Texas

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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Texas Foster Care
9:34 am
Wed May 21, 2014

The Rate of Texas Foster Care Youths On Meds is Falling – And Could Fall More

A new Texas law could reduce the rate of medicated foster kids even more. It's been falling for about 10 years.
Liang Shi for KUT

President Obama recently called for millions in new spending aimed at reducing the number of foster care children being prescribed psychotropic medications.

In Texas, the percentage of children on these medications has been dropping in recent years, but concerns remain.

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Texas
5:54 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Texas A&M Plans Nursing Program to Help Sexual Assault Victims

The Texas A&M Health Science Center is working on a forensic nursing program that would boost the number of the state’s nurses trained to help rape victims seek care and justice.
Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Only 35 percent of injured sexual assault victims in the U.S. receive medical care, according to a new study that suggests not enough nurses are trained to help victims and conduct forensic exams.

But there’s an effort to change that.

The Texas A&M Health Science Center is working on a forensic nursing program that would boost the number of the state’s nurses trained to help rape victims seek care and justice.

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Texas
7:24 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Texas Agriculture Group Wants Tighter Controls on Ammonium Nitrate

An apartment complex near the West Fertilizer Plant was destroyed in an explosion April 2013. State lawmakers are considering ways to increase safety at facilities storing ammonium nitrate.
Credit Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

A Texas agriculture industry group is calling for more stringent reporting by people who possess the fertilizer ammonium nitrate. The Texas Ag Industries Association (TAIA) wants people with fewer than 10,000 pounds of the chemical to disclose to state officials how much they're storing and where.

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Texas
4:40 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

Nolan Ryan's Recipe for Success - and His Big Tex Rib-Eye

At the ripe old age of 10, Nolan Ryan announced to his parents he was ready to get into the cattle business. And he did just that – buying his first calf from a local dairy farmer outside of his hometown of Alvin, Texas.

Fast forward a few decades, and most folks seem to associate Ryan's name with baseball. Pitching in the majors for 27 seasons, Ryan played for the Mets and California Angels before coming home to Texas, pitching for the Rangers and Astros and being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.

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West Plant Explosion
8:28 am
Fri May 16, 2014

Report: West Responders Weren't Prepared to Fight Fertilizer Plant Fire

Some of the aftermath of the West Fertilizer plant explosion. A new report says the blast was preventable.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

The Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office says the deaths of 12 people responding to last year’s explosion at the West Fertilizer plant could have been prevented.

The Fire Marshal’s report [PDF] released Thursday night says the first responders killed in the April 2013 fertilizer plant explosion in West,Texas  were not prepared or equipped to deal with such a dangerous situation.

The report says that is not because the first responders failed to perform their duties as they had been trained, but due to a “systemic deficiency in the training and preparation” of the firefighters.

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Texas
2:33 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

From Mary To Sophia (And Sofia): Texas' Most Popular Baby Names Through The Years

bikeriderlondon Shutterstock.com

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 5:19 pm

What are Texans naming their babies these days? And how does that compare to Lone Star babies from 50 years ago?

Sophia was the most popular baby girl name in Texas in 2013. For the boys, Jacob was No. 1 in Texas.

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Texas
4:39 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Austin Doctor Says Veteran Died Waiting for VA Treatment

The Olin E. Teague Veterans' Medical Center in Temple, Texas.
centraltexas.va.gov

Wednesday morning the San Antonio Express-News reported that a cancer patient died after waiting two months to start cancer treatment at a Veteran Affairs hospital in Temple, Texas.

The news comes after a series of revelations about secret waiting lists at VA hospitals nationwide, following an initial whistleblower complaint from a VA hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. 

The reporter who broke the story, Sig Christenson, said he's been in touch with the patient's physician, who was a subcontractor for the VA at the time, and wishes to remain anonymous. The Texas Standard's David Brown had a chance to speak with Christenson about the case. 

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Texas Death Row
4:07 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

With Just Hours To Go, Federal Court Halts Texas Execution

A Texas judge halted the planned execution of Robert Campbell, saying his lawyers could not fairly prepare an ineligibility claim because the state had not provided them with relevant information. Campbell is mentally disabled.
Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice AP

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 12:21 pm

Update at 4:57 p.m. ET. Federal Court Halts Execution:

With just hours to go, a federal court has halted the execution of Texas inmate Robert Campbell.

The execution would have been the first since Oklahoma botched one in April.

The ruling has nothing to do with the drug shortage that's dominated the narrative over the death penalty in the country. Instead, Campbell's lawyers argued that the state knew that Campbell was intellectually disabled but did not let his defense team know that.

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Sriracha
11:58 am
Tue May 13, 2014

The Texas-California Sriracha Brawl is Now a Taiwanese Cartoon

Governors Jerry Brown & Rick Perry hold a pho showdown over Sriracha in this animated clip.
youtube.com/NMAWorldEdition

Attempts to lure the makers of Sriracha to Texas aren’t going unnoticed – although this latest round of attention may not be what the popular hot sauce is after.

Yesterday, a bipartisan group of Texas politicians, business people and agricultural representatives visited Huy Fong Foods in Irwindale, California – the company that makes Sriracha sauce.

The company is staying in California for now, despite complaints from neighbors. But it may open a second plant in the Lone Star State.

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Veteran Affairs
5:47 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Texas Hearing to Address Claims of Doctored Wait Times at VA Clinics

State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, hosted a press conference on allegations of manipulated wait times at VA clinics in Austin and San Antonio.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

On the heels of allegations that VA clinics across the country manipulated wait times, a state senate hearing will ask veterans whether they've struggled to get a timely doctor’s appointment.

Lieutenant Governor candidate and state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, says she’s especially troubled by allegations of misrepresented wait times at clinics in San Antonio and Austin. The chair of the Senate Veteran Affairs Committee, Van de Putte says an independent investigation should take place.

"People responsible need to be held accountable," she says. "These scheduling clerks didn’t just decide to falsify reports all over the country at the same time."

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Texas
10:43 am
Sun May 11, 2014

Here are the Results for Central Texas City and School Bond Elections

Many Central Texas towns held city and school bond elections on May 10.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Local municipal and bond elections were held Saturday in many Central Texas communities. Voters approved five out of six Central Texas school school district bond propositions.  Here are some results from those elections, separated by municipality:

Cedar Park:

  • Council member Lowell Moore won his sixth term Saturday with 60 percent of the vote of Dr. Mo Jahadi. Jahadi received 39 percent of the vote.
  • Voters also elected former state representative Corbin van Arsdale to the city council. He ran unopposed.

Eanes:

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Texas
12:01 am
Thu May 8, 2014

Willie Nelson Donates Stash of Personal Artifacts To Briscoe Center

Jeff Newman Southern Lights/Northern Cross Collection, Briscoe Center for American History

Even as he celebrated his 81st birthday – how else, but by getting his fifth-degree black belt in a martial art called GongKwon Yusul - legendary musician Willie Nelson does not show signs of slowing down.

It was, however, announced today that he has decided to donate a large portion of his personal collection to the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin.

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Texas
5:29 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

Texas' Underfunded Roadways Get Spotlight at Capitol Hearing

A select Texas House Committee on Transportation hosted a hearing on May 6, 2014 at the Capitol to discuss the unfunded transportation need in Texas.
Daniel Reese

A select Texas House Committee on Transportation is reviewing the underfunded transportation needs in Texas – and it’s having a difficult time.

"I don’t want to make this so much of a basic 101, but transportation financing and funding is very complicated for the people that are involved, let alone those who are not," says state Rep. Joe Pickett, (D-El Paso), the committee’s chair.

Panel members heard from experts like David Ellis, a senior research scientist with the Texas A&M  Transportation Institute. He says the Texas Department of Transportation needs $4 billion more annually to maintain the current quality of roads. That’s on top of the $10 billion a year spent now on road construction and upkeep. He says wear and tear also costs drivers more.

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Texas
5:20 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

New Horse-Mounted Patrol Aims to Deter Crime at State Capitol, Texas Style

Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Jerald Sams rides a DPS horse at the Texas State Capitol on May 6, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Visitors to the Texas State Capitol complex will notice a new mounted patrol unit of the Texas Department of Public Safety. On Tuesday, people were petting and feeding the horses, which are intended to deter crime on the 46-square-block area. 

More than 12,000 state and civilian employees work at the capitol complex on any given day. Texas Public Safety Commission chair A. Cynthia Leon says when the legislature is in session, that population can soar to 80,000 people.

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