Texas

Texas
12:22 pm
Thu October 25, 2012

ICE Returns 4,000 Stolen Mexican Relics

Mexican relics are making their way back to their country of origin.
Charles Reed, Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System

The United States is returning to Mexico more than 4,000 architectural relics that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have seized across the nation.

ICE says many of the items date from before European explorers reached the North American continent. The items include pre-Columbian stones used to grind corn and other grains, statues, figurines, copper hatchets and other artifacts.

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Texas
7:08 am
Thu October 25, 2012

Midsize Companies Power Texas Job Creation

Midsized Texas companies are adding jobs.
Teresa Vieira for KUT News

Midsize companies — firms with annual revenues of $10 million to $1 billion dollars — are now adding jobs at almost double the national average.

Middle market companies account for just 0.5% of all Texas businesses. But they employ 30% of the state’s workforce. Anil Makhija teaches finance at Ohio State University. He says midsized businesses are more reliable job creators than small ones.

“If you think about small firms, they do deserve our attention, because they are frequently the centers of innovation. But they have a very high failure rate.”

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Texas
3:02 pm
Wed October 24, 2012

Historic Letter Heads 'Home' to the Alamo

William B. Travis wrote the famous letter at the Alamo in 1836.
flickr.com/gilgamesh

For the first time since it was written more than 170 years ago, the Travis letter will return the Alamo.

The famous letter—known to many as the “victory or death” letter—was written by William B. Travis to request reinforcements at the Alamo.

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission has controlled access to the letter since the early 1900’s and it has only been loaned out and displayed a few times.

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Texas
2:43 pm
Wed October 24, 2012

Willingham's Family Seeks "Posthumous Pardon"

Patricia Willingham Cox, Willingham's cousin, Eugenia Willingham, stepmother, and Judy Cavnar, cousin, are seeking to clear the name of Cameron Todd WIllingham from a 1991 arson case for which he was executed in 2004.
Tamir Kalifa via Texas Tribune

The surviving relatives of Cameron Todd Willingham gathered at the Capitol on Wednesday after sending an application to clear his name, 12 years after his execution for a 1991 fire that killed his three young children.

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LGBT
4:27 pm
Fri October 19, 2012

Study: Transgender Texans Face High Levels of Discrimination

A rainbow flag flies high at Austin Pride, but a report says transgendered Texans are fighting high rates of discrimination.
http://www.flickr.com/asaustin

According to research from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality, people who are transgender and/or gender non-conforming experience widespread discrimination across the country.

Now, new Texas-focused research released by Equality Texas and the Transgender Education Network of Texas shows that 79 percent of transgender Texans have reported harassment or mistreatment in the workplace.

The new research also stated that respondents identifying as transgender or gender non-conforming while in grade school (K-12) reported a physical assault rate of 46 percent.

“This report graphically demonstrates the discrimination faced by Transgender Texans,” Equality Texas interim executive director Chuck Smith says in a press release. “In our state, where the right of self-determination is so valued, it is unconscionable that anyone would be denied the ability to earn a living, to live where they choose or to be educated.

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Texas
3:52 pm
Fri October 19, 2012

Photos: State Fair Mascot 'Big Tex' Catches Fire (Updated)

State Fair of Texas mascot Big Tex went up in flames today. The 2012 State Fair was Big Tex's 60th anniversary.
flickr.com/photos/chr

Word broke this morning in Dallas that “Big Tex” – the iconic, 52-foot cowboy that greets visitors to the State Fair of Texas – caught fire and burned this morning.

It’s a bizarre end to the State Fair, which closes this Sunday. Big Tex celebrated his 60th birthday this year.

WFAA quotes Mitchell Glieber, the vice president of marketing for the State Fair, as saying it appears to have been an electrical fire. 

"There's obviously some electronics inside of Big Tex that leads to the ability for his mouth to move when he speaks," Glieber said. "I believe there was an electrical short, but that hasn't been confirmed or investigated."

You can follow Twitter hashtag #BigTexFire for more details. 

Update: YouTube member TexasStormChasers was rolling tape on fire dispatch radio when the Big Tex call came in. "There's a tall cowboy with all his clothes burnt off," says one responder. "Howdy folks – it’s hot,” says another.

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Texas A&M
12:11 pm
Fri October 19, 2012

A&M Evacuated Amid Bomb Threat (Updated)

emergency.tamu.edu

Updated 4:15pm: The A&M campus is now reopened, according to the university's emergency website:

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Texas
7:35 am
Fri October 19, 2012

'Dire' State of Central Texas Lakes Costing Area Millions

The "Sometimes Islands" of Lake Travis have become permanent fixtures on the lake over the past few years.
flickr.com/daleremote

State lawmakers met Wednesday to discuss the Texas drought and how extremely low Central Texas lake levels are hurting the economy. 

The Texas House Committee on Culture, Recreation, & Tourism heard testimony from Travis County Commissioner Karen Huber and the Central Texas Water Coalition. Both Commissioner Huber and the Coalition are seeking assistance from the state for the populations living and working around the lakes. They told lawmakers that funding and assistance is needed to support the impacted communities.

Huber recounted stories she's heard from several Lake Travis business owners:

"One gas station owner says he has shut 3 of his 4 gas stations. Another business owner who owns several business on the lake says he is raiding his kids' college funds for two years. My partners and I have cashed in every IRA we have tucked away. And we are running out of options."

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Texas
8:47 am
Thu October 18, 2012

Abbott Sides With East Texas Cheerleaders in Bible Verses Case

A judge is expected to decide today if a group of cheerleaders can use Bible verses at public high school football games.
KUHF

A Hardin County Judge is expected to rule today on whether to allow a group of high school cheerleaders to continue to display Bible verses at football games.

The Kountze High School cheerleaders are seeking a temporary injunction after Kountze Independent School District officials told the cheerleaders they could no longer use scripture on banners. An atheist group complained about the displays.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott says he’ll defend the East Texas cheerleaders.

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Texas
12:29 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

North Texas Makes Most Requests to Withhold Information; Austin Ranks 14th

Out of all Texas cities, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (pictured above) receives the most confidentiality requests from the Metroplex area.
Gage Skidmore, Texas Tribune

Suburbs and cities surrounding the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex rank highest in the state for petitions to the Texas Attorney General's office to withhold municipal information, according to a report by the Center for Public Integrity.

Under the Texas Public Information Act, citizens and the media can make requests to state agencies for government records. In normal circumstances, the agency has to respond to the request within 10 days and provide the requested information or documents in a timely manner. 

However, if the agency believes that the request touches on information that the government has an interest in keeping confidential, they can petition the Attorney General’s office for the right to deny the request. The Attorney General’s office then has 45 days to rule on whether the information can be fully or partially withheld, or must be released.  

The study looked at the number of petitions to the Attorney General’s office to withhold information requested under the Public Information Act per 100,000 in population in Texas’s 20 largest cities. Seven of the 10 cities that submitted the most requests to Abbott’s office to withhold information were in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. 

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Texas
7:32 am
Wed October 17, 2012

Recall: 8,200 Pounds of Uninspected Meat Products Made, Distributed in Texas

Though packages were labeled with the USDA mark of inspection, federal officials say they were not inspected by the USDA.
U.S. Department of Agriculture/Lao Chareune

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced Monday that a Dallas-based beef and pork distributor, Lao Chareune Foods, has recalled 8,200 pounds of meat.

The products being recalled weren’t inspected and were mislabeled. 

Lao Chareune is recalling 3 oz. and 8 .oz packages of “Pork Snack Stick;” 3.2 oz. packages of “Seasoned Fried Beef;” 1.76 oz. packages of “Fried Pork Skins;” and 1.2 oz. packages of “Sliced Fried Pork Ears.” 

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Texas
4:48 pm
Tue October 16, 2012

State Sen. Mario Gallegos Dies at 62

Democratic State Sen. Mario Gallegos passed away today.
Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

State Senator Mario Gallegos died today.  

Gallegos was elected to the Texas State Senate in 1994. He was the first Hispanic Senator elected to represent Harris County.

Family members say he died due to complications from a 2007 liver transplant. Gallegos famously came to the Senate floor just days before the transplant to block voter photo ID legislation being pushed by Republicans in 2007. He was 62.

Texas
3:51 pm
Tue October 16, 2012

Feral Foodies: Texas Parks and Wildlife Offers Wild Game Recipes on YouTube

Texas Parks and Wildlife is promoting a series of videos promoting cooking with wild game.
flickr.com/craigoneal

What to do with a feral hog?

After dropping that pesky critter – perhaps while leaning out the door of a hard-banking helicopter over western Hays County, hitting it at nighttime with a .458 SOCOM round from your hog-optimized AR-15 while the pilot lights it up from above – you could just let it lie there.

Or you could make feral hog tacos. 

If slow-cooking feral pork butt over hardwood charcoal doesn't come naturally to you, don't worry. Help is here from Texas Parks and Wildlife. A new video series from Parks and Wildlife features four recipes from local chef Jesse Griffith's book Afield : A Chef's Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish.

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Formula 1
8:31 am
Tue October 16, 2012

Fire Chief Wants His District to Keep Some F1 Sales Tax Revenue

The red buildings represent ESD #11 fire stations. The green buildings represent Austin Fire Department stations.
Travis County ESD #11

The fire chief who leads the emergency service district around the Circuit of the Americas track is going before the Travis County Commissioners today to ask them to consider a tax deal if the track area is annexed by the City of Austin.

Fire Chief Ken Bailey leads Emergency Service District #11. Emergency service districts are entities created by the state to provide services to unincorporated areas, like the land around the Circuit of the Americas track. Bailey wants the city to keep the district in place, and let the district keep some of the sales tax revenue generated by the track to hire staff to respond to potentially increased calls.

Bailey says, right now, if the City of Austin annexes the track, the city would benefit from a 0.5 percent sale tax along with property tax revenue. Instead, Bailey is proposing that ESD #11 pay the city one-third of the district's 1.5 percent sales tax: equal, he says, for the city either way.

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Texas
10:44 am
Mon October 15, 2012

See an Emergency Vehicle? Move Over, or Get Pulled Over

Drivers who don't move over or slow down when passing emergency vehicles could face a fine.
flickr.com/webhostingreview

Law enforcement agencies across Central Texas are cracking down on drivers who ignore the state’s “move over” law.

When emergency responders are stopped on the roadway, drivers are required to move over a lane to pass or to slow down to 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit. If the speed limit is below 25 mph, drivers are required to slow to 5 mph.

For the next three weeks, Austin Police Department officers and law enforcement officers from at 20 other departments say they will will target drivers who illegally pass emergency vehicles.

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Texas
6:04 am
Thu October 11, 2012

Texas Inmate Put to Death After Court Reverses Reprieve

Jonathan Green's execution was blocked earlier this week but is now set to take place this evening.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Update: Thursday, Oct. 11, 6:04 a.m.:

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-minute appeal to spare Green from execution. Green received a lethal injection Wednesday night before 11 p.m. The warrant for his execution was set to expire at midnight.

Jonathan Green was the 10th inmate executed in Texas so far this year.

Original Story: Wednesday, Oct. 10, 4:13 p.m.:

A Texas death row inmate is once again facing execution this evening.

Jonathan Green’s execution was blocked on Monday when a federal judge ruled on Monday that due process was violated in Green’s competency hearing.

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Texas
4:10 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Court to Hear Tom DeLay's Appeal in Money Laundering Case

Former House Speaker Tom DeLay faces jail time and probation if his conviction is upheld.
U.S. Congress

The Third Court of Appeals in Austin will hear the appeal of former U.S. House Majority Leader cum reality show contestant Tom DeLay, who was convicted of money laundering in 2010.

DeLay was found guilty by an Austin jury of conspiring to circumvent campaign finance laws and channel corporate donations to Republican candidates for the Texas Legislature in 2002. His conviction followed a 2005 indictment on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering alongside aides John Colyandro and Jim Ellis. DeLay resigned from his position in the House as a result. In 2009, he appeared as a contestant on the TV series "Dancing With the Stars."

DeLay has been out on bond, working to have his conviction overturned for the past two years. If his conviction is upheld, he faces a sentence of three years in prison and five years probation. As a convicted felon, he would also be ineligible to run for state-level political office in Texas and ineligible to vote until he completes his probation. 

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Texas
8:05 am
Fri October 5, 2012

26 Years Later: Exonerated Citizen Michael Morton Reflects

Exonerated citizen Michael Morton speaks to an attentive audience at the Texas Capitol.
Tyler Pratt for KUT News

Former Williamson County resident Michael Morton was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his wife. Then 25 years later, he was freed after DNA evidence showed he was not guilty.

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of Morton’s release. He spoke at the Texas Capitol about his experiences over the past 26 years, and the difficulties the Williamson County justice system presented in obtaining the evidence that eventually exonerated him.  

Morton told the audience: 

The odd thing about it is that The Innocence Project was willing to say “Look. Texas statute allows this. We will pay for all the expenses.  Just let us have it and we’ll do it." And for reasons that haven’t been elaborated on or maybe articulated, to mine or anyone else’s satisfaction that I’m aware of, is that they fought this. And fought this. And fought this.

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Texas
2:52 pm
Wed October 3, 2012

Report Finds Texas 'Energy Inefficient'

Texas wasn't ranked very high in energy efficiency according to ACEEE Scorecard
http://www.flickr.com/ixtlilton

The ACEEE (American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy) has released its 2012 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. According to their findings, Texas didn't do so well.

The report ranks the 50 states and the District of Columbia according to their policies and programs regarding the use of energy in buildings, transportation, and industry. This year, Texas is ranked #33

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Texas
8:18 am
Mon October 1, 2012

Lotto Ticket Aiding Vets Pulls in Pennies on the Dollar

The Texas Lotto scratch-off, which helps out veterans, is losing sales.
Texas Lottery

Veterans Cash is a $2 scratch-off Texas Lottery ticket that adds revenue to the Fund for Veterans' Assistance. But sales of the ticket, which made $8.1 million in 2011, have plummeted by 42 percent this year, to $4.7 million.

According to the San Antonio Express-News, since Veterans' Cash was launched in 2009, it has raised $20.8 million for the fund. The state's Fund for Veterans' Assistance awards funds through general assistance grants and the Housing4TexasHeroes program. Those programs provide veterans with services including financial assistance, transportation, counseling, housing assistance, and family services.

The Express-News writes declining lotto sales "means the Texas Veterans Commission is likely to turn down a bigger percentage of applications than it already does. The commission in 2011 had 190 applications and funded 37."

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