Politics

Syria
6:09 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Al-Qaida's Syrian Affiliate Frees U.S. Journalist Held Since 2012

In this image made from undated video obtained by The Associated Press, a man believed to be Peter Theo Curtis, a U.S. citizen held hostage by an al-Qaida linked group in Syria, delivers a statement.
AP

Originally published on Sun August 24, 2014 6:13 pm

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.

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Politics
4:40 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Interview: Rick Perry's Indictment is About More Than a Veto

During a press conference at the Texas State Capitol, Gov. Rick Perry called the indictment against him a farce and an "abuse of power."
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. 

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Texas Standard
2:47 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Evan Smith on the Rick Perry Indictment: 'Nobody Knows Anything'

Texas Tribune editor Evan Smith says Rick Perry's indictment – which launched many memes – will be settled in court. "These rallies and public relations efforts and expensive lawyers and ice cream cones … it does not make a bit of difference."

This week was a big week for Texas Politics. Evan Smith, editor-in-chief of The Texas Tribune, joins Texas Standard host David Brown to talk about Rick Perry's indictment and whether or not the controversy will be a political win for the self-described "awesome" governor.

"They sound serious, but we don’t know what they’re about," Smith says of the charges. "The reality is that nobody knows what they’re about."

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Perry Indictment
12:20 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Perry Lawyers Will File Motion to Dismiss Indictments

Governor Rick Perry speaks to the press and supporters outside the Travis County Criminal Justice Complex on August 19, 2014.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

A Travis County judge is giving Governor Rick Perry’s criminal defense attorneys until next Friday to file a motion to dismiss the two felony charges against him.

Perry was indicted by a grand jury in Austin on felony charges for abuse of his office. He allegedly threatened to veto funds for Travis County's Public Integrity Unit, an anti-corruption unit, unless Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, didn’t resign in the wake of drunk driving arrest in 2013.

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Politics
9:19 am
Thu August 21, 2014

Perry Will Tap Campaign Account to Pay Attorneys

Governor Rick Perry speaks to the press and supporters outside the Travis County Criminal Justice Complex on August 19, 2014.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Gov. Rick Perry, who has been using taxpayer dollars to pay his defense lawyers, will tap campaign funds from now on to compensate the attorneys who are fighting his felony indictments, his spokesman said Wednesday night.

Perry spokesman Felix Browne said the governor, who has blasted the indictments as a "farce," did not want to saddle taxpayers with the cost of a wrongful prosecution.

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Ferguson
7:49 am
Wed August 20, 2014

Ferguson Update: Holder Writes Op-Ed; City Calls For Nighttime Calm

Protesters walk on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Mo., on Tuesday. Protests have been going on for more than a week after the police shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown.
Michael B. Thomas AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue August 19, 2014 7:26 pm

Attorney General Eric Holder has made a pledge to Ferguson, Mo., where 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer on Aug. 9.

"Our investigation into this matter will be full, it will be fair, and it will be independent," he wrote in an op-ed for the St. Louis Dispatch. He added, "Long after the events of Aug. 9 have receded from the headlines, the Justice Department will continue to stand with this community."

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Islamic State
6:40 am
Wed August 20, 2014

U.S. Authenticates Video Of Militants Beheading American Journalist

James Foley in Aleppo, Syria, in September 2012.
Manu Brabo/freejamesfoley.org AP

Originally published on Wed August 20, 2014 3:40 pm

This post was updated at 2:25 p.m. ET.

A video that was released online Tuesday in which the extremist group the Islamic State claimed to behead American journalist James Foley is authentic, according to U.S. intelligence analysts. Foley was abducted in Syria in 2012.

The video was uploaded to YouTube on Tuesday afternoon and later removed; since then, it has resurfaced elsewhere online. The images show Foley kneeling next to a masked militant and reciting comments against the U.S. before being killed.

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Perry Indictment
11:21 am
Sun August 17, 2014

Perry Compares Indictment to IRS Scandal

Texas Governor Rick Perry appearing on Fox News Sunday on August 17, 2014.
Fox News Sunday

The indictment of Governor Rick Perry on charges of abuse of power and coercion follows a general pattern in the U.S. of the “rule of law not being followed,” Perry said this morning on Fox News Sunday, adding it’s partly the result of a “government out of control.”

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Perry Indictment
4:43 pm
Sat August 16, 2014

Demystifying Legal Language Around Perry Indictment

During a press conference at the State Capitol Saturday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry calls the indictment against him a "farce" and an "abuse of power."
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT

Texas Governor Rick Perry is facing accusations he broke the law two times when he threatened to veto state funding for a unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office that investigates public corruption. The story includes a lot of legal terminology, so here’s a decoder.

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Perry indictment
2:56 pm
Sat August 16, 2014

Governor Perry Blasts Indictment as “Farce”

During a press conference at the State Capitol, Texas Gov. Rick Perry calls the indictment against him a "farce" and an "abuse of power."
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT

Texas Governor Rick Perry firmly rejected criminal charges connected to his 2013 veto of state funding for a public corruption unit in the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, labeling the prosecution a “farce” and promising to defend himself vigorously.

“I cannot and I will not allow this to happen,” Perry said at a brief news conference at the State Capitol this afternoon.

“I intend to fight against those who would erode our state’s constitution and laws purely for political purposes, and I intend to win,” he said.

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Perry Indictment
9:09 am
Sat August 16, 2014

What's Behind Those Abuse-Of-Power Charges Against Perry?

Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks at the Des Moines Register's Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair on Tuesday. Late Friday, Perry was indicted on abuse-of-power charges.
Charlie Neibergall AP

Originally published on Sat August 16, 2014 12:20 pm

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, considered a possible GOP presidential candidate in 2016, was indicted on felony abuse-of-power charges late Friday in connection with his veto of funding for state public corruption prosecutors.

The case, which has been bubbling for months, is complicated. Here's a closer look at what we know from various sources:

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Politics
8:31 pm
Fri August 15, 2014

TIMELINE: Governor Rick Perry's Felony Indictment

Gov. Rick Perry holds his Texas driver's license and his wallet as he heads to a west Austin early voting site on October 30, 2013.
Credit Bob Daemmrich via Texas Tribune

For the first time in nearly a century, the Texas governor is facing felony charges.

Rick Perry has been indicted by a Travis County grand jury for abuse of office and coercion. The charges mean the sitting governor will be booked and arraigned (with fingerprints and a mugshot); they carry possible jail sentences up to 109 years.

At the heart of the charges is whether or not Perry abused his power by threatening to veto $7.5 million in state funding for the Travis County District Attorney's Public Integrity Unit.

How did we get here? We've collected KUT's coverage of this story up until this point to bring you up to date. It begins with the arrest of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg last year.

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Politics
7:36 pm
Fri August 15, 2014

Governor Rick Perry Indicted on Two Felony Charges

Texas Governor Rick Perry.
Ben Philpott/KUT News

Editor's note: We are continuing to update this post with reaction and developments in this story.

A Travis County grand jury has indicted Texas Governor Rick Perry on two felony charges related to his 2013 veto of funding for the county's Public Integrity Unit.

He's charged with abuse of official capacity (a first-degree felony) and coercion of a public servant (a third-degree felony). The two felony charges are the first against a Texas governor in nearly a century, and carry possible sentences of up to 99 and 10 years respectively. 

Since he's been charged with a felony, the governor will be booked and arraigned. The date for that is likely to be set Monday. The charges could lead to a trial.

The special prosecutor behind the case, Michael McCrum, said he interviewed over 40 people and reviewed hundreds of documents and dozens of cases to make his case before the Grand Jury. "I looked at the law and I looked at the facts," McCrum said. 

Governor Perry's office responded to the charges with a statement that "the veto in question was made in accordance with the veto authority afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution." They maintain the governor acted within the law and power of his office. 

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Immigration
7:31 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

National Guard, DPS Border Deployments Cost Texas Up to $18 Million a Month

The presence of Border Patrol agents and National Guard troops cost the state between $17 and 18 million every month, according to the LBB.
Julian Aguilar/Texas Tribune

Sending additional state police and National Guard troops to the border will cost Texas between $17 million and $18 million dollars a month. That's according to a presentation Tuesday by top officials with the Legislative Budget Board (LBB), who told state lawmakers they will have to find a way to keep paying for it. 

About one-third of that cost is for salaries, travel and other expenses of Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers sent to the border as part of "Operation Strong Safety II."  Close to two-thirds of the $18 million will cover salary, meals, lodging and other costs of deploying up to 1,000 National Guard troops. 

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2014 Texas Election
12:52 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

Davis' Edgy TV Ad: Effective Or Risky?

The Texas Tribune

Originally published on Tue August 12, 2014 12:04 am

Both major candidates for governor have launched statewide television commercials in the past week.  Republican Greg Abbott’s second TV ad is in Spanish and English and features his Hispanic mother-in-law. But it’s Democrat Wendy Davis’ first statewide ad that’s grabbing attention.

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Iraq
2:47 pm
Sat August 9, 2014

Obama: Iraq Must Have Legitimate Government To Combat Insurgency

President Obama speaks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, on Saturday. He said the situation in Iraq amounts to a "long-term project."
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Sat August 9, 2014 11:27 am

Updated at 12:25 p.m. ET.

President Obama says that the U.S. will continue to provide Iraq with humanitarian and military assistance, but he ruled out ground troops and reiterated administration calls for Iraq to form a "legitimate" government in order to face the threat from Islamic militants.

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Politics
9:17 am
Sat August 9, 2014

Perry And Cruz Do The Presidential Candidacy Dance

Texas Gov. Rick Perry highlighted his executive leadership at the annual RedState Gathering on Friday.
Tony Gutierrez AP

Originally published on Sat August 9, 2014 10:40 am

It's the presidential race no one is talking about. Two Texas political stars are testing the waters for a run in 2016 — without mentioning it, of course.

Potential Republican candidates Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Rick Perry spoke Friday at the annual meeting sponsored by the conservative website RedState, and both danced around the candidacy question.

Three years ago, at RedState's South Carolina get-together, Perry announced his 2012 presidential bid. This time, he made no announcement, but Perry sounded like he was giving a campaign speech.

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Abortion and Women's Health
9:37 am
Fri August 8, 2014

State Abortion Laws Face A New Round Of Legal Challenges

A volunteer escort waits outside a clinic that provides abortions in Milwaukee. Wisconsin is one of many states that have passed laws requiring doctors to have hospital privileges if they perform abortions.
Dinesh Ramde AP

Originally published on Fri August 8, 2014 3:09 pm

Even if you're trying, it's tough to keep score of what's happening with various lawsuits challenging some state abortion laws.

States led by anti-abortion governors and legislatures have been passing a broad array of measures over the past few years aimed at making the procedure more difficult for women to obtain.

About two dozen states enacted 70 such measures in 2013, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Those laws range from imposing waiting periods to requiring ultrasounds to limiting the use of the "abortion pill" mifepristone, or RU486.

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Iraq
8:25 am
Fri August 8, 2014

U.S. Military Strikes Sunni Extremist Fighters In Iraq

Displaced Iraqis wait for aid Friday at a mosque on the outskirts of Irbil in northern Iraq.
AP

Originally published on Fri August 8, 2014 8:03 pm

(This post was last updated at 8:44 p.m. ET.)

The U.S. military conducted several strikes against Sunni extremist militants near Irbil in Iraq Friday, in what the White House calls a limited engagement.

"Military officials say unmanned aircraft struck a terrorist mortar position," NPR's Tamara Keith reports, "and then when the fighters returned, they were attacked as well. Later, four FA-18 aircraft struck an ISIS convoy and another mortar position using eight laser-guided bombs."

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Ebola
6:15 am
Fri August 8, 2014

Ebola Outbreak Is A Global Health Emergency, WHO Says

A nurse helps a health worker put on protective gear before treating Ebola patients at a clinic in Kailahun, Sierra Leone, in July.
Tommy Trenchard for NPR

Originally published on Wed August 13, 2014 4:52 pm

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa won't be stopped until front-line health workers get more support, World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said Friday at a news conference in Geneva.

After a unanimous vote by a committee of public health and risk management experts, the WHO decided to declare the outbreak an international public health emergency.

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