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Welcome to my community-building diary series, "Houston, Texas news you can use." As always, opinions are my own. Links, re-posts, comments etc., not necessarily endorsements. I'm an out loud and proud liberal, card-carrying LGBT community member, nonprofit professional, and DKos Trusted User. I appreciate any/all feedback.

Today I want to recommend my good friend Mark Morford's column "Nine amazing truths you already suspected" which includes musings on last week's 2013 NRA Convention in Houston's George R. Brown Convention center.

Did you see the photos from the big convention in Houston? Glenn Beck holding up a rifle? Wayne LaPierre’s mouth contorting in manic anguish? This is the army of the insane and the paranoid, the least compassionate the country has to offer.

Mayor Annise Parker takes part in Houston Registry Week
Campaign aims to get 2,500 chronic homeless off streets. Mayor Annise Parker took part in Houston Registry Week, a week-long campaign aimed at getting 2,500 of the city's chronic homeless off the streets by 2016. Parker said helping the chronically homeless costs about $103 million each year. National studies show that chronically homeless only account for 25 percent of a major city's homeless population but use 75 percent of its resources. About 8,700 homeless people live in Harris and Fort Bend Counties.  Houston Registry Week is part of the national 100,000 Homes Campaign, a grassroots movement of over 175 communities to find and place chronically homeless individuals into 100,000 homes across the nation

News App: Tracking the Status of House Bills
Most of the legislation filed this session by members of the Texas House never made it out of committee. Of the more than 4,000 bills that went into various House panels, more than 2,300 were still there this week when the end-of-session deadlines started to take effect. This new app tells you the number of bills filed, referred to committee and left, forever, in committee after the deadline passed.

Houston VA enrolls 8,000 in Million Veteran program
Last week, the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) reached the milestone of enrolling 8,000 participants in the Million Veteran Program (MVP): A Partnership with Veterans, and is leading the nation in enrollment efforts. The MEDVAMC is one of 49 VA medical centers serving as an enrollment site for this national, voluntary research program conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Research & Development. The knowledge gained will help better understand how genes affect Veterans’ health and illness, with the ultimate goal of transforming health care.

Houston Gets New Rules For Sharing Roads with Runners And Bikers
Today, Houston council members will consider an ordinance to protect pedestrians and cyclists on Houston streets. The Safe Passage Ordinance would require drivers to give wide berth to people walking or riding in the right of way. Houston has 300 miles of bike lanes and trails, but 16,000 miles of street lanes. Given those numbers, it's not hard to figure out that cars, bikes and pedestrians will often share the road.

No Kill Houston
In the last four months of 2013 BARC, the city of Houston's animal shelter has taken in more than 7,000 animals. About 45% of them were euthanized. Those numbers are appalling for Bett Sundermeyer. It's why she's asking Houston city leaders to implement a national no-kill program that aims at keeping at least 90% of animals alive.

Inspired' ads aim to bolster city's arts image
Houston's arts and culture organizations are launching a "Houston Is Inspired" campaign to raise awareness of the city's arts scene locally, nationally and globally. Touted as the first time the groups, as well as individual artists, have collaborated on a single project, the campaign was launched Tuesday by the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureaus at Market Square Park as part of Travel Rally Day.

Houston: The Economy at a Glance
The Houston metro area continues to set the pace for job growth in the nation, recording a 4.5 percent increase in employment from February ’12 to February ’13, according to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That’s three times the pace of job growth for the nation as a whole and faster than any other major metro. BLS reports employment data for 372 metro areas. Only 10 other metros re-ported faster growth than Houston, but they were all significantly smaller. Provo, UT, the most populous of the 10, reported job growth of 5.4 percent, which translates to 10,100 jobs over the past year, or about as many as Houston created in an average month.

City looks at new standards for minority- and women-owned businesses
Houston City Council will consider boosting small, minority- and women-owned businesses' target share of city construction contracts from 22 percent to 34 percent on Wednesday.
The change, part of a wider rewrite of the city's affirmative action program, also would again include women contractors, who were dropped as part of a 2009 lawsuit settlement and saw their work with the city drop by half as a result.

Petrobras CEO calls for greater gender equality
Petrobras CEO Maria das Gracas Silva Foster, considered the most powerful woman in the energy industry, addressed the need for more gender equality as she spoke about her personal rise to leadership in Brazil’s national oil company. “I feel somewhat embarrassed to note that in 2013, we still have to discuss in a setting such of this, where the most advanced technologies are showcased, something that should have been resolved long ago – the equality of opportunities between men and women,” Foster said. “This dream of equality is still a long way from being achieved.”


Grant Funds Help First-Time Homeowner With Home Purchase
Easter Seals received $59,000 in Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant funds in 2010 through Amegy Bank and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas). The grant funds are leveraged with funding through Easter Seals's Home of Your Own (HOYO) program to assist income-qualified, special-needs homeowners with down payment and closing costs on newly constructed or existing homes in the greater Houston area. This second try was a charm for Mr. James. He qualified for $20,000 through Easter Seals's HOYO, as well as $7,500 in AHP funding, and approximately $6,000 through an Independent Development Account (IDA) with Covenant Community Capital, one of HOYO's partner agencies with the United Way of Greater Houston.

Volunteering By Seniors Hit 10-Year High
Volunteering by senior citizens hit a 10-year high in 2011 with one in three U.S. volunteers age 55 and older. More than 20 million senior volunteers gave nearly three billion of hours of service, at a value of $67 billion. The data are from Volunteering in American, which uses U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics data. The data is from 2011. According to new data released by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) in Washington, D.C., the percentage of volunteers who are seniors has steadily increased during the past decade.

Pentagon Study Finds Sharp Rise in Military Sexual Assaults
The problem of sexual assault in the military leapt to the forefront in Washington on Tuesday as the Pentagon released a survey estimating that 26,000 people in the armed forces were sexually assaulted last year, up from 19,000 in 2010, and an angry President Obama and Congress demanded action. The study, based on a confidential survey sent to 108,000 active-duty service members, was released two days after the officer in charge of sexual assault prevention programs for the Air Force was arrested and charged with sexual battery for grabbing a woman’s breasts and buttocks in an Arlington, Va., parking lot.

Originally posted to fab 3 on Wed May 08, 2013 at 11:39 AM PDT.

Also republished by Houston Area Kossacks.

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