Five stories that have North Texas talking: Celebrate your pet by launching its remains into space; poverty in the suburbs has doubled over the past decade; George W. Bush and his wife to be featured at a White House event; and more.
A Texas company wants to help you honor your deceased pet by offering an out-of-this-world experience: sending its cremated remains into space. Celestis of Houston has launched Celestis Pets, a memorial service that offers a “unique way to celebrate the life of [a] pet.” Starting this fall, cremated remains or DNA will travel in capsules alongside scientific and commercial payloads, the company says. “Service options include suborbital flights that return to Earth, Earth orbit missions, lunar flights, and missions to deep space,” Celestis Pets says in a news release. Celestis CEO Charles Chafer says the company has received many requests to include pets in its memorial spaceflights. The company has sent cremated human remains into space, including Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. The company has also placed Dr. Eugene Shoemaker’s remains on the moon. Packages start at $995, NBC reports. “It costs $4,995 to get Spot into orbit around the Earth and $12,500 to get to the moon,” NBC says.
- Poverty in North Texas suburbs has doubled over the past 12 years, a new study shows. The Dallas Observer reports on a Brookings Institute study by Elizabeth Kneebone. "The overall poverty trend in the Dallas metro area is demonstrating the same trends we've been seeing nationally, but is even ahead of the curve in some ways," Kneebone told the Observer. "It's even faster than average." The poor population in Dallas-Fort Worth grew about 65 percent from 2000 to 2012 – and poor people are concentrated in impoverished neighborhoods. “More than 56 percent of DFW residents below the poverty line live in neighborhoods with similarly high poverty rates, up from 40 percent in 2000,” the Observer reports.
- Former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush will be featured at a symposium at the White House on Wednesday. The event, called Investing in Our Future at the U.S. - Africa Leaders Summit, will feature a conversation with Michelle Obama and Laura Bush (and will be moderated by NPR’s Cokie Roberts.) The former president will announce the expansion of the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon initiative, which focuses on cervical cancer prevention, as well as breast and cervical cancer education, in Africa and Latin America. The symposium also will feature African first spouses from nearly 30 countries. “This collaboration builds on the Bush Institute’s 2013 African First Ladies Summit, Investing in Women: Strengthening Africa, held in Tanzania," notes a press release from the George W. Bush Institute.
- There are new doubts over a 2004 execution in Texas. Cameron Todd Willingham was convicted of killing his three daughters and executed in 2004. The prosecutor has said authorities didn’t make deals to get a jailhouse informer to testify that Willingham confessed to him. But a story that appears in The Washington Post says that the informer gives “his first detailed account of how he lied on the witness stand.” The story, produced for The Marshall Project, a nonprofit criminal justice news organization, says that the informer lied so he could get his prison sentence reduced and to get thousands of dollars in support from a wealthy rancher in Corsicana. “Had such favorable treatment been revealed prior to his execution, Willingham might have had grounds to seek a new trial,” The Marshall Project reports.
- Denton’s Sarah Jaffe and her new album Don’t Disconnect are featured on NPR’s First Listen. NPR’s Stephen Thompson reports: “Enter Don't Disconnect, which follows a break Jaffe spent dabbling in hip-hop, and which furthers her exploration into impeccably produced Technicolor electro-pop. Jaffe has said that this is the direction she'd envisioned all along — that the more straightforward singer-songwriter fare in her early career was a product of low budgets rather than limited ambitions — and Don't Disconnect's quality and assuredness backs her up.” Listen to songs from her new album here. Jaffe will perform at the Majestic Theatre in Dallas on Aug. 23.