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

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From Texas Standard:

If you've ever been to a courthouse, you've likely had to step through a metal detector: no weapons allowed. But in city halls, which often host court proceedings, whether weapons are allowed is still questionable.

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From Texas Standard: 

Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec is a small indigenous town in the mountains of Oaxaca. The 3,500 people who call it home speak Mixe. Few speak Spanish. But despite its remote location, the town is famous for two things. Everyone there seems to play a musical instrument – they even have a traveling orchestra. But primarily, the town is known for its embroideries.

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From Texas Standard:

Each day in the United States, four to five children die due to child abuse and neglect. That number comes out to about 1,500 children each year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and experts say many more cases go unreported.

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From Texas Standard:

Thanksgiving is just a few days away and many would-be passengers are hoping airlines will be trying to make the holiday flying experience somewhat less unpleasant. According to a new study by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), however, it looks like happy customers don’t really make airlines any more profitable.

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From Texas Standard:

The biggest trade agreement in history has been out of the headlines the past week as the international community has been focused on terrorist events. But the Trans-Pacific Partnership shouldn't be ignored. The deal establishes trade relations between the United States and eight other countries. Several Asian countries are part of the deal, but China isn't.

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From Texas Standard:

Big time Hollywood actors like Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda and Antonio Banderas, have immortalized some of the stories of the Mexican Revolution.

As the story's been told for generations, the Mexican people were impoverished by the extravagant lifestyle of president Porfirio Diaz (no relation to yours truly) whose dream was to pave Mexico City in marble. Out of that circumstance, came a need for a "Robin Hood."


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From Texas Standard:

A funny thing happened on the way to the U.S. House passing a bill called the “Safe Act” yesterday. Inspired by concerns after the Paris Attacks, this bill would extend background checks on refugees from Syria and put up major obstacles to the President’s plan to admit 10,000 refugees before he leaves office.

Congressman Henry Cuellar was one of 47 Democrats to OK the legislation, five of those Democrats from Texas. That helped lead the House to a majority to override President Obama’s promised veto.


A new study of immigration to the United States shows that more Mexicans have returned home than have arrived here since 2009.

The report from the Washington, DC-based Pew Research Center also finds that the overall flow of Mexicans between the two countries is the smallest since the 1990s.

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From Texas Standard:

In the aftermath of the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, two terrorist suspects were killed – including one woman who activated a suicide belt – and seven more suspects are being held by French officials as a result of a raid this morning in a suburb north of Paris.

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From Texas Standard:

Since the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson last August, the reputation and trust afforded to police officers nationwide has been questioned. Smartphone videos and body cameras have changed everything.

Despite the perception of an increase in complaints about the use of police force, the Dallas Police Department claims a dramatic drop in the number of complaints.


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From Texas Standard:

In times like these, the arc of history is often invoked to make sense of the present. So the narrative goes, the so-called Islamic State arose in the vacuum left after America’s misadventures post-9/11.

Recently, Jon Meacham’s book has been in the news for revelations that George Herbert Walker Bush – Bush 41 – thought his son, W. – Bush 43 – was badly served by Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. That’s news, especially since the narrative used to be that 43 was just doing his father’s bidding, retribution for an unfinished war.


Nathan Bernier/KUT

In a rare move, thehe State Board of Education preliminarily voted Wednesday against an amendment from the State Board of Educator Certification to change superintendent job requirements. Last month, the SBEC voted to loosen requirements so school boards can hire candidates who have no classroom experience. 

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From Texas Standard:

France is in its second day of bombing ISIS targets after last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris. The country is targeting the group’s stronghold in Raqqua. Tuesday, Russia declared a downed passenger jet in Egypt the work of ISIS, due to what Vladimir Putin said was a homegrown bomb. The Russian government issued a $50 million reward for more information on who's behind the attack, and launched cruise missile strikes on the Syrian provinces of Aleppo and Idlib.

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From Texas Standard:

Jasmine Johnson, a 20-year-old expectant mother, gave birth in January. She didn't just bring home a baby girl after her visit to the hospital – she also brought home a $1,500 medical bill she couldn’t afford.

KUT News

Faculty members at the University of Texas at Austin have approved a measure calling for banning guns in classrooms, labs, dorms and university offices under the state’s campus carry law.

The law, SB 11, goes into effect in August of next year. People with concealed handgun licenses will be able to carry a gun on a campus, as they already can, but schools can set some limits to where exactly they can bring them in. The UT Faculty Council says it doesn’t want them in classrooms. UT Professor Carolyn Brown at the College of Pharmacy is a member of the Council and says she and her colleagues voted unanimously to oppose guns in education spaces.

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From Texas Standard:

The morning routine of Kai Alterman includes a stop at a café and a cab ride. When it comes time for her to pay,  the server slides her credit card, then hands her a screen similar to an iPad to sign – complete with choices of how much to tip. Alterman hits the middle option, leaving a 20 percent tip.

"I think this makes people tip more often, because you feel more guilty not to tip with those," Alterman says.


Image courtesy John Savage

From Texas Standard:

According to the latest statistics, about 12 of every 10,000 Texans are living homeless, many of whom have an intellectual or developmental disability. While state programs and aid are available, the wait times are daunting. Some services have lists with applicants waiting for well over a decade.

Some reports rank Texas near last place with regard to well-being of those with intellectual disabilities.  John Savage has been following the story for the Texas Observer.


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From Texas Standard:

Over the past several months, Texas has become home to hundreds of Syrian refugees. These people fled their homes because of terrible war conditions that made life dangerous, unstable and completely unpredictable – a far cry from the ideals of freedom that both Texas and France uphold today.

After Friday’s attacks, and a report that at least one of the Paris attackers slipped through Europe’s refugee screening system from Syria, many are beginning to wonder if Western countries will continue to be as welcoming.


KUT News

The U.S. Supreme Court will review a case next year that challenges a Texas abortion measure signed into law in 2013. Justices will use what’s called the undue burden test to decide whether the law’s requirements are constitutional or not.

Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott says Texas will not accept any Syrian refugees, after the attacks in Paris that left 129 people dead. He's directing the state's Health and Human Services Commission's Refugee Resettlement Program to not participate in any resettlement of Syrians in Texas.

At least 13 other governors have taken similar steps since the terror attacks in Paris, including the governors of AlabamaLouisiana, Indiana and Michigan