News, policy discussions, and major events happening in or related to Texas, told from an Austin perspective

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From Texas Standard

Get ready, folks. We're officially a week away from the biggest event in Texas: the Texas Tribune Festival, that annual gathering of the state and nation's political elite with regular Texans who want the inside track on politics and policy.

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President Obama gave a speech Thursday night at a dinner for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.

"America's greatness does not come from building walls, it comes from building opportunity," he told the room.

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From Texas Standard

The top political story Friday was the mayhem on Capitol Hill.

Kevin McCarthy’s decision to drop out of the House Speaker’s race Thursday evening left a vacuum – and some jockeying for position in a party split over direction.

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From Texas Standard

Big beards, sleeves of tattoos and dark sunglasses; those are bold fashion statements, to say the least.

You might see a person that fits that description and think their appearance screams "I'm tough, I'm bad, I'm not to be messed with and I don't care what you think."

Maybe that's not a fair assessment. Some of the them do care what you think of them, and they know what you're thinking about them, too.

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From Texas Standard: 

Sometime between Oct. 30 and Nov. 2, something unprecedented will happen at the nation's federal prisons: the largest one-time release of federal prisoners in U.S. history.

The first 6,000 of an expected 46,000 federal prison inmates will be released in that four day window. It's the result of a downward revision in mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders, a change that's being made retroactively.

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From Texas Standard:

Since 2009, chickens are legally free to roam a paved road in Bastrop called Farm Street – there's even a sign that says so. The stretch of road is home to an historic chicken sanctuary. But now there's so many chickens migrating into other roads in people's yards, it's creating considerable chaos.

Ken Kesselus, the mayor of Bastrop, says he doesn't give one cluck – if they wander away from safety, they might be fair game.

When the Young Lieutenant Met the Wild Mustangs

Oct 8, 2015
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From Texas Standard:

He was 22 years old, riding his horse south of Corpus Christi in the vicinity of what would one day be called the King Ranch. But that wouldn’t happen for another twenty years.

This vast stretch of sandy prairie was still known as “The Wild Horse Desert."

In some ways it was a spooky place – ghostly. You would see horse tracks everywhere, but no people. There were plenty of worn trails, but the population was merely equestrian.

Pu Ying-Huang/KUT News

An economics professor at the University of Texas says he won’t return to teach next fall because of the state’s new campus carry law.

Microeconomics Professor Daniel Hamermesh says he only planned to stay at UT-Austin for a couple more fall semesters anyway, but he says getting new professors to come here will be the problem.

Image via Mengwen Cao/KUT

From Texas Standard:

It happened on the floor of the U.S. Senate: Ted Cruz, the junior senator from Texas and prospective applicant for the top job in the executive branch, asked for a recorded vote on his proposal to defund Planned Parenthood and dump the nuclear deal with Iran.

What followed was seven seconds of awkward silence, which said more than any pundit could about the relationship between one Texas senator and the rest of the U.S. Senate.


Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Jews celebrate Simchat Torah today. This festive holiday marks the end of the annual cycle of Torah readings and starts off the new cycle.

Jews in Austin just recently got two historic Torah scrolls to read from. The scrolls, along with a 19th century synagogue, came from a disappearing Jewish community in Brenham.

Laura Rice/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Fridays mean high school football across most of Texas. And this time of year also means fall homecoming celebrations.


From Texas Standard: Imagine you turn on the radio one day and you hear a sound like that emergency broadcast signal. Only this time, the announcer does not say "This is only a test."

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From Texas Standard: It's been four months since the deadly biker shootout in Waco, Texas. The violence left nine people dead, 20 more wounded, and 177 bikers in jail. Now Nathan Penn, a correspondent with GQ, has the untold side of the story

A federal inspection station on Interstate 10 in the West Texas desert earned the nickname "checkpoint of the stars" for all the entertainers who kept getting busted there. In the past six years, Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, Nelly and Fiona Apple were all arrested for possession of marijuana.

These days, though, after a decision by a local lawman, everyone from personal pot smokers to medium-size marijuana traffickers can avoid jail.

Liang Shi for KUT

One of the most conservative groups in Texas is calling on the state to expand Medicaid – a government-run health care program for low-income people. The Affordable Care Act offers states federal dollars to expand Medicaid, but the U.S. Supreme Court made expansion optional and Texas political leaders have decided not to expand.  

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From Texas Standard: There are lots of reasons people choose not to live in the cities where they work: cheaper housing, better schools, personal safety, or just wanting some distance between you and the 9-to-5.

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From Texas Standard: In Olney, Texas, a family earns $227,709 — but they also receive taxpayer subsidies for rent. A new federal Department of Housing and Urban Development audit finds that 41 percent of families in public housing are making $10,000 more than the income cap.

Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

An abortion clinic in El Paso has reopened and resumed scheduling appointments after closing in April of 2014.

This clinic is a plaintiff in a case that could go before the Supreme Court in a lawsuit involving state restrictions on abortion facilities and doctors passed by the Texas Legislature in 2013 and adopted into law the same year.


From Texas Standard

The migrant crisis of 2014 dominated the news last summer. But this week, papers in Houston and San Antonio are reporting that last month nearly 10,000 immigrant families and unaccompanied children were detained at the Texas-Mexico border.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

At today’s address before the United States Congress, Pope Francis touched on some of the most divisive issues in American politics. One of those issues has special resonance in along the Texas-Mexico border.