The siege of the Alamo began in 1836, but you can follow it ‘live’

Look alive, Texas history nerds. One of our most cherished landmarks is having a big day on Twitter.

Photo by Mauri Ebel
Photo by Mauri Ebel

Thursday marks 181 years since Santa Anna and approximately 1,500 Mexican soldiers arrived in San Antonio for the siege on the Alamo. And, because a lot has happened in 181 years, the official Twitter account of the storied mission has been tweeting updates as if it was happening in real time, “using the words of those who were there.”

They started bright and early on this day in 1836.

Let’s not spoil all the fun, though. Head over to the official Alamo account on Twitter and recap the day’s events. Spoilers: Cannons are involved.

How much money do you need to make to afford a home in the Austin area?

We’ve all heard before how expensive it is to buy a home in Austin. A new ranking reveals just how much buyers might need to make for a slice of Texas capital property.

A house on Garden Street is for sale on Thursday November 19, 2015. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
A house on Garden Street for sale on November 19, 2015. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Business Insider recently ranked the Austin-Round Rock metro area at No. 22 on its list of most expensive housing markets in America. The list ranks the metro areas by the estimated salary needed to purchase a home. In Austin, that magic number is $52,578.

Here’s how the listmakers crunched the numbers, according to Business Insider:

Using NAR’s data on housing affordability, we gathered a list of the US metro areas where the minimum salary required to qualify for a mortgage, with 20% down, is the highest. NAR assumes a mortgage rate of 3.9% for all areas, with the monthly principle and interest payment limited to 25% of income.

According to the National Association of Realtors, in the final three months of 2016 the median home price in Austin sat at more than a quarter of a million dollars — $287,600.

Home prices are even hitting new peak levels in the majority of metro areas nationwide, according to the association.

The American-Statesman reported last month that experts expect 2017 to be a strong year for the Austin-area housing market. Steady job growth and continued demand for homes factor into the high home prices.

Also worth noting: The Austin-Round Rock area is the only metro from Texas on the list. The median home price in the three bigger Lone Star metros are lower than in Austin. In the San Antonio-New Braunfels area, the price sits at $206,300; the Houston-Baytown-Sugar Land area comes in at $224,500; and the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington area goes for $230,600.

If you haven’t hit the $52,578 salary mark yet, there’s good news. In early February, we also reported that rental rates are stabilizing, providing some relief to apartment dwellers.

This photo of a huge snake is a scary reminder about swimming in Central Texas

UPDATE Thursday 4:46 p.m.: Texas Parks and Wildlife has updated its original Facebook post, writing, “There has been some discussion about what type of snake this is. The picture quality makes it hard to say for sure but it’s likely not a cottonmouth, but rather a type of non-venomous watersnake. Waternakes are abundant in Texas waters. A good resource for identifying snakes you see in the wild is the iNaturalist citizen science site at http://www.inaturalist.org/projects/herps-of-texas. You can also learn more about Texas snakes athttp://bit.ly/SnakeFacts.”

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This winter may be uncharacteristically warm in Central Texas, but you may want to think twice about swimming in any of our local waterways.

Texas Parks and Wildlife posted a photo of a massive cottonmouth snake in Yegua Creek near Lake Somerville, east of Austin, on Sunday.

"Dangerous curves going for a swim in the Yegua Creek Sunday afternoon. Looks like this Cottonmouth is not missing many meals," TPWD wrote on Facebook. Photo via Texas Parks and Wildlife / Facebook
“Dangerous curves going for a swim in the Yegua Creek Sunday afternoon. Looks like this Cottonmouth is not missing many meals,” TPWD wrote on Facebook. Photo via Texas Parks and Wildlife / Facebook

The Lake Somerville Birch Creek State Park branch of TPWD wrote, “Looks like this Cottonmouth is not missing any meals” on its Facebook page.

Texans may know cottonmouths (also known as water moccasins) as the dark-colored, sometimes entirely black venomous snakes with startlingly white skin on the inside of their mouths. They mostly live in moist habitats like swamps, lakes and rivers, and contrary to popular opinion, they actually can bite you underwater, according to TPWD’s website. So you’ll definitely want to keep an eye out for these guys if you plan on taking a dip anytime soon.

According to TPWD, only 7 percent of all Texas snakebite cases involve cottonmouths, and less than 1 percent of all snakebite-related deaths in the United States have been caused by cottonmouths.

On TPWD’s education page about snakes and their places in the environment, the agency writes:

Snakes are a natural and integral component of the ecosystem. As predators, they are invaluable for their role in maintaining the balance of nature by helping to keep populations of their prey in check. Their prey consists of everything from earthworms to rabbits, and this includes other snakes. Snakes are especially important in the control of rodents. Bull snakes can be a farmer’s best friend.

The agency also notes that snakes are generally shy and don’t bother humans unless we bother them, and urges you to not kill a snake you come across in the wild because of the valuable function they serve in the environment. TPWD details what to do when you encounter a venomous snake and how to avoid running into one.

Texas 3rd in number of hate groups, with handful near Austin, Southern Poverty Law Center finds

Photo by Larry Kolvoord AMERICAN-STATESMAN..11/11/06....NAZI RALLY.....Members of the national Scialist Movement (Nazis) march through the State Capitol Building at the conclusion of their rally on the south steps of the Capitol Saturday, November 11, 2006. About 20 Nazis demonstrated against illegal immigration including Charles Wilson, center, saluting Hitler as he walks through the rotunda. Police took the Nazis through the rotunda and through the Capitol annex to a basement parking lot to keep them from having contact with counter protestors.
In this file photo from November 2006, Neo-Nazi supporters march through the State Capitol to protest against illegal immigration. Larry Kolvoord AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2006

Texas has as many as 55 hate groups, including several in Central Texas, as the nation saw the number of such groups rise in 2016 for the second year in a row, according to a Southern Poverty Law Center tally released Wednesday.

A census report by the nonprofit group, which has spent decades monitoring hate groups and extremists in the United States, said the number of hate groups operating in 2016 rose to 917, which was up from 892 the previous year.

Texas placed third among the top five states with the most hate groups in 2016:

  1. California: 79
  2. Florida: 63
  3. Texas: 55
  4. New York: 47
  5. Pennsylvania: 40

The SPLC published an interactive map of the hate groups under its watch. A handful of groups operate in Central Texas, according to the map, including:

  • The Daily Stormer, which the SPLC lists as a neo-Nazi group
  • Power of Prophecy, a fundamentalist Christian group the SPLC has accused of being anti-Semitic
  • Southern National Congress, which is listed by the SPLC as a neo-Confederate group
  • the Nation of Islam, which the SPLC considers to be a black separatist group

The SPLC report cited Donald Trump’s successful bid for the White House as a factor in energizing radical right-wing groups and fostering anti-Muslim speech and vandalism.

“The increase in anti-Muslim hate was fueled by Trump’s incendiary rhetoric, including his campaign pledge to bar Muslims from entering the United States,” a statement from the SPLC on Wednesday said.

“The growth has been accompanied by a rash of crimes targeting Muslims, including an arson that destroyed a mosque in Victoria, Texas, just hours after the Trump administration announced an executive order suspending travel from some predominantly Muslim countries,” the statement said.

The SPLC also said it measured a “near-tripling” of anti-Muslim hate groups, from 34 such groups in 2015 to 101 last year.

Austin metro area makes ‘most unauthorized immigrants’ ranking

The number of unauthorized immigrants in the Austin-Round Rock metro area sits around 100,000, based on 2014 American Community Survey data. This places Texas’ capital city at the bottom of a list compiled by Pew Research Center of the top 20 metro areas with the most unauthorized immigrants.

The term “unauthorized immigrants” includes both people who overstay their visas and those who enter the country illegally.

The nonpartisan fact tank notes that “individual metro areas do not differ in rank from those immediately below them.” This means there is little statistical difference between the No. 19-ranked Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla., area and Austin-Round Rock.

The center analyzed 155 metro areas with foreign-born populations of at least 20,000 people.

The Pew Research Center also points out that almost 25 percent of foreign-born U.S. residents are unauthorized immigrants. In Austin, these people make up about 34 percent of the city’s immigrant population, or about 5 percent of the total population of the city.

Two other Texas metros made the list. The Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metro area ranked third and is home to about 575,000 unauthorized immigrants. The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metro area ranked fourth with 475,000 unauthorized immigrants. In both areas, these populations make up about 37 percent of the total immigrant population.

RELATED: Get complete coverage of ‘sanctuary city’ legislation

The subject of illegal immigration has reached a new level of conflict between civil rights groups and government agencies since President Donald Trump’s election. Trump has proposed building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and imposing tax on Mexican imports to pay for it. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott has pressed the legislature to make ending ‘sanctuary cities’ an emergency item. The governor has also cut funding in Travis County following newly-elected Sheriff Sally Hernandez’s policy to limit the sheriff’s office’s cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Bee infestation causes honey to drip down walls of Texas woman’s home

A Texas woman spent several days last week cleaning up honey dripping down the walls of her home due to a bee infestation in her roof.

According to KIAH, the CW-affiliated television station in Houston, when Spring homeowner Latanja Levine called in professionals to help with her roof repair, they discovered they couldn’t fix the problem until the bees were eradicated. A hole in the roof was patched so the bees couldn’t get through, allowing workers to repair the roof, but when Levine returned home after the repairs she found the sticky sweet substance was covering her walls.

HOMESTEAD, FL - MAY 19: Honeybees are seen at the J & P Apiary and Gentzel's Bees, Honey and Pollination Company on May 19, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. U.S. President Barack Obama's administration announced May 19, that the government would provide money for more bee habitat as well as research into ways to protect bees from disease and pesticides to reduce the honeybee colony losses that have reached alarming rates. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
HOMESTEAD, FL – MAY 19: Honeybees are seen at the J & P Apiary and Gentzel’s Bees, Honey and Pollination Company on May 19, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration announced May 19, that the government would provide money for more bee habitat as well as research into ways to protect bees from disease and pesticides to reduce the honeybee colony losses that have reached alarming rates. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

“It’s coming in from the ceiling, down to the walls. I’m mopping it up, mopping in the walls. It’s all over the curtains here— just honey. They’re probably ruined,” she told KIAH. “It’s going to other walls and coming through other places and you can see it’s coming through cracks and crevices in the crown molding.”

Levine told KIAH professionals eradicated the bees by smoking them out and putting them back into their colonies. She estimated they captured about 50,000 bees — but there’s one problem. They didn’t capture the queen.

We got you Houston: Fun ways to avoid the Super Bowl

The easiest way to avoid the madness that will surely surround the 2017 Super Bowl’s Texas presence is as obvious as you’d think: Don’t go to Houston.

The field at NRG Stadium is prepared for the NFL Super Bowl 51 football game Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, in Houston. The New England Patriots will play the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51 Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
The field at NRG Stadium is prepared for the NFL Super Bowl 51 football game Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, in Houston. The New England Patriots will play the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51 Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

But if for some reason you chose the swamp over the Hill Country and live in Houston, might we suggest: Leave Houston. Austin isn’t too far, and we have actually everything you might ever want to do here.

If fleeing the Bayou City isn’t an option, Texas Monthly has helpfully provided a few suggestions as to how you can avoid the Super Bowl crowds and still enjoy an H-town weekend:

  • Hit up Chinatown along Bellaire Boulevard and enjoy some of the extensive Asian dining options available. Dun Huang Plaza, a strip mall in the area, is a great spot to stop for a $20 massage or browse through novelty gift shops.
  • If interested in “naval warfare” you can explore Battleship Texas, a giant naval warship, and visit the nearby San Jacinto battleground.
  • Just looking to cruise? (Without the traffic, of course.) Get your playlist ready and drive by the refineries at night along Highway 225.
  • Shop Central American and Mexican goods at the Canino Produce Company’s farmer’s market. Or find “acres and acres of tacos, beer, household goods” at Sunny Flea Market.

For more options or more information about the above suggestions, read the full Texas Monthly piece here. You can also check out the American-Statesman’s food critic’s complete Houston “food odyssey” here.

In Austin and either looking to avoid or looking to watch the big game? We’ve got you covered either way.

Go sports go!

Sign posted at Texas daycare makes internet rounds

You’ve probably heard a frustrated parent or two tell their kids to get off their phones. According to one Texas daycare, it’s not the kids who have the problem.

A sign posted at a daycare in Hockley has made its way around the internet after mother Juliana Farris Mazurkewicz posted a picture of it to her Facebook.

The sign instructs parents to “GET OFF YOUR PHONE!!!!” and asks parents, “Are you happy to see your child??” The sign says that daycare employees have seen instances where “the parent is paying more attention to their phone than their own child” and calls it “appalling.”

Of the sign, Mazurkewicz told ABC News that she was “surprised” the daycare “would be so bold,” but that she appreciated the move. She also said there is a divide in the types of comments the post is receiving, “Half the people are saying it’s not the day care’s business what paying customers do, and the other half are saying that it’s great they are looking after the children’s well-being.”

The post has been shared on Facebook nearly 10,o0o times and garnered more than a million comments.

What do you think? Is the sign out of line, or the kind of reminder busy parents need? Take our poll below:

READ: Hand-held cellphones to be illegal while driving in Austin

It’s the 10th anniversary of Molly Ivins’ death

On Jan. 31, 2007, Molly Ivins died. The Texas political writer who championed liberal causes was nationally famed for acerbic wit. She was 62 when she died at her Austin home after battling breast cancer.

Syndicated columnist Molly Ivins finds inspiration from the cozy confines of her ninth floor office in the State Capitol bureau office of the newspaper at 1005 Congress Ave. June 7, 1999. (Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman)
Syndicated columnist Molly Ivins finds inspiration from the cozy confines of her ninth floor office in the State Capitol bureau office of the newspaper at 1005 Congress Ave. June 7, 1999. (Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman)

From the American-Statesman’s obituary, written by PolitiFact Texas reporter W. Gardner Selby:

In Texas, Ivins was celebrated as a fearless storyteller, whether it was in her recollection of late nights jawing with Democratic politicians or in her moving account of a woman (surely Ivins) visiting the Vietnam memorial in Washington and remembering a man (surely a boyfriend) who had died in that conflict; she did not reveal his name.

The humor that laced her work did not deter her from forceful opinion. In the last column, dated Jan. 11, that her syndicate posted from her, Ivins urged readers to act against President Bush’s plans to send more troops to Iraq.

“We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders,” Ivins wrote, employing one of the president’s self-descriptions. “And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we’re for them and trying to get them out of there. Hit the streets to protest Bush’s proposed surge. . . . We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, ‘Stop it, now!’ ”

The obituary also contained parting sentiments from many of the figures Ivins wrote about:

  • Rick Perry, then governor of Texas: Ivins’ “clever and colorful perspectives on people and politics gained her national acclaim and admiration that crossed party lines.”
  • Democratic politician Boyd Richie: Ivins spoke “her mind about the complicated and sometimes humorous world of Texas and national politics. . . . Texas was a better place.”
  • Former President and Texas Gov. George W. Bush:  Molly Ivins was a Texas original. She was loved by her readers and by her many friends, particularly in Central Texas.”

And of course, it’s only right to end with a few quotables from Ivins:

  • “I’m sorry to say (cancer) can kill you, but it doesn’t make you a better person.” — as quoted in the San Antonio Express-News in September 2006, the same month cancer claimed her friend Ann Richards
  • “If you think his daddy had trouble with ‘the vision thing,’ wait’ll you meet this one.” — on George W. Bush in ‘The Progressive,’ June 1999
  • “If left to my own devices, I’d spend all my time pointing out that he’s weaker than bus-station chili.” — on Bill Clinton, from the introduction to her book “You Got to Dance With Them What Brung You”
  • “I love Texas, but it is a nasty old rawhide mother in the way it bears down on the people who have the fewest defenses.” — from a September 2002 Texas Observer article

East Texas judge deactivates Facebook after calling protesters ‘a million fat women,’ march ‘a hissy fit’

UPDATE: According to the Dallas Morning News, East Texas Judge Bailey Moseley who called protesters who participated in the Women’s March this past weekend “a million fat women” on Facebook, has since said deleting the post was “likely a mistake.” He went on to say that the march was “nothing more than a hissy fit with no defined purpose.”

Following this clarification Moseley deactivated his Facebook account. No word yet on whether or not it was also a mistake.

EARLIER: Judge Bailey Moseley of Texas’ 6th Court of Appeals called the protesters who participated in marches across the country Saturday, which included some 50,000 people in Austin, “a million fat women” in a Facebook post Monday, the Dallas Morning News reports.

Photo by Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman
Photo by Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman

“Just think about this,” the post, which has since been deleted, read, “After just one day in office, Trump managed to achieve something that no one else has been able to do: he got a million fat women out walking.” The post was no longer up Monday afternoon.

The Texarkana judge’s campaign website lauded him for “his strong integrity.”

Find out what people are saying about the Austin Women’s March here.