9:35 am
Sat July 25, 2015

Judge Says Detaining Immigrant Children Violates Agreement

A detention facility in Karnes City, Texas, designed to house mothers and children aprehended at the border
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

A federal judge ruled Friday in favor of immigrant rights lawyers who have said the current detention of immigrant children violates a court settlement from 1997 known as the Flores vs Meese Agreement. U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee issued her decision in California.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has yet to announce how it will proceed. DHS recently changed the rules of how it releases mothers and children currently in detention. 

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Texas Standard
3:02 pm
Thu July 23, 2015

Meet the South Texas Man Who Found Out He Was Dead

DeFriend shares his story with The Victoria Advocate.
Image courtesy Frank Tilley/Victoria Advocate

From Texas Standard:

85-year-old Wharton County rancher Mark DeFriend was living his life as usual and was shocked to learn that he’d been declared dead. DeFriend first contacted The Victoria Advocate to talk about his life-after-death experience. Now, he joins the Standard to share his story.

On how the mix-up happened:

“The lady that waited on me was very helpful and considerate and I said, ‘I can’t understand how somebody can say…’ and she said, ‘Mr. DeFriend, there is a delete on the computer and a dismiss and a demised – and in a hurry sometimes they’ll hit that demise.’ So she said this happens all the time is what she told me.”

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10:58 am
Thu July 23, 2015

State Seeks to Dismiss Lawsuit Over Birth Certificates

Local vital statistics offices, which are overseen by DSHS, have refused to accept what the families argue were once acceptable forms of IDs for non-citizens, including passports and Mexican matrícula cards issued by Mexican consulate offices.
Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Wednesday asked a federal district judge to dismiss a lawsuit that claims a state agency violated the U.S. Constitution by denying birth certificates to U.S.-citizen children of immigrant parents.

Attorneys with Paxton’s office said that the Texas Department of State Health Services, which is being sued by 17 families living in Cameron, Hidalgo and Starr counties, has sovereign immunity under the 11th Amendment and cannot be sued in federal court because it has not waived that right, according to court documents. 

The immunity extends to interim DSHS Commissioner Kirk Cole and State Registrar Geraldine Harris, who are also named as defendants in the suit, Paxton's office argues.

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Texas Standard
3:12 pm
Tue July 21, 2015

These Dallas Apartments Are Evicting Tenants Without Social Security Numbers

Danny Cendejas with the Texas Organizing Project is doing what he can to help people without social security cards keep their homes.
DonkeyHotey flickr

From Texas Standard:

Immigration is often discussed in terms of government policy and official enforcement efforts – or lack thereof, depending on whom you ask. But when citizens take actions into their own hands, the dimensions of the discussion get more complicated.

In Dallas, one landlord is reportedly checking the immigration status of tenants and rejecting lease renewals of those who don’t have social security numbers. Now some people are urging Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and the Dallas City Council to step in and stop these unofficial immigration checks.

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10:09 am
Sun July 19, 2015

'With a Heavy Heart,' Gov. Abbott Orders Texas National Guard: Start Carrying Weapons

Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

If anyone runs into National Guard personnel in Texas, they pretty much look like any military personnel dressed in their camouflage fatigues. But, up until now, the biggest difference was that they were not armed.

That's about to change: Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced this weekend that the Texas National Guard will now carry weapons while at military facilities across Texas.

Governor Abbott said this new measure is in response to last week's shooting in two military installations in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

10:10 am
Thu July 16, 2015

Public Input on the Fate of UT's Civil War Statues Continues

Paul Martin spoke at a UT-Austin forum on July 15, 2015, urging a committee to keep Confederate statues on campus.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr/KUT

A University of Texas task force has a decision to make: Will statues on campus that honor Confederate figures stay or go?

To help it decide, the university invited the public to have a say for the second time this month ahead of a deadline to provide input on the statues' ultimate fate.

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4:04 pm
Wed July 15, 2015

State Leaders Order Investigations Into Fetal Organ Preservation

Both Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton's offices announced they'll be investigating Planned Parenthood after a video discussing the harvesting of fetus's organs surfaced.
Tamir Khalifa/Texas Tribune

From the Texas TribuneUpdated July 15, 2:45 p.m.:

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Wednesday his office would investigate Planned Parenthood after an anti-abortion group released an undercover video showing a Planned Parenthood executive discussing how to preserve an aborted fetus's organs for medical research. 

“The Office of the Attorney General has launched an official investigation into Planned Parenthood following the release of a video that details the organization’s calculated slaughter of human babies to maximize the available body parts they plan to sell," Paxton said in a statement.

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Texas Standard
1:44 pm
Wed July 15, 2015

12 Things You Might Not Know About ‘Lonesome Dove’

Bill Wittliff Courtesy of the Wittliff Collections, Texas State University

Some retired Texas Rangers take an epic journey driving a herd of cattle from Texas to Montana. You know what we're talking about, right?

A couple of hints: 1989, TV miniseries – it was a book first.

Commentator WF Strong says there's something all Texans really should know about Larry McMurtry's "Lonesome Dove." Actually – make that a dozen things. Note: minor spoilers ahead.

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11:10 am
Wed July 15, 2015

As Jade Helm 15 Starts, Most Locals Say They Aren't Sweating the Military Exercise

Today marks the first day of Operation Jade Helm 15, a training exercise that will take place in Bastrop County.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

The military training exercise called “Operation Jade Helm 15” starts today just outside of Bastrop. While military exercises and war games happen all the time, this one gained a lot of attention after conspiracy theorists started suggesting it was part of a plan to takeover Texas and institute martial law.

Those voices grew so loud that Gov. Greg Abbott even decided to assign the Texas State Guard to monitor the operation.  But, despite a contentious town hall meeting, many in Bastrop say they’re not worried about the exercise.

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Texas Standard
7:23 am
Wed July 15, 2015

‘Wedding Capital of Texas’ Now Serving Same-Sex Couples

The Dripping Springs wedding industry is evolving in the wake of the Supreme Court same-sex marriage ruling.

From Texas Standard.

The Texas Legislature officially named Dripping Springs the “Wedding Capital of Texas” this spring. Chances are good that when Texas lawmakers cast their votes for the designation they probably weren’t contemplating the Supreme Court docket. So how is the big wedding industry in the small city of Dripping Springs adjusting?

Kim Hanks owns Whim Hospitality and the wedding venue Camp Lucy. She’s been serving couples in the area for more than a decade.

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Medicaid 1115 Waiver
6:52 am
Tue July 14, 2015

Texas Hospitals Fear Feds Might Reduce Medicaid Waiver

Nurse Practitioner Ana Marie Houser (right) works as part of the palliative medicine team with the Seton Healthcare Family. She's speaking here with a patient and the patient's mother at UMC Brackenridge on June 23, 2015.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

We don’t often hear about the Medicaid 1115 waiver in Texas, but this waiver gives Texas billions of federal dollars to provide some pretty expensive care.

This waiver expires in 2016, though. Texas is in the process of asking the federal government to extend and renew the money, but that renewal isn't guaranteed.

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10:25 am
Thu July 9, 2015

Border Friction Aside, Mexico and Texas Keep Relationship Strong

Gov. Greg Abbott and Mexico's Secretary of Foreign Affairs José Antonio Meade will meet on July 9, 2015, as part of ongoing efforts to keep the bilateral relationship strong.
Google Maps

This evening, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will meet with the Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs José Antonio Meade.

This meeting has been months in the making. Texas and Mexico put so much effort into their relationship, and not just because they’re geographically close. Between exports and imports, the amount of money that crosses the Mexico-Texas border is nearly $1 billion a day.

The total traded between the two in 2014 was $336 billion, according to the U.S.-Mexico trade report from the Texas Center for Border Economic and Enterprise Development at Texas A&M International University in Laredo. [Read a pdf of the report here.]

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Texas Standard
9:08 am
Thu July 9, 2015

Texas-Based Whataburger To Prohibit Open Carry Of Handguns

Whataburger's public announcement raises questions about how others in the industry might respond to Texas' forthcoming open carry law.

From Texas Standard:

An iconic Texas burger chain has found itself in the crosshairs of gun politics in the months leading up to a state law change set to take effect allowing open carry of handguns.

Preston Atkinson, President and CEO of Whataburger, released a statement this week, saying that, “Whataburger supports customers’ Second Amendment rights, but we haven’t allowed the open carry of firearms in our restaurants for a long time, although we have not prohibited licensed concealed carry.”

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3:35 pm
Wed July 8, 2015

Hall is Asked to Leave Closed-Door UT Regents Meeting

A special meeting of the regents only seemed to heighten tensions between Hall and his fellow board members.
Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall on Wednesday was asked to leave the closed-door portion of a regents meeting in which his lawsuit against UT System Chancellor William McRaven was being discussed.

Not long after that executive session, regents reconvened and voted to urge Hall to drop his lawsuit, saying it “carries the potential to be costly and an unnecessary distraction.”

Hall left the meeting without responding, saying to reporters that he was frustrated to be left out of the closed-door session.

“I don’t think it is appropriate,” he said as he left the building.

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Texas Standard
2:28 pm
Wed July 8, 2015

All Things SCOTUS Considered: NPR's Nina Totenberg on the Court's Impact on Texas


From Texas Standard.

The U.S. Supreme Court just wrapped up a momentous term. Last month alone brought decisions on upholding the Texas ban on confederate license plates, provisions of the Affordable Care Act (or as Justice Scalia likes to call it “SCOTUS-care”), and then that little matter of same-sex marriage.

But now that the court is in recess we can calmly reflect on a few things at least. Whatever happened to that 5-4 conservative court? And what’s going to happen in a few months when the 2015 term gets underway? NPR’s Nina Totenberg discussed it all with the Texas Standard.

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9:53 pm
Tue July 7, 2015

As Seniors Live and Work Longer, Some See an Opportunity to Change Careers

Attorney Kay Lively, 72, visits elderly clients in their homes for meetings. Lively has made several career changes throughout her life.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

Have you ever had to reinvent your career? For some people, later-in-life career reinvention isn't an option — it's an essential survival tool.

More seniors are working now than ever before, and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the next seven years will only bring those numbers up. By 2022, the Bureau estimates 1 of every 3 Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 will still be employed — but not necessarily in the same line of work they worked in before.

One Austinite who falls within that age range has reinvented her career – four times.

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12:59 pm
Mon July 6, 2015

In So-Called 'Mix-Up,' Detained Immigrant Kids Get Adult Dose of Hepatitis A Vaccine

Children detained at immigration centers, like the ones in the towns of Dilley and Karnes (pictured) in Texas, are administered a series of immunizations after they arrive.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

About 250 children at a South Texas immigrant detention center were administered adult-size doses of a Hepatitis A vaccine, officials say. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is calling the mistake a "mix-up." ICE spokesperson Richard Rocha said this weekend health professionals are monitoring the children who received the wrong dosage of the vaccine.

The kids are detained at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, southwest of San Antonio. The facility is an immigrant detention center for mothers and their children, and it's run by a private prison company called Corrections Corporation of America.

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1:20 pm
Fri July 3, 2015

Three Tips to Stay Safe In and Around Water

Just like responsible drinkers assign a 'designated driver,' responsible swimmers should also have someone assigned to 'watch duty' on a rotating basis
Joy Diaz/KUT News

Most drownings are among those "preventable" tragedies. And yet, not everyone knows which precautions to take to prevent such accidents. In Texas alone, 73 kids died last year in the water. And adults are just as vulnerable. So, here are 3 tips to make your water gatherings more enjoyable.

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Texas Standard
1:54 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

Why You Can Expect More Fireworks This July 4

Photo via Flickr/plong (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

For the first time in a long time, the Fourth of July in Texas will be red, white, blue – and green. That's thanks to abundant rain so far this year.

The lower risk for wildfires means vendors across the state have the option to sell more types of fireworks. And they say they are also seeing more people interested in lighting up the night sky for this year's fourth.

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Texas Standard
11:01 am
Wed July 1, 2015

Why One Texas Legislator Wants a Special Session On Marriage Equality

Revelers rallied in downtown Austin Friday after SCOTUS legalized same-sex marriage. State Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) says we should 'divorce marriage from government if we want to protect it.'
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

Recent polls suggest the majority of Americans agree with the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, but opposition to same-sex marriage remains prevalent in southern states like Texas and Louisiana.

Just this week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said that county clerks don’t need to issue marriage licenses if doing so goes against their faith. Paxton and other opponents of same-sex marriage argue that the government shouldn’t be allowed to interfere with how someone practices their faith.

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