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

Intropin/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

This morning, while most of us were sleeping, something happened in the state that might mean the difference between life and death for you or someone you love.

Much has been said and written about the opioid epidemic in the U.S. Of the 25 cities with the highest rate of opioid abuse, four are in Texas –Texarkana, Amarillo, Odessa and Longview. And over the past 15 years, opioid overdoses have risen 80 percent.

A drug called naloxone can help prevent many, if not most, deaths from overdoses in the event of an emergency, but the drug is highly regulated and available only with a doctor’s prescription.


Allyson Michele/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

This Thursday citizens of the United Kingdom will be deciding in a referendum whether the nation stay as a member of European Union. Many say that opinions have shifted since the UK first joined the EU back in 1973.

Those who want the change cite a need to distance itself from an organization that is now seen as an ineffective central bureaucracy – one that’s costing a pretty penny.


Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon, U.S. Air Force/Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

In the skies over Syria, Russian bombers began striking a garrison of U.S.-supported rebels on June 16. American F/A 18s scrambled the Russians, but when the U.S. jets needed to refuel, the Russians returned and bombed again.

As the Daily Beast reports, the aerial close encounter "underscores just how chaotic Syria's skies have become." It also highlights the risk of the U.S. and Russia getting into something bigger.


Kgv88 /Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

In May, Mexico's Secretariat of Public Education fired 3,000 teachers. The government agency claimed the teachers had not worked for three days. The teachers say they were on strike because of recent education reforms.

In June, the government arrested the leader of a dissident teacher union splinter group, CNTE, on charges of corruption. Then yesterday, six people were killed and dozens of civilians and police were injured in clashes in the Mexican state of Oaxaca.

The tension between teacher unions and the government is escalating.


A Native Texas Tribe Now Has Legal Eagle Feathers

Jun 17, 2016
Screenshot via YouTube/The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

From Texas Standard:

They called it "Operation Powwow" — back in 2006, a federal agent went undercover to raid a tribal ceremony. It ended with threats of prison time and fines for tribe members participating in the powwow.

The crime? Using eagle feathers without a permit.

But now the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas has won a decade-long legal battle over use of the feathers, what the tribe considers to be a victory for religious liberty.


Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

Via the Texas Tribune:  

Texas on Thursday lost its fight against the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the state, ending a months-long battle during which refugees from the war-torn country continued to arrive.

Why The Words We Use After a Tragedy Matter

Jun 14, 2016
Reno Tahoe/flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

After yesterday's broadcast, which concluded with a roundup of reaction to the Orlando shooting from Texans on social media, Texas Standard received a comment from a listener who noted what he considered to be a conspicuous absence of something in the conversation – the mention of words like "ISIS" and "terrorism."

This comment plays into something bigger: how we choose what words to use when speaking about an unspeakable tragedy. What's the significance of the rhetoric surrounding events like the Orlando massacre?

Scurzuzu/flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The Catholic Church, no stranger to controversy on a constellation of topics, has become rather pointed on one political matter – payday lending.  The Diocese of Fort Worth has now asked the city to strictly regulate the industry in the only major city in the state without any such regulations.

Bishop Michael Olson, head of the Diocese of Fort Worth, issued the call to action. He says that the Catholic charities in the city saw a pattern with the people they were assisting: many of them had fallen into a cycle of debt.


Flickr/Zach Petersen (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The day after the biggest mass shooting in U.S. history, and the biggest terror attack in the U.S. since 9/11, President Obama addressed the nation.

Speaking to an issue he has addressed repeatedly during his two terms in the White House, President Obama struck, if not a note of resignation, something close to it.

The "powerful assault rifle" the president referred to is the AR-15, a long weapon with an instantly recognizable profile that belies its military origins – a model quite popular here in Texas. Its private ownership is protected by the Second Amendment, of which there are two dominant and dissonant visions.


Flickr/cliff1066 (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

According to reports, the Orlando gunman Omar Mateen had been questioned by the FBI twice – in 2013 and 2014. But yet, he wasn't on their watch list.

Paul Miller, associate director of the Clements Center for National Security at the University of Texas at Austin, says the FBI's internal processes are fairly opaque.

"I'm not convinced they are very consistent from case to case either," he says. "The FBI handles a very large caseload, they go through these things all the time. They can't afford to put everyone on the watch list."


Daniel Plumer/flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

A Midland man was stung over 50 times and his dogs died after being stung over 1,000 times. In Texarkana, a swarm of bees surrounded a woman's car, trapping her inside. A man mowing his lawn in Raymondville was swarmed, suffered more than 200 stings, and died. A farmer in Lozano died after being stung more than 3,000 times.

These are no ordinary bees. Entomologists call them killer bees, or Africanized bees – a hybrid of two species, the African honey bee and various European cousins. They look like European honey bees, stripes and all, but are smaller. And their impulse to sting is 10 times greater – bees will pursue victims as far as half of a mile away from hives.

Jamelah E./Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Within the past 24 hours, there's been an event which the McAllen Monitor is framing as an Edward R. Murrow moment – akin to when the CBS anchorman called out Joseph McCarthy as a bully and a demagogue.

Flickr/WOCinTech (CC BY 2.0)

Something appalling is in happening in Texas schools, and no one seems to know how to stop it.

From the Texas Tribune: Texas' top Senate Republicans on Monday upped the urgency on federal policymakers to do something about the Zika virus.

Flickr/Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

A political analyst outlines three aspects of LBJ's campaign in 1964 against Republican nominee Barry Goldwater that could easily apply to Clinton's coming campaign against Trump.


Supreme Court to Take Up Two Texas Death Penalty Cases

Jun 6, 2016
Texas Department of Criminal Justice, via Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: The U.S. Supreme Court will hear two Texas death penalty cases next term, both related to crimes that occurred in Houston, the high court revealed Monday.

Flickr/Michael Vadon (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

When Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was the state's attorney general, he worked on a lawsuit against GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump – then a Republican businessman entering the political sphere on another bid for the highest office in America.

It was 2012 and the top law enforcement official in the state was overseeing a consumer protection team building a suit against Trump University, which had bilked Texas taxpayers out of $2.6 million.

The consumer protection team built a $5.4 million dollar case against Trump, but Lauren McGaughy of the Dallas Morning News says the lawsuit was never filed.


Flickr/Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg said this week, "Eight, as you know, is not a good number for a multi-member court."

To wit: Texans are waiting for a Supreme Court decision over state abortion restrictions this session, but the court isn’t at full-strength after the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia last year. This raises the possibility of a potential stalemate. And a tie among the highest court in the country doesn't get a do-over – it just means the lower court ruling stands.

Bob Daemmerich/Texas Tribune

Long before Trump University fell in the crosshairs of Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton, one of Donald Trump's fellow Republicans drew a bead on the now-defunct school: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

From Texas Standard:

Over the past week, the Brazos River has risen to its highest level in more than 100 years. The rains that caused the overflow have led to at least six deaths in Texas.

Meteorologists are predicting that some 10 inches of rain will fall in the Houston area over the next several days. If so, we may be looking at another round of devastation in the fourth largest city in the nation. Houston has activated its emergency operations center.