News, policy discussions, and major events happening in or related to Texas, told from an Austin perspective

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From Texas Standard:

If you ask a woman what her self-defense techniques are when she walks alone at night, you’re likely to hear a variety of answers. “I carry pepper spray,” “I hold a set of keys gripped between my fingers,” or “I pretend to talk on the phone” are just a few responses.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been under fire for opening three detention centers to hold Central American immigrant families who fled to this country seeking asylum.

Under the pressure of a federal court order, ICE is now exploring ways to release the mothers and children with alternatives to detention — but human rights activists are unhappy that the same for-profit prison company that locked up the families now manages their cases after release.

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From Texas Standard:

A group made up of professors, and a few others, rallied behind their common goal of a gun-free UT on Monday at the University of Texas at Austin. This pushback against a state campus carry law passed last session has been building for months. The new law is set to take effect next year.

The protesters' message was loud and clear: ban guns or we could sue. Law professor Ken Williams from South Texas College of Law in Houston says their main claim will center around how universities will ensure a safe environment for both students and faculty.


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From Texas Standard:

In the face of fierce opposition calling it a "bathroom bill," the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) was rejected by voters last week.

Houston's ordinance sought to extend civil rights protections to transgender individuals and several other groups of citizens, but quickly came under fire for its proposed extension of equal rights to public restroom use.


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From Texas Standard:

Dallas-based Securus Technologies is one of the leading providers of phone services inside prisons across the nation. And now they could be responsible for what's being reported as possibly "the most massive breach of the attorney-client privilege in modern U.S. history."

Investigative website The Intercept is reporting the breach involves records from prisoner phone calls in 37 states, including Texas. The records were leaked by an anonymous hacker on the Intercept's secure and anonymous contact site SecureDrop.


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From Texas Standard:

A story about a protest on a campus a few states away could have implications for one of the biggest industries in Texas – college football. At the University of Missouri, there were protests going back to September against racism on campus, a social media campaign called Concerned Student 1950, and a hunger strike by a graduate student. But most folks outside of Missouri did not know about any of this until last weekend.

Hundreds of veterans and their supporters marched up Congress Avenue Wednesday to the state capitol, where a commemoration ceremony took place for Veterans Day. Among those attending were Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

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From Texas Standard:

Part of the mission at Dress for Success is to help women achieve financial independence. That includes women veterans. A higher percentage of female vets are unemployed than male vets.

"I have an interview this afternoon," Julia Hill says.


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From Texas Standard:

Last week, Texas Rep. Kevin Brady won over the chairmanship of one of the most powerful groups of congressional lawmakers, the House Ways and Means Committee.

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From Texas Standard:

Following another legal setback to President Barack Obama's immigration executive action, the Justice Department says it plans to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the lawsuit.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Think Killeen, Texas, and the U.S. Army post Fort Hood probably comes to mind.

The military facility was created in 1942, and it's been the town's most defining feature. But as millions of soldiers have flowed in and out of Fort Hood over the years, an interesting food culture has sprouted outside its gates.

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From Texas Standard:

Most adoptions are about children finding their "forever homes," or their permanent families. Other adoption proceedings are for parents who want to make sure their kid remains a part of their family, as is the case for many same-sex parents.

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From Texas Standard:

Earlier this year, when Texas' 84th Legislative Session was just shifting into gear, Gov. Greg Abbott was urging sweeping ethics reform. He characterized government transparency as the most important commodity to bolster the bond of trust between lawmakers and the people. Despite the promises, not much changed last session.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning Center for Public Integrity released a new scorecard for what it's calling "state integrity." Out of all 50 states tested, Texas didn't do so well. The Lone Star state got a "D-" grade, putting us as number 38 on their public integrity meter.

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From Texas Standard:

There have been a lot of non-Texans talking about the southern border lately. Presidential hopefuls, public officials and others seem to all have opinions on what's wrong with border security and how to fix it.

Take, for instance, talk-show host Sean Hannity. "[We need] virtual fences, virtual surveillance – impenetrable border," he says.


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From Texas Standard:

Earlier this year Pastor Gonzalez Sosa was pulled over for speeding in Caldwell County. Dash-cam audio from that traffic stop indicates both drivers spoke in Spanish during the stop.

Sosa was issued a citation, but his race was recorded as white.


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From Texas Standard:

Almost 200 Americans have tried to leave the U.S. to join Islamic extremists in Iraq and Syria.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations made that claim this summer at a Senate intelligence committee hearing. Texas has a seen its fair share of individuals attempting to join ISIS; in the last year, the federal government sentenced two men from Austin who were caught trying to join the group.


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From Texas Standard:

The Texas legislature meets for 140 days every two years, but lawmakers are already starting to get to work. In 14 months, the 85th legislative session begins. Both Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker of the House Joe Straus have given legislators some homework before the start of the session. These interim charges suggest in-depth studies of what top state officials think are the most important issues for the next legislative session.

Image via Wikimedia/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

Earlier this month, Gov. Greg Abbott warned Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez that he’d “no longer tolerate” Texas sheriff offices that don’t comply with federal immigration authorities on detainer requests. Yesterday Abbott made good on his threat: he says the state will withhold grant funding from any counties that refuse to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Valdez has caught flak for saying she would begin making case-by-case decisions on whether to honor ICE requests for detainment. The requests ask county jails to hold undocumented immigrants with criminal records for up to 48 hours longer than their set release time so officials can take them into custody.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

Wake up, get dressed, pack your homework, maybe a lunch. That’s the typical morning routine for most students. But some students on the U.S.-Mexico border grab something else on their way out the door — their passports.


Nineteen-year-old Arlet Burciaga is one of those students.

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From Texas Standard:

On Monday President Barack Obama made the call to "ban the box" for federal job applicants with prison records so that they are given a chance to get through the door.

The box in question is the check box on job applications asking applicants if they have ever been convicted of a crime.