Texas

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

The purchase period for the state’s appliance mail-in rebate program starts today.

The last time the state did this, the website and phone lines were jammed with people trying to get in on the action. This time, consumers are supposed to buy the energy-efficient appliance first, and then mail-in a rebate application form.

The State Comptroller’s office says just over $18-million in federal stimulus funding is available for the rebates.  The program will remain open until all the funds have been distributed.

The Texas Capitol
Picture by KUT

In a move that seems to be becoming a holiday tradition, the Texas Department of Public Safety released it's annual call for Texans to avoid Mexico over the holidays.  DPS sighted increased violence, kidnappings, assault and rape along the boarder as reasons Texans should stay away.

In a press release today, DPS Director Steven C. McCraw says that while the department knows people safely travel and vacation in Mexico on a daily basis, the increase in violence is also a reality.

Terry Bennett Amber Alert
Photo courtesy AmberAlert.gov

Police in McAllen have issued an Amber Alert for Terry Onne Bennett.

gavel
Image courtesy Keith Burtis http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithburtis/

The two men charged in a string of church fires last year in East Texas have announced their plan to plead guilty, reports the Associated Press. 

Fort Hood memorial
Image courtesy 807MDSC http://www.flickr.com/photos/807thpao/

Three psychological experts appointed by the Pentagon have been examining the Army Major accused of killing 13 people during a shooting rampage last year at Fort Hood.

Nidal Hasan's lawyer, John Galligan, told KUT News that the evaluation started on Wednesday. The experts will determine whether Hasan is fit to stand trial.  Galligan objects to the evaluation because he says he hasn't received all evidence in the case, including some held by the White House. He is prohibited from attending the evaluation.

CM Punk
Image courtesy WWE

World Wrestling Entertainment is taping its annual "Tribute to the Troops" at Fort Hood this year.  A press release from Fort Hood's public affairs office says it will feature an all star cast.

Image courtesy Kevin Dooley http://www.flickr.com/photos/pagedooley/

Texas has a large share of students with no legal immigration status in the US. Many of them come to this country with their parents, and grow up learning English and assimilating to American culture. The Texas Comptroller estimated that about 3 percent of students are undocumented immigrants.

Dallas
Image courtesy skys the limit2 http://www.flickr.com/photos/52949402@N03/

Dallas is getting revved up to host Superbowl XLV on February 6, 2011, and yesterday the Dallas City Council voted to prohibit people from begging for change in the downtown business district.

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.

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