Texas

Education
6:11 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Texas House Passes Bill to Increase Charter Cap

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.

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Texas
11:41 am
Thu May 16, 2013

Clean Up in North Texas: 10 Tornadoes Struck Area Overnight

A tornado completely demolished this house in Granbury, Texas last night.
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.

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Texas
6:30 am
Thu May 16, 2013

Texas Tornado Leaves 6 Dead, Dozens Hurt, Hundreds Homeless

Jose and Antonio Angudo were among those evacuated from Granbury, Texas, late Wednesday after a tornado devastated the area.
Joyce Marshall / Fort Worth Star-Telegram MCT / Landov

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 7:38 am

"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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Politics
4:35 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Texas Democrats See Future in Mobilizing Latino Turnout

Latinos in Texas generally don't make their numbers felt at the polls.
flickr.com/buckygail

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.

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Texas
12:15 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

'Hate Map' Collects, Charts Texas' Racist, Homophobic Tweets

The Hate Map project collects insensitive tweets, the blue represents "some hate," while the red represents "most hate"
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.

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Austin
5:00 am
Thu May 9, 2013

'Listen to Your Mother Austin:' Heartwarming Stories from Central Texas Mothers

Austin writer Wendi Aarons' mother Sharon revels in the arrival of her first grandchild. Wendi is the director and producer of "Listen to Your Mother Austin."
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.

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Texas
4:42 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

Judge: Cheerleaders Can Keep Bible Verses On Banners

As two Kountze football players prepare to play a game on Oct. 5, 2012, one holds a banner with a Bible verse.
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. 

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Austin
3:52 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

Fallen Texas Peace Officers Honored at Capitol

Law enforcement officers take part in a memorial parade in honor of peace officers who have died in the past two years.
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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Austin
10:18 am
Mon May 6, 2013

Texas Peace Officers' Memorial Parade in Downtown Austin Today

The Texas Peace Officers memorial, on the grounds of the Texas Capitol.
flickr.com/wallyg

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.

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Texas
5:10 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Drought May Ease in NE Texas but Persist Elsewhere

The line between drought improvment and persistence passes through Texas.
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.

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Texas
11:59 am
Tue April 30, 2013

AG Greg Abbott: City & ISD Domestic Partner Benefits Unconstitutional (Update)

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. 

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Politics
5:30 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Agenda Texas: A Written Defense of the 'Texas Miracle'

“Big, Hot, Cheap and Right: What America Can Learn from the Strange Genius of Texas” is the newest book from Texas Monthly senior editor Erica Grieder.

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.

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West Plant Explosion
11:32 am
Mon April 22, 2013

How Austin Can Help West, Texas

Austinites are encouraged to donate blood to help victims of the West fertilizer plant explosion.
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

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West Plant Explosion
6:52 am
Mon April 22, 2013

After Fertilizer Explosion, Concern Over Safety, Regulation & Zoning

Candlelight vigil in West.
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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West Plant Explosion
2:52 pm
Sat April 20, 2013

Officials: 15 Dead, 200 Injured in West, Texas Explosion

An aerial shot of the site of the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.
facebook.com/TexasAttorneyGeneral

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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Texas
11:28 am
Fri April 19, 2013

Why This Austin Divorce Attorney Works on Death Row, Pro Bono

Mary Felps guides reporter Joy Diaz through a visit at the Huntsville Cemetery. At this point, Felps' doctors had not OKd her to go back to death row.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News.

Getting married nowadays can be really pricey. But getting divorced can be just as expensive.

In Austin, a good divorce attorney can charge anywhere between $150 and $500 an hour. When parties disagree, cases can drag on, and raise costs into the thousands of dollars. But there is one divorce attorney in Austin who offers her services for free – to a very exclusive clientele.

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Texas
12:24 am
Fri April 19, 2013

Photos: West, Texas Comes Together for a Candlelight Vigil

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

St Mary’s Church in West, Texas was packed with hundreds of residents grieving for those who were injured or killed by the explosion Wednesday evening.

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Texas
8:23 pm
Thu April 18, 2013

Ex-Justice Of The Peace Charged With Killings In North Texas

Texas authorities have charged Eric Williams, former justice of the peace, with the murders of the Kaufman County district attorney and his assistant.
Kaufman County Sheriff's Office AP

Originally published on Thu April 18, 2013 3:05 pm

"A former justice of the peace has been charged with murder in the slayings of a North Texas district attorney and his assistant who prosecuted him for theft, officials announced Thursday," The Associated Press reports. Eric Williams is also charged with the murder of the district attorney's wife.

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Texas
12:42 pm
Thu April 18, 2013

Map: Where Are Fertilizer Plants in the U.S.?


View Larger Map

If the astounding explosion in West caught most Texans off-guard, it might be because they weren't aware that a chemical facility holding tremendous amounts of a deadly explosive fuel could operate within the confines of a town, incredibly close to homes and schools.

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Texas
4:09 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

Perry Goes After Illinois Businesses With Radio Campaign

Gov. Rick Perry is trying to get companies to move to Texas.
Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

Gov. Rick Perry is trying to convince more businesses to move to Texas. Now he’s targeting Illinois with aggressive print ads comparing the business climate in that state to a “burning building on the verge of collapse.”

Today, Perry also launched a 30-second radio ad on four stations in Chicago.

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