Opinion


Viewpoints: Why Austin voters may have the last say in MLS turf deal

In setting the table for Major League Soccer coming to Austin, we offer this advice to Precourt Sports Ventures, which owns Columbus Crew SC: Don’t pretend Central Texans don’t drive; don’t be stingy with community benefits; and let Austin residents vote. Certainly, it’s easy to envision MLS in Austin’s core. Soccer is the kind of sport that fits with the city’s...


Commentary: How housing costs are changing Central Texas’ demographics

Commentary: How housing costs are changing Central Texas’ demographics

The demographic trends in Texas are clear: The combination of a youthful Latino population and an aging white population has led to Latino dominance in the state’s population growth. Between 2006 and 2016, the Latino population grew six times more rapidly than the white population. Of the nearly 4.4 million persons added to the Texas population during this period, 57 percent are Latino, while...
Ruben Navarrette Jr.: Dreamers: Don’t let Democrats fool you

Ruben Navarrette Jr.: Dreamers: Don’t let Democrats fool you

SAN DIEGO — So Democrats are now the saviors of the Dreamers? How in the world did that happen? For those of us who have paid close attention to the immigration debate over the last couple decades, it’s surreal watching Democrats in Congress threaten to go to the mattresses for a legislative fix that protects undocumented young people. After all, when Democrats had the chance to get Dreamers...
David Brooks: The glory of democracy

David Brooks: The glory of democracy

In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell and Communism fell with it. Liberal democracy seemed triumphant. Democracies sprouted in Central Europe. Apartheid fell in South Africa. The Oslo process seemed to herald peace in the Middle East. Then it all went bad. Tribalism and authoritarianism are now on the march while the number of democracies declines. Far worse has been the degradation of democracies, especially...
Herman: Why Blake Farenthold should step down now

Herman: Why Blake Farenthold should step down now

A bit late, U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, told us Thursday he didn’t know how to run a congressional office when he won the job in 2010. It’s kind of too bad he didn’t tell us that back then or during his latter three successful races for the office. The overdue admission came as he announced he’s changed his mind and will not seek a fifth term. Good call, Farenthold...
Viewpoints: Trading Austin park for MLS stadium should go to voters

Viewpoints: Trading Austin park for MLS stadium should go to voters

In setting the table for Major League Soccer coming to Austin, we offer this advice to Precourt Sports Ventures, which owns Columbus Crew SC: Don’t pretend Central Texans don’t drive; don’t be stingy with community benefits; and let Austin residents vote. Certainly, it’s easy to envision MLS in Austin’s core. Soccer is the kind of sport that fits with the city’s...
Commentary: How Hanukkah has changed in the U.S.

Commentary: How Hanukkah has changed in the U.S.

The Jewish holiday Hanukkah is upon us, and to mark the eight-day holiday, dignitaries will gather to light the National Menorah across from the White House, and families will light their own nine-armed menorahs, known as Hanukkiot, one candle per day for eight days. Although Hanukkah today is one of the most popular and recognizable of Jewish holidays in the minds of non-Jews, this is only a relatively...
TWO VIEWS: Why leaving CodeNext in voters’ hands is a leap of faith

TWO VIEWS: Why leaving CodeNext in voters’ hands is a leap of faith

Should you and I, as residents of Austin, have a say on CodeNext, the first major rewrite of Austin’s land development code in 30 years? Yes. Should you and I, as registered voters of Austin, get to vote on CodeNext, the most important policy question facing our city in at least five years? No. Proponents of a CodeNext referendum claim that it would be more democratic and would lead to a more...
TWO VIEWS: CodeNext will test Austin’s talk about community inclusion

TWO VIEWS: CodeNext will test Austin’s talk about community inclusion

CodeNext may be exhausting, but rewriting our land use laws from 1984 is our opportunity to decide what kind of city we want to be. We’ve all seen friends leave for cities where it’s easier to build a good life for their families, but we’ve never truly reckoned with the fact that our government strongly shapes who gets to live where. We’ve consistently used that power to make...
Commentary: Police contract doesn’t do enough to change what’s wrong

Commentary: Police contract doesn’t do enough to change what’s wrong

Lack of transparency combined with toothless oversight. As an environmentalist, I’ve fought this formula when industry is damaging our environment in its pursuit of profit. But today, I’m speaking about the Austin Police Association. The Austin City Council will soon vote on a proposed 5-year contract with the APA that just isn’t good enough for the price we will all pay. And it...
Commentary: Your new home in the country comes with new billboards

Commentary: Your new home in the country comes with new billboards

When their workdays end in Austin, Lawrence and Monica Willis make the 20-mile trip home to near Driftwood. They drive South MoPac Boulevard, cross Texas 45 and begin the final lap along FM 1826. “All of a sudden you’re in the country,” says Lawrence, 48. “We live in a corridor to the Hill Country.” Right now, Lawrence and Monica, 45, have unobstructed views of the Hill...
Herman: The 2018 Texas primary matchups worth watching

Herman: The 2018 Texas primary matchups worth watching

Now that we know the fields, let’s look for the fun. Monday was the filing deadline for the March primaries. Seems like we’ve got some potentially interesting/entertaining races. Hurray for us. Let’s see what’s going to be worth keeping an eye on. Atop the list is the possibility that the Democrats could lose their own gubernatorial primary. Let me explain. Ten candidates have...
Herman: A Texas town weirder than Austin?

Herman: A Texas town weirder than Austin?

Yes, we all know that Austin is the righteous and rightful center of the universe and there’s not much reason to care about what goes on in the lesser world around us. But I think it’s healthy to periodically glance outward beyond the Superiorplex and see what’s going on elsewhere in Texas, especially when the goings-on going on in other towns rival our town’s weirdness. So...
Proposed downtown soccer stadium will need parking options

Proposed downtown soccer stadium will need parking options

A new 20,000 –seat stadium with no on-site parking in downtown Austin? It’s a fairy tale, right? Who is to say. What is certain is that this is what owners of Major League Soccer team Columbus Crew SC envision for their potential move to Austin’s Butler Shores. From a soccer fan’s standpoint, I share in this wishful thinking. Transportation...
Proposed police contract advances transparency, accountability

Proposed police contract advances transparency, accountability

Austin community activists and city council members have been open and passionate regarding the new, proposed police employment contract. While police union officials point to the 18 months spent in negotiations and the concessions they’ve made to the city, many community activists point in the opposite direction with concerns of transparency and accountability. No one should become alarmed...
MoPac express lane benefits will be many and lasting

MoPac express lane benefits will be many and lasting

If you’re one of the thousands of drivers who use MoPac every day, I hope you’ve noticed the difference north of Lady Bird Lake. Such as an additional express lane giving commuters a choice for a more reliable means of getting to points between Parmer Lane and Cesar Chavez. A lane where CapMetro transit riders can travel in the express lane without paying a toll. Or the improved pavement...
Letters to the editor: Dec. 9, 2017

Letters to the editor: Dec. 9, 2017

Re: Dec. 4 article, “Could this lakefront parkland become Austin’s soccer stadium?” It’s sad our current City Council would even consider allowing a private soccer franchise to use prime Austin parkland. Butler Shores may be — according to the soccer team’s lobbyist — shabby in its current state. But this parcel is at the heart of “natural” Austin...
Facebook comments: Dec. 10, 2017

Facebook comments: Dec. 10, 2017

As reported by the American-Statesman’s Ralph Haurwitz, University of Texas graduate students held a walkout on the campus Wednesday, protesting wages they consider too low as well as a measure passed by the U.S. House that would require them to pay taxes on tuition charges waived by the university. About 200 gathered on UT’s Main Mall, chanting, “Grad students will not stay overworked...
John Young: Deposing the Lyin’ King

John Young: Deposing the Lyin’ King

President Donald Trump’s rally in Missouri was a set-piece of distortion about taxes and the economy that “compounded his growing legacy of false tales on Twitter …” Those weren’t the opening lines from some loser liberal commentator. They were from the Associated Press. The editors at AP at some point realized that their job wasn’t just to report what newsmakers...
Commentary: An apology, and a call for a second chance

Commentary: An apology, and a call for a second chance

For the better part of the past two years, I looked with skepticism at the whole Facility Master Plan process and what it meant for East and Northeast Austin, particularly in terms of equity for my district, District 1. Although I voted against the FMP for reasons related to my concerns about equity, I ultimately supported the $1 billion school bond proposition when it became painfully apparent that...
Juan Castillo: In Khizr Khan’s story, a mighty river flows

Juan Castillo: In Khizr Khan’s story, a mighty river flows

Maybe sometimes it takes a stranger to remind us of greatness and of the things we hold dear as a nation, but which we take for granted. Maybe it takes someone like Khizr Khan, a Pakistani immigrant who chased his American dream and is living it. You remember Khan. At the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in 2016, the Gold Star father of a Muslim U.S. soldier killed in combat in Iraq...
Viewpoints: Cruz must do more to fix trust damaged from closure plans

Viewpoints: Cruz must do more to fix trust damaged from closure plans

We welcome Austin Independent School District Superintendent Paul Cruz’s efforts to assuage concerns and fears that several East Austin schools will be closed or consolidated by next August based on timelines the district established without input from the people most affected by the potential closures. “I realize the excitement and eagerness to work coupled with aggressive project timelines...
Commentary: Obamacare will die without the individual mandate

Commentary: Obamacare will die without the individual mandate

As Congress debates getting rid of the individual mandate to buy health insurance to better afford a tax overhaul, I’m reminded of one of the mandate’s leading advocates — Uwe Reinhardt, one of the greatest minds in health care economics. In 2009, as Congress was debating the Affordable Care Act, he was interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air. She asked him about the...

Letters to the editor: Nov. 11, 2017

Re: Dec. 3 article, “UT students take on challenging musical in program’s finale.” Thank you so much for writing such a comprehensive and thoughtful response to the University of Texas’ final musical. As a UT student and a longtime lover of the theater, I am extremely disheartened by the end of the musical theatre program on campus. However, I find “The Drowsy Chaperone&rdquo...
TWO VIEWS: This was the year Texas bucked restrictive local policies

TWO VIEWS: This was the year Texas bucked restrictive local policies

Over the past 12 months, Texas’ public policy landscape has undergone some big changes, especially when it comes to local governance. Take the issue of local control, for example. For years, powerful special interest groups representing cities, counties, and school districts at the Capitol have advanced their interests by arguing that local control is sacrosanct. This view suggests that local...
TWO VIEWS: Why 2017 is the year of obscenity in Texas and America

TWO VIEWS: Why 2017 is the year of obscenity in Texas and America

The year 2017 began on Oct. 7. The calendars may claim Jan. 1st as the first day of a new year. Here, near the end of this one, we know better. The year really began the day a video was released in which Donald Trump bragged that he was so famous he could abuse women at will. “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything…grab ‘em by the…,” Trump...
Viewpoints: CapMetro needs to avoid secrecy in its search for new CEO

Viewpoints: CapMetro needs to avoid secrecy in its search for new CEO

Capital Metro board members are doing what they can to keep from the public the names of candidates vying to be the transit agency’s next president and CEO. We’ve seen this type of maneuvering to hide candidates’ names before, and we urge board members not go down that road again. Seven years ago, the last time the Capital Metro leader’s post was open, the agency wouldn&rsquo...
Herman: Andrew White launches bid to return to Governor’s Mansion

Herman: Andrew White launches bid to return to Governor’s Mansion

A Houston businessman on Thursday announced plans to move back into the Austin home in which he lived as a kid until the people of Texas threw his family out. His mom, Linda Gale White, who also lived in that house, sat in the front row, led the applause and had tears in her eyes when it was over. Linda Gale White says she’d love to spend some more time in that home, this time as a grandmother...
Herman: Lupe Valdez, off and running

Herman: Lupe Valdez, off and running

If Wendy Davis’ unsuccessful 2014 Democratic gubernatorial campaign began with hoopla — and it did when she revved up juiced-up supporters in a crowded coliseum near Fort Worth — Lupe Valdez’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign began in downtown Austin Wednesday with what we’ll charitably call hooplo. Valdez’s announcement came in a meeting room near Texas Democratic Party...
Commentary: Why Austin’s new Central Library is a vision for the future

Commentary: Why Austin’s new Central Library is a vision for the future

The Austin Public Library recently opened its spectacular facility with much fanfare to respond to a diversity of needs in the Austin community. Transformed from a traditional library filled with books and other sources of information including media, the new open design sets itself apart as a new standard to address user needs in the 21st century. The timing of the opening of the new Austin Pubic...
In Khizr Khan’s inspirational story, a mighty river flows

In Khizr Khan’s inspirational story, a mighty river flows

Khizr Khan, father of fallen U.S. Army Capt. Humayun S.M. Khan, speaks as his wife Ghazala listens at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 28, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Maybe sometimes it takes a stranger to remind us of our greatness and of the things we hold dear as a nation, but which we take for granted. Maybe it takes someone like Khizr...
Commentary: Gerrymandering and the great Texas property tax swindle

Commentary: Gerrymandering and the great Texas property tax swindle

When the Texas Legislature meets to redraw our congressional districts after the 2020 Census, they’ll have more computing horsepower at their fingertips than Neil Armstrong had when he landed on the moon. Big data, the likes of which Eldridge Gerry and the good people of Massachusetts could never have imagined in the 1800s, will be used by the Republican-controlled Legislature to draw political...
Herman: A nontraditional gubernatorial candidate

Herman: A nontraditional gubernatorial candidate

Good morning, class. From the following list, please choose the one you’d least expect the Great State of Texas to be the first state to do. Remember, we’re looking for the one you’d least expect Texas to be the first to do: 1. Officially recognize football as a religion. 2. Make it illegal to be poor. 3. Declare education optional. 4. Make football the official religion of...
Commentary: Why the ‘attack’ on Christmas is an American fallacy

Commentary: Why the ‘attack’ on Christmas is an American fallacy

“If one more person says ‘Happy Holidays’ to me, I just might slap them. Either tell me ‘Merry Christmas’ or just don’t say anything.” So went a festive holiday message Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller made on Facebook a couple of years ago. Non-Christians can stop reading here, as this message is not aimed at you. Instead, I would like my Christian...
AISD’s plan to close, consolidate schools strains public trust

AISD’s plan to close, consolidate schools strains public trust

AISD Superintendent, Paul Cruz during a press conference in 2016. (LAURA SKELDING / AMERICAN-STATESMAN ARCHIVES) The move by Austin Independent School District Superintendent Paul Cruz to close and consolidate several East Austin schools soon after voters approved a billion-dollar bond package is a betrayal of public trust. Clearly, Cruz’s decision unveiled last week is a departure...
Commentary: How Austin could atone for policies that harm the homeless

Commentary: How Austin could atone for policies that harm the homeless

Imagine that you are an employer deciding between two people who seem equally qualified for a job you are offering. However, when examining criminal records, one person has a clean report but the other has seven convictions. You end the interview and hire the chap who’s “clean.” Now, imagine you are a landlord. The same two people are before you — and both have sufficient funds...
Jack Hunter: Fear mongering over GOP tax plan is getting ridiculous

Jack Hunter: Fear mongering over GOP tax plan is getting ridiculous

In 2013, Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann said on the House floor of Obamacare, “let’s repeal this failure before it literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens!” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham once said that a failure by the U.S. to go to war with Syria would result in Charleston, South Carolina being nuked. Donald Trump said last year, “Thousands...
Herman: Hancock Drive isn’t named for whom you might think it is

Herman: Hancock Drive isn’t named for whom you might think it is

Recently, in an error rectified by officialdom, I noted that an overpass on MoPac Boulevard erroneously referred to “HANCOCK RD” instead of “HANCOCK DR” All of us longer-term Austinites know Hancock is a Drive not a Road, as well as golf course, neighborhood and shopping center. And we know that all of the above are named for Lewis Hancock, Austin’s mayor from 1895 to...
TWO VIEWS: Austin sick-leave policy pushes entrepreneurs to suburbs

TWO VIEWS: Austin sick-leave policy pushes entrepreneurs to suburbs

Once again, the Austin City Council is overreaching on an issue that was never intended to be governed at the municipal level. And, once again, Austin businesses will pay the price if they choose to keep their businesses here. When the City Council decided to require Austin businesses to provide paid sick leave to all employees, it also further decided that Austin isn’t a place where businesses...
TWO VIEWS: Sick-leave policy lifts struggling workers, city’s economy

TWO VIEWS: Sick-leave policy lifts struggling workers, city’s economy

The restaurant industry has been instrumental in educating consumers about the health and environmental benefits of sustainably farmed produce and humanely raised animals; we believe it is time for us to catch up to other sectors with how we pay our employees and what benefits we provide. Because our employees are consumers as well as workers, we believe that providing good jobs in an industry that...
Commentary: It’s time for Texas to step up on computer science

Commentary: It’s time for Texas to step up on computer science

More than four dozen K-12 students from across Texas will travel to the Capitol on Monday to kick off Computer Science Education Week with an Hour of Code. This landmark event includes a coding tutorial on the floor of the House Chamber and demonstrations with cutting-edge technologies, such as robots, drones and virtual reality. Hour of Code — hosted by the University of Texas at Austin&rsquo...
Commentary: Why toll lanes for I-35 are the wrong solution

Commentary: Why toll lanes for I-35 are the wrong solution

What part of “no” do some public officials not understand? Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick put the kibosh on more toll lanes for several Texas Department of Transportation projects, including Interstate 35. Almost immediately, state Sen. Kirk Watson and other area politicians cried foul. They insist that state money simply isn’t available to build all the free highway lanes...
Why we can safely assume Michael Flynn has flipped

Why we can safely assume Michael Flynn has flipped

It’s very likely that President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser and close confidante is now a confidante of an investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russians to meddle in the election. There’s one reason - one criminal charge, actually - that lets us safely assume Michael Flynn switched sides: He pleaded guilty to one charge of lying to...

Letters to the editor: Dec. 18, 2017

Re: Dec. 5 article, “UT seeking 2 percent increase in tuition in 2018, and again in 2019,” and Dec. 7 article, “UT graduate students protest low wages, possible tax on waived tuition.” Two recent articles caught my eye in the Statesman. One was that the cost of tuition could increase at the University of Texas. The other was about UT graduate students protesting the proposed...

Opinion: Roy Moore debacle wasn’t all Steve Bannon’s fault

Republican politics was starting to feel like a version of Mel Brooks’ “The Producers.” In the play, two scammers devise a tax write-off scheme in which they will make a killing by losing money on a Broadway show. They reach for the most grotesque, tasteless musical the human mind can conceive — “Springtime for Hitler” — and are undone when it’s a surprise...
‘Stormlight Archive’ series continues with gripping third book

‘Stormlight Archive’ series continues with gripping third book

Brandon Sanderson’s “Oathbringer” is an epic fantasy about the return of an ancient, world-destroying evil. God is dead. And Odium, the god who killed the Almighty, is unleashing terrible monsters to destroy humankind. Dalinar Kholin has bonded with the powerful spren known as the Stormfather and led his people to the lost city of Urithiru, but his work is just beginning. Now he...

Facebook comments: Dec. 17, 2017

As reported by the American-Statesman’s Kevin Lyttle, Austin city staffers identified eight city-owned sites that could house a Major League Soccer stadium or practice facility. Precourt Sports Ventures, owners of Columbus Crew SC, announced in October that it was exploring a move to Austin. The possible stadium sites include three pieces of parkland: Butler Shores Metropolitan Park, Guerrero...

Letters to the editor: Dec. 17, 2017

Re: Dec. 13 commentary, “Your new home in the country comes with new billboards.” As residents of Driftwood, it with sadness and displeasure that we voice our strong opposition to the billboards and storage facilities that are being placed along this scenic and iconic stretch of roadway in the Texas Hill Country. FM 1826, leading to the legendary Salt Lick BBQ, various tourist venues,...

Opinion: Chance to drill off Florida’s coast has some salivating

Donald Trump’s feverish war on the American wilderness compels us to celebrate an unexpected voice of conscience, rare as it might be. Last week, Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Miami and 11 other House Republicans co-signed a letter asking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to remove from the tax-reform bill a provision that will allow oil-drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. To no one&rsquo...

Opinion: Whirlpool has Washington in a spin cycle

WASHINGTON — A household appliance will be the next steppingstone on America’s path to restored greatness. The government is poised to punish many Americans, in the name of protecting a few of them, because, in the government’s opinion, too many of them are choosing to buy foreign-made washing machines for no better reason than that the buyers think they are better. If you are wondering...

Letters to the editor: Dec. 16, 2017

Re: Dec. 11 commentary, “Two Views: This was the year Texas bucked restrictive local policies.” James Quintero’s commentary is a lot of hogwash and jibber-jabber. It was not cities, counties and school districts that came up with the issue of local control, but the tea party Republicans. This position is not that local governments know best; it is the people who elect their local...
SantaCruz: Proposed downtown soccer stadium will need parking options

SantaCruz: Proposed downtown soccer stadium will need parking options

A new 20,000–seat stadium with no on-site parking in downtown Austin? It’s a fairy tale, right? Who is to say. What is certain is that this is what owners of Major League Soccer team Columbus Crew SC envision for their potential move to Austin’s Butler Shores. From a soccer fan’s standpoint, I share in this wishful thinking. Transportation network companies like Ride Austin...
Letters to the editor: Dec. 15, 2017

Letters to the editor: Dec. 15, 2017

Re: Dec. 9 article, “Surprise snowstorm in Austin brings havoc and joy.” Snow storm accidents on our roads? It’s no wonder. The drivers in this area have trouble driving safe on a summer day when all is hot and dry. The results, year-round, are another example of a state that “gives” driver’s license away by the millions at the Department of Public Safety and on...

Opinion: What should we fight for?

“We will never accept Russia’s occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea,” declaimed Rex Tillerson last week in Vienna. “Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns full control of the peninsula to Ukraine.” Tillerson’s principled rejection of the seizure of land by military force — “never accept” — came just one...

COMMENTARY: Alabama, sweet home of progress

Alabama. Who knew it would become one of the most beautiful words in American politics? It turns out there could have been no better place to test the limits of indecency, the limits of Trumpism, the limits of Republican partisanship and, yes, the limits of racial subjugation. If the angry ideology of the far right cannot make it in one of our most loyally conservative states that was a center of...

Letters to the editor: Dec. 14, 2017

Re: Dec. 10 commentary, “Obamacare will die without the individual mandate.” Toni Inglis claims that without the individual mandate, Obamacare will die. Why? Because it’s expensive and getting more so each year, because the coverage may not be tailored to what the insured wants or needs, or their choice of insurance companies is now so limited? Socialized medicine in other countries...
ANALYSIS: GOP’s missteps turned Alabama blue. Here’s what to expect

ANALYSIS: GOP’s missteps turned Alabama blue. Here’s what to expect

If there was one Republican in Alabama the Democratic Doug Jones could beat, Roy Moore was that Republican. And in a Tuesday night nail-biter, Jones did just that, edging Moore by a mere 1.5 percentage points in a state that hasn’t elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate since 1992. So while the Democrats are celebrating a victory in the special election, perhaps it makes sense to ask: How did...

Opinion: For the holidays, pull a tooth or save a life

Happy holidays! In the spirit of the season, here’s a suggestion: Instead of inflicting a garish tie on your brother or a carcinogenic face cream on your aunt, how about saving a life? It’s time for my annual “gifts with meaning” guide, with suggestions for presents that won’t just clog a chest of drawers. Consider a $20 flock of ducks to an impoverished Bangladeshi family...

Opinion: Let’s liberate blacks from harmful left-wing politics

A new Quinnipiac University poll shows yet another perspective on the deep racial division in our country. According to the poll, 86 percent of blacks compared to 50 percent of whites say that President Trump does not “respect people of color as much as he respects white people.” However the partisan divide is even greater than the racial divide. Ninety-one percent of Democrats compared...
INSIGHT: Why downtown parking garages may be headed for extinction

INSIGHT: Why downtown parking garages may be headed for extinction

For decades, providing downtown parking was a top priority for urban planners. Huge parking garages for commuters’ cars occupied prime real estate that otherwise might have been used for housing, stores or offices. But ride-hailing services and autonomous cars are going to revolutionize parking in cities across the country — in garages, in lots and along curbs. By 2030, 15 percent of new...

Letters to the editor: Dec. 13, 2017

Re: Dec. 6 article, “Applications open for city program that offers street musicians paid performance slots.” Traditionally — and I am speaking from worldwide observations — buskers work for tips. Money from passersbys reward their performances. Austin’s Busking Pilot Program violates ages-old tradition. Yes, I realize a private developer fund will finance the project...
INSIGHT: Why audiences are raving about the new ‘Star Wars’ films

INSIGHT: Why audiences are raving about the new ‘Star Wars’ films

In the 40 years since the original “Star Wars” film premiered, the franchise has been a pop culture powerhouse. “The Last Jedi” – the latest edition in the series – looks to continue the trend, with huge box office returns expected. It also looks poised to join “The Force Awakens” (93 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and “Rogue One” (85 percent)...
INSIGHT: How the ‘Greatest Showman’ paved the way for Donald Trump

INSIGHT: How the ‘Greatest Showman’ paved the way for Donald Trump

Historian James Cook, in his 2001 book “The Arts of Deception,” points to July 1835 as “the birth date of modern American popular culture.” That month, a frustrated grocer named Phineus Taylor Barnum purchased Joice Heth, a purported 161-year-old slave who had been George Washington’s nanny. Barnum furiously promoted her as “Absolutely the Greatest Natural and National...
Letters to the editor: Dec. 12, 2017

Letters to the editor: Dec. 12, 2017

Re: Dec. 7 letter to the editor, “Invest in public safety when waste is cut.” A reader complains about the police as she observed some members in less than “combat” mode in public. The public can not know why law enforcement officers are in any place. They may have been dispatched to a certain location or activity because of previous crimes occurring at that location, or they...

COMMENTARY: Watch out — Republicans are coming for your benefits

Republicans don’t care about budget deficits, and never did. They only pretend to care about deficits when one of two things is true: a Democrat is in the White House, and deficit rhetoric can be used to block his agenda, or they see an opportunity to slash social programs that help needy Americans, and can invoke deficits as an excuse. All of this has been obvious for years to anyone paying...

Opinion: Is flirting sexual harassment?

In 2003 a genetics paper revealed that one in 200 men alive in that year was a direct descendant of Genghis Khan (1162-1227). Khan was the Mongol emperor whose armies swept out of the north to conquer pretty much all of Asia. His successors took big chunks of Europe as well. When Marco Polo traveled to China, he met the conqueror’s grandson Kublai Khan. Khan sent emissaries to the city of Merv...
INSIGHT: Hope after hardship — the story of Rohingya refugees in Austin

INSIGHT: Hope after hardship — the story of Rohingya refugees in Austin

About 620,000 Rohingya — a Muslim ethnic minority from Myanmar’s western Rakhine state — have fled violence this year in a refugee crisis that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson identified as “ethnic cleansing” after a trip in November. The persecution of Rohingya is a decadeslong story — and one that could be told here in North Austin by Mohamad Hussain, 40...
Letters to the editor: Dec. 10, 2017

Letters to the editor: Dec. 10, 2017

Re: Dec. 7 commentary, “Gerrymandering and the great Texas property tax swindle.” Thanks to Mike Collier for bringing attention to the problem of gerrymandering in Texas. Not only has gerrymandering enabled the Legislature’s property tax scam, it empowers religious extremists who drive policy to the far right. Lawmakers ignore actual crises in education and child welfare so they...
Louise Erdrich’s new book full of spiritual questions, observations

Louise Erdrich’s new book full of spiritual questions, observations

The idea that evolution could suddenly move backward may seem like an incredible fantasy, but in Louise Erdrich’s dreamlike, suspenseful “Future Home of the Living God,” it’s a fitting analogue for the environmental degradation we already experience. A biological apocalypse has animals suddenly appearing in trippy, shocking manifestations — a dragonfly with a 6-foot wingspan...
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