Texas

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

Devil's River Land Deal Revised
Photo courtesy of Laurence Parent.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has scheduled a public meeting for December 20 on an updated version of the Devil's River land deal. The department's website includes maps of the area and other information on the proposed site.

Dry lakebed
Image courtesy Whatknot http://www.flickr.com/photos/whatknot/

The latest US Drought Monitor Map, released this morning, shows 85 percent of Texas is "abnormally dry."

Eighty Texas counties currently have burn bans in effect, according to a Texas Parks and Wildlife map. Travis County is not currently under a burn ban but the neighboring counties of Williamson, Lee, Burnet, and Blanco are.

Artist's rendering of new Fort Hood Medical Center
Image courtesy Balfour Beatty/McCarthy-HKS/Wingler & Sharp.

Fort Hood's Public Affairs Office is asking media to register for a groundbreaking ceremony next Monday for the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center's newest facility.  At 974,000 square feet, the $534 million building will be 60 percent larger than the current structure. For comparison, that's about the size of five Wal-Mart Supercenters.

Fort Hood says the Medical Center will include a six story hospital and three parking garages.

The Yahoo! owned Longhorns news site Orangebloods.com is reporting that Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis is on the way out.

Atheist bus ad
Image courtesy the Dallas-Fort Worth Coalition of Reason

An atheist group called the Dallas-Fort Worth Coalition of Reason has purchased what they call "Godless Ads" on busses in Tarrant County.

The ads remind people that "Millions of Americans Are Good Without God." They appear on both sides of the bus. Similar billboard ads appeared in Austin this summer. The parent organization, the United Coalition of Reason, has also helped pay for ads in cities like Detroit, Philadelphia and Washington DC.

Image courtesy Texas Attorney General's office

The Texas Attorney General sent us a news release this morning announcing that Warren Jeffs, former leader of theFundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), arrived in the West Texas town of San Angelo at 9 o'clock last night.

Senate Bill 510
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The US Senate passed a sweeping overhaul of food safety rules today that would give the Food and Drug Administration substantially more power to issue recalls and oversee food producers.

The New York Times reports that one of the final sticking points was how the legislation would affect small scale farm operations.

A little over a year after the Lubbock Water Rampage was sold to new owners, the water park is now back on the market.  The Lubbock Water Rampage will be auctioned off on Wednesday, December 8.

The water park was closed in May 2008 because the owner at the time couldn't afford to renovate the facility, according to Lubbock NBC affiliate KCBD. Now it appears the new owners are getting out of the business.

web forum
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Fans of the University of Texas football team got a punch in the gut on Thanksgiving Thursday when their hopes to compete in a bowl game were erased by a 24-17 loss to Texas A&M. Now some fans are getting riled up online over the Longhorns' first losing season since 1997.

Greg Coleman
Image courtesy Kate Sheets http://www.flickr.com/photos/katesheets

The first Solicitor General of Texas, Greg Coleman, died in a plane crash yesterday when the Piper PA-46 Malibu he was flying in went down as the pilot tried to land it at an airport in Destin, Fla.

bonfire
Image courtesy cobalt123 http://www.flickr.com/photos/cobalt/

A burn ban stopped Aggies from setting fire to their massive bonfire yesterday evening, and now dry conditions have prompted Williamson County to issue a burn ban of its own.

The ban was issued today at 1:30 and will remain in effect until further notice. It applies to any fire outside of an "enclosure" that contains all the flames and sparks. The ban can be enforced by any police officer.

Defense Attorney Dick DeGuerin
Photo by Matt Largey/KUT News

Judge Pat Priest is warning lawyers they may be working late tonight. As of now, the jury has not come back with a verdict on the third day of deliberations. Priest says alternatives--including the possibility of having the jury deliberate on Thanksgiving--are worse than putting in some overtime today.

The jury earlier requested copies of several interviews DeLay did with news organizations, and with former DA Ronnie Earle.

Longhorns head coach Mack Brown
Photo by KUT News

The Aggies are in town tomorrow for one of the biggest rivalry games in college football.  Longhorn fans are hoping Texas plays with confidence following last weekend’s Florida Atlantic win.  Texas A&M is ranked 17. 

Head Coach Mack Brown praised Texas A&M's defense and acknowledged he’s not happy being the underdog going into the Thanksgiving Day game. 

Travis County Assistant District Attorney Gary Cobb
Photo by Matt Largey/KUT News

Updated at 11:50am: Jurors have asked yet another question, this time about the language of the conspiracy charge against Tom DeLay.  Jurors wanted to know if DeLay had to agree to both parts of the alleged conspiracy -- both sending corporate money to the Republican National Committee and sending an equal amount of money back to Texas legislative candidates -- to be found guilty of conspiracy. 

Updated at 4:45pm: The jury has told Judge Pat Priest they are making headway in their deliberations, but they want to go home for the day.  Lawyers on both sides are not objecting.  Deliberations will resume tomorrow.

Updated at 2:10pm: The jury in the Tom DeLay trial is still deliberating after a break for lunch.  When they came back from the break, they submitted a long list of evidence they want to see in the jury room. 

Soldiers in Afghanistan
Image courtesy the U.S. Army

The Department of Defense released suicide data for October on Friday, reporting 25 potential suicides. That brings the total number of suicides so far this year to 172, meaning we've already surpassed the overall total for 2009, according to the National Journal.

The TABC has told retailers to stop selling Four Loko and the like
Photo Courtesy of Kyle James

The Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission (TABC) has finally weighed in on caffeinated alcoholic beverages such as Four Loko, the soon-to-be-altered caffeinated alcoholic beverage that refuses to ride into the world of forgotten novelty. From the TABC’s press release on Friday:

The state added 47,900 jobs in October
Photo Courtesy of Bill Jacobus

Texas total nonfarm employment was up by 47,900 jobs in October, according to a Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) press release. This number accounts for an impressive third of the 151,000 jobs the entire U.S. economy added in the same period.

“Every major industry added jobs in October with notable increases in Construction employment” said TWC Chairman Tom Pauken.

TWC also released that the unemployment rate stayed steady at 8.1 percent, a substantial percentage and a half less than the country’s, which is currently at 9.6.

Image courtesy of the Office of Representative Charlie Gonzalez

Hispanic Caucus Elects New Chair

San Antonio Democrat Charlie Gonzalez has been elected chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.  My SA news reports the Caucus unanimously picked Gonzalez.  The six-term lawmaker says he plans to reach out to five newly elected Hispanic Republicans and ask them to join the caucus.  Gonzalez starts his new leadership role when the 112th Congress convenes in January.

Fort Hood firefighters are working to put out an approximately 700-acre fire burning in a training range at the army post. It started around 2 p.m. today.  The fire is burning at the Dalton Mountain Training Range, in the north end of the post, and is currently moving south to the Lone Star Range. 

Read the press release from the Fort Hood Public Affairs Office, here.

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