Wade Goodwyn, NPR

At an event Wednesday night, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was met by about 150 protesters who oppose the Senate's efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. On a hot evening, they stood outside a hotel in McKinney, a north Dallas suburb, shouting "shame on Ted" and "save Medicaid."

The by-invitation, town hall-style event was held one day after the senator's appearance in McAllen was disrupted by protesters concerned about health care as well as immigration.

Arguments over Confederate statuary and flags rage on across the South. Confederate memorials in Norfolk and St. Louis were vandalized, the small town of Brandenburg, Ky. welcomed a Confederate statue that the University of Louisville had taken down and New Orleans has now removed four monuments.

Kristen Hotopp stands in the front yard of her well-worn East Austin home, where she has lived for the past 17 years. She points across the street at an attractive, nearly new, two-story home — by far the nicest on the block.

"There are two units on this lot," Hotopp says. "There's a house in the back that's smaller and a house upfront. We're getting investors descending upon the area and buying up a lot of these properties."

Texas could soon follow in the footsteps of Indiana and North Carolina and pass its own "bathroom bill" in the upcoming legislative session. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has made passage of such a bill, which could require transgender Texans to use the restroom which corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate, a priority.

Last year, the Texas legislature approved a $350 million cut in Medicaid reimbursement rates to early childhood intervention therapists and providers. The cuts, made to help balance a billion dollars in property tax relief, affect the most vulnerable Texas children — those born extremely prematurely or with Down syndrome or other genetic conditions that put them at risk for developmental delay.

It's been almost a month since Micah Xavier Johnson murdered five Dallas police officers and wounded nine others following a protest march. In the days that followed, the city's white mayor, Mike Rawlings, and black police chief, David Brown, appeared together openly grieving, offering words of consolation and praising the bravery of their officers.

For the past five years, the Texas Legislature has done everything in its power to defund Planned Parenthood. But it's not so easy to target that organization without hurting family planning clinics around the state generally.

Of the 82 clinics that have closed, only a third were Planned Parenthood.

That the freshman senator from Texas had a good night onstage at the latest Republican debate surprises nobody anymore — Ted Cruz is poised, articulate and smart. He's gaining ground in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, and he's positioning himself to capture supporters from Donald Trump or Ben Carson, should either falter. There's still a long way to go in this contest, but Cruz and his campaign are well-funded, well-organized and confident in his ability to outlast and overtake his rivals.

When you don't know the facts of a given incident, it's human nature to attempt to fill them in yourself. But in the case of Bowe Bergdahl, there's no way you could concoct the narrative the Army's two-month investigation uncovered.

According to the testimony of Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, who led the 22-member team during the investigation, Bergdahl, who was a private first class at the time, quietly slipped away from his bunk and sneaked out of Forward Operating Post Mest in eastern Afghanistan on the night of June 30, 2009.

Tuesday, Rick Perry's campaign announced it could no longer pay his staffers around the country and released them to find other work. His fundraising had dried up. It's potentially an ignominious end to a noteworthy political career that spanned more than 30 years.

In the May 3 "Draw Muhammad" attack in Garland, Texas, there were some loose ends that got cleared up Monday by local police chief Mitch Bates. Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi from Phoenix were killed by Garland police officers after the two men drove from Arizona and opened fire at the event featuring cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

On Dec. 3, Texas is scheduled to execute Scott Panetti for murdering his in-laws in 1992. There is no doubt he committed the crime, and there is also no doubt that Panetti is mentally ill. But he was deemed fit to stand trial, and he was allowed to defend himself, dressing in a cowboy costume in court, insisting he was a character from a John Wayne movie.

Over the course of the last two decades — and many appeals — his case has gained national attention, and it has shone a spotlight on capital punishment and mental illness.

A Diagnosis

When firetrucks blew through the small town of West, Texas, on the evening of April 17, 2013, sirens screaming, naturally everybody was curious. People got in their cars and went to see the fire at the West fertilizer plant. For 10 minutes, they watched from cars and backyards as the fire grew ever bigger. A few moved as close as they could because they were filming on their smartphones. At no time did it occur to anybody that they might be in danger.

The Texas Longhorn football team is trying to regroup after several disappointing seasons under veteran coach Mack Brown.

The University of Texas hired Charlie Strong last week to usher in a new era in Austin. He will be the first black head coach of any men's sport at the university.

Strong has not been a popular hire with some of Texas' billionaire boosters, despite having led an impressive career since 1986.

At 10 on a crisp West Texas morning, five camel-trekkers stand under the open sky of the Davis Mountains. A few feet away, guide Doug Baum and Jason Mayfield load up five camels.

Baum, a former zookeeper, runs the Texas Camel Corps. The group guides camel treks around the world. In the Big Bend region, camels were for a brief time widespread, and the guides have brought them back.

'As Good As They Come'

You have to like a man who brings his own camel to a camel trek. On Mayfield's arm is a tall, beautiful blond named Butter.

Four decades ago, Austin, Texas, had a population of 250,000 and a reputation as a laid-back oasis of liberal politics and live music. Today, the Austin metro area is home to 1.8 million people and has some of the nation's worst traffic congestion.

For years, the city has done little to address the growing problem. But most in the Texas capital now agree something has to change if Austin is to save what's left of its quirky character.

It's not even noon yet but every table out front of the Pecan Lodge in downtown Dallas is filled with veterans with barbecue heaped on their plates, smirking at the gobsmacked newbies. First timers are easily discernible by the stunned looks on their faces when they walk in and see the line.

With the house-to-house search over and the living and dead largely accounted for, the town of West, Texas, began the transition from shock and disbelief to communal grieving.

On Friday night, mourners gathered at St. Mary Church of the Assumption to remember the dead. Many of the dead were first responders who were fighting a roaring fire for 30 minutes before the explosion, which was felt 80 miles away in Fort Worth.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn caused a stir when he suggested that there might be many more people missing than thought.

Sen.-elect Ted Cruz of Texas is a bright young Hispanic star who will be sworn in this week in Washington. The Republican Party nationally hopes Cruz will be part of the solution to its growing problem luring Hispanic voters.

Almost nobody had heard of Cruz when he began his campaign for the U.S. Senate. But when he stepped in front of a microphone, he could light up a room in a way that made the other Republican candidates seem lifeless.

A growing number of lawmakers are indicating they are open to considering new gun control measures in the wake of Friday's school shooting in Newtown, Conn. But while much of the national debate has focused on limiting access to guns, others are suggesting that schools should arm themselves to defend against attacks.

David Thweatt, school superintendent for the small Texas town of Harrold, northwest of Fort Worth, decided in 2006 that it was time to arm his staff. There's only one school in Harrold, a K-12 with 103 students.

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