Texas

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

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From Texas Standard:

Dark money. Sounds evil, doesn't it?

For the past several years, the Texas Ethics Commission has been mired in an investigation of a group called Empower Texans, a right-leaning organization that pushes a limited government agenda and supports candidates who share its values but does not disclose its donors.

As the clock has ticked on a high-profile complaint against the group, concerns have grown over whether the Ethics Commission has what it takes to do its job of policing campaign money. 

 


John Harvey/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune:

Texas has a record-breaking 15 million people registered to vote ahead of the November election, the Secretary of State’s office announced Thursday.

Texas has 15,015,700 voters registered according to a preliminary estimate — over 777,000 more than were registered in time for the March primaries. The deadline to register to vote was Tuesday.

Andreas Praefcke/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

In Texas, tacos take priority. But what do you do when you can’t find a taco place? Here are a few taco joints to put in your taco emergency box.

Mando Rayo and Jarod Neece are two taco journalists traveling across Texas tasting every taco in sight for their new book, "The Tacos of Texas". They describe what is acceptable to do when you’re really desperate for a taco – turning to fast food tacos.

 


Erik Hersman/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Mallika Das, a U.S. citizen who was born in India, walked into a Williamson County polling place in 2014 eager to cast her ballot. 

Because she was not proficient in English and had found it difficult to vote in the past, Das brought her son, Saurabh, to help her. They both spoke Bengali, an Asian dialect. But when Saurabh told poll workers he was there to interpret the English ballot for his mother, the duo ran into an unexpected requirement.

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From Texas Standard:

There may be a civic virtue in trying to shame people for not voting – or, at least, shaming people online.

According to a new study from the University of Texas at Austin, guilting your Facebook friends may actually have the effect of getting people to vote.

 


KUT Austin/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

How are undecided Texans gearing up for their presidential pick? This is part two of a series following four voters through the last month before Election Day.


Erik Hersman/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Today's the last day to register to vote in Texas in time for the November election. Some county registrar offices are staying open until midnight to give people as long as possible to complete the process, but most will close at the end of the business day.

In Texas you can check online to see if you're registered, but you can't actually register online and some 3 million Texans are eligible to vote but not registered. Complicating matters, according to a new report in the magazine "The Nation," is a labyrinth of laws putting up barriers so difficult to surmount that nobody wants to invest in helping more voters register.

 


Kenneth C. Zirkel/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

He was a businessman who liked to brag about his financial success, cracked rape jokes around reporters and kissed "just about every woman within arms' reach."

She was a Democrat who shattered many ceilings, with real-world political experience and demanded that her opponent disclose his taxes.

These two also wouldn't shake hands.

 


Shutterstock

From Texas Standard:

The use of lethal force by police, against people of color in particular, is deeply troubling the nation. Complicating the search for solutions is a lack of actual data. Nationwide, police haven't been keeping count of these incidents, leaving us with far more questions than answers. In fact, only two states require police to report officer-involved shooting deaths: California and Texas.

But police departments in both states have been violating the law. A new report from Texas State University has discovered hundreds of unreported lethal shootings in both states.

 


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From Texas Standard:

In a time before reality TV competitions like American Ninja Warrior, more than 30,000 Texans would show up on Sundays in October to watch prisoners put on a death-defying rodeo show that would make professional cowboys think twice.

Underlying the spectacle of the Texas Prison Rodeo, which during its 50 years evolved into an entertainment event complete with superstar guests like John Wayne and Johnny Cash, were many of the civil, political and criminal justice issues that propel our conversations today – explored in depth in the new book, "Convict Cowboys: The Untold Story of the Texas Prison Rodeo."

 


Screenshot from Voyage of Time

From Texas Standard:

Anyone familiar with the work of Austin-based director Terrence Malick knows he’s unafraid to tackle big questions. The example you’re probably most familiar with is “Tree of Life.” The 2011 film is not your typical family drama. It looks at the existence of a higher power and the origins of the world.

Bill Clark/Texas Tribune

A judge has thrown out a federal civil case accusing Attorney General Ken Paxton of securities fraud, giving him his biggest legal victory yet since the allegations surfaced more than a year ago. 

Michael Dawes/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

During the fact-checking and doubting candidates' claims this election season, political writers and Twitterers alike began referring to politicians' denial of facts as gaslighting – a term coined from a 1938 play in which a victim is manipulated into doubting what she otherwise knows to be factual, making her question her sanity.

But when this technique is used for political objectives, there may be a better description: "the big lie." Garth Jowett, professor at the University of Houston, says "the big lie" comes from Adolf Hitler.

 


phickmanfresh/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Sheriff Arvin West is the law in Texas’ Hudspeth County. It certainly seems that way to unsuspecting travelers along his county’s stretch of I-10. He’s known for accusing the Mexican army of invading the border, ragging on the federal government on border security policies and busting more than a few entertainers for carrying pot (Willie Nelson, Nelly, Fiona Apple and Snoop Dogg are on the list).

West, now tied to a three-year-long federal investigation, isn’t talking. But a Washington Post report reveals he may be involved in setting up a rogue Navy training based in West Texas.

 


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

From Texas Standard:

Undecided voters are no myth. So who are they?

Blanca Morales, like 84 million others, tuned in last week to watch the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. But it didn’t help her decide who she’ll pick on Election Day. If anything, it complicated matters.

 


TDCJ via Texas Tribune

Six months after the Texas death chamber held its latest execution, Barney Ronald Fuller Jr. is set to die Wednesday for the 2003 shooting deaths of his neighbors in rural East Texas.

RS12240/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Lewisville, Lubbock, Sherman – just a handful of Texas cities where there will be gun shows this weekend. At any given time, nearly a half dozen cities across the state host weekend gun shows where sellers, buyers, and collectors congregate in what amounts to a firearms bazaar of sorts.

Criticism over these events focuses on a lack of universal background checks for purchasers. But law enforcement agents have been tracking some gun show patrons’ license plates.


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From Texas Standard:

Clowns: They're not just for circuses anymore.

Across cities throughout Texas and around the country, police and schools have been on lockdown and high alert over reports of people with a Bozo-like appearance making threats – usually on social media.

But these recent clown sightings aren't the first we’ve seen. In fact, they go back to at least 1981 in Boston and spread across the country. One theory claims that these clown sightings come in waves, mirroring the fears and uncertainties of American society at the time.

 


Texas Tribune

On any given day in the last six months, nearly a thousand of Texas' "highest-priority" children — considered by the state to be at immediate risk of physical or sexual abuse — were not checked on even once by Child Protective Services investigators.

Another 1,800 of those kids were seen by investigators, but not within the required 24-hour window following an urgent report of possible abuse or mistreatment.

Left: Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)/Right: Third Way Think (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

It used to be that people concerned about the state of political coverage in America worried about the constant obsession with who's ahead.

This year, both sides are fixated with landing the nastiest punch, one blow that will decisively take out the other. It almost happened in 1988, during the Vice Presidential debate when Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, a Democrat, quipped to his Republican rival, Sen. Dan Quayle of Virginia: "Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."

 


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