The second week of the shutdown is, so far, looking a lot like Week 1. Even so, here are a few data points that might be worth your attention:

U.S. civilian defense workers heading back to work on Monday

As The Two-Way's Bill Chappell reported earlier, the Department of Defense is ordering most of its furloughed civilian employees — amounting to about 400,000 workers — back to work.

The Treasury Department is issuing a warning of dire economic consequences that could rival the Great Recession if Congress is unable to agree on raising the debt ceiling and the nation defaults on its obligations.

Update At 3:50 p.m. EDT.

President Obama on Friday praised the Senate for passing a spending bill to keep the federal government operating and called House GOP efforts to tie approving the measure to defunding the Affordable Care Act "political grandstanding."

He said that despite Republican hopes that Obamacare will be repealed, "That's not going to happen," accusing Republicans of threatening to "blow up the entire economy."

No one has the right to precipitate such a crisis, he said, "just because there are a couple of laws you don't like."

During the fifth hour of his televised marathon speech protesting Obamacare, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz caught the attention of Dr. Seuss fans everywhere by pulling out a copy of Green Eggs and Ham on the Senate floor to read as a bedtime story to his children.

House Republicans, meet Sen. Ted Cruz. Ted Cruz, House Republicans.

Given the surprise expressed by some House members at the Texas senator's approach to the defunding of Obamacare, perhaps an introduction was in order.

A few dozen House members Wednesday morning successfully coerced a reluctant Speaker John Boehner into tying the Obamacare language to a must-pass government funding bill. This came after weeks of television ads featuring Cruz and fellow Senate Republican Mike Lee advocating exactly that plan, regardless of the consequences.

Erika Aguilar for KUT News

The Texas criminal justice system is not doing everything it can to ensure the death penalty is applied fairly.

That's according to a report released today by the American Bar Association’s Texas Capital Punishment Assessment Team, which claims Texas fails to meet national standards in all phases of implementing capital punishment.


Let the countdown begin: Sen. Wendy Davis has announced her announcement date.

The Fort Worth Democrat, eyeing a run for governor, said in an email release that she would break some news about her political future on Thursday, Oct. 3.


Wednesday marked 12 years since the September 11 terrorist attacks. The attacks thrust radical Islam into the spotlight and arguably ushered in an era of Islamophobia. But do stereotypes about Muslims actually go back much further?

Should the U.S. Intervene in Syria?

Sep 11, 2013

In the wake of a chemical weapons attack that reportedly left more than 1,400 Syrians dead , the debate has begun on whether the U.S. should intervene. The American people now wait for what steps, if any, the United States will take in the coming weeks.

The Takeaway has responded to this call for a national conversation with special programming.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Jerry Russell, the father of State Sen. Wendy Davis, died Thursday at 77. The news sparks more anticipation for those waiting to hear whether Davis will announce a run for governor in 2014.

Russell has been in critical condition at a Fort Worth hospital since August after complications developed from abdominal surgery. Davis was expected to make an announcement about whether she would run for governor in early September, but postponed the news to take care of her father.

KUT News

September is Travis County’s Voter Registration Awareness Month – and the county Tax Assessor and Voter Registrar are kicking things off with a new online tool to help volunteers find new voters.

Citizen registrars can now use the county’s website to view lists and maps of addresses with unregistered and suspended voters, broken down by Travis County precincts. While the maps do not verify that eligible, but unregistered, voters reside at those locations, the new resource still helps deputy registrars and other organizations identify areas that may be neglected by the voting process.

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman is visiting North Korea again, six months after spending time there with dictator Kim Jong Un — an "awesome" man, in Rodman's opinion.

NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports from Beijing that:

"Rodman was spotted transiting the Beijing airport en route to Pyongyang, sporting his characteristic lip and nose rings, plus green hair.

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in the 2016 election. But to run for president, the U.S. Constitution says a candidate must be a "natural born" U.S. citizen; it doesn't mention dual citizenship.

Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

As his followers know, Attorney General Greg Abbott, widely considered the frontrunner to be Texas' next governor, manages his own Twitter feed. It's not uncommon for him to use it to thank his supporters. 

But his appreciation for a supporter's tweet on Sunday night — one that called state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, an "idiot" and a "Retard Barbie" — has fast become the most controversial moment of Abbott's young gubernatorial bid. And it has highlighted the high-risk, high-reward proposition of letting a candidate handle his or her own social media.     

A Texas judge says he plans to have a special prosecutor review allegations that Gov. Rick Perry abused his office when he vetoed state funding for the Travis County District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit.

The complaint stems from an allegation that Perry said he would veto millions in funding for the office if Democratic D.A. Rosemary Lehmberg did not step down.  Lehmberg was arrested for drunken-driving in April but did not quit her job.

KUT News

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, whose trips to early primary states have sparked speculation about a possible 2016 presidential run, is hitting the road in Texas next week to bash “Obamacare,” stage town hall meetings and press the flesh with the people who sent him to Washington, D.C.

Cruz’s central focus during the August recess remains his drive to defund the Affordable Care Act. But during the two-week swing, he’ll also squeeze in a few fundraisers, take a tour of the Keystone Pipeline near Houston, visit the U.S.-Mexico border, meet with business leaders, go to a military base and attend a ribbon-cutting for a veterans facility in Austin. 

In the war over the right to vote in the U.S., the Justice Department's choice of Texas as the battleground for its first legal action following the Supreme Court's weakening of the Voting Rights Act has a feeling of inevitability.

Reshma Kirpalani for KUT News

The ink had barely dried on Gov. Rick Perry's signature on House Bill 2, a controversial law restricting abortions in Texas, when 200 women filed into the Austin Community College Eastview campus to attend the Women’s Health, Motivation & Empowerment Conference

A free, daylong event presented by the Positive Women’s Coalition and sponsored by Austin Community College, it featured workshops focused on women’s career development, relationships and health.

With Republicans Greg Abbott and Tom Pauken already campaigning for governor, Texans want to know whether Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth will challenge them from the Democratic side.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

This week, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed a law banning abortions after 20 weeks.

It also increases requirements for clinics and doctors that provide abortions. Clinics have a little over a year to upgrade to ambulatory surgical centers. Several clinics are expected to close, leaving women in poor and rural areas the most affected.