By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
There's bad news if you live in the Gulf Coast town of Quintana: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has finished its report on a proposed liquefied natural gas terminal, and basically much of your town could be immolated in a matter of seconds if something goes wrong.
The good news: You don't have to move! Stay right there and put some spice in your life, is what FERC thinks.
Heavily condensed LNG is about as stable as Courtney Love on a bender, but some cash-starved Texas towns have been eagerly bidding to be home for a new port to handle the stuff. Opponents hoped that FERC's report would show officials just how dangerous the material was.
The feds came through with flying colors -- FERC noted that a hole punched in the side of an LNG tanker could result in a major fire. Plastic would melt if it was anywhere within eight-tenths of a mile of the ship. Residents in that same area would suffer severe pain within 13 seconds and get hit with second-degree burns within 30 seconds.
Within the 4,340-foot danger zone in Quintana, FERC says, are "120 to 300 homes," which means either FERC is pretty darn casual about counting homes, or Quintanians are pretty darn casual about home construction. The danger zone also features a bird sanctuary and county beaches.
Not to worry, says FERC -- they approved the project. And they didn't require developers to file bothersome paperwork dealing with things like emergency evacuations or first-response plans.
"They can go ahead and construct it" and file that stuff later, says FERC spokeswoman Tamara Young-Allen, who doesn't live in Quintana.
Residents will be exposed to the danger all during the ten- to 12-hour period an LNG tanker is at the dock. But let's be real -- there ain't much in the way of thrills when you live in Quintana. Why should the federal government deny them a chance to live on the edge?
Host of a Chance
All-Star fever is ablaze across Houston, with the buzz surrounding baseball's showcase easily drowning out what passed for hubbub back when the Patriots were taking on the Panthers. Already caravans full of Seattle Mariners fans have pulled into town, booked complete floors of posh hotels and started blithely dropping C-notes on merchants all over downtown.
Or at least we're assuming that's happening, since our deadline is too early to see if all the rosy predictions of the convention-booster types actually came true.
Hosting a baseball All-Star game, it turns out, is a mixed blessing, at least if you're the manager of the host team. Relentless research by the Hair Balls baseball division reveals that hosting the game is a feast-or-famine thing -- of the last eight teams to host, four went on to the playoffs the year they hosted, and the other four fired their manager that year.
"I'm not going to comment on that," says Astros president Tal Smith, refusing to accept the divine truth of the All-Star Host Thrive-Or-Die Curse. "I think it's an interesting coincidence, but that's all it is."
We'll see, o ye of little faith.
The Well-Dressed Home Invader
Crime Stoppers' Crime of the Week for June 28 was a house break-in that happened in April in the 200 block of Heights Boulevard. The "alleged perpetrator," as the cops say, stormed into a residence and ordered a man and his daughter to lie down on the floor. When he hit the girl, the father jumped on the guy and eventually threw him out of the house, sending him howling in full retreat.
But during the struggle, the criminal genius dropped a camera. It might have fallen from his car, or maybe he carried it in to memorialize his work, or simply to prove to his boss that yes, dammit, he had hit a house that day.
The disposable camera was retrieved, and although it was crushed, several pictures were able to be developed. And they revealed a man who was stylin'. Six feet tall and 270 pounds, sure, but carrying that weight in a snappy black suit with tuxedo pants and a sharp hat. (And a pistol, but we're sure that was just for show.)
"He was dressed for success, wasn't he?" says Crime Stoppers head Kim Ogg. "We've had idiots who've dropped their wallets at the scene -- you gotta love that, that's too crazy -- but this is the first I've come across where the guy drops a camera with pictures of himself."
Although tips are pouring in -- so far, however, no one's called to ask where the guy got that great outfit -- no arrests have been made.
If you know this sharp-dressed man, you can pick up $5,000 by calling 713-222-TIPS.