Texas

Texas Standard
5:15 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

APD Returns Rare, Stolen Guitar to Hill Country Musician

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo tweeted this picture of police posing with Wilkins and his newly-returned guitar.
@ArtAcevedo

From Texas Standard.

Austin Police returned a pretty special Gibson guitar this week. It was one of only three produced. Willie Nelson owns one, Dan Rather owns one, and now, Walt Wilkins has his back. Wilkins is a singer-songwriter based in the Texas Hill Country.

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Texas Standard
3:32 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

How the BP Oil Spill is a Prototype for Future Disasters

Anchor-handling tugboats battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon in 2010.
Ideum/flickr

From Texas Standard

As we look back on the last five years since the Deepwater Horizon disaster, some big questions linger: What will the next disaster be, and can we prepare for it?

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Texas Standard
3:17 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Will Police Harass More Blacks for Open Carry Than Whites?

A Texas lawmaker is worried blacks will be harassed more often for open carry than whites. His amendment may have opened a back door to unlicensed carry statewide.
Lucio Eastman/Wikimedia Commons

From Texas Standard

The open carry of handguns has gotten a thumbs up from the Texas Legislature this session – not too much surprise there.

But one unexpected amendment would prevent police officers from stopping those who carry openly just to check for the proper licensing. 

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Texas Standard
11:21 am
Thu April 23, 2015

Books for Avoiding April Showers

62295661@N07/Flickr

From Texas Standard:

Clay Smith of Kirkus Reviews brings us two hard-hitting books to read during April showers – both of them tackling issues swirling about in popular media and the news.

In fiction, Smith recommends God Help the Child by Toni Morrison. In the book Morrison, the only living Nobel prize winner for literature, tackles race and childhood.

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Texas Standard
3:28 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

Pre-K Funding Widens Rift Between Abbott and Patrick

Proposed legislation surrounding pre-K education becomes more than just parental rights this week.
US Dept of Education/flickr

From Texas Standard:

In a letter presented Tuesday, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick’s Grassroots Advisory Board called two pre-kindergarten enhancement bills in the Texas Legislature “a threat to parental rights.”

The letter also called out the bills for being “godless” and “socialistic" — a take that's at striking odds with that of Gov. Greg Abbott, who made pre-K funding a priority during his campaign.

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Texas Standard
2:14 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

Port Arthur Wants Filmmakers to Blow Up Its Old Buildings

texasbackroads/Flickr

From Texas Standard:

Tough economic times can stimulate creative ways for cities to save or raise money. Sure, you could trim the workforce, or raise taxes to help fund urban renewal projects, but one Texas town is thinking a bit bigger: They want to take it to the silver screen.

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Texas Standard
10:58 am
Wed April 22, 2015

Texas Walmart Stores Close Suddenly, Lay Off Workers Due to ‘Plumbing Problems’

Some employees and patrons are suspicious about the retailer’s claims. Could the real reason for the closures be union busting?
flickr.com/jeepersmedia

From Texas Standard:

Mega-retailer Walmart has closed five stores across the country – two in Texas – for one reason:

“They came in and announced that they were going to close the store for at least six months due to extensive plumbing issues,” says Jim Wright, City Attorney of Livingston, Texas. 

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Texas
7:26 am
Wed April 22, 2015

Self-Driving Car Bill Stalled by Google, Carmakers

Both the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Google have come out against a bill in the legislature that would create a pilot program to test driverless cars in Texas.
Scott Schrantz

From the Texas Tribune: A bill to update Texas law for the age of driverless cars has stalled due to two serious roadblocks: Google and major car manufacturers. Both the technology giant and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, an industry group, have come out against a proposal from state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, to create a pilot program aimed at monitoring and encouraging autonomous vehicle testing in Texas.

Google has previously encouraged the development of similar laws in other states including California and Nevada, yet is refusing to publicly explain why it is opposed to such a measure in Texas. At last week’s committee hearing on the bill, a Google representative registered as opposed to the measure — but declined to testify as to why. The Texas Tribune got a similar response from Google after repeated requests: “We have no comment to offer on this.”

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Texas
12:33 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

Immigration Attorneys Prepare to Represent Detained Women in Asylum Cases

Immigration attorneys take notes in a mock courtroom. The attorneys are undergoing training to represent women and children in asylum cases.
Joy Diaz/KUT News

For the mothers and children detained at an immigrant facility in Karnes County, about 100 miles south of Austin, their best chance for release is to find attorneys willing to represent them pro bono.

And in turn, the lawyers willing to take on these cases need specific training. So this week at the University of Texas School of Law, a group of immigration attorneys attended a training session to brush up on the type of asylum cases faced by the women and children housed at Karnes County Residential Center.

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Texas Standard
3:28 pm
Mon April 20, 2015

Looking Back on the BP Oil Spill: How It All Started

What we knew – and when we knew it – about the Deepwater Horizon explosion.
SkyTruth/Flickr

From Texas Standard:

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded. Two days later, it crashed into the ocean. By mid-May, an underwater camera showed the broken pipe constantly gushing black liquid into the Gulf of Mexico.

As the oil spread, so did the panic. Crews tried several different methods to keep it from spreading across the Gulf and into sensitive ecosystems. Engineers tried everything from a containment dome to a “top kill” – sealing the pipe with cement. Nothing worked.

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Texas Standard
3:06 pm
Mon April 20, 2015

Texas Businesses Stand Ready For Trade With Cuba

Madfab/Pixabay

From Texas Standard:

Two years ago, the WestStar Food Company’s business with Cuba was good. Patrick Wallesen, the company’s president, says WestStar exported agricultural products through the port of Corpus Christi for more than a decade.

“We averaged about 5,000 metric tons a year of product. Primarily into beans, black beans, great northern beans,” Wallesen says.

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2015 Legislature
4:43 pm
Fri April 17, 2015

Fracking Bill Gets Tentative OK from Texas House

A bill that would override local fracking bans in Texas was tentatively approved by members of the House on April 17, 2015, with a vote of 122 to 18.
Eddie Seal, Texas Tribune

A bill that would override local fracking bans in Texas was approved by members of the House, after several hours of debate. 

The bill is aimed at blocking cities from banning activities like hydraulic fracturing. Last year, voters in the city of Denton approved a ban on fracking in their city limits.

State Rep. Drew Darby, a Republican from San Angelo and the bill's author, says it’s intended to preserve the state government’s right to regulate oil and gas activity.

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Texas Standard
2:54 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

Is the Houston-Dallas Bullet Train Plan De-Railed?

A high-speed train similar to this one could connect Dallas and Houston - but not if some state legislators get their way.
facebook.com/texascentral

This story comes from Texas Standard.

Do anti high-speed rail efforts in the Texas legislature and in DC mean it’s an idea that’s going nowhere fast?

Aman Batheja is following the issue for the Texas Tribune.

On Who is Opposed to High-Speed Rail:

“The issue here is the rural communities between Dallas and Houston … The mayors of Dallas and Houston and a majority of the elected officials there strongly support the train project – they’re very strongly behind it. It’s the rural communities that are trying to figure out what’s in it for them.”

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Texas
1:00 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

DPS Chief: Resume Border Security Contract Inquiry

Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steve McCraw gives testimony during the joint Interim Committee to Study Human Trafficking in La Joya, Texas July 24th, 2014.
Credit Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

Looking to clear the Texas Department of Public Safety's name, the agency’s top official is asking the head of the state's anti-corruption unit to renew a halted investigation into $20 million no-bid border security contracts.

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2015 Legislature
10:42 am
Thu April 16, 2015

Texas DREAM Act Repeal Vote Delayed, As Supporters Continue Protests

Supporters of the Texas Dream Act gather on the steps of the Capitol on April 15.
Sarah Montgomery for KUT

Today, the Senate won’t vote on a bill that would repeal in-state tuition for undocumented students, known as the Texas DREAM Act. The bill from New Braunfels Sen. Donna Campbell seemed to have enough support for a floor vote yesterday, but the bill was taken off the chamber’s intent calendar today.

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2015 Legislature
9:13 am
Thu April 16, 2015

'Marlise's Law' on Pregnant Women's End-of-Life Directives Gets Hearing at Capitol

The Texas House State Affairs Committee heard testimony on April 15, 2015 regarding a bill known as "Marlise's Law," about pregnant women's end of life directives.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

When Marlise Muñoz was hospitalized in 2013 with a pulmonary embolism, she was 14 weeks pregnant. Though she had told her family that she never wanted to be on life support, doctors at a Fort Worth hospital kept her on life support until a judge ruled that because she was brain dead, the medical team could take her off of the machines.

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Texas Standard
2:26 pm
Wed April 15, 2015

For Innovations in the Funeral Industry, Look No Further Than Houston

Credit Brenda Salinas

From Texas Standard:

As the demand for natural burials grows, industry experts say innovation is likely to come from Houston.

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Texas Standard
1:32 pm
Wed April 15, 2015

Visiting the Deep South of the '60s — Through a Teacher's Journal

Credit Alain Stephens

Jo Ivester joins Texas Standard to talk about life in Mount Bayou, Mississippi, and what she learned through her mother’s work.

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Texas Standard
12:50 pm
Wed April 15, 2015

A Brit’s ‘Modern English’ Journey to Becoming an Austinite

Steven Walker (second from left) played guitar for 'Modern English' before moving to Austin to open a gallery.
Simon Crow/Colchester 101 Magazine

This story comes from Texas Standard.

Steven Walker has thick-rimmed glasses and full beard. He’s wearing a pearl snap shirt with a Western pattern sewn on the pockets. He looks right at home in artsy East Austin.

“People are shocked when they come in and they see all these amazing American artists on the wall and then the guy in the beard and the cowboy shirt comes up to them and says, ‘yuh alright?’ (in a British accent). It is a bit weird for them I guess,” Walker says.

Walker’s journey to Texas wasn’t direct.

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Texas
11:02 am
Wed April 15, 2015

How One Family is Preparing for the Closure of Austin's State Supported Living Center

Judi Stonedale visits her daughter Julie last year.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

Almost 100 years after the day it opened, the Austin State Supported Living Center (SSLC), a home for adults with severe developmental disabilities, is scheduled to close in 2017.

The Legislature's Sunset Commission ordered its closure during the last legislative session. But the order still needed legislative approval.

That approval came from the Senate this week, in the form of Senate Bill 204. And the House is expected to follow suit.

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