Political news

The number of Central American children and families being apprehended at the U.S.-Mexican border has dropped dramatically in recent months, according to the U.S. Border Patrol. There has been a 60 percent decline in apprehensions of minors since the record numbers making the illegal trek earlier this summer.

A lot of factors may be contributing to the dramatic drop, including heavy rains along the migrant route and media campaigns in home countries dispelling rumors that kids can stay in the U.S.

Texas State Senator and Democratic Lieutenant Governor nominee Leticia Van de Putte released her first two campaign television ads, one in English and one in Spanish this morning.

In “Twice”, Van de Putte calls out Republican Lieutenant Governor nominee Dan Patrick for the cuts to the education system he supported in past budget sessions:

The ad points to Patrick’s 2011 vote to cut more than $5 billion from public education in Texas. The cuts came on the tail end of the Great Recession, which dramatically lowered state tax collections. Patrick has defended his vote, saying the state had to balance the budget and no choice but to cut spending to do it. Van de Putte voted against the cuts in 2011.

Callie Richmond/Texas Tribune

Campaigning for the November elections usually hits high-gear around this time. Political ads and mailers proliferate, which is followed by more one-on-one campaigning.

The nostalgic view often depicts politicians walking through a neighborhood, knocking on doors, shaking hands and kissing babies. But, in a world filled with smart phones, email blasts and geo-targeting, how has technology changed the door-to-door campaign?

Stephen Spillman & Cooper Neill/Texas Tribune

There will be a late September debate after all between gubernatorial hopefuls Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis.

Davis' campaign announced Wednesday that it had agreed to a Sept. 30 debate in Dallas with Abbott, an event that will be sponsored by KERA, NBC5/KXAS-TV, Telemundo 39 and The Dallas Morning News.

Bryan Winter/KUT

Of the seven current Austin City Council members, four are running for city office this November. Their current positions give them the name recognition, branding and political resumes an unknown challenger may not have.

But they also tow a fine line between their everyday council duties and their campaign duties.

Graphic by the Texas Tribune

Lower taxes and less government spending are hallmarks of Texas Republican leadership, and any candidate hoping to get through a GOP primary in Texas.

But making cuts at the state level hasn't actually stopped some spending, or the need to raise revenues to pay for infrastructure projects that, without state and federal money, counties and municipalities can't shoulder on their own.

The U.S. is adding 350 more troops to help protect the American Embassy in Baghdad and its support facilities in the Iraqi capital.

That raises the number of U.S. forces in Iraq to more than 1,000, officials told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The additional troops, which were requested by the State Department, will not serve in a combat role.

Callie Hernandez for KUT News

Labor Day typically marks the homestretch of campaigns, both locally and statewide.

In Austin, 72 candidates across 10 districts, in addition to six mayoral candidates, should expect to have their schedules packed with forums, campaign appearances, stump speeches and fundraisers. But, amid all that hustle and bustle, will candidates get to know their districts and hear their voters before the Election Day?

Updated 5:09 a.m. Wednesday:

U.S. officials say the video showing the beheading of a second U.S. journalist by militants of the Islamic State is authentic. "The U.S. Intelligence Community has analyzed the recently released video showing U.S. citizen Steven Sotloff and has reached the judgment that it is authentic," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement Wednesday.

Original Post:

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Last night at around 7 p.m. Gov. Rick Perry tweeted an image from the blog the Patriot Post, which included a meme calling Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg “the most drunk democrat in Texas.”

The meme, which you can view below, reads “I don’t always drive drunk at 3x the legal blood alcohol limit…but when I do, I indict Gov. Perry for calling me out about it.” Perry since walked back the retweet but, it seems, not quickly enough. The tweet was picked up by screen-grabbers nationwide, garnering coverage from Mashable and the Huffington Post among others.

Shortly after, Perry deleted the tweet, saying he didn’t condone its message.

Photo courtesy The Texas Tribune for KUT News

Republican candidate Greg Abbott has reversed his decision to appear in the only gubernatorial debate to be broadcast on statewide television. 

Abbot and his Democractic opponent, Wendy Davis, had both agreed to participate in a roundtable debate in Dallas on Sept. 30 broadcast on WFAA.  But Abbott's team reversed an earlier decision and said it will not participate because of disagreements with the round-table format. 

Emily Ramshaw, editor of the Texas Tribune, joins Texas Standard host David Brown to discuss Abbott's decision and whether the 2016 presidential election speculations are over-shadowing the Texas governor's race.  

Updated at 4:47 p.m.

President Obama blamed Russia for the violence in Ukraine and said its "incursion" into the former Soviet state will only carry additional costs.

"Russia has deliberately and repeatedly violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and the new images of Russian forces inside Ukraine make that plain for the world to see," Obama said at a White House news conference on Thursday.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Security at the Texas-Mexico border has grown exponentially after an influx of undocumented, and often unaccompanied, migrant children in recent months. In response to the surge, Texas Governor Rick Perry has deployed up to one thousand National Guard troops. In addition, there's been a surge in federal Border Patrol agents and Department of Public Safety troopers.

Suffice to say, there are a lot of boots on the ground along the Rio Grande. But what exactly is the role and responsibility of every local, state and federal agency in securing the border?

A U.S. citizen reportedly fighting alongside a terrorist group in Syria has died, the White House says.

The National Security Council has not said whether Douglas McAuthur McCain was fighting for the group that calls itself the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL), NPR's Dina Temple-Raston reports. The Islamic State has claimed him, though.

"They actually put out a statement that said that he had died in battle," Temple-Raston tells our Newscast Desk.

President Obama has authorized surveillance flights over Syria, The Associated Press and The New York Times are reporting this morning, citing unnamed U.S.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Lawyers for Gov. Rick Perry challenged his indictment in legal filings Monday, calling the charges unconstitutional and asking the courts to throw them out.


Mark McKinnon is best known as a longtime advisor for President George W. Bush, but recently he’s been taking a surprisingly liberal stance on a popular topic – gay marriage. In opposition to many of his GOP compatriots, McKinnon has been campaigning to bring same sex marriage to the Lone Star State. The Texas Standard’s David Brown speaks with McKinnon on his stance and how he plans to go about it.

After two weeks of sometimes violent protests, the family of Michael Brown finally took some time to mourn on Monday.

The funeral service for the unarmed 18-year-old killed by officer Darren Wilson was held in a St. Louis megachurch.

Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, and his father, Michael Brown Sr., entered the church in silence.

At a rally on Sunday, that's what Brown called for: calm and peace while his son was laid to rest.

Updated at 5:05 p.m. ET

A week after the gruesome beheading of American journalist James Foley by Islamic State militants, another extremist group, the official al-Qaida affiliate operating in Syria, has quietly freed another U.S. journalist held for nearly two years.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

The indictment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry on criminal charges has gained national attention – particularly since Gov. Perry is being seen as a possible presidential contender.

In a speech given at the conservative Heritage Foundation, Perry defended himself by saying he was acting within the constitutional boundaries of his veto authority. While much of the debate has centered around Perry’s veto authority, the real legal debate is much more serious.