Texas Standard

In the 21st century, what happens in Texas drives the American narrative.  Texas Standard is setting a new bar for broadcast news coverage, offering up-to-the-moment coverage of politics, lifestyle and culture, the environment, technology and innovation, and business and the economy – from a Texas perspective – and uncovering stories as they happen and spotting the trends that will shape tomorrow’s headlines. Hosted by award-winning journalist David Brown, Texas Standard features interviews with researchers, innovators, business leaders, political thinkers and experts – across Texas and around the globe – that reflect a diversity of opinions. A one-hour daily news magazine, Texas Standard is produced in the state capital in collaboration with KUT Austin, KERA North Texas, Houston Public Media and Texas Public Radio San Antonio, as well as news organizations across Texas, Mexico and the United States. Visit TexasStandard.org to read our newest stories and hear our latest show.   

Weather Puts 'American Sniper' Trial on Ice

SimonQ/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Concerns are growing over something that's being called the "kill pill" – drugs laced with fentanyl, one of the most powerful prescription painkillers in the world.

Pills laced with fentanyl were linked to Prince's death earlier this year. According to the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, incidents of law-enforcement officers finding drugs containing fentanyl have jumped 426 percent from 2013-2014, the latest figures available.

 


Courtesy Amber Briggle

From Texas Standard:

Earlier this week, a federal judge sided with Texas' request to block a federal directive for schools to accommodate the bathroom choices of transgender students. Attorney General Ken Paxton said he was pleased – but not surprised – by the court's order, and subsequently filed suit to remove discrimination protections against health insurers.

The Human Rights Campaign, among others, blasted that move as shameful, cheap and political. Others have been far more harsh in their assessments – both of Paxton and Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who says he's not sure he's ever known a transgender person.

 


Pexels (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has an idea to lower college costs across the board: get rid of what's called "tuition set-asides" for students who need financial help. Generations of Texans have benefited from the financial aid program, but Patrick calls them a hidden tax that unfairly burdens the middle class.

Yesterday, lawmakers began exploring the merits and demerits of Lt. Gov. Patrick's plan, but reporters David McSwane and Lauren McGaughy of the Dallas Morning News have crunched some numbers of their own.

 


Thomas Hawk/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The federal government announced that it's phasing out its use of privately run prisons and now, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is warning that it too could close prisons, lay off 1,200 employees and stop providing certain inmate services – but not because of privatization.

Mike Ward, Austin bureau chief for the Houston Chronicle, says, like other states, Texas has fewer inmates now than in recent years.

 


ICCNS/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Marla Torrado and Felipa Puente are taking a tour of a Texaco station in the Dove Springs community of Austin. The predominantly low-income neighborhood is a far cry from downtown’s flagship Whole Foods Market and the city’s most Instagrammed restaurants. Dove Springs is situated in the southeast part of the city. To social scientists it’s a well-known food desert. There are few restaurants – mostly fast food – and just one large grocery store on the neighborhood’s edge, that’s difficult to reach without a car.

But residents like Torrado and Puente are leading a movement to bring healthy food to every corner – or corner store. The store owner is showing them some of the healthier food items that need restocking: bags of brown rice, dried beans, and whole grain cereal.

Torrado is the local food retail organizer for the Healthy Corner Store Initiative. Go Austin Vamos Austin, or GAVA, is spearheading the effort – it’s a grassroots coalition of nonprofits and community members.

 


Michel Marizco/Fronteras Desk (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

When Sasha Von Oldershausen moved from New York City to Presidio, Texas, a few years back, her friends told her to get a gun and lock the doors. They imagined her moving to the stereotypical lawless Southwest.

But Von Oldershausen knew better – in the vast majority of the tiny Texas towns that dot the borderlands, crime rates are low, the landscape is indescribably beautiful and the sense of solitude is profound. Then ,she discovered she wasn't nearly as alone as she thought. Texas Monthly writer Sasha Von Oldershausen recounts her experience in her article "Nothing To Fear But Fear Itself."

Von Oldershausen says she experienced firsthand the capabilities of Border Patrol's surveillance methods while walking on a trail near the Rio Grande one day.

 


SaveJeffWood.com

From Texas Standard:

Jeff Wood was supposed to die this week.

He was sentenced to death for the 1996 murder of a convenience store clerk, even though it's been well established that he never killed anyone. A friend of his killed a Kerrville gas station clerk in a botched robbery and Wood was waiting in a truck outside the store.

He was still held accountable for the crime under the Texas' law of parties. Similar to laws of accomplice liability in other states, Texas law says that anyone who "solicits, encourages, directs, aids, or attempts to aid the other person to commit the offense" is criminally liable as well.

But on Friday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stayed Wood's execution. The court ordered that his case should be re-tried – not because of any issue with the law of parties, but because of potentially flawed testimony from a psychiatrist nicknamed Dr. Death.

 


Which Texas Taco Town is Most Improved?

Aug 18, 2016
Gus Contreras / KERA News

From Texas Standard:

In a state where taco is king, assertions of a town's taco superiority are fightin' words, as past events have shown us.

So claiming one specific town is "most improved" is a risky move. But taco journalists Mando Rayo and Jarod Neece say one Texas city deserves that honor. In fact, one of the city's establishments was just named one of the best in the nation.


Jaime Chapoy/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

East Texas has seen multiple deadly downpours this year. Yet in south Texas, Brooks County Sheriff-elect Benny Martinez says he wants it to rain along the border to alleviate the unbearable heat. “I’m hoping the rains continue,” Martinez said Monday. “I’m hoping we get a hurricane.”

The heat index down south was over 100 degrees for most of July, which has in part contributed to the hundreds of migrant deaths. Kristian Hernandez, with the McAllen Monitor, says the sheriff’s bold statement comes from his experience with the effect the heat can have on migrants crossing the Texas-Mexico border.


Project 404/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

It's been a long time since kids sat with parents on living room couches watching live pictures from Mission Control in Houston. Even though NASA no longer looms in the American imagination as much as it once did, with a Mars expedition in the works and the rise of Space X and Blue Origin among others, a powerful case can be made that a renaissance is just around the corner.

Houston-area U.S. Rep. Brian Babin, who's chair of the House Space subcommittee, has launched a new mission on Capitol Hill.


Pete Souza/Instagram

From Texas Standard:

It's been smooth sailing for Leon Bridges this summer. The 27-year-old neo-soul singer from Fort Worth has gotten lots of critical acclaim as well as a mighty big hat tip from President Obama, who included Bridges on his second-annual summer Spotify playlist.

The playlist runs the gamut from indie rockers like Courtney Barnett and Edward Sharpe to Brazil's Caetano Veloso. Dan Solomon, who writes for Texas Monthly, thinks the president may have overlooked some Texas flavor. 


Mengwen Cao/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

Americans use social media for a variety of reasons – to stay connected to family and friends, to share something funny, and increasingly, to get news and express political opinions.

Now, a new study from the Pew Research Center suggests that the way that Americans use and consume social media is closely tied to race. It found that there's a significant difference between the way that black and white adults use social media when it comes to race-based content. Black social media users were about twice as likely as their white counterparts to say that the content they see on social networks is race-related. A similar gap appeared when asked about their own posting habits.

 


Anna Casey/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Editor’s note: Some of the stories in this post may be disturbing to young readers.

Camp Brave Heart sits just outside of Wimberley, near the Blanco River. It looks just like any other American summer camp. But here the swimming, bonfires and camp songs are secondary to the main mission.

All Brave Heart’s campers have experienced the recent loss of a loved one.

 


Courtesy Justin Bohannon

From Texas Standard:

Two shootings in July: one in Dallas, the other in Baton Rouge. First, a sniper shot down five police officers at a protest. A few weeks later a man ambushed and killed three police officers.

It’s been over a month since the two shootings, and there are still a lot more questions than answers. You can’t talk about one without mentioning the other – both incidents were eerily similar. There were two different shooters, both of them black, both upset about recent police violence. There is also another similarity, one that hasn’t been mentioned a lot – they were both black veterans.

The facts immediately bring up a lot of questions, ones about post-traumatic stress disorder, collective trauma and race. But there's one question we haven't found the answer for yet: What would push someone to commit such an act?

Justin Bohannon is a combat vet from the Army. At the time of his deployment he was also one of the few black soldiers in his unit. Bohannon said he experienced racist jokes, tougher punishments and a general sense of isolation. I asked him how he overcame racism on the front lines – he said he didn’t.

 


frolicsomepl/Pixabay (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

Katie Meili, a 25-year-old from North Texas, took home the bronze medal this week in the 100-meter breaststroke at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

But Meili might have placed even higher on the podium. Yulia Efimova of Russia won the silver medal. Efimova has failed multiple tests for performance-enhancing drugs. She was initially banned from the Olympics because of the failed tests, but the International Olympic Committee ultimately allowed her to compete.

Efimova's participation in the games, as with many Russian athletes, was controversial. Doping isn't new, It’s been around for decades, but advances in drug testing methods and technologies haven't kept illicit drugs away from elite athletics.

 


brianswanFlickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

A demonym describes the inhabitants of a place. With so many cities and counties in Texas, it's hard to keep track of who is what from where. Word scholar W.F. Strong has a helpful list to keep you on track.


Flickr/Rodriguez (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

A small school in North Texas will receive a donation of more than $3,500 for its football team. In a world of million-dollar sports deals, it may not sound like much. But for the Gainesville State Tornadoes – it's huge.

The school is a juvenile detention center and its donors are ex-convicts. It all started when a lawyer and activist Omid Ghaffari posted an ESPN article in a Reddit forum for ex-convicts about a high school football fans.

"The Grapevine Faith fans actually lined up for the Gainesville State players, cheering them on," he says. "And it was a nice story kind of about a community coming together for a group of boys who usually don't have any fans or anyone cheering them on."


Ibro Palic/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Texas' campus carry law has been in effect for a little over a week now and after months of research and planning, schools across the state are now implementing the law. But the dust hasn't completely settled – a court battle could change the way the law is applied.

Mark Heard/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The U.S. Justice Department has handed out over 900 years of prison time to members of white supremacist group the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas.

Nearly 75 of the group's members have been convicted after a six-year federal probe aimed to dismantle the organization. A federal prosecutor says the convictions have backed the group into a corner, and the organization is now in "absolute chaos."

 


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Over the years I've been defined as many things: a woman, a mother, a grandmother. I've been an activist, a professional and a retiree. Now, I'm a public servant in Austin on the city council. My district has more African Americans than any other in the city. 

Over the years, as you may imagine, some of my roles have changed. But least one remains: I'm a mother – no matter how old my son and daughter may be.

I imagine most parents are like me. That's why my heart breaks when I try to step into the shoes of the parents, family and friends whose loved ones have been killed. 

 


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