Texas

HB2
6:58 am
Thu October 16, 2014

Fifth Circuit Sets December Deadline for Briefs in Texas Abortion Law Lawsuit

Briefs from both sides in a Texas aborrtion law lawsuit are due by Dec. 8, 2014 before the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
photo courtesy Bobak Ha'Eri

Some abortion clinics in Texas have started reopening, following the U.S. Supreme Court's temporary stay of parts of the state's restrictive abortion law.

"All of those 13 clinics that had been forced to close by the Fifth Circuit are now able to reopen, and specifically El Paso and McAllen," says Esha Bhandari, an attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is litigating a lawsuit against two provisions of the state’s 2013 abortion law.

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Ebola
5:38 am
Wed October 15, 2014

Second Texas Health Worker Tests Positive for Ebola as Official Tries to Calm Fears (Update)

Dallas Hazmat workers begin decontaminating the apartment of the second Dallas health care worker who has tested postitive for Ebola.
Dallas Police Department, @DallasPD

Update: The Texas Department of State Health Services this morning confirmed a second health care worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas has tested positive for Ebola. The worker reported a fever on Tuesday and DSHS says he or she was immediately isolated at the hospital.

No information about the health care worker's identity is being released at this time but, like the first health care worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital to be diagnosed with Ebola, this person took care of Thomas Eric Duncan – the first Ebola patient to die in the U.S. of the virus.

DSHS officials say they've already reached out to people who made have had contact with this second health worker. Those people will be monitored for potential symptoms.

The second diagnosis of a Texas health care worker comes a day after DSHS Chief David Lakey made statements in an effort to calm fears among health workers about the possible spread of Ebola.

Original Story (Oct. 14, 7:38 p.m.): The chief of the Texas Department of State Health Services says the team in Dallas is committed to containing the Ebola virus, and he says he understands the high level of anxiety among health care workers.

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HB2
6:06 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Supreme Court Halts Texas Abortion Restrictions

Credit Eric Schlegel, Texas Tribune

The U.S. Supreme Court has halted the enforcement of two provisions of Texas' new abortion law, known as House Bill 2, for now.

"Tonight, our reality in Texas was recognized by SCOTUS and they ruled on the side of Texan Women," said Amy Hagstrom Miller in a statement. Miller is the president and CEO of Whole Woman's Health, which is a plaintiff in the case against the provisions. "We are so proud to have led this fight."

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Voter ID
5:23 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Appeals Court Allows Voter ID Law to Be Enforced in November Elections

Credit KUT News

A federal appeals is allowing a Texas' voter ID to go ahead for the November election. The law requires voters to show an approved photo ID before casting a ballot.

The ruling comes after a federal judge in Corpus Christi struck down the law last Thursday, calling it an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, and adding that it intentionally discriminated against Hispanics and African-Americans.

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Oil
12:50 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Will Low Oil Prices Rattle The Texas Economy?

The benchmark price of oil is lower than it has been in four years.
Photo by MIRA OBERMAN/AFP/Getty Images

From StateImpact Texas:

The benchmark price of U.S. crude hovers around $85 a barrel. That’s lower than it's been in four years and $15 below where it was a year ago. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Economic growth has stalled internationally – This has slowing the demand for oil, but oil supplies are increasing thanks to the shale boom in the U.S. and the fact that OPEC – the cartel that sets prices internationally – has not cut production.
  •  The dollar is strong – The higher valuation of U.S. currency means that oil prices are down but –because the dollar’s also at a four-year high – the oil is still pricey, driving down demand.
  • Speculators are betting on prices to drop – Weekly production of oil is expected to reach a 45-year high next year, the market’s going bearish, driving the prices down.

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Perry Indictment
8:53 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Perry's Lawyer Confirms Governor Will Come to Court Next Hearing

Gov. Rick Perry has been ordered to attend an Oct. 31, 2014 court hearing in Austin related to his indictment.
KUT News

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s lawyers were back in court today, without their client. When the scheduling hearing was over, the judge set a pretrial hearing for Friday, Oct. 31.

One issue to be discussed is whether Special Prosecutor Michael McCrum was properly sworn in, which will determine whether he’s qualified to continue as attorney pro tem, in the place of District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg.

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Voter ID
2:58 pm
Sat October 11, 2014

Federal Judge Strikes Down Texas Voter ID Law (Updated)

A federal judge has struck down Texas' Voter ID law.
KUT

UPDATE (Saturday 2:30pm): The judge in the Texas Voter ID case has formally issued an injunction barring the state from enforcing the new photo identification requirements under Senate Bill 14. 

 

Unless an appeals court intervenes, the ID requirement will not be in effect for the November election.

 

UPDATE (Friday, 2pm): Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott wants a federal judge who struck down the state's voter ID law to clarify her ruling by the end of today.

In a filing Friday, Abbott writes:

The scope of the planned injunction appears to be quite broad (much broader than it should be, even assuming the Court is correct regarding the merits of this case), but it is not described in any detail. Nor does the Court’s opinion announce the anticipated timing of its injunction. It is not clear if the Court’s injunction will apply to this election. 

Abbott also says the judge should allow the ID requirement to stay in effect for the upcoming November election, as the case is appealed.

 

EARLIER: A federal judge in Corpus Christi has struck down a Texas law requiring voters to show ID before casting a ballot, calling it an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote.

The law was passed by the 2011 Texas Legislature, and has been the subject of plenty of legal wrangling ever since. Republican leaders call it a protection against voter fraud. Democrats say it's aimed at discouraging minorities from voting.

Several groups representing Hispanic voters -- along with the Justice Department -- sued the state.

In her ruling today, Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos largely agrees with the plaintiffs. She cites the limited number of accepted forms of ID as an unconstitutional barrier to the right to vote, and saying it intentionally discriminates against blacks and Hispanics.

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Texas
11:30 am
Fri October 10, 2014

Despite Drought, Texas Pecan Season Shaping Up to Be Pretty Sweet

There should be plenty of pecans available for pies and treats this year.
flickr.com/mrjoro

Fall in Texas is synonymous with the sweet taste of pecans, be it in pies, cookies, or by themselves. And although it may be early in the season, pecan sellers have already begun to set up stands along Central Texas roads.

This year’s early winter freezes, in addition to the ongoing drought, will undoubtedly have some effect on the season’s production rates. But because Texas is large and areas that grow pecans experienced varied weather, the Texas Pecan Growers Association says buyers should expect prices to be about the same this year as last year.

“The crop is not really low. When the crop is really low, the prices usually go much higher, but because there is a decent crop in Texas, they shouldn’t go too high," TPGA Associate Director of Sales and Marketing Blair Krebs said.

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Ebola
7:26 am
Fri October 10, 2014

Gov. Perry Praises Fort Hood Troops Before Liberia Deployment to Fight Against Ebola

Soldiers at Fort Hood got a visit from Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Oct. 9, 2014, before their upcoming deployment to Liberia.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT News

Soldiers at Fort Hood got a visit from Texas Gov. Rick Perry yesterday. Hundreds of them will deploy to Liberia soon to help in the fight against Ebola.

Gov. Perry gave soldiers in Fort Hood’s 36th Engineering Brigade a pep talk. He told them they’re making a difference for the U.S. and the world.

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Border & Immigration
9:10 am
Thu October 9, 2014

Report: 'Systemic' Problems in Groups Overseeing Central American Migrants

A report calls problems within the Karnes County Residential Center "systemic," and expresses concern about a forthcoming immigrant detention facility opening in Dilley next month.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

A report released yesterday documents what it calls "systemic" problems in the two private prison companies the federal government hires to house undocumented Central American mothers and their children.

The report alleges detainees are being sexually harassed by guards in the recently-opened Karnes County Residential Center, which is run by the GEO Group, and expresses concern about a forthcoming center opening in Dilley next month, which will be run by CCA.

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Ebola
10:27 am
Wed October 8, 2014

Dallas Ebola Patient Thomas Eric Duncan Has Died

This 2011 photo provided by Wilmot Chayee shows Thomas Eric Duncan at a wedding in Ghana. Duncan, who became the first patient diagnosed in the U.S. with Ebola, has died, the hospital where he was being treated said.
Wilmot Chayee AP

Originally published on Wed October 8, 2014 1:24 pm

Updated at 12:15 p.m. ET

Thomas Eric Duncan, the 42-year-old man who contracted Ebola in Liberia and later traveled to Dallas, where he was being treated, has died, hospital officials say.

A statement from the company that runs Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where Duncan was in isolation, read:

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Ebola
5:41 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

Panel Scrutinizes Texas' Response to Ebola, Offers Insight on Future Action

The Texas Senate Committee on Health and Human Services met on Oct. 7, 2014 to review how prepared Texas is to handle cases of infectious diseases.
KUT News

The Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee convened in Austin today to home in on what Texas has done in response to having the first confirmed case of Ebola in the U.S., and what should be done next. 

People in Texas should feel confident in the state’s ability to respond to cases of infectious diseases, Kyle Janek, who leads the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, told members of the Senate committee. He said he can’t promise, however, that there will be no missteps.

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Healthcare
10:05 am
Tue October 7, 2014

Flu Vaccine Delivery Delayed to Some Texas Providers

Some health providers are receiving the flu vaccine later than usual this year.
Credit Photo by Sanofi Pasteur http://www.flickr.com/photos/sanofi-pasteur/

Students and employees at the University of Texas at Austin will be able to get flu shots on campus today. But the vaccine has arrived later than usual.

“The campaign was planned to kick off September the 23, but we were unable to get sufficient vaccine at that time, so our first clinic was October second,” says Sherry Bell an outreach coordinator with UT Austin health services.

The University is one of many places in the US and Canada to see delays in the delivery of the vaccine this year.  The hold up has been blamed on regulatory action against some vaccine manufacturers, and the slow growth of one strain of flu.

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2014 Elections
8:26 am
Mon October 6, 2014

Ahead of Election Day, the Campaign for Online Voter Registration Continues

Texas lawmakers have been pushing to bring voter registration online for the better part of a decade, and could renew their efforts this legislative session.
Credit Photo courtesy flickr.com/sarowen

Today is the deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 4 local, state and federal elections.

More than a decade ago, around 80 percent of the state's voting age population registered to vote, but now that's closer to 70 percent.

While some argue online voter registration could boost turnout, others worry about the security risks and the chance to give the “other” party a leg up at the ballots.

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HB2
4:43 pm
Fri October 3, 2014

Lawyers for Texas Abortion Providers Expect SCOTUS to Hear Case

Abortion rights advocates plan to take their efforts against abortion restrictions in Texas to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

As of today, Texas women have less access to abortion, after a federal court decision yesterday lets restrictions on clinics go into effect. Abortion rights advocates now say they plan to ultimately take their effort to the nation’s highest court.

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Texas
7:16 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

Allegations of Sexual Abuse at Immigrant Detention Center

Hundreds of undocumented immigrants are detained at the Karnes County Residential Center in South Texas
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Immigration advocates say whistleblowers are reporting sexual assault by guards at a privately run immigrant detention center in South Texas. The Karnes County Residential Center is run by GEO Group.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and attorneys at the University of Texas School of Law have filed a complaint with the federal government. It comes on the heels of a separate complaint last week alleging detainees have inadequate access to food, telephones and appropriate conditions to care for their children. 

In the latest complaint, MALDEF and the attorneys allege GEO guards are having sex with detainees, groping them in front of children, and calling the women detainees their "girlfriends." 

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Ebola
6:08 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

Family of Dallas Ebola Patient Ordered to Stay Inside Their Home

Local law enforcement in Dallas is monitoring family members of the Dallas Ebola patient, to ensure they comply with an order to remain inside their home until at least Oct. 19, 2014.
KUT News

Four relatives of the Dallas Ebola patient are being monitored to ensure they stay inside their home and not risk spreading the disease. So far, however, they don’t have symptoms of Ebola, but their temperature will be taken twice a day.

This type of quarantine is possible because of a Texas law that allows health officials to issue a control order. It requires someone to stay home, "to ensure that we can monitor them as needed," said David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services.

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HB2
5:39 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

Federal Appeals Court Allows Texas to Implement Abortion Rules

A panel of judges at the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the portions of an abortion law that had been struck down by a lower court's federal judge in Austin will go into effect immediately.
photo courtesy Bobak Ha'Eri

A panel of judges at the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is allowing portions of a controversial Texas abortion law to go into effect immediately. [Read a PDF version of the ruling here.]

Parts of the law were struck down by a federal judge in Austin just before they were scheduled to go into effect last month. Today's ruling allows those provisions to go into effect pending the outcome of the state's appeal.

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UT Football
3:09 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

McConaughey Lets the Horns Know It's Alright, Alright, Alright to Lose a Few Games

Matthew McConaughey visited the UT-Austin practice field last week to give the Longhorns a pep talk after their loss to UCLA in Dallas and ahead of their game against the Kansas Jayhawks. The talk went well: The Longhorns shutout the Jayhawks 23-0, which prompted the firing of that team's head coach.

In the Longhorn Network video of the speech, which surfaced online this week, McConaughey tells players that they haven't yet done their best work for the Longhorns, encouraged the players to "ask [themselves] why they're playing the game" and shared a chest-thump session with the team à la "Wolf of Wall Street."

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Texas
2:09 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

In ‘Into the Field’ a Veteran Foreign Correspondent Tells His Own Story

Author Tracy Dahlby (second from right) dines with a group of students during a 2008 China trip.
Rebecca Davis

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected through technology, the need for international news has steadily increased. But America’s appetite for foreign journalism has never been that large.

Many traditional news outlets have cut down on foreign correspondents, which makes author and professor Tracy Dahlby an increasingly rare subspecies of journalist. Dahlby’s memoir, “Into the Field: A Foreign Correspondent’s Notebook,” provides a remarkable look at his vast experiences in Asia and the transformation of media that’s still on the way.

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