Texas

San Antonio
7:36 am
Tue June 17, 2014

Castro Has First HUD Secretary Confirmation Hearing Tuesday

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro delivered the keynote address at this year's commencement at the LBJ School of Business at UT-Austin.
Erika Rich/BDP

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will go before a Senate confirmation committee Tuesday, the first step in the process of becoming the new leader of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In May, President Barack Obama nominated the three-term San Antonio mayor for the job, replacing Shaun Donovan.

If confirmed, Castro said while he'll be focused on housing in his new role, he's always been a strong supporter of education and hopes that's how he'll be remembered.

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Texas
5:16 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Embattled Texas Sex Offender Agency Undergoing Big Changes

The Texas Office of Sex Offender Management that supervises violent sex offenders after they’re released from prison has a new director who’s making changes.
Sex offender map image from Texas Department of Public Safety website

A Texas agency that supervises violent sex offenders after they’re released from prison has a new director who’s making changes.

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Texas
2:07 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Texas Politics To Be Lone Star Of New HBO Series

A large Texas flag is carried up Congress Avenue toward the Texas Capitol during the annual Boy Scouts Parade and Report to State in Austin in February 2013.
Eric Gay AP

Originally published on Mon June 16, 2014 2:54 pm

Between Rick Perry, Ted Cruz and Wendy Davis, Texas politicians in recent years have lived up to their state's reputation for producing larger-than-life characters.

That makes the Texas political scene a natural for the Hollywood treatment.

HBO has given God Save Texas, a drama about the state's often raucous political culture, the green light for development. It's set to unfold at the Texas statehouse, a perennial flashpoint for national debates about issues ranging from abortion to gun rights to the size and role of government.

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Texas
5:02 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Texas Volunteers Turn Out to Aid Migrant Children

On the pedestrian bridge from Juarez, Mexico, to El Paso, Texas.
flickr.com/spamily

The U.S Border Patrol says it has been overwhelmed with the massive influx of migrant children crossing into Texas from Central America. Many of them are arriving with nothing but the clothes on their backs. The Border Patrol turned for immediate emergency relief to a group well-versed in emergency relief efforts, including the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention disaster relief effort.

"We provide temporary solutions. We come in during the crisis,” says director Jim Richardson. The organization just wrapped up its work at the border near Brownsville, where volunteers provided food, safe shower facilities and clean clothes.

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San Antonio
7:33 am
Fri June 13, 2014

Bergdahl Back In The U.S. To Continue Recovery

Bowe Bergdahl, seen on a Taliban-affiliated website sometime after his capture by Taliban militants in 2009.
Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri June 13, 2014 4:52 pm

This post was updated at 4:20 p.m. ET

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is back in the U.S.

As we told you early this morning, Bergdahl, who was freed May 31 by his Taliban captors in exchange for five of the group's members in Guantanamo Bay, arrived at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio after a flight from Ramstein Air Base in Germany. He will continue his treatment at the center.

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Immigration Reform
4:12 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

Texas Conservatives Say Congress Must Break Gridlock on Immigration Reform

Although immigration legislation may be a tougher prospect now that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has lost his primary to a Tea Party opponent, a number of Texas Republicans say they’ll keep urging Washington to change immigration law.
flickr.com/wallyg

Now that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has lost his primary to a Tea Party opponent, immigration legislation may be a tougher prospect.

But in Texas, a number of Republicans say they’ll keep urging Washington to change immigration law.

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Abortion
4:36 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Update: Abortion Doctors Regain Admitting Privileges at Dallas Hospital

Two Texas doctors have filed a lawsuit against University General Hospital Dallas for revoking their admitting privileges.
Nathan Bernier, KUT

Update:  Drs. Lamar Robinson and Jasbir Ahluwalia have reached a settlement [PDF] with University General Hospital Dallas. The hospital  has restored their admitting privileges, which enables them to keep providing abortions by complying with Texas' new abortion restrictions.

Original Story (April, 17, 2014): Two Texas doctors that offer abortions are challenging a hospital for revoking their admitting privileges.

Read the petition here.

In a letter, University General Hospital Dallas says granting admitting privileges to doctors who perform abortions would be disruptive to the hospital’s reputation.

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Immigration
4:20 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Report Alleges Abuse of Immigrants at Private Texas Prisons

A report out June 10, 2014 by the ACLU and ACLU of Texas alleges undocumented immigrants live in abusive conditions at private prisons in Texas.
KUT

Undocumented immigrants live in deplorable conditions at private prisons in Texas, according to a report out today by the American Civil Liberties Union. 

The report is based on years of interviews the ACLU and ACLU of Texas have conducted with immigrants detained at so-called Criminal Alien Requirement prisons. Inmates said conditions include overflowing bathrooms and infestations of vermin.

Rebecca Robertson, Legal & Policy director of the ACLU of Texas, says these companies are in business to make money – and federal Bureau of Prisons contracts are lucrative.

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Fort Hood
12:35 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

Article 32 Hearing Wraps In Case Of Fort Hood Sgt. Accused Of Running Prostitution Ring

Fort Hood headquarters and main flag pole.

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 12:13 pm

An Article 32 hearing, the military version of a grand jury, has completed its investigation of a Fort Hood staff sergeant accused of running an on-base prostitution ring with female soldiers.

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Guns and Texas
11:39 am
Wed June 4, 2014

NRA Retracts Statement Calling Open Carry Rallies 'Downright Weird'

Kory Watkins, a coordinator for Open Carry Tarrant County, and his wife, Janie, gather for a demonstration in Haltom City, Texas. The NRA posted a statement calling this kind of open carry rally counterproductive; on Tuesday, it retracted the statement.
Tony Gutierrez AP

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 2:35 pm

A few days after posting a criticism of "open carry" rallies, the National Rifle Association says the statement reflected a staffer's opinion, not the stance of the organization, reports member station KERA.

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Medical Marijuana
12:08 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Why Veterans Could Influence Texas Medical Marijuana Laws

A story in Texas Monthly's June issue poses the question: Can Texas veterans change the minds of state lawmakers against legalizing medical marijuana?
flickr.com/eggrole

Can more than 1.5 million Texas veterans change the minds of state lawmakers opposed to legalizing medical marijuana?

William Martin, director of the Drug Policy Program at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, poses that question in the June issue of Texas Monthly. In his article “War Without End,” Martin talks with veterans using pot to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

"The story that’s most illustrative is a woman who uses the name Myst," Martin says. 

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Affordable Care Act
5:32 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

How Prisoners Are Reigniting the Debate Over Texas Medicaid Expansion

The debate over Medicaid expansion in Texas came up at the Capitol at a hearing on May 29, 2014, because of concern over rising costs of inmates' health care.
Nick Cowie for Texas Tribune

The debate over Medicaid expansion in Texas came up at the Capitol today in a new way: there’s concern about how to pay the rising costs of health care for prison inmates.

Costs related to infectious diseases like Hepatitis C and HIV are on the rise in the Texas correctional system. Another number on the rise: the amount of Texas inmates older than age 55.

State Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, says it’s another reason why the state should consider expanding Medicaid eligibility as offered by the Affordable Care Act.

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Texas
3:08 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Olive Oil Is Far From Being The Next Boom In Texas, But The Industry Is Growing

Vineyards at Bella Vista Ranch in Wimberley.
Ryan E. Poppe TPR News

Originally published on Wed May 28, 2014 2:40 pm

In the last five years the number of olive trees in Texas has increased rapidly, but even with tremendous growth several farmers say it’s not enough to call it the next oil boom.

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Texas
4:48 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

Amid Low Voter Turnout Overall, More Republicans Expected to Vote

Because of low voter turnout, few people came through the doors of the Austin Public Library's Carver Branch on May 27, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Texas voters are deciding today who will be on the ballot in some high-profile elections in November. But few voters turn out in primary runoffs like this one.

Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir says she estimates a 6 or 7 percent turnout today.

"It looks like by the time the day’s over, that the Republicans will probably have a little more of a turnout," DeBeauvoir said. "They seem to have a little more interesting set of races on their side."

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Border & Immigration
12:27 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

"Inhumane" Conditions Reported At Temporary Immigrant Holding Facility In McAllen

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 9:53 am

Overcrowding and disease at a temporary immigration detention center in McAllen has the U.S. Border Patrol themselves calling on congress for humanitarian aid. 

Because of the McAllen facility's temporary status, capacity is about 300. But this past week Border Patrol agents brought in 1,000 immigrants and the situation has Chris Cabrera with the local Border Patrol agent's union calling on Congress for help.

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Memorial Day 2014
3:39 pm
Mon May 26, 2014

Families Mourn Central Texas Soldiers Who Died in Combat

Family members of three Central Texas soldiers who died in combat last year took part in a ceremony at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery on May 26, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

As rain fell over Central Texas, people gathered to remember those who have died in war.

At the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen, near Fort Hood, retired Command Sgt. Major Elijah King, Jr. stopped to put flags and flowers by a memorial to soldiers in his brigade who died in Iraq during the first deployment.

"It’s important for Americans to remember those who have given their lives, who paid the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms that we enjoyed," King said. "If you haven’t served it’s difficult to understand."

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Texas
11:08 am
Fri May 23, 2014

How Regular Austinites Feel About the Drought

Blanco River
flickr.ejmc

As Texas enters the fourth year of what the state’s climatologist calls the worst drought in it’s history, many Austinites have taken notice and begun taking steps toward conservation.

Joe Bob Marlett, an elevator repairman from Lockhart identified the problem succinctly: “A city can’t live without water, and I don’t know where we’d get it from if we didn’t have any.”

This is exactly what the city’s recently created Emergency Task Force on Water Resources met to address on May 12: what are Austin's options for alternative water sources?

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Immigration
12:34 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Unaccompanied Migrant Children Are Being Held at Texas' Lackland Air Base

Credit flickr.com/plmccordj

In recent years, tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors have tried to make their way into the U.S. from the southern border only to be apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol and immigrations officials.

Now, Lackland Air Force Base in south Texas is being pressed into action as a makeshift holding center for as many as 1,000 unaccompanied undocumented children.

Jennifer Podkul works with the Women's Refugee Commission on issues associated with unaccompanied minors in detention. In a conversation with Texas Standard host David Brown, Podkul compared detention conditions to a refugee camp. 

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Deepwater Horizon Spill
5:34 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

Texas Legislature Left Out of Loop on $5M from BP to Governor's Office

BP gave $5 million to Gov. Rick Perry’s office in September 2010. At a Capitol hearing on May 21, 2014, lawmakers learned of this for the first time.
Image courtesy SkyTruth http://www.flickr.com/photos/skytruth/

Today when a Texas House panel hosted a hearing to get an update on money from BP after the Deep Water Horizon explosion, lawmakers learned about money BP gave to the Governor’s office, without looping the Legislature in. 

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Texas
4:43 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

How Drug Smugglers Are Taking Advantage of the Texas Oil Boom

Border agents seized a total of 580 bundles of marijuana – totaling 11,973 pounds – from a truck in Del Rio, Texas.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection

While fracking for oil along the Texas border has become a big business for petrol companies, a new entity seeks to tap into the lucrative market – drug smugglers.  

As infrastructure and activity increases to meet the demand of the booming industry, drug smugglers are starting to take advantage of the new roads and increased traffic, much of which is located on private ranch lands.  

“Because there are so many different companies, and so many different trucks going through that area, it provides a sort of way to blend in if you will,” National Journal writer Ben Geman tells The Texas Standard's David Brown. “Essentially what’s happening is you’ve got smugglers who are stashing marijuana, or other drugs, in trucks that are either 'cloned' to look like one of the industry trucks, or some type of truck that seems to fit right in driving around on these ranch lands.”

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