Texas

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A new report spotlights the success and shortfalls of summer lunch programs for Texas students.

The Food Research and Action Center found that the number of lunch programs across the state grew by 17 percent last year. However, these programs only reach about 11 percent of low-income children receiving school lunches.

.texaswideopenforbusiness.com

Gov. Rick Perry is launching an ad campaign in Connecticut and New York, trying to lure businesses to the Lone Star State.

The move comes after Gov. Perry made similar efforts in California and Illinois. But this time, Perry’s taking his message to television screens instead of radio.

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Texas and its capitol city are increasingly touted as great retirement destinations. But according to a recent study, the state ranks 48th in money spent on senior healthcare and 39th overall, in a national survey by United Health Foundation.

The study from the health care giant found that 820,000 Texas seniors were physically inactive, which led to nearly 20 percent of seniors spending at least a week in intensive care in the final six months of their lives.

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A doctor who wants to determine a patient's health will gather all kinds of data - temperature, blood pressure, pulse, weight, blood test results, and the like - to come up with an overall picture of how the patient is doing.

The Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University of Texas at Austin kind of did the same thing to determine the civic health of Texas. Bad news: this patient's not in good shape.

The warnings aren't as ominous as they were eight days ago in the hours leading up to the tornado that devastated Moore, Okla., but the National Weather Service is predicting "another round of severe weather for the Central United States on Tuesday."

Nathan Bernier/KUT News

The Texas House passed a bill Thursday that would increase the amount of charter schools across the state.

Right now, Texas caps the number of charters—or publicly funded, privately operated schools—to 215.  Senate bill 2 would increase the number of charter licenses allowed to 305 by 2019.

National Weather Service

Cleanup is underway in North Texas after devastating tornadoes claimed six lives and multiple injuries.

The National Weather Service’s preliminary count says 10 tornadoes stuck North Texas last night. The Fort Worth suburb of Granbury, Texas took some of the worst damage, with damage showing signs of wind gusts up to 260 MPH.

"A massive emergency response" is underway in North Texas, where tornadoes blew through Wednesday night, The Dallas Morning News says. A twister that hit Granbury, about 35 miles southwest of Fort Worth, left at least six people dead, more than 100 injured and even more homeless, The Associated Press adds.

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No one doubts the growth of the Latino electorate in Texas. But its turnout at the polls is lower than in the rest of the country, leading some to question how to change that. Especially Democrats who say this is how to turn Texas blue.

State Rep. Trey Martinez-Fischer, D-San Antonio, and State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, joined Julie Martinez Ortega of PAC Plus to discuss the challenge at a news conference today.

Hate Map

Language on social media is honest, instant and, sometimes, inappropriate.  And the Internet’s elephantine memory holds on to every last questionable comment.  

Researchers at Humboldt State University used Twitter’s geo-coding to tag over 150,000 tweets from the better part of the past year to map what they call the “Geography of Hate,” an interactive database of hateful language all over the US.

Photo courtesy of Wendi Aarons.

Sometimes it can be hard to find the right words to show Mom how much you appreciate her. Mother's Day is Sunday, and  a group of Austin writers and storytellers is taking to the stage this week with their personal stories of motherhood, mothering, and being mothered.

Eric Kayne for Texas Tribune

Cheerleaders at an East Texas high school who were told to stop displaying Bible verses on banners at school athletic events can resume such displays, after a state district judge ruled in their favor Wednesday.

The national headline-grabbing lawsuit arose last fall when Kountze Independent School District administrators ordered its high school cheerleaders to stop displaying religious messages during athletic events after a group advocating for the separation of church and state threatened to sue. 

Bobby Blanchard for KUT News

Earlier today, law enforcement officers took part in a memorial for the 25 Texas police officers who died in service over the past two years.

Every two years, the Peace Officers Memorial Foundation of Texas hosts a candlelight vigil and a memorial ceremony and parade in May. The parade started at the Congress Avenue Bridge and ended at the Capitol, marched by a procession of color guard teams, police motorcycles, cyclists and pipe and drum corps. 

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There’s road closures in place this morning for the Texas Peace Officers’ Memorial Parade.

The South Congress Avenue Bridge will be closed from 9 a.m. to noon.  Congress Avenue will be closed from Cesar Chavez to 11th Streets from 10:30 to 11 a.m. , and Colorado Street from 11th to 13th Streets will be partially closed until 2 pm. Here’s a map of closures.

National Weather Service

The Texas drought is forecast to diminish slightly in the latest long-range outlook from the National Weather Service.

Meteorologist Anthony Artusa says most of the improvement is expected in northeastern Texas, with a sliver of some improvements in the central and southeastern parts of the state.

Update: More signs from the City of Austin that Attorney General Greg Abbott's opinion won't mean any changes for now: a memo from City Manager Marc Ott on the matter. It reads, in part: 

While we will continue to evaluate the Attorney General’s opinion, it continues to be our belief that the City’s domestic partner group benefits program is not prohibited by the Texas Marriage Amendment, and that the Texas Legislature did not intend the Amendment to have that effect when it was placed before the voters in 2005.

The Attorney General’s opinion does not require the City to take any specific action, and we do not intend to change domestic partner eligibility for our benefits program at this time. 

It’s been called the Texas Miracle: Hundreds of thousands of jobs added, millions of people and thousands of companies moving here from other states.

But that sense of pride inside Texas isn’t shared outside the state. Critics say the majority of jobs created don’t pay well and the state’s low tax-low service model has led to crumbling schools, inadequate roads and a water crisis.

Marissa Barnett for KUT News

Update: Students in the town of West are back in class today for the first time since Wednesday’s deadly fertilizer plant explosion. Some school buildings were destroyed or damaged by the blast.

Older students are taking classes at an old school building in a nearby district. Some younger students are in portable classrooms. STAAR exams scheduled for Tuesday there are being delayed. For those who'd like to donate, the West Independent School District says monetary donations are best

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The investigation into what caused the fire at the West Fertilizer Plant that led to Wednesday's explosion is still ongoing. But officials say they’ve found no sign of criminal activity.

Investigators will also look into any safety or regulatory issues at the plant. But even at this early stage, there are signs that not all was right with the plant. The disaster has also brought up questions about how well regulation of facilities like these works in Texas.

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Update (Saturday): As of 3 p.m. today, some residents of West, the site of a major explosion at a fertilizer plant Wednesday, will be allowed back into their homes in part of the severely damaged neighborhood in the north section of town. 

Residents 18 and over living in the area from Walnut street southward will be allowed to enter until 7 p.m. From 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., the city will have a curfew, and residents will need to either stay in their homes or leave the neighborhood. North of that area, Mayor Pro Tem Steve Vanek said at a press conference this afternoon that the city will work "as quickly as possible"to allow people back to their homes. More information for residents is available at the City of West's website.

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