Archive for July, 2011

Pygmy Loris Twins Born at Moody Gardens
July 29, 2011

It’s a face only a mother could love…but I’m sure the rare set of pygmy loris twins born at Moody Gardens in Galveston are melting the hearts of  everyone who sees them.


                GALVESTON, Texas – Moody Gardens guests get a special treat this summer: the chance to see two rare pygmy slow loris offspring, born June 13, on exhibit in the Rainforests of the World Exhibit.

     “They are very cute,” said Paula Kolvig, assistant curator at Moody Gardens. “We are excited for our slow loris family, and even more excited that our visitors will be able to see them grow up in the Rainforest Pyramid.”

                The addition of the second set of twins is a rare and valuable boost to the population of this primitive primate species called prosimians that are found in tropical forests of Laos, Vietnam, China and Cambodia. These arboreal (tree-living) primates were nearly extinct in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Much of the forests where the loris lived were destroyed. After the Vietnam War, deforestation continued to be a threat. Due to numerous environmental dangers, the species is listed as “vulnerable” by United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

                To assist in repopulating the species, Moody Gardens, an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), teamed up with the AZA to participate in a Species Survival Plan (SSP). The birth at Moody Gardens was a great success of this cooperative breeding and conservation program, which helps ensure the survival of the species in both the wild and captivity.

                The babies were born to mother Luyen and father Icarus. Moody Gardens has had successful breeding and births with this pair since 2006. The parents are 11 and 15 years old and have been an integral part of the Moody Gardens animal collection for seven years.

                “Icarus is off exhibit while the twins are very young, so they spend their day by Luyen’s side for comfort and nursing,” Kolvig said.

Visitors can see Luyen and the twins in the Rainforest Pyramid at Moody Gardens. For information, visit or call 800-582-4673.


Moody Gardens® is a public, non-profit, educational destination utilizing nature in the advancement of rehabilitation, conservation, recreation, and research.


Civil Rights Attorney and Artist
July 29, 2011

Houston Civil Rights Attorney Randall Kallinen is well-known for his controversial legal cases and tireless courtroom advocacy on behalf of his clients.

I recently discovered that Kallinen also has a creative side.

Kallinen’s law office located on the East Side of Houston  doubles as an art gallery, a place where he paints and displays his vibrant works of art.

It was my first time interviewing Kallinen at this location. The interview focused on his request for a temporary restraining order to stop Governor Rick Perry’s alleged use of government resources to promote the prayer and fasting rally scheduled for August 6 at Reliant Stadium. (The federal judge eventually denied the request)

After the interview I had just a few minutes to snap these photos of  his work. I told him he should schedule an art show to let the public know about his artistic side.

Houston Rockets Plan To Help Berry Children
July 26, 2011

 (news release)

Houston Rockets Launch
“10,000 Hugs-to-Help” Campaign


Team to Raise Funds for the Joshua and Robin Berry Children’s Trust


HOUSTONThe Houston Rockets today announced the launch of a fundraising campaign to assist the three surviving children of Houston residents Joshua and Robin Berry who were killed in a tragic automobile accident on July 2, 2011. 


The campaign, which has been tabbed “10,000 Hugs-to-Help,” will offer Houstonians the opportunity to join fundraising efforts by making monetary donations for the chance to get a hug from Clutch, the team’s lovable mascot, at a variety of events planned around the Houston community in the coming weeks.  Rockets Chief Executive Officer Tad Brown will join Head Coach Kevin McHale as the first donors to receive hugs at the campaign tip-off event scheduled for Wednesday, July 27 at 2:00 p.m. at the main entrance of Toyota Center.  The tip-off event is open to the public and donations will be accepted on site.   


“This is truly a heartbreaking situation that has left three beautiful children of our community without their parents,” said Rockets Owner Leslie Alexander.  “Our entire Houston Rockets organization sends condolences to the Berry family for the tragic loss of Joshua and Robin.  We are committed to assisting the various fundraising efforts that continue to be planned around our community in order to help provide Peter, Aaron and Willa with the support they will need in order to overcome the physical pain and devastating emotional trauma they have suffered.”


Joshua and Robin Berry were killed in an automobile accident near Lubbock, TX on July 2, 2011 on their way back from a family vacation in Colorado.  The accident resulted in spinal cord injuries to their two sons Peter, 9, and Aaron, 8, and also injured their daughter, Willa, 6.  Peter and Aaron have been receiving treatment for spinal cord injuries at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston since July 6. Willa received treatment for a broken arm and ankle and is now living with her aunt and uncle who have been appointed as the children’s guardians.


All proceeds collected during the campaign will be donated to the Joshua and Robin Berry Children’s Trust fund that has been established by the family.  Organizations or individuals interested in scheduling Clutch to make an appearance as part of the “10,000 Hugs-to-Help” campaign are asked to visit for more information.  A complete and updated listing of Clutch’s “10,000 Hugs-to-Help” tour stops is also available at



Clutch’s 10,000 Hugs-to-Help Tour Stops:


DATE      EVENT                                                                                                                                                    CLUTCH APPEARANCE


July 27                  

-Toyota Center Tip-Off Event w/ Rockets CEO Tad Brown and Head Coach Kevin McHale                2:00 p.m.

July 28                  

-Baubles for Berrys (I.W. Marks Jewelers–3841 Bellaire Blvd., Houston, TX 77025)                           6:00 p.m.

-Rockets Open House (Toyota Center)                                                                                                          7:15 p.m.

July 31

                -Bounce-for-the-Berrys (two Houston-area Pump-It-Up locations)

                   6030 S Rice Avenue, Houston, TX 77081                                                                           9:30 a.m.

                   923 South Mason Road, Katy, TX 77450                                                                                                     11:00 a.m.

Aug. 21

-Berry Softball/Kickball Tournament (Houston Sportsplex, 12300 S. Main, Houston, TX)                    TBA


**Additional tour stops will be listed on as they are scheduled.

Prayer Not Politics
July 21, 2011

Houston based spiritual leader Doug Stringer has taken on the responsibility of getting the seats filled at Reliant Stadium for Governor Rick Perry’s day of prayer and fasting.

The founder of Somebody Cares and Turning Point Ministries International, assured me that the day will
focus on prayer and not politics.

During our interview Thursday, Stringer said he expected thousands of people from around the country to attend, along with a handful of political leaders.

Everyone will have to follow the same rules: no political signs or t-shirts slamming either political party. Elected officials who attend have been warned they can pray, however, they cannot make political speeches.

CNN is reporting that public response to the prayer and fasting rally is lukewarm. As a result, Governor Perry would attend but not speak.

The event is scheduled to take place on Saturday, August 6, at Reliant Park. It is open and free to the public.


A Bargain for a Beyonce T-Shirt
July 20, 2011

I was walking through the City of Houston’s Visitor Center on Wednesday afternoon when I spotted a great bargain.

An entire rack of t-shirts on sale for $5 each.
These weren’t just any t-shirts. They are t-shirts promoting Beyonce Knowles concert performance at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

I was there. It was an awesome performance and for just $5

Now, I can relive those moments every time I put on one of the bargain t-shirts.

The visitor’s center is located on the first floor of Houston city hall.

Buy one before they sellout!


Sprint or AT&T? Decision Day For The City of Houston
July 19, 2011

It’s the kind of  issue that rarely gets big headlines or becomes the lead story on the evening news.

However,  Houston Mayor Annise Parker and city council members are on the brink of making a major decision that will have a huge impact on emergency communications for the city and your pocketbook.

The issue is a proposed new and lucrative wireless communications contract.

The choices are Sprint and AT&T, both well-respected companies.

The company that is chosen will provide everything from phones, radio dispatch and emergency communications for the city during hurricane season or other potential disasters.

Mayor Parker supports Sprint, because she believes it will deliver faster and more reliable service, including emergency communications,  at a $3 Million costs savings to taxpayers.

To drive home the point, Sprint parked its ERT truck outside City Hall this week.

However,  some council members support AT&T.

AT&T  is also being pushed by the CWA, Communications Workers of America.

There is also a bit of controversy surrounding this decision.  Earlier this month, Mayor Parker’s campaign treasurer, David Arpin, was hired by Sprint to lobby city hall on its behalf.

Mayor Parker replaced Arpin as her campaign treasurer and insisted he would not influence her decision. 



A Rematch In The Race For City Council At-Large Position 5
July 19, 2011

While embattled Houston city council member Jolanda Jones fights ethics allegations, she is drawing a familiar opponent.


Jack Christie, who lost to Jones in a 2009 runoff ,  has announced he will run for Houston City Council, At-Large Position 5, the seat Jones currently holds.

 “After receiving a tremendous amount of encouragement from both past and new supporters to go for it, I have decided to run,” said Christie. “I have heard a lot lately from folks who are ashamed of what is going on in city government. I said 2 years ago that I would do 3 times the job than the current Council Member, I now know I can do ten times better. I will serve with integrity, as I did when I was Chairman of the Texas State Board of Education, but most importantly I will be a leader that Houston can be proud of. “Our city is thriving and growing, despite the national economic climate.”

In 2009, Jones defeated Christie by less than 1% of the vote. 

Some political insiders believe Jones is vulnerable because of the allegations she used her political office resources and staff to run her law practice.

The case has been refered to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office by the city’s Office of Inspector General.

However, Jones also has a lot opponents throughout the city.  She may be down, but it’s too early to say she’s out.

One thing is for certain – this will be an interesting rematch.


Help Homeless Animals By Adopting a Dog or Cat
July 15, 2011

(news release) BARC “Transforms” Pet Adoption Event, In Response to Huge Intake Week

BARC, the City of Houston’s animal shelter, is fighting a capacity crisis.  BARC has received an abnormally high number of kittens and puppies due to an early springtime breeding season that hasn’t let up yet.  High intakes have exhausted BARC’s capability to provide additional space.   “Over the past two days we have taken in over 200 animals and we are beyond capacity,” said David Atencio, General Manager for BARC.  Litter upon litter of puppies and kittens are flooding the BARC facility while many area rescue groups are already full.  

BARC has lowered its adoption fee to $10 for cats and $20 for dogs over the weekend, starting Friday, July 15th.  All animals offered for adoption are spayed/neutered and have received age-appropriate vaccinations.  BARC has been circulating the attached promotional flyer to drum up interest in a new arrangement:  bringing BARC to Houston via a “Tent Sale” in the parking lot of area Kroger grocery stores.  For this event, BARC has partnered with the Kroger store in the Heights area at N. Shepherd and 11th Street.  Volunteers from the Lanier Law Firm will be on hand to “Transform” the area into a mega adoption event.   



Kroger will have pet supplies available for purchase in the tent during the event, and will also provide information about low-cost pet meds now available through the Kroger Pharmacy.   “Summer is a much easier time to bring a new pet into the home, as families tend to have more time to devote to introducing a new pet to their surroundings and helping it adjust,” said Carlene Lormand, Outreach Manager for BARC. 

BARC is also seeking new participants for its foster care program, which is designed to remove animals from the shelter environment until the dogs or cats can be fully vaccinated and made available for adoption.  Nearly any shelter animal can benefit from foster care, and fostering frees up space at the BARC facility.  With additional foster parents, many more shelter animals can be adopted, and ultimately find their forever homes.  In fact, fostering can become a well-loved hobby.  The primary role of a foster care volunteer is to provide a safe, healthy environment for the pet and to socialize them in order to increase their adoptability.  Foster parents learn about their pet, promote the animal to their friends, families and social networks and become the voice and advocate for that animal’s adoption. 

BARC knows Houston can respond during this seasonal influx.  Remember, year-round BARC offers a free “Seniors for Seniors” placement program for pets over 3 years old for Seniors 55 and older.

And, as always, the BARC facility will host Friends of BARC’s Wags to Whiskers adoption event at 3200 Carr on Saturday 12-6 pm with free hot dogs and hamburgers.  The tireless Friends of BARC volunteers welcome all potential adopters, fosters and volunteers with their energy and clear dedication to BARC animals.

The simplest, but most powerful thing you can do to help the BARC Houston shelter, and pets throughout our community, is to talk to your friends, neighbors, and family about caring for pets responsibly.  To donate to BARC online via the Houston BARC Foundation, click here.

We encourage everyone to visit us online at

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Video: Governor Perry Invites You to Pray – As Controversy Grows
July 12, 2011

Governor Rick Perry has released a video message calling all Christians to join him in prayer and fasting on Saturday, August 6, 2011 at Reliant Stadium.

It’s hard to predict turnout, but with  mounting speculation that Perry is planning a run for President, I would expect more people to show up. 

Meanwhile, not all churches are supporting Governor Perry’s plan to hold the prayer event. 

Fort Worth First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, voted unanimously to support those who plan to travel to Houston to protest one of the event’s co-sponsors.

The American Family Association,  has officially been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“We certainly respect the governor’s call to pray and fast for the welfare of our country,” said protest organizer Marvin Vann, “but we strongly object to doing that in collusion with a group that engages in hate speech and, therefore, misrepresents the gospel.” 

 As many as twenty groups are making plans to travel to Houston on Saturday, August 6, to protest outside the gates of Reliant Stadium.

Judge Denies City of Houston’s Appeal Over Red-Light Cameras
July 8, 2011

Late Friday, federal Judge Lynn Hughes set a July 19 court hearing after denying a city of Houston request to appeal his ruling regarding red-light cameras.

For now that means Mayor Parker’s plan to reactivate the red light cameras will stay on schedule while the legal issues are hashed out in court.

The city of Houston issued this statement in reaction: “It appears the court’s attempting to fast-track final disposition of the case so that the city would be able to appeal as a matter of right.”

In June, U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes  ruled last November’s election on red-light cameras violated the City Charter and should not have been placed on the ballot.   He made that decision based on a charter provision that mandates any challenge of a city ordinance by referendum must occur within 30 days of passage of the ordinance. City Council adopted an ordinance initiating the use of red-light cameras in 2004. Opponents did not mount their ballot challenge until 2010.