Texas

Texas
11:13 am
Mon April 21, 2014

With New Cottages, Dallas' Homeless Getting Keys To A Better Future

John Rhodes, 59, is homeless but recently found shelter at Austin Street Center in Dallas.
Stella M. Chávez KERA News

Originally published on Mon April 21, 2014 9:48 am

Chronic homelessness can seem unsolvable. People bounce around from the street to jail to hospitals and back to the street. On Thursday, ground was broken on an $8 million effort to stop that cycle in southern Dallas. It's called the Cottages at Hickory Crossing.


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Crime & Justice
11:40 am
Fri April 18, 2014

Report: Central Texas Home to Some of the State's Most Established Gangs

The report shows that Central Texas has a high concentration of gang activity.
DPS 2014 Texas Gang Threat Assessment

The Texas Department of Public Safety released its annual report on criminal gang activity in Texas this week.

This year’s Texas Gang Threat Assessment found that gangs continue to pose a substantial threat to public safety. Central Texas is home to some of the most established gangs in the state. The report estimates that with more than 4,600 gangs, overall gang membership in this state is more than 100,000.

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West Plant Explosion
5:09 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Year Since West Fertilizer Plant Explosion is One 'Full of Questioning'

Loretta Volcik and her sister, Jeanette Holecek(L) sit at Volcik's home in West, Texas. Holocek and her husband, James, have lived with her sister since she lost her house in the explosion.
Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

It’s been one year since a fertilizer plant exploded in the town of West, Texas – just north of Waco.
15 people were killed and more than 150 were injured. Dozens of buildings were also destroyed in the blast.

A year later there are many signs of recovery and rebuilding in the small town.
But, for some, the rebuilding process has been difficult.

West resident Loretta Volcik says overall, the past year has been filled with one thing: Questioning.

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Abortion
1:59 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Federal Judge Expects Texas Abortion Lawsuit to Reach Supreme Court

A lawsuit challenging a requirement that Texas abortion doctors receive admitting privileges at nearby hospitals is moving forward, but only as it applies to certain doctors in El Paso and McAllen.
Spencer Selvidge for KUT News

On Wednesday, a federal judge in Austin turned down a request to temporarily block a requirement of Texas' controversial new abortion law for clinics in El Paso and McAllen. But the judge is allowing the lawsuit to move forward – and predicts it will ultimately travel all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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West Plant Explosion
1:18 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

What's Being Done To Prevent Another Fertilizer Plant Explosion?

Memorials near the site of the explosion in the town of West, Texas. (Terrence Henry/StateImpact Texas)

Originally published on Thu April 17, 2014 2:12 pm

A year ago today, a deadly blast tore through the small community of West, Texas, killing 15 people and injuring hundreds. Homes and schools were destroyed.

The explosion at the West fertilizer plant was one of the worst industrial accidents in Texas history. So what’s being done to prevent it from happening again?

From the Here & Now Contributors Network, Terrence Henry of KUT reports that the response has been a slow one.

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Guns and Texas
11:11 am
Thu April 17, 2014

Texas Group Part Of $50 Million Bloomberg Gun Regulation Effort

Kelly Burke, president of Texas chapter of Mom's Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
Ryan E. Poppe TPR News

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 5:03 pm

Former-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced that he is bringing his existing gun-regulation groups under one umbrella organization to widen each group's reach.

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Texas
6:43 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

West Gets $4.8 Million to Fix Water System

A scene from West after the explosion on April 17, 2013.
Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

The Texas town of West is getting $4.85 million more to help recover from the fertilizer plant explosion that happened one year ago this week. Fifteen people were killed and hundreds injured in the blast on April 17, 2013. 

Governor Perry authorized the funding a day before a ceremony to mark the first anniversary of the disaster. West Mayor Tommy Muska didn't question the timing of the grant.

"It shows a lot of cooperation between local, state and federal that we can come together and secure these funds within one day of the anniversary and move forward," Muska told KUT. 

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Texas City Blast
3:35 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Before the West Explosion, There Was Texas City

Texas City as viewed from the air, April 16, 1947
Credit AP archival photo

April 17 marks exactly a year since one of the biggest industrial disasters in American history: the explosion at the fertilizer plant in West, Texas that left 15 people dead, more than 150 injured, and large parts of the town flattened and destroyed.

Shocking as it was, the West explosion is not the worst industrial disaster in American history. That anniversary is today, April 16 – marking 67 years since the Gulf Coast town of Texas City was razed.  

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Mental Health
1:13 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Fighting Stigma of Mental Illness Goal of New Texas Nonprofit

Despite money put towards mental health care in Texas last legislative session, Texas ranks near the bottom in spending per capita on mental health. A new mental health policy nonprofit in Texas will work to identify ways to improve access to services.
Liang Shi for KUT News

Improving mental health practices for Texas and reducing the stigma associated with mental illness is the goal of a new statewide institute. Its focus will be on children, veterans and criminal justice policies.

The Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute opened its doors today. Tom Luce, its chief executive officer, says the nonprofit will do research to improve access to mental health care in Texas – and not just after emergencies like the recent Fort Hood shooting.

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West Plant Explosion
4:41 am
Tue April 15, 2014

A 'Roller Coaster' Year For Texas Town Rocked By Blast

Firefighters search for survivors at a West, Texas, apartment building in April 2013. The breadth of destruction in West has raised questions about what, if any, new state laws should be passed to help prevent similar accidents in the future.
LM Otero AP

Originally published on Mon April 14, 2014 5:42 pm

When firetrucks blew through the small town of West, Texas, on the evening of April 17, 2013, sirens screaming, naturally everybody was curious. People got in their cars and went to see the fire at the West fertilizer plant. For 10 minutes, they watched from cars and backyards as the fire grew ever bigger. A few moved as close as they could because they were filming on their smartphones. At no time did it occur to anybody that they might be in danger.

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HB2
3:07 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Abortion Rights Groups Ask Appeals Court to Reverse Ruling on Texas Law

Abortion rights advocates filed a petition on April 10, 2014, asking the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider whether it’s constitutional to require abortion doctors to receive admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
Daniel Reese, KUT News

Abortion rights advocates have filed a petition asking a federal appeals court to reconsider its stance on a part of Texas' new abortion law.

The groups that filed the petition include the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights. They’re asking the full Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider whether it’s constitutional to require abortion doctors to receive admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinics.

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Texas
12:57 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

China's Embrace of Tequila Affects TX, Mexican Markets

The Austin headquarters of Dulce Vida Spirits, a tequila producer that's making inroads in China.
Anneke Paterson for Texas Tribune

SHANGHAI — A whiff of tequila may conjure images of blue-green agave fields in the Mexican countryside, a raucous Texas dance hall or even a college frat house after a homecoming game.

But there’s a new tequila haven emerging across the globe, and it’s the most populous city in the world — Shanghai.

China is already the largest and fastest-growing market for alcohol of all kinds, but pure tequila was banned until June, when Chinese President Xi Jinping signed a deal with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto that reconciled a decade-long tension between the two countries. They signed several deals on trade, energy, mining, intellectual property and, of course, tequila, the latter of which opened up a promising new market.

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Education
5:49 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Update on Mexican-American Studies Course in Texas Public Schools

Supporters of a statewide standard for teaching Mexican-American studies in Texas spoke before a hearing of the State Board of Education on April 8, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

Update: High schools in Texas are one step closer to getting state-funded materials to teach courses in Mexican-American studies after a vote today by the Texas State Board of Education. 

Board members voted to ask publishers to develop textbooks for Mexican-American studies, along with three other social studies courses: African-American, Asian-American and Native-American studies. But the board stopped short of developing a statewide course on the topics. A final vote is scheduled for later this week.

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LBJ Civil Rights Summit
4:07 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

LISTEN: Texans Share Their Experiences in the Civil Rights Movement

Rosie Castro (second from right), as a Raza Unida candidate for City Council in 1971.
UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures

This week, civil rights leaders and politicians including President Barack Obama and three former presidents – Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush –  gather at Austin's LBJ Library and Museum to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.

The occasion also has many Texans reflecting on their own experiences growing up in the Jim Crow-era south.

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Wildflower Season
1:54 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Snakes or No Snakes, Safety Tips for Texas Bluebonnet Pictures

While you probably won’t find a six-foot rattler among the bluebonnets, there's still precautions you can take.
menoutdoors.com via imgur

With spring in full swing, it's time for wildflower pictures – including photos among Texas' iconic state flower, the bluebonnet.

But something's taking the bloom off this wildflower season: images of snakes among the flowers.

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Fort Hood
7:25 am
Mon April 7, 2014

Fort Hood Update: Obamas to Attend Memorial Service Wednesday

Pres. Barack Obama speaking at a memorial ceremony at Fort Hood, Nov. 10, 2009. Pres. Obama and first lady Michelle Obama return to Fort Hood on Wednesday.
U.S. Army, flickr.com/soldiersmediacenter

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are expected to attend a memorial service Wednesday to honor the three soldiers killed in last week’s shooting at Fort Hood.

Obama visited Fort Hood in November 2009 under similar circumstances following the shooting by Maj. Nidal Hasan that left 13 dead and 32 wounded. Hasan was convicted in August 2012 of those killings and was sentenced to death.

The Obamas were already planning to travel to Texas this week. On Thursday, the President will speak at the LBJ Presidential Library’s Civil Rights Summit to mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act.

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Fort Hood
12:43 pm
Sat April 5, 2014

Details Released About Soldiers Killed in Wednesday's Fort Hood Shooting

Sgt. Timothy Wayne Owens was killed in Wednesday's shooting at Fort Hood.
Fort Hood Public Affairs

Fort Hood officials are releasing more information about the three soldiers killed in a shooting at the post on Wednesday.

Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Michael Ferguson, 39, was from Mulberry, Florida. He had been in active-duty military service since 1993 and worked in transportation.

Ferguson served two tours in Kuwait and one each in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Staff Sgt. Carlos A. Lazaney-Rodriguez, 38, was from Puerto Rico. He entered active-duty service in 1995 and worked with the medical teams.

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George W. Bush
10:29 am
Fri April 4, 2014

The Artist Formerly Known As President George W. Bush Unleashes His Inner Rembrandt

President Bush's portrait of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president.
Lauren Silverman KERA News

Originally published on Sat April 5, 2014 11:57 am

Since he left office, former President George W. Bush has devoted part of his free time to painting – everything from his dog Barney to self-portraits. A year after a hacker revealed some of his works-in-progress, Bush had his first real art show Friday at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas.

The exhibit, titled "The Art of Leadership: A President's Personal Diplomacy," opens to the public Saturday. It features portraits of 24 world leaders, including Tony Blair, Vladimir Putin and the Dalai Lama.

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Fort Hood
8:34 am
Fri April 4, 2014

What It's Like in Killeen After the Latest Fort Hood Shooting

Crosses and flags representing victims of Wednesday's Fort Hood shooting are displayed at Central Christian Church in Killeen.
Ashley Landis/EPA/Landov

At Fort Hood in Killeen, people are accustomed to the idea of death. At any given point, around ten percent of soldiers from the post are deployed overseas.

This week, soldiers, families and residents were reminded of how close to home tragedy can strike – when Ivan Lopez opened fire killing three others and wounding 16 before turning the gun on himself.

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Fort Hood
2:02 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Answers Sought After Deadly Fort Hood Shooting

A soldier watches over media as they prepare to hear General Mark Milley, III Corps and Fort Hood Commanding General, speak during a press conference about a shooting that occurred earlier in the day at Fort Hood Military Base on April 2, 2014 in Fort Hood, Texas. Milley confirmed that four people were dead in the shooting, including the gunman himself. (Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images)

Originally published on Thu April 3, 2014 1:45 pm

The Army’s top civilian official says the soldier accused in the Fort Hood shooting this week was deployed for the final months of the Iraq war but did not see combat.

Three people died and 16 were wounded before the shooter committed suicide. At least three military personnel remain in critical condition.

Army Secretary John McHugh testified Thursday that the soldier appeared to have no connections to extremist groups.

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