News Roundup: Rice University Tries New ‘Eyes’ To Curb Illegal Trash Dumping

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelApril 22, 2019 1:10 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

Rice University researchers are looking for solutions to Houston’s trash dumping problem. As Houston Public Media’s Eric Stone reports, a research team looked at the issue and found a low-cost solution: signs with stylized eyes:

The team of undergrads chose to include eyes on the signs because of the well-documented “watching-eye” effect. Team member Noah Mengisteab explains:

 “When we were looking at the literature, we found that similar signs that had eyes watching people typically produced positive effects in changing people’s behavior,” [Mengisteab says.]

The team chose 16 sites in high-trash areas in Third Ward, Northline and the Near Northside. They placed prominent signs at nine of those sites and simply monitored trash levels at the other seven. The team returned a month later. They found lots of new trash at three of the seven sites without signs. Where there was signage, only one was in much worse shape than before. Researcher Anson Fung says it’s a low-cost, proactive way to fight dumping.

“Signs are unique in that it stops behavior that you don’t want to happen prior to it actually happening,” [Fung says.]

The team hopes their findings spur future research and convince policymakers to try out the idea.

The Texas unemployment rate held steady at 3.8% in March, with the state adding over 22,000 jobs. That marks the 107th consecutive month of annual growth for total nonfarm employment. The state’s economy also hit a new record last month: According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the civilian labor force reached a historic high of over 14 million people.

Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro is weighing in on next steps Congress could take in the wake of the release of the Mueller report. The former San Antonio mayor and Housing and Urban Development secretary spoke on MSNBC this past Friday.

“First of all, the scope of the lying, of the sheer dishonesty here that’s chronicled in the Mueller report, is just sweeping. I can’t say it’s surprising for this administration or this president, but it is sweeping, and I think it would be perfectly reasonable for Congress to open up impeachment proceedings,” Castro said.

Castro’s comments follow those of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. She’s the first Democratic presidential contender to call on the U.S. House of Representatives to begin impeachment proceedings against the president. The New York Times reports that former El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke has said he wouldn’t blame any member of the House for voting for impeachment, but that the issue would be best resolved by voters in the 2020 election.

West Central Texas, also known as the Big Country, may see severe weather over the next few days. Michael Decker is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in San Angelo. He says there’s a slight risk of severe weather across the area starting Monday night.

“And continuing into Wednesday. A weak front will be moving into the area, and this, along with a lot of moisture, will bring at least an isolated severe chance of showers and thunderstorms,” Decker says.

Decker adds there could be some heavy rainfall locally, especially on Tuesday night and Wednesday.