Alain Stephens

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From Texas Standard:

After a series of bad gambles on real-estate investments and a history of mismanagement, the Dallas Police and Fire Pension system has amassed $2 billion in liabilities. In a panic, employees have been pulling out their money – a move that could potentially bankrupt the city.

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From Texas Standard:

On Jan. 4, 2016, 16-year-old David Molak killed himself. The San Antonio teen had undergone extensive cyberbullying.

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From Texas Standard:

Nearly one million military reservists have deployed around the world since Sept. 11, 2001, according to the Pentagon's Defense Manpower Data Center. Many of those reservists and Guard members rely on receiving benefits under the GI Bill once they return from abroad.

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From Texas Standard:

This is part three of a series on “suicide by cop.” What does it mean? Who are the victims? Why is this happening? 

On New Year’s Day 2015, Marisela Martinez walked into the Hidalgo County Jail swinging what was later determined to be a BB pistol. She said she just committed a robbery at a nearby bail bonds business and she'd shoot anyone who came near. People in the waiting room ran for safety. Officers arrived on the scene. The woman screamed: "Shoot me! Shoot me!"

The case looks like the textbook scenario of someone attempting "suicide by cop” – instances which are happening more and more frequently. But are incidents like this, in fact, on the rise? Or are we simply more plugged in and therefore hearing more about them? 

 


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From Texas Standard:

In October, the husband of a 26-year-old Austin woman called 911 to request help for her from a mental health officer. A few hours later, she was dead.

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From Texas Standard:

Something about the events of the past few days suggests there's a word we'll be hearing a whole lot more in coming months, if not years: nationalism.

Jeremi Suri, a professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, says the period between World War II and September 11 was a period of globalism.

 


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From Texas Standard:

Lewisville, Lubbock, Sherman – just a handful of Texas cities where there will be gun shows this weekend. At any given time, nearly a half dozen cities across the state host weekend gun shows where sellers, buyers, and collectors congregate in what amounts to a firearms bazaar of sorts.

Criticism over these events focuses on a lack of universal background checks for purchasers. But law enforcement agents have been tracking some gun show patrons’ license plates.


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From Texas Standard:

It all started with a battle over information: In one corner was the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. In the other were Texas lawmakers.

The commission holds the details of the state’s Medicaid contracts with large pharmaceutical companies, which show how much the state is spending on medicine. The commission assured lawmakers the state is getting a good deal, but the legislators wanted to see for themselves. In particular, they wanted to know the amount the state was getting back in rebates for name-brand medicine.

 


John Burnett/NPR & Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Editor’s note: This story contains graphic depictions of a crime.

The federal government is trying to disrupt the Texas operations of the Aryan Brotherhood, a white supremacist prison gang. It began in California in the 1960s and spread to Texas in the 1980s. Chapters formed across the country, but the federal government decided that those in Texas were among the most brutal and violent. In 2008, the federal government launched an aggressive six-year operation that landed 75 members of the Aryan Brotherhood in prison.

This highly exclusive, all-white criminal organization rarely talks to outsiders, least of to all members of the press. But NPR’s John Burnett spoke with James “Chance” Jones, a senior major in the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT).

 


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From Texas Standard:

The Texas Attorney General’s office and the Harris County Attorney’s Office are going after shops selling the synthetic cannabinoid Kush. Instead of prosecuting users, the offices have jointly filed 10 lawsuits against Houston-area novelty stores, where up to 40 percent of sales come from the drug. One novelty store has agreed to a nearly $1.2 million settlement after an undercover sting operation.


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From Texas Standard:

In Rosa Brooks’ new book, “How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon,” she writes about how a post-9/11 U.S. military is embroiled in three, not two wars:

"If I were a member of Congress right now, I would be hopping mad."

 


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From Texas Standard:

Texas is being invaded by an aquatic menace. No, I’m not talking about Alligators or Barracudas, I’m talking about Zebra mussels. At the very least you’ve probably heard that name in passing, as scientists and state officials alike have labeled them the scourge of Texas lakes and waterways.

 

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

From Texas Standard:

A few weeks ago the U.S. Department of Justice announced they will end federal use of privately run prisons. Now their attention has turned to the country’s use of private immigration detention facilities.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement Monday that he has ordered the homeland security advisory council to review processes and costs related to these facilities.

 


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From Texas Standard:

Concerns are growing over something that's being called the "kill pill" – drugs laced with fentanyl, one of the most powerful prescription painkillers in the world.

Pills laced with fentanyl were linked to Prince's death earlier this year. According to the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, incidents of law-enforcement officers finding drugs containing fentanyl have jumped 426 percent from 2013-2014, the latest figures available.

 


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From Texas Standard:

The federal government announced that it's phasing out its use of privately run prisons and now, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is warning that it too could close prisons, lay off 1,200 employees and stop providing certain inmate services – but not because of privatization.

Mike Ward, Austin bureau chief for the Houston Chronicle, says, like other states, Texas has fewer inmates now than in recent years.

 


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From Texas Standard:

Americans use social media for a variety of reasons – to stay connected to family and friends, to share something funny, and increasingly, to get news and express political opinions.

Now, a new study from the Pew Research Center suggests that the way that Americans use and consume social media is closely tied to race. It found that there's a significant difference between the way that black and white adults use social media when it comes to race-based content. Black social media users were about twice as likely as their white counterparts to say that the content they see on social networks is race-related. A similar gap appeared when asked about their own posting habits.

 


Courtesy Justin Bohannon

From Texas Standard:

Two shootings in July: one in Dallas, the other in Baton Rouge. First, a sniper shot down five police officers at a protest. A few weeks later a man ambushed and killed three police officers.

It’s been over a month since the two shootings, and there are still a lot more questions than answers. You can’t talk about one without mentioning the other – both incidents were eerily similar. There were two different shooters, both of them black, both upset about recent police violence. There is also another similarity, one that hasn’t been mentioned a lot – they were both black veterans.

The facts immediately bring up a lot of questions, ones about post-traumatic stress disorder, collective trauma and race. But there's one question we haven't found the answer for yet: What would push someone to commit such an act?

Justin Bohannon is a combat vet from the Army. At the time of his deployment he was also one of the few black soldiers in his unit. Bohannon said he experienced racist jokes, tougher punishments and a general sense of isolation. I asked him how he overcame racism on the front lines – he said he didn’t.

 


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From Texas Standard:

The U.S. Justice Department has handed out over 900 years of prison time to members of white supremacist group the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas.

Nearly 75 of the group's members have been convicted after a six-year federal probe aimed to dismantle the organization. A federal prosecutor says the convictions have backed the group into a corner, and the organization is now in "absolute chaos."

 


Courtesy Alex Horton

From Texas Standard:

The parents of Army Captain Humayun Khan have spent the last few days in the national spotlight, clashing with Donald Trump. The Khans are just one couple among the millions of parents whose children have gone to war. But the spotlight has illuminated the agonies and anxiety that military parents struggle with but seldom talk about openly.

Alex Horton, a Texan who served 15 months in Iraq as an army infantryman, is now a national reporter for Stars and Stripes. He recently wrote about his parents' experience while he was gone.

 


Pixabay/Brett Hondow (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

Anyone who does regular grocery shopping knows that in many cases, you pay for the name. From bologna to fabric softener, it’s usually cheaper to go with the generic over the name-brand.

That adage is definitely true with prescription medicine.

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