Texas

Abortion and Women's Health
2:38 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Report: New Law Led to Statewide Drop in Abortions

A hallway at the Whole Woman's Health clinic in Austin. The clinic, one of 22 remaining abortion providers in the state, does not currently meet requirements that will take effect on Sept. 1.
Callie Richmond/Texas Tribune

The number of abortions in Texas decreased by about 13 percent statewide and 21 percent in the Lower Rio Grande Valley following the passage of strict abortion regulations that went into effect last November, according to a report that academic researchers released Wednesday. 

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Border & Immigration
1:50 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Patrick, Van de Putte Hone Their Immigration Messages

Democratic state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte and Republican state Sen. Dan Patrick, who are facing off in a fiery race to become the state's next lieutenant governor, address delegates at their respective party's state conventions in June.
Bob Daemmrich / Alyssa Banata/Texas Tribune

As the recent surge of Central Americans entering the country illegally through Texas’ border with Mexico has drawn national attention, it has also become a major talking point for the 2014 candidates for lieutenant governor.

And while state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, and state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, have distinct differences on immigration and border security, political observers say they each have advantages as the issue remains at the forefront.

Van de Putte has indicated that the state should secure the border by providing local law enforcement with ample resources to ensure "that troopers can focus on catching criminals, not kids” while calling for immigration reform at the federal level to get to the root of illegal immigration.

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Hydraulic Fracturing
10:01 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Denton Council Punts Fracking Ban Proposal To Voters

World Resources Institute via Texas Tribune

From The Texas Tribune:

DENTON – Voters will decide whether this North Texas college town will become the state's first city to ban hydraulic fracturing. 

After a public hearing Tuesday night that stretched into Wednesday morning, the Denton City Council rejected a proposal to ban the method of oil and gas extraction inside the city, which sits on the edge of the gas-rich Barnett Shale. The 5-2 vote kicked the question to the city’s November ballot, the next step in a high-profile property rights clash that will likely be resolved outside of Denton.   

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Texas
12:47 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Will You Ride The World's Tallest Water Slide?

A view from the top of the Verrückt water slide's launch point, in a video that showed a recent test of the slide.
Schlitterbahn Development Group

Originally published on Mon July 7, 2014 11:36 am

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Immigration
4:09 am
Wed July 2, 2014

Influx Of Children Creates New Strain On Beleaguered Immigration Courts

Boys in a holding area at a Border Protection center in Nogales, Ariz. Generally, minors are put into deportation proceedings and given a "Notice To Appear" in immigration court, but they have permission to stay in the country while the U.S. decides their fate.
Ross D. Franklin AP

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 9:55 pm

President Obama said over the weekend that he is seeking to fast-track deportations of unaccompanied immigrant children from Central America who cross into the United States.

More than 52,000 have been caught in South Texas since October, and hundreds more arrive daily, overwhelming Border Patrol stations and overflowing temporary shelters.

But once they get here, what happens? Do they just get to stay, as the president's critics charge?

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Politics
4:48 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Meet The Newest American Running Mate: The Rifle

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell holds a rifle on stage at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference earlier this year.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 12:32 pm

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2014 Texas Democratic Convention
6:56 pm
Sat June 28, 2014

Democrats Say Texas Values Align With Their Party Platform

Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa speaks at the Texas Democratic Convention in Dallas on June 27, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Texas Democrats support immigration reform – so it came as no surprise that the issue arose on at the party's convention of Saturday. But at the start of the day, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins made an unexpected announcement regarding the surge of unaccompanied minors in Texas from Central America:  the county is locating facilities to take in roughly 2,000 unaccompanied minors. 

"We had a lot of the elected officials here, all of whom stand for the proposition that it is the right thing to do to be compassionate to children," Jenkins said, when asked why he made the announcement at the convention. "If [the state] would open up facilities to the federal government and work with them instead of working against them, then we could move these children from cages on the border to compassionate care." The move is expected to take place by late July;  the average stay of children will be about 21 days. After that, the children would be taken to relatives' homes.

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Texas Standard
2:55 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

Listen: A World Cup Translation for Texans

Sonny Carl broke Texas into five states in "Bernie." Listen to his take on World Cup Soccer, err, football.
Millennium Entertainment

Been following the World Cup?  If so, you can stop right here.  

This one's for the rest of us. 

Sonny Carl Davis (you know, that guy from "Bernie" who broke Texas into five states?) has been thinking about America's new love affair with what much of the rest of the world calls football.  

Sonny's been doing so much thinking, he reckoned it high time to offer something of an explainer for fellow Texans baffled by the phenomenon. Texans like … him. Take two minutes to listen:

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Texas
2:07 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Texas Politics To Be Lone Star Of New HBO Series

A large Texas flag is carried up Congress Avenue toward the Texas Capitol during the annual Boy Scouts Parade and Report to State in Austin in February 2013.
Eric Gay AP

Originally published on Mon June 16, 2014 2:54 pm

Between Rick Perry, Ted Cruz and Wendy Davis, Texas politicians in recent years have lived up to their state's reputation for producing larger-than-life characters.

That makes the Texas political scene a natural for the Hollywood treatment.

HBO has given God Save Texas, a drama about the state's often raucous political culture, the green light for development. It's set to unfold at the Texas statehouse, a perennial flashpoint for national debates about issues ranging from abortion to gun rights to the size and role of government.

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GOP Convention
10:24 am
Tue June 10, 2014

Mental Health Group Says Reparative Therapy Stigmatises Texas LGBT Community

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 10:13 am

Support and protection for reparative therapy has been included in the 2014 Republican Party of Texas Platform. But a leading mental health organization said this further stigmatizes and shames the Texas LGBT community.

The reparative therapy platform was introduced by Cathie Adams, executive director of the Texas Eagle Forum and adopted without any changes:

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Border & Immigration
12:27 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

"Inhumane" Conditions Reported At Temporary Immigrant Holding Facility In McAllen

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 9:53 am

Overcrowding and disease at a temporary immigration detention center in McAllen has the U.S. Border Patrol themselves calling on congress for humanitarian aid. 

Because of the McAllen facility's temporary status, capacity is about 300. But this past week Border Patrol agents brought in 1,000 immigrants and the situation has Chris Cabrera with the local Border Patrol agent's union calling on Congress for help.

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Texas
2:33 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

From Mary To Sophia (And Sofia): Texas' Most Popular Baby Names Through The Years

bikeriderlondon Shutterstock.com

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 5:19 pm

What are Texans naming their babies these days? And how does that compare to Lone Star babies from 50 years ago?

Sophia was the most popular baby girl name in Texas in 2013. For the boys, Jacob was No. 1 in Texas.

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Energy & Environment
2:48 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Texas' Biggest Power Company Files For Bankruptcy

The sun shines through the clouds behind an electrical power line in Dallas.
Tony Gutierrez AP

Originally published on Tue April 29, 2014 3:21 pm

As they say: Everything is bigger in Texas.

Today, the state's biggest power company filed for one of the biggest Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings in corporate history.

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Wildflower Season
1:54 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Snakes or No Snakes, Safety Tips for Texas Bluebonnet Pictures

While you probably won’t find a six-foot rattler among the bluebonnets, there's still precautions you can take.
menoutdoors.com via imgur

With spring in full swing, it's time for wildflower pictures – including photos among Texas' iconic state flower, the bluebonnet.

But something's taking the bloom off this wildflower season: images of snakes among the flowers.

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George W. Bush
10:29 am
Fri April 4, 2014

The Artist Formerly Known As President George W. Bush Unleashes His Inner Rembrandt

President Bush's portrait of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president.
Lauren Silverman KERA News

Originally published on Sat April 5, 2014 11:57 am

Since he left office, former President George W. Bush has devoted part of his free time to painting – everything from his dog Barney to self-portraits. A year after a hacker revealed some of his works-in-progress, Bush had his first real art show Friday at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas.

The exhibit, titled "The Art of Leadership: A President's Personal Diplomacy," opens to the public Saturday. It features portraits of 24 world leaders, including Tony Blair, Vladimir Putin and the Dalai Lama.

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Crime & Justice
11:04 am
Wed April 2, 2014

Texas Facing 'Judicial Vacancy Crisis,' Report Claims

A new report says Texas' 10 vacant seats judicial seats translate into backlogged cases.
Credit Flickr user Brian Turner, https://flic.kr/ps/VxiMo

Texas is in a judicial vacancy crisis according to a report released today by the liberal Center for American Progress in Washington and Austin-based Progress Texas.

The report shows Texas has the most vacant federal judge seats of any state, with 10 spots open as of March 19. The report warns those 10 vacancies could grow to 13 if no action is taken, since three more seats are set to open up next year.

Those 10 vacant seats translate into backlogged cases, with especially high caseloads along the U.S.-Mexico border, the report notes. The majority of current and future vacancies also happen to be concentrated in the southern and western parts of the state.

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Texas
9:25 am
Tue March 25, 2014

No More Cheap Margaritas? Why Lime Prices Are On the Rise

The bar at Fonda San Miguel, an upscale interior Mexican restaurant in Austin. The price of limes – a prime margarita ingredient– has spiked in recent months.
KUT News

These days restaurants are spending obscene amounts of money on limes. Think about what that means for Mexican food alone: limes are used in practically everything, from margaritas to ceviche to guacamole.

Last week, the rising price of limes became personal for this reporter.

I stopped by La Moreliana, a small eatery in southeast Austin that serves up authentic tacos. The food was great – but the tacos were missing the citrusy, acidic bite only lime juice can add. 

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Energy & Environment
2:19 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

After Oil Spill, Coast Guard Prepares To Open Houston Ship Channel

A barge loaded with marine fuel oil sits partially submerged in the Houston Ship Channel on Saturday.
PO3 Manda Emery ASSOCIATED PRESS

Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 2:16 pm

As the Coast Guard prepares to open the Houston Ship Channel after an oil spill over the weekend, environmentalists were trying assess the damage to a sensitive ecological system.

The Associated Press reports the Coast Guard is hoping to reopen "one of the nation's busiest seaports Monday."

The AP adds:

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Borderlands
4:55 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Awash In Cash, Drug Cartels Rely On Big Banks To Launder Profits

A woman uses a cash machine at an HSBC bank office in Mexico City. The multi-national bank was heavily penalized several years ago for permitting huge transfers of drug cartel money between Mexico and the U.S.
Enric Marti AP

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 5:20 pm

The Sinaloa Cartel, headquartered on Mexico's northern Pacific Coast, is constantly exploring new ways to launder its gargantuan profits. The State Department reports that Mexican trafficking organizations earn between $19 and $29 billion every year from selling marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines on the streets of American cities.

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Texas
2:36 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Big Hoss, The World’s Biggest HD TV Screen, Debuts At Texas Motor Speedway

Presenting the world's biggest high-definition TV screen.
Texas Motor Speedway

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 12:49 pm

Oh, those boys and their video toys.

Move over, Dallas Cowboys and AT&T Stadium: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth says it has the bigger and better video screen. And it's way bigger than whatever fancy screen you have in your living room.

The speedway on Wednesday night unveiled its giant high-definition video board. TMS says it’s the world’s biggest HD screen at a sporting venue.

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