5 things to know today: Why the Pennsylvania primary could be the most important

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, greet each other on stage during a rally organized by Tea Party Patriots in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, to oppose the Iran nuclear agreement. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, greet each other on stage during a rally organized by Tea Party Patriots in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, to oppose the Iran nuclear agreement. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Here’s what you need to know to stay informed this Wednesday:

1. Why Pennsylvania could be the most important “forgotten” state in the 2016 election.

Now that the New York primary is behind us, we can look ahead to what analysis by Slate says could be the most important primary of this election: Pennsylvania. According to Simon Maloy, because Pennsylvania has a unique delegate system on the Republican side (17 are awarded to the winner of the statewide majority and 54 are wildcards), and because delegates are free to vote differently than what is decided in the statewide election, the state can play a major role in determining who secures the nomination.

2. Band of storms to hit Austin Wednesday.

A large band of fast-moving storms is set to move through the Austin area Wednesday morning, the American-Statesman’s Robert Villalpando reports. The storms, which are headed toward Bastrop, are moving through Austin and have resulted in a significant weather advisory. Hail and strong winds might be present.

3. Whole Foods files suit against gay slur cake accuser.

Whole Foods has turned the tables and filed a counter lawsuit against Jordan Brown, a pastor, who accused the store of selling him a customized cake with a gay slur on it, the American-Statesman’s Claudia Grisales reports. Whole Foods released a video Tuesday, which it says refutes Brown’s claim, and is now seeking $100,000 from the pastor for “intentionally, knowingly and falsely” accusing the store.

4. Ecuador hit again days after deadly earthquake.

Just two days after a major earthquake left at least 500 people dead in Ecuador, a magnitude 6.2 quake struck the same area, Reuters reported. The earthquake was proceeded by a series of aftershocks, but no tsunami warning was issued.

5. Scientists find new unique city-identifier.

It’s not just the food, culture or landmarks that distinguish one city from another — it’s the germs. Researchers have recently discovered that buildings, and the cities in which they’re located, have unique microbial signatures, NPR reports. This discovery could eventually be used to design healthier, more balanced microbiomes within buildings, which better compliment their surroundings.

What people are saying about the Whole Foods cake case

An Austin pastor’s claim that a cake he ordered from Whole Foods came back decorated with a homophobic slur quickly went viral Monday. On Tuesday, the grocery store released security footage from its downtown Austin location that it says contradicts Jordan Brown’s story.

Pastor Jordan Brown takes a moment to compose himself as he is overcome with emotion during a press conference as he speaks about how he felt when he saw a gay slur on a cake he had ordered from Whole Foods. Pastor Jordan Brown and his attorney Austin Kaplan filed a law suit against Whole Foods. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Jordan Brown takes a moment to compose himself during a press conference Monday, April 18, 2016. 
(RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

“After a deeper investigation of Mr. Brown’s claim, we believe his accusations are fraudulent and we intend to take legal action against both Mr. Brown and his attorney,” the company said in a statement also released Tuesday.

Watch the footage below.

The video’s release has ignited a social media firestorm. On the American-Statesman’s Facebook page, the story garnered more than 100 comments in an hour. A sample of some readers’ thoughts:

Daniel Ramirez: “This is disgusting. A pastor (while human and therefore fallible) is supposed to lead people to truth, not capitalize on fear and prejudicial tendencies to promote himself or grow his ministry. For shame, sir. For absolute and nearly irredeemable shame. You hurt the cause and worsen the Kingdom by your actions.”

Greg Hollen: “All these false allegations are teaching people to fight back instead of caving in. Unintended consequences.”

Robert Ranco: “As a Plaintiff’s lawyer, this is unfortunate and shameful. This undermines all who have truly endured discrimination and hatred. This man should be required to pay for any expense incurred by Whole Foods.”

Brian Leon: “To be fair, the writing was clearing different. I was wondering if perhaps a more hateful employee sabotaged the order. What a strange case. I mean we are in Texas there is no need to manufacture a sexuality based hate crime.”

Erica Elfrez: “I am confused as to what this video is actually supposed to show… I watched it… People are checking out. Exactly how does this prove either way?? Maybe I am missing it lol”

Twitter users’ reactions ranged from unsure the controversy was truly over …

… to sarcastic …

https://twitter.com/JeSuisMiIo/status/722502477086478336

… to surprised at the turn the story had taken …

https://twitter.com/MrJoshPerry/status/722497577434755074

… to calling out Brown again.

Learn more about Brown’s claim below.

 

5 things to know today: New York to boost front-runners Trump, Clinton

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a Women for Hillary event at the New York Hilton hotel in midtown Manhattan one day ahead of the New York primary, Monday, April 18, 2016, in New York. Former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, second from right, and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, right, listen. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a Women for Hillary event at the New York Hilton hotel in midtown Manhattan one day ahead of the New York primary, Monday, April 18, 2016, in New York. Former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, second from right, and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, right, listen. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Here’s what you need to know to start off your day informed:

1. New York could push Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump even further ahead.

Both front-runners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have found themselves struggling for a nomination they were expected to claim long ago. New York, the home state for both candidates, could give the pair the boost they need to end weeks-long losing streaks that have strengthened opponents like Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz.

2. Yesterday was Houston’s raniest day ever.

The torrential rain that hit large portions of Central and Southeast Texas yesterday made for Houston’s rainiest day ever before noon, Slate reports. At least five people have been reported dead due to the weather.

3. Taliban claim responsibility for attack in Kabul that kills 28.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for a suicide car bombing that killed at least 28 and left another 320 wounded in Kabul, NPR reports. The attack follows the announcement of the beginning of the Taliban’s spring offensive. The rush hour traffic was said to account for the high number of fatalities.

4. Whole Foods stands by bakery in anti-gay slur cake incident.

Whole Foods has released a statement saying that a bakery team member who was accused of writing an anti-gay slur on a cake is “part of the LGBTQ community,” and the cake in question was packaged and sold with only the words “Love Wins” written on it, the American-Statesman’s Nicole Chavez reports.

5. Taylor Swift makes surprise visit to San Antonio.

Although Taylor Swift made the long journey to Texas to attend the wedding of one of her back-up singers in San Antonio, she didn’t make it quite as far as Austin to say hi, Austin360’s Eric Webb reports.

Send us your pictures of wet weather on this stormy day

Capture
Dark clouds begin to form over the skyline of Austin as waves of rain clouds move through the Central Texas area on Sunday, April 17, 2016. A low pressure weather front sitting over Colorado has forcasts warning of heavy rains throughout the week with possible flooding. RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN

What’s weather looking like today? Large portions of Central and Southeast Texas woke up to severe weather and are experiencing torrential rainfall. Houston reportedly received 16 inches of rain in 24 hours, leaving many neighborhoods and streets flooded. Although the rain hasn’t been quite as heavy in the Austin area, flash flood warnings have been issued for some areas and several school districts either delayed or canceled school for the day.

We want to see what weather looks like wherever you’re at in Austin. Send us your pictures of cloudy skies, flooded streets and just generally wet and drab conditions at readerphotos@statesman.com or on Twitter @statesman.

Keep up with weather updates throughout the day here (or by downloading our Statesman weather app), and stay safe!

5 things to know today: Are earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador related?

Empty food shelves at a store after two powerful earthquakes struck the island of Kyushu on Thursday and Saturday, in Kumamoto, Japan, April 17, 2016. Dozens of the area?s mostly wooden homes crumbled and at least 42 people where killed in the twin quakes, which struck in Japan?s far southwest with magnitudes of 6.2 and 7, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. (Ko Sasaki/The New York Times)
Empty food shelves at a store after two powerful earthquakes struck the island of Kyushu on Thursday and Saturday, in Kumamoto, Japan, April 17, 2016. Dozens of the area?s mostly wooden homes crumbled and at least 42 people where killed in the twin quakes, which struck in Japan?s far southwest with magnitudes of 6.2 and 7, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. (Ko Sasaki/The New York Times)

Here’s what you need to know to start off your week informed:

1. Are earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador related?

Although the recent severe earthquakes in both Japan and Ecuador happened within a short span of one another, they are not related, the New York Times reports. The fact that the earthquakes occurred within such a short time of each other doesn’t even mean earthquake activity is increasing. Instead, the consistent data documenting the frequency of earthquakes as strong as these allows for their co-occurrence without any major significance.

2. Storms pose flood threat; school canceled.

Just as was forecasted, this week has gotten off to a soggy start. A flood warning has been issued for Bastrop and Hays Counties and several school districts have either delayed or canceled school for the day. Keep up with weather updates throughout the day here, and take a look at pictures of the recent weather here.

3. Boston Marathon bombing survivors say “thanks.”

The finish line won’t mean the end for some Boston Marathon participants during today’s race. As Today reports, some Boston Marathon bombing survivors will run an additional 3,000 miles across the United States to show thanks to the people who helped see them through recovery.

4. Man sues Round Rock police for killing his dog.

A man is suing Round Rock police for shooting and killing his 8-year-old Rottweiler, Bullet, when responding to an alarm at the man’s house, the American-Statesman’s Claire Osborn reports. Although the police said they shot the dog as he charged, an autopsy showed that the dog was shot while retreating.

5. Amazon Prime to offer monthly service similar to Netflix.

Amazon Prime has announced it will offer a monthly service, similar to Netflix, at $10.99 per month, Engadget reports. The $99 annual option will still be available.

5 things to know today: Ex-Manson follower recommended for parole

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via NBC News

Here’s a few things to help you start your weekend off informed:

1. Panel recommends parole for ex-Manson follower Van Houten.

The decision to parole 66-year-old ex-Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten, who helped kill Leno La Bianca and his wife Rosemary, is set to undergo administrative review by a parole board. Van Houten is the first Manson follower to make it this far in the parole process, the Associated Press reports.

2. 30-story apartment tower set to become Austin’s first “car-free” complex.

Intended to encourage walking, biking and public transportation, possible real estate project The Avenue would be a 30-story luxury apartment tower on Congress Avenue and Austin’s first complex without any space for cars, the American-Statesman’s Shonda Novak reports.

3. Bernie Sanders explains Hillary Clinton’s use of racist term during debate.

During last night’s Democratic debate candidate Bernie Sanders criticized rival Hillary Clinton’s use of the word “superpredator” 20 years ago because, ” It was a racist term, and everybody knew it was a racist term,” Vox reports. The term is thought to characterize young, black Americans as violent or prone to criminal activity.

4. Eight-month-old baby among those rescued from Japanese earthquake rubble.

An eight-month-old baby was just one of the many rescued from the rubble left by the deadly magnitude 6.4 earthquake that struck Thursday, BBC reports.

5. Alamo Drafthouse still won’t have any of your nonsense.

Alamo Drafthouse founder and CEO Tim League responded to AMC Entertainment’s CEO Adam Aron’s assertion that cellphones and movie theaters might have a future together with a statement that adamantly supports the necessity of a no-texting policy, saying the alternative “could seriously hurt our industry,” Austin360’s Danielle Lopez reports.

Reports: ‘Junior the Wendy’s Guy,’ a Texas Union fixture, died Monday

The man owning what were once the fastest fingers in the Texas Union died Monday, according to the Austin Chronicle.

 Junior rings up another customer at Wendy's in the UT Student Union in 2003. (Photo by Laura Skelding/American-Statesman)
Junior rings up another customer at Wendy’s in the UT Student Union in 2003. (Photo by Laura Skelding/American-Statesman)

The Chronicle reports that Ishmael Mohammed Jr., aka “Junior the Wendy’s Guy,” was found unconscious at an Austin bus stop Friday. An examination later showed severe bleeding in his brain, and despite surgery, he died early this week, according to the paper.

Mohammed was the toast of the University of Texas at Austin’s student union for more than a decade, nimbly taking orders for burgers and fries at unbelievable speed. He was “the Rachmaninoff of the register, holding the record for taking the most orders and sales within a 30-minute span, 246 orders for $1,035 — or one order every 7.3 seconds,” according to a 2014 American-Statesman story. Mohammed was the subject of short documentary in 2006.

In 2014, Benjamin McPhaul, a 2011 UT graduate, was approached by Mohammed and found out that the former Wendy’s employee had become homeless after leaving Austin for New York City in 2012 and later returning. McPhaul set up an online fundraising page for Mohammed, smashing the original goal and spreading the word about “Junior” across social media.

Mohammed’s daughter, Kimberly Guerin, told the Daily Texan that the family took her 61-year-old father off life support Sunday morning. From the Texan:

“I know he had been mugged before and that he has had stitches before,” Guerin said. “There have been altercations with people on the street, so they think it was probably a fall, but no one really knows because no one was there.”

Guerin initially set up a GoFundMe page to pay for her father’s funeral, but updates to the campaign indicate that the expenses have since been covered. She wrote on the fundraising page that “We are now going to use the donations to come up with a celebration of his life.”

5 things to know Thursday, April 14: Russian jets fly within 30 ft. of Navy ship in ‘simulated attack’

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In this image released by the U.S. Navy, a Russian SU-24 jet makes a close-range and low altitude pass near the USS Donald Cook on Tuesday, April 12, 2016, in the Baltic Sea. The Russian attack planes buzzed the U.S. Navy destroyer multiple times on Monday and Tuesday, at one point coming so close, an estimated 30 feet, that they created wakes in the water around the ship, a U.S. official said Wednesday, April 13. (U.S. Navy via AP)

Here’s what you need to know to stay informed this Thursday:

1. Russian planes buzzed U.S. Navy ship in Baltic Sea.

Russian attack planes repeatedly flew within 30 feet of a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Baltic Sea and twice passed below the ship’s navigation bridge Monday and Tuesday, the Associated Press reports. Although the planes appeared to be unarmed they flew in what was identified as a simulated attack profile. The ship tried, unsuccessfully, to communicate with the planes via radio during the incident. U.S. officials said they are addressing the matter, while the Navy said the incidents are under review. White House press secretary Josh Earnest spoke out to say, “This incident … is entirely inconsistent with the professional norms of militaries operating in proximity to each other in international waters and international airspace.”

2. Austin police officer shot.

For the second time in 11 days an Austin police officer was shot and survived when a SWAT team member was shot in North Austin, the American-Statesman’s Tony Plohetski and Roberto Villalpando report. The shooting suspect was taken into custody, and the APD bomb squad have been checking the home where the officer was shot for possible explosives. According to police Chief Art Acevedo the officer is in stable condition.

3. One dead, 11 injured in hazmat situation in West Campus.

Possible exposure to hydrogen sulfide left one man in his 20s dead and 11 others injured at a West Campus apartment Wednesday afternoon, the American-Statesman’s Nicole Chavez reports. Firefighters found a “warning sign” on the door of the room from which the chemical was emanating, which read “Stay out: Hydrogen Sulfide.” Hydrogen sulfide is commonly used in chemical suicide, but firefighters said the possibility was still under investigation.

4. Zika virus, birth defects causation confirmed.

After months of speculation, U.S. health officials were able to confirm Wednesday that, when contracted by pregnant women, the Zika virus causes babies to be born with unusually small heads and brain defects, the Associated Press reports. Prior the confirmation experts were wary of drawing the connection. “There is no longer any doubt that Zika causes microcephaly,” CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said. Components of the Zika virus were found in the brain tissue and spinal fluid of the babies born with microcephaly.

5. Haruka Weiser murder suspect Meechaiel Criner “chronic runaway” in foster care.

The 17-year-old suspect in the Haruka Weiser homicide case, Meechaiel Criner, was a “chronic runaway” during his time in Texas Child Protective Services, officials said. The American-Statesman found three runaway reports for Criner during the last 14 months. On March 24 a caseworker at the foster home where Criner had been living called Killeen police to notify them that Criner had gone missing. 10 days later Weiser was killed on the UT campus. As part of an internal review, CPS is now reviewing whether or not guidelines were properly followed at the time Criner went missing.

Eanes ISD is the best school district in Texas, according to new list

Another day, another top spot on a national ranking list for Austin.

Well, kind of. In Niche.com‘s recent listing of the best school districts in America, Austin’s Eanes Independent School District placed second in the country and first in the state. Tredyffrin-Easttown School District in Tredyffrin Township, Pennsylvania was ranked No. 1 overall.

Westlake High School, in Eanes ISD.
Westlake High School, in Eanes ISD.

But keep in mind, this isn’t an official ranking. It’s just an Internet list. Niche graded each district on a number of factors, including academics, health and safety, parent and student surveys and student diversity. The only independently reported information was the site’s parent/student surveys, which were weighted at 10 percent of the district’s actual grade. Academics were weighted at 50 percent, and the study did not take factors like poverty into effect.

The site gave Eanes ISD all “A” marks, except for a “B-” in student culture and diversity. Eanes ISD is 71.6 percent white, according to a fact sheet from the district. The district earned an “A+” grade overall.

Eanes ISD, which is located in Travis County and includes Rollingwood and West Lake Hills, is composed of one high school, two middle schools and six elementary schools and serves more than 8,000 students. Niche reports the district spends more than $18,000 per student, which certainly plays a part in how well it is received.

The only other Texas district in the Top 10 was Highland Park Independent School District in Dallas, coming in at No. 6 with an overall “A+” rating.

Cold War-era film asks: What would happen if a nuclear missile struck Austin?

It’s a hot June day in Austin during the early 1960s. People are taking their usual mid-morning route to work on Congress Avenue, kids are jumping in the cool water of Barton Springs and students are headed to summer school at UT.

Theoretical bombing of Austin in 1960. Photo via Texas Archive of the Moving Image.
Theoretical bombing of Austin in 1960. Photo via Texas Archive of the Moving Image.

To these people, it’s a day like any other. But what they don’t know? A nuclear missile, scheduled to arrive in just 20 minutes, is headed their way.

This is the premise of “Target Austin,” a video project created by KTBC Fox 7 in 1960. The station’s producers decided to make a video resonating with the fear Americans felt throughout the Cold War, according to the Texas Archive of the Moving Image. Fox 7 Austin shared the 20-minute long video on Monday through its YouTube account.

Narrated by broadcasting legend Cactus Pryor and directed by Gordon Wilkinson, the film opens by introducing several characters that are moving through their daily routines in Austin, doing things we still do today. There are shots of a busy Congress full of classic cars. We see the Paramount Theatre screening “Man on a String,” a barber shop at the Driskill Hotel and even boxer Tom Attra selling copies of the American-Statesman downtown.

Then, KTBC radio host Bob Gooding gets notified by an alarm to send out a CONELRAD (Control of Electromagnetic Radiation) broadcast to warn the city. Next, the assistant city manager and city civil defense director comes in and issues a message.

“This is your Austin Civil Defense Director with an urgent message,” he says. “Enemy missiles have been reported flying over Canada heading in a southerly direction. An air raid warning has been declared in this area. This means that possibly within 20 minutes, the Austin area may be hit by missiles. There will not be time to evacuate. I repeat: There will not be time to evacuate.”

Dramatic music ensues, and we’re greeted by footage of B-52s and scrambling citizens. The film then follows the story of the Klukis family, who take refuge in their own personal fallout basement; Carolyn Gilbert, who’s stuck at work, gathering with strangers in the town shelter; and Clarence Phillips, a man who ignores the warning and tries his best to drive out of town but runs out of gas and starts running.

Then the bomb hits. The nuclear explosion hits 25 miles to the west of Austin in the hills of the Edwards Plateau. For two weeks, people are stuck in their shelters until radiation begins to decay and the city of Austin becomes safe.

The video is a good time for anyone who wants to see what Austin once looked like or who enjoys watching the Cold War-themed episodes of “The Twilight Zone,” but honestly, the film ends rather anti-climactically — save for the death of the one guy who tried to get away on foot.

“To Roger and Dorothy and Kathy Klukis, this is the end of the storm,” the narrator says. “To Carolyn Gilbert, this is the answer to a prayer. To Clarence Phillips, this news is of no consequence. And slowly, Austin, Texas, returns to life.”

Though the Cold War has come and gone, theoretical speculation about the local effects of an atomic attack persist. Just last year, the Washington Post asked “What it would look like if the Hiroshima bomb hit your city?