Texas

Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

Some of the poorest seniors in Texas live in Hidalgo County in the Rio Grande Valley.

Many only speak Spanish and don’t have access to the basics, like food or medical care. But a Texas A&M professor and his team of community health workers – or "promotoras de salud” – are trying to find ways to help seniors along the border improve those conditions. 

They're working in places like the colonia border town of Progreso, near the Mexican border. Progreso is  one of the poorest places in the one of the poorest counties in the United States. The unemployment rate is more than 10 percent.

Sam Ortega for KUT News

Last May, Jason Collins – a 12-year veteran of the NBA – made history when he penned an editorial in Sport Illustrated revealing he was gay. "I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport," he wrote. "But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation."

The issue of homosexuality in sports has certainly become a topic of discussion, from the politics of the Sochi Olympics to NFL hopeful Michael Sam coming out as gay. But many athletes feel there is still a long way to go before gay players are fully welcomed into sports.

A national same-sex marriage rights group has launched an effort across several states in the South to campaign for marriage equality.

Southerns for Freedom to Marry, a branch of the New York-based group Freedom to Marry, has mounted a $1 million campaign across nine states including Texas.

Code Switch has been writing about some overlooked cultural interactions that have helped shape what Jewish identity is today, and we continue the series with this post about the murky and fascinating history of crypto-Jews in the Southwest.

Jon Shapley for KUT News

He's everyone's favorite cardio-loving community activist — a relatively new emissary of Austin weird.

His name is Broderick James, but he's better known as the Rundberg Running Man, a local fixture you can find dancing, running and freestyle rapping on the corner of Lamar and Rundberg on a daily basis. While many Austinites know him for his daily exploits, most people outside the city would simply peg him as a typical fitness freak.

James wants to change that, only there's a problem: money. 

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In a neverending battle of one-upmanship it seems — for now at least — Texas has the upper hand over the rest of the nation in the tech game.  

A report from the Tech America Foundation found that Texas surpassed long-time tech export leader California with a total $45.1 billion in tech exports, compared to California's $44.8 billion in exports in 2012. Texas and California also led the nation in tech jobs with 330,977 and 328,301 jobs — 22 percent and 21 percent of the 1.4 million tech jobs in the U.S.

To illustrate the data, we've created an infographic you can see below. 

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The Kallison family name has resonated amongst Texans for generations.

It's the name of the department store in San Antonio crowned by a cowboy carrying a saddle on his right shoulder. It's also the of the Kallison Ranch, the place that brought Texas ranching into the 20th century.

"The Harness Maker’s Dream" recounts the story of Nathan Kallison, the Jewish Russian who escaped persecution and later became a successful rancher in Texas.

 

The Texas Board of Education, which has long been an ideological battleground for the teaching of evolution, says it will limit the use of citizen review panels and instead give priority to teachers in determining science and history curricula.

Because Texas public schools represent such a large market for textbook publishers, the state has an outsized influence on what is taught in the rest of the country.

KUT News

Another national report card is out, and Texas households are still struggling to beef up their savings. 

Almost half of Texas households don’t have enough savings to pay for basic expenses for three months, which means most families aren’t prepared in the event of a job loss or health emergency.

According to the Corporation for Enterprise Development’s 2014 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard, the state’s policies are also not helping residents achieve financial security.

A Fort Worth, Texas, woman who was 14 weeks pregnant when she was found unconscious and brain-dead after suffering a pulmonary embolism, has been taken off life support after a weeks-long court battle by the hospital to keep the ventilator on.

A ventilator that had kept Marlise Munoz's heart and lungs functioning for two months was switched off at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, a family attorney said.

A state district judge has ruled that Marlise Muñoz, the brain-dead North Texas woman who’s 22 weeks pregnant, must be removed from life support by 5 p.m. Monday.

The decision Friday afternoon comes after John Peter Smith Hospital declared publicly for the first time that Muñoz has indeed been brain dead since late November. The hospital also says the fetus inside Muñoz is "not viable."

For weeks, hospital officials had said she isn’t dead and that her condition is serious.

One Square Mile: Texas

What does Texas look like one square mile at a time? That’s the question producers of a new series airing on PBS stations across the state are asking.

Texas is made up of more than 268,000 square miles. A new series produced by KLRU Austin PBS, “One Square Mile: Texas,” focuses on just nine of them – from the Texas Panhandle to the Gulf Coast and several places in between, including Austin.

The 26-minute documentaries follow eight to 10 people in each place: teachers, police officers, pastors and artists. And it does so with the requirement they all live or work within one square mile of each other.

If you want to lift weights or use the treadmill at Downsize Fitness, you have to be at least 50 pounds overweight.

Kendall Schrantz is a fan – and a member.

The 24-year-old has struggled with her weight since she was in the second grade. The looks she got at other gyms made her uncomfortable.

But now she drives more than an hour to Downsize Fitness in Fort Worth three times a week, just to exercise.

"It's worth every single penny I paid for gas," she said. "It's worth the time I spend on the road, the miles."

Michael Stravato

Nghi Ho and Al Hoang, the Republicans who are vying to unseat Rep. Hubert Vo, are talking about the usual issues, like abortion. They are also talking about some unlikely topics, like the Communist government in Vietnam, the birthplace of all three candidates running in the southwest Harris County district, which includes most of Alief.

“It shows that a place like Alief has come a long way from what it was when it was first established as a fairly Anglo suburb of Houston,” said Mustafa Tameez, a political consultant for Vo’s first race.

A 33-year-old Texas woman named Marlise Munoz has been connected to life support machines for more than a month, after she collapsed on the kitchen floor of her home.

Her husband says she would not have wanted to be kept alive this way, but the hospital has refused to follow that wish, citing a Texas law that forbids medical officials from cutting off life support to a pregnant patient.

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A nationwide shortage of Sriracha sauce has fans of the hot stuff in something just short of a panic, but one state representative has a plan for Texas to come to the rescue.

State Representative Jason Villalba (R-Richardson) has propositioned California-based Huy Fong Foods Inc. to move its operations to Texas after production of the peppery product was halted due to complaints from citizens living near its factory in Irwindale, CA.

KUT's David Brown spoke to Villalba about state and city pitches to recruit Huy Fong, California's "over-regulated" business climate and his go-t0 Sriracha dishes.  

Mose Buchele for KUT

In today’s meeting of the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state Agency that regulates the Texas oil and gas industry, Commissioner David Porter announced the search for a staff seismologist in response to the rash of small earthquakes that have sprung up throughout the state along with the boom in oil and gas production.

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Update 12/30/13: The Federal Aviation Administration has selected Texas A&M - Corpus Christi as one of six drone testing sites across the U.S. The FAA says the Corpus Christi site "plans to develop system safety requirements for UAS vehicles and operations with a goal of protocols and procedures for airworthiness testing." 

Sites in Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota and Virginia were also chosen.

Hear more about A&M's drone plans in the interview below.

Original story 10/09/13: From Manhattan to Afghanistan, drones have become big news and big business. Now, there’s a move to turn the skies over Texas into one of the world’s leading drone test sites. 

KUT’s David Brown talks with Ron George, a senior research development officer at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi , and one of the planners of a new drone development center.

At 10 on a crisp West Texas morning, five camel-trekkers stand under the open sky of the Davis Mountains. A few feet away, guide Doug Baum and Jason Mayfield load up five camels.

Baum, a former zookeeper, runs the Texas Camel Corps. The group guides camel treks around the world. In the Big Bend region, camels were for a brief time widespread, and the guides have brought them back.

'As Good As They Come'

You have to like a man who brings his own camel to a camel trek. On Mayfield's arm is a tall, beautiful blond named Butter.

Update: The Amber Alert for Natalie Jasso has been canceled. Information about her condition was not immediately available.

Original Story: (6:03 a.m.): Law enforcement agencies across the state are looking for a two week-old baby girl who they believe was abducted by a male family member.

There’s an active Amber Alert for Natalie Jasso. The infant was last seen last night in Robstown, Texas – near Corpus Christi.

Natalie is Hispanic and has black hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a white beanie and a white onesie with pink flowers on it.

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