takes on an added urgency

The racially-fueled violence that engulfed Charlottesville, Va., and transfixed the nation in August now is yesterday’s news. Such is the short shelf life of the 24-hour news cycle: One day we are riveted by incomprehensible images of neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members marching on a college town, spitting racial epithets and anti-Semitic rhetoric — and the next day we are awestruck by...
Commentary: Where does America’s hate come from? Your Facebook feed

Commentary: Where does America’s hate come from? Your Facebook feed

A Fox News poll released Aug. 28 found that 56 percent of respondents think President Trump is “tearing the country apart” didn’t surprise me. What did stun me was how divided Democrats and Republicans are on that question. Only 15 percent of Republicans believe that Trump is tearing the country apart, while among Democrats that belief registered an incredible 93 percent, according...
Commentary: Williamson County thinks it needs another racist statue

Commentary: Williamson County thinks it needs another racist statue

In August, University of Texas President Gregory L. Fenves ordered the removal of three more Confederate statues from prominent display on campus. Those statues were not discarded or put into a warehouse; they are being added to a campus historical center, where they will join a Jefferson Davis statue that was taken down in 2015 after a white supremacist killed nine black parishioners at a church...
Commentary: Texas should remove legislative barriers to Harvey rebuild

Commentary: Texas should remove legislative barriers to Harvey rebuild

The vital connection between America’s infrastructure and the well-being of our citizenry is never more apparent than in times of crisis. Rebuilding communities in Texas and Florida will be an immense task; however, there are important lessons to be learned after Hurricanes Katrina, Irene and Sandy that could also be utilized to make infrastructure better and stronger as we rebuild. Unfortunately...
Herman: The George H.W. Bush State Office Building, version 2.0

Herman: The George H.W. Bush State Office Building, version 2.0

Well, this was potentially embarrassing. Back in March, state Rep. Jim Murphy, R-Houston, filed House Concurrent Resolution 141 concerning someone in his district. Not just any someone. A someone who once lived at an exclusive Washington, D.C., address. Murphy’s measure called for the Texas Facilities Commission to “rename the State Insurance Building in the Capitol Complex as the George...
Commentary: Struggling to cope after Harvey? There’s help for that too

Commentary: Struggling to cope after Harvey? There’s help for that too

As Hurricane Harvey hit Texas a couple weeks ago, I visited the Delco Center to spend time with evacuees who were facing an unknown but excruciating loss. I talked with a young woman who was there with her children and mother — but she didn’t know where her dad was. He’d stayed behind. When we visited, she hadn’t heard from him and was frightened about what might have happened...
Commentary: Price gouging has its defenders. They ignore morality

Commentary: Price gouging has its defenders. They ignore morality

In addition to wind, rain and destruction, hurricane season also brings a practice that is almost universally repudiated: price gouging. Price gouging during emergency situations is against the law in several states, including Texas and Florida, where Hurricanes Harvey and Irma hit the hardest. Several economists and political pundits have spoken in favor of price gouging. They claim that we should...
Commentary: Trump’s ‘integrity’ panel spreads falsehoods about elections

Commentary: Trump’s ‘integrity’ panel spreads falsehoods about elections

The right to vote is a critical principle of our democracy. We want our election system to be free, fair and accessible to all eligible voters. President Donald Trump’s sham panel — the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which was formed in May — has launched an assault on the right to vote. Led by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris...
Commentary: Texas Legislature leaves women’s health services in pieces

Commentary: Texas Legislature leaves women’s health services in pieces

This is the story of a veto. Though there were 50 bills rejected by Gov. Greg Abbott following the 85th legislative session — each with its own narrative — this tale is about Senate Bill 790, which would have extended for two more years the work of the Women’s Health Advisory Committee, a group of providers who advised the state regarding the organizational and funding structures...
Commentary: 11 reasons Austin will lose the affordable housing battle

Commentary: 11 reasons Austin will lose the affordable housing battle

Austin is in a housing crisis. The poor cannot afford rents that are the third-highest in Texas. Middle-income families must look to the suburbs for affordable housing. Within 10 years, the city will need 60,000 new housing units for low-income families, plus another 75,000 market-rate units, according to the city of Austin’s Strategic Housing Blueprint, which the City Council adopted last April...
Herman: A family’s password and a mystery man. Who was Joe Swan Lusby?

Herman: A family’s password and a mystery man. Who was Joe Swan Lusby?

Today’s “What Is That?” melds the mysterious and the whimsical. And what melds better than mystery and whimsy? So, together, let’s delve into a local family’s curiosity about a man’s name that became the family’s secret password: Joe Swan Lusby. The Kovach family adopted that name as its secret password in the early 1990s from a marker under a great tree...
Herman: Take time to know where your Harvey donations are going

Herman: Take time to know where your Harvey donations are going

At yet another tricky intersection of church and state — in this case church and city — Austin’s mayor in recent days asked the Austin Disaster Relief Network to make it clear that volunteers for its Hurricane Harvey relief efforts don’t have to adhere to the organization’s Christian values. “I’m glad that ADRN has always welcomed volunteers in a disaster...
John Young: No special eyewear needed for this sight

John Young: No special eyewear needed for this sight

Watching terrifying radar of what scientists predicted — Irma’s march up the Florida peninsula — a thought occurred about a tranquil and serendipitous observation days earlier. That brilliant day we knew exactly when the sun and moon would intersect — the solar eclipse. Yes, down to the second. Science gave us a drumroll. We trusted it. I wondered why President Trump didn&rsquo...
Commentary: Before Austin offers tax incentives, let’s see if they work

Commentary: Before Austin offers tax incentives, let’s see if they work

The current Austin mayor and City Council have largely avoided the big tax incentive battles of their predecessors. However, now they are signaling that they are ready to start giving tax incentives to compete for Amazon to create a new headquarters here, employing up to 50,000 people in high-paying $100,000-average-paying jobs. I don’t see enough questioning by our leaders of whether our local...
Commentary: Removing medical device tax can boost health care, economy

Commentary: Removing medical device tax can boost health care, economy

With efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act stalled in Congress, lawmakers should seize the existing opportunity to score a bipartisan legislative victory — for patients, jobs and innovation — by permanently repealing the jobs-killing medical device excise tax. Originally envisioned to help pay for the ACA, this 2.3-percent tax on medical devices went into effect in 2013...
Commentary: Texas kids merit talks on rainy day fund, special session

Commentary: Texas kids merit talks on rainy day fund, special session

The proverbial “rainy day” has come for Texas. The tens of thousands of children affected by Hurricane Harvey now need functional schools, accessible health care and safe places to live. Texas cannot wait until the 2019 Legislature Session to act. The children of the Gulf coast deserve an emergency special session of the Texas Legislature that focuses on their needs. Gov. Greg Abbott should...
Commentary: America wants diversity. Let’s begin with valuing opinions

Commentary: America wants diversity. Let’s begin with valuing opinions

In America’s clap-back culture when camps are easily polarized, complex conversations get shut down before they start. Before we praise an idea or criticize it loudly, what would it take to allow room for ideas to grow and for progress to be made? In a world wrestling with diversity and inclusion at work and public spaces, it appears diverse ideas increasingly don’t count. Munroe Bergdorf...
City Council trying to solve homelessness, parks and convention center puzzle

City Council trying to solve homelessness, parks and convention center puzzle

The Austin City Council meeting, August 29, 2017. (RALPH BARRERA / AMERICAN-STATESMAN) When it comes to the Austin Convention Center expansion, you might say the actions of the City Council are puzzling. Yes, I know that is a play on words, given the name Mayor Steve Adler dubbed his plan to expand the convention center, boost financing for cultural arts and address the...
Travis county DA’s new family violence policy shows promise

Travis county DA’s new family violence policy shows promise

The Honorable Margaret Moore at the Heman Marion-Sweatt Courthouse Tuesday morning January 3, 2017. (RALPH BARRERA/AMERICAN-STATESMAN) There are myriad complex reasons why domestic violence victims stay with their abusers. In many cases, it is fear that the abuser will deliver on threats to hurt – or kill – the victim or people close to the victim, including children, friends...
Castillo: Using DACA youths as political pawn betrays America’s values

Castillo: Using DACA youths as political pawn betrays America’s values

So, this is what passes now for showing “great heart” in America. “We are going to show great heart,” President Trump assured the nation in February when asked about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. “We are going to deal with DACA with heart.” More like heart-breaking. Trump unveiled his brand of compassion on Tuesday, dispatching Attorney General...
Viewpoints: Who do Texas leaders call for disaster aid? Big government

Viewpoints: Who do Texas leaders call for disaster aid? Big government

As Texas attorney general, Gov. Greg Abbott bragged that a typical day was to wake up in the morning, sue the federal government and go home. Then do the same thing the next day. It was a line that garnered big laughs and applause in Republican circles that shared Abbott’s cynicism and scorn of big government’s regulatory authority over states. But in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey...
Commentary: I’m strong, thanks to mom and DACA allies who won’t give up

Commentary: I’m strong, thanks to mom and DACA allies who won’t give up

“Mental Olympics.” That is how I would describe my life in the last few weeks — the last few months, really. I am an American. I might be an undocumented American – but I am an American. I came to this country in 1991, when I was 2. I have been in this country for 26 years and plan on staying for many more. I have no recollection of Mexico. My only memories are from the few...
Celeste Ng’s second novel strikingly illuminates life in America

Celeste Ng’s second novel strikingly illuminates life in America

Celeste Ng’s “Little Fires Everywhere” is an incandescent portrait of suburbia and family, creativity, and consumerism burns bright. It’s not for nothing that Ng (“Everything I Never Told You,” 2014) begins her second novel, about the events leading to the burning of the home of an outwardly perfect-seeming family in Shaker Heights, Ohio, circa 1997, with two epigraphs...
Why Longmire doesn’t — and wouldn’t — carry a cellphone

Why Longmire doesn’t — and wouldn’t — carry a cellphone

People ask me why my protagonist, Walt Longmire, doesn’t carry a cellphone, and my immediate response is: Have you ever been to Wyoming? With more than 97,000 square miles, the state is divided into 23 counties, some of them as large as Maryland but none of them named Absaroka. Taking a cue from Faulkner, I decided to go with a fictional county, a decision that turned out to be one of the smartest...

Letters to the editor: Sept. 24, 2017

Re: Sept. 17 commentary, “Sanders’ drug plan puts Texas patients, companies in peril.” I read the commentary by Russell Withers. Typical dialog of big pharma, a group of corporations who seem to think they can pick prices out of the air. Oh yes, the free market will solve this. My question is how? The doctor writes a prescription, then you take it to the pharmacy and get it filled...
Ken Follett’s new release dominates best-sellers lists

Ken Follett’s new release dominates best-sellers lists

NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLERS FICTION 1. ‘A Column of Fire,’ Ken Follett 2. ‘The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye,’ David Lagercrantz 3. ‘Enemy of the State,’ Kyle Mills 4. ‘The Romanov Ransom,’ Clive Cussler and Robin Burcell 5. ‘A Legacy of Spies,’ John le Carré 6. ‘Secrets in Death,’ J.D. Robb 7. ‘Little Fires Everywhere...
Author understands why people think the Templars still exist

Author understands why people think the Templars still exist

To ask Dan Jones — writer of the completely excellent “The Templars: The Rise and Spectacular Fall of God’s Holy Warriors” — about the biggest misconception about the Templar Knights is to elicit the lowest of chuckles. “There’s a lot of competition,” Jones says. He’s written five books about medieval history, including popular volumes on the War...

Facebook comments: Sept. 24, 2017

As reported by the American-Statesman’s Elizabeth Findell, City Council Member Ann Kitchen has proposed that Robert E. Lee Road be renamed for Azie Taylor Morton. The suggested name came about a month after Kitchen initially called for the name change. Morton moved to Austin as a teenager in the 1940s and later became the first and only African American to serve as U.S. treasurer; she died in...

Opinion: Sean Spicer at the Emmys no laughing matter

“Was nothing real?” — Jim Carrey in “The Truman Show” Funny covers a multitude of sins. That has long been my go-to explanation of a dynamic unique to comedy. Meaning the fact that you are allowed to be crude and shocking, to transgress all kinds of isms, all bounds of propriety, if you can get a laugh in the process. Sean Spicer got a laugh out of me Sunday night. He...

Opinion: The steep cost of cheap speech

WASHINGTON — At this shank end of a summer that a calmer America someday will remember with embarrassment, you must remember this: In the population of 325 million, a small sliver crouches on the wilder shores of politics, another sliver lives in the dark forest of mental disorder, and there is a substantial overlap between these slivers. At most moments, 312 million are not listening to excitable...
It’s the first day of fall in Austin! This means nothing!

It’s the first day of fall in Austin! This means nothing!

Today is Sept. 22 in the year of our Lord 2017. According to the calendar, it is the first day of autumn. Which means, according to popular imagination, golden-brown leaves falling from trees; crisp, cool air; everyone in sweaters or jackets; and the anticipation of Halloween and Thanksgiving. Except in Austin.  Austin does not have autumn. At all. For those of us who are born on the East Coast...

Letters to the editor: Sept. 23, 2017

Re: Sept. 20th letter to the editor, “Wrong to link Harvey to climate change.” Thank you, Lamar Smith, for adding to the important conversation around hurricanes and climate change. I seriously applaud your assertion that we need to be data-driven when attributing hurricanes to climate change. Your comment about frequency and intensity of hurricanes being flat sounds conclusive. However...

Letters to the editor: Sept. 22, 2017

Re: Sept. 16 article, “Round Rock boy selling soap to help Hurricane Harvey survivors.” What an inspirational young man Ezekiel is! In the midst of hurricane tragedy, I hope that survivors will hear the story about Ezekiel’s compassion for them and how it led him to selfless action on their behalf. They aren’t just getting soap; they’re also getting love. Now, where can...

Opinion: Who truly imperils our free society?

“The Barbarian cannot make … he can befog and destroy but … he cannot sustain; and of every Barbarian in the decline or peril of every civilization exactly that has been true.” Hilaire Belloc’s depiction of the barbarian is recalled to mind as the statues honoring the history and heroes of the Republic and of the West continue to be vandalized and smashed. A week ago...
INSIGHT: Fearful of Trump’s America, asylum seekers stream into Canada

INSIGHT: Fearful of Trump’s America, asylum seekers stream into Canada

Every hour or so, a taxi pulls up at the end of a remote country road in upstate New York and deposits another load of anxious and weary passengers. From here, it is steps across a gully to the Canadian province of Quebec, where police stand ready to arrest anyone who enters illegally. Undeterred, the travelers drag their suitcases across a makeshift dirt bridge, past a sign that declares in French...

Letters to the editor: Sept. 21, 2017

Re: Sept. 15 article, “DA to hold off on felony charges in Rep. Dawnna Dukes case for now.” For the past several years, East Austin and all of House District 46 has essentially been unrepresented in the legislature. Sure, technically we have a “representative” in criminally-indicted Dawnna Dukes — but for the past two sessions she has had by far the worst attendance record...

Opinion: Huts burn, children die and Suu Kyi shrugs

A beloved Nobel Peace Prize winner is presiding over an ethnic cleansing in which villages are burned, women raped and children butchered. For the last three weeks, Buddhist-majority Myanmar has systematically slaughtered civilians belonging to the Rohingya Muslim minority, forcing 270,000 to flee to neighboring Bangladesh — with Myanmar soldiers shooting at them even as they cross the border...
Here are your 2017 Kirkus Prize nominees!

Here are your 2017 Kirkus Prize nominees!

Kirkus Reviews announced Tuesday the six finalists for the fourth annual Kirkus Prize in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, and Young Readers’ Literature. Winners in the three categories will each receive $50,000, and will be announced at a special ceremony in Austin on , November 2, two days prior to the start of the Texas Book Festival. This year’s finalists were chosen from 610...

Letters to the editor: Sept. 20, 2017

Hillary Clinton’s new book “What Happened” is a how-to guide in playing the victim card. Clinton blames a plethora of individuals and organizations for her loss in the 2016 presidential election. How tiresome and unbecoming. When Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Robert Dole, John McCain, Al Gore, John Kerry and Mitt Romney lost the race for the highest office in the land, they quietly...

Letters to the editor: Sept. 19, 2017

Re: Sept. 12 commentary, “Help Harvey victims. Don’t bring up climate change now.” The author argues that Harvey victim relief organizations will receive more donations the less we talk about the role climate change had in worsening Harvey’s impact. Pointing to recent studies of motivated reasoning, he says that because Texas went for Trump and apparently only 25 percent of...

Letters to the editor: Sept. 18, 2017

Re: Sept. 11 article, “Austin answered: Why doesn’t city have more east-west highways?” Ben Wear’s article clearly explains the difficulty of widening roads in developed neighborhoods. What about an effective, lower cost solution — like synchronized traffic lights? The time spent sitting at lights trying to cross the rivers at Airport Boulevard, Guadalupe Street and Lamar...

Opinion: Do conservatives take rape seriously?

Have conservatives forsaken rape victims? That’s one of the more challenging questions posed following the furor over Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ announcement that her department will revise the Obama-era guidance on how sexual assault allegations are to be handled by universities. Because we live in an age of rage, the move sparked some overheated commentary (“making campuses...
Englander’s ‘Dinner’ weaves fine writing with unsteady tone

Englander’s ‘Dinner’ weaves fine writing with unsteady tone

A prisoner is held for more than a decade in the Israeli desert while, elsewhere, a general in a coma hallucinates about his past life and a young man works to fund the Palestinian resistance in Nathan Englander’s “Dinner at the Center of the Earth.” Englander’s (“What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank,” 2012) latest novel is an odd amalgam: part political...

Letters to the editor: Sept. 17, 2017

Re: Aug. 11 article, “Old Settler’s Music Fest moving to new location near Lockhart in 2018” and Sept. 7 article, “Conflict arises between Old Settler’s Music Fest and new Driftwood fest.” A month ago, the American-Statesman reported that the Old Settlers Music Festival was being forced to move because the owner of the Salt Lick was giving them the boot due to &ldquo...
Louise Penny, John le Carré top best-sellers lists

Louise Penny, John le Carré top best-sellers lists

NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLERS FICTION 1. ‘A Legacy of Spies,’ John le Carré 2. ‘Secrets in Death,’ J.D. Robb 3. ‘Enemy of the State,’ Kyle Mills 4. ‘Y Is for Yesterday,’ Sue Grafton 5. ‘Glass Houses,’ Louise Penny 6. ‘The Right Time,’ Danielle Steel 7. ‘The Western Star,’ Craig Johnson 8. ‘Camino Island...

Facebook comments: Sept. 17, 2017

As reported by the American-Statesman’s Jonathan Tilove, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul called it “unconscionable” that four Texas Republicans voted against a $15.3 billion Hurricane Harvey aid package. U.S. Reps. Joe Barton, R-Ennis; Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas; Sam Johnson, R-Plano; and Mac Thornberry, R-Clarendon were among 90 Republicans who voted against the House’s agreement with...

Opinion: Nickel prophets are a dime a dozen

“Be still and know that I am God.” — Psalms 46:10 It’s an admonition some of us struggle to obey. Indeed, some of God’s self-appointed spokespersons seem to find it especially difficult. Thus, before the first raindrop fell, the first palm tree bowed, or the first transformer blew, they came out to tell us what He meant by pointing a monster hurricane at Florida. A Pastor...
Viewpoints: Taxing districts can stop sticker shock by collaborating

Viewpoints: Taxing districts can stop sticker shock by collaborating

With each passing year, as the appraised values of Austin homes increase, homeowners receive a higher property tax bill than the year before. That’s become the norm. Yet, every year, the mixed messages sent by taxing jurisdictions contribute to the sticker shock property owners experience when they receive their tax bill. When setting budgets — and the tax rates that finance them &mdash...
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