Texas

Texas
11:44 am
Thu October 23, 2014

Here Are 12 Interviews With 2014 Texas Book Festival Authors

The Texas Book Festival will take place on October 25 and 26.
Texas Book Festival

Are you going to the Texas Book Festival?

Some 250 authors are descending on Austin for the festival this weekend. And Texas Standard and KUT have sat down with a dozen of them.  Here's a roundup of authors appearing at the festival, both big literary names and under-the-radar authors.

(Editor's note: This post used to contain nine interviews – but we've since recorded a few more and updated accordingly.)

Lawrence Wright:

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2014 Elections
9:28 am
Thu October 23, 2014

UT/TT Poll: Abbott Holds Commanding Lead Over Davis

University of Texas/Texas Tribune

From The Texas Tribune:

Republican Greg Abbott has a 16-point lead over Democrat Wendy Davis in the closing days of this year’s general election for governor, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Abbott has the support of 54 percent of likely voters to Davis’ 38 percent. Libertarian Kathie Glass has the support of 6 percent, and the Green Party’s Brandon Parmer got 2 percent.

“The drama of the outcome is not who wins, but what the margin will be,” said Jim Henson, co-director of the poll and head of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin. “Wendy Davis has not led in a single poll in this race.”

Among men, Abbott holds a 61-32 lead in this survey. And he leads by 2 percentage points — 48 to 46 — among women.

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Texas Standard
4:13 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

Why Ireland's Opening a New Consulate in Austin, Texas

A different type of Hill Country: Ireland is opening a consulate in Austin to focus on trade and development.
flickr.com/georgiesharp

Ireland is getting ready to do something it hasn’t done that often in the past century: open some new consulate offices. Hong Kong, Bangkok and São Paulo are among the cities selected. Oh, and one more – Austin, Texas.

Texas Standard’s David Brown speaks with Consul General Adrian Farrell about plans for the new office, trade between Ireland and Texas, and efforts to reach out to Irish Texans and Americans.

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Texas
9:00 am
Mon October 20, 2014

Texans in Contact With Ebola Patient Cleared; Army To Train Medical Teams in Texas

Texas health officials say 43 patients are no longer being monitored for Ebola symptoms, schools should remain open and that medical support teams will be trained in San Antonio.
Credit flickr.com/photos/127444369@N04/

43 patients were cleared from twice-a-day monitoring; Texas State Health Services Commissioner Dr. David Lakey urged schools against closing because of the low risk the virus poses to schoolchildren and administrators; and the Dept. of Defense announced it's sending a medical support team to begin training U.S. officials and responders on how to respond any future cases of the virus.

Below you can read a full recap of all the Ebola developments in Texas over the weekend.

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Texas Book Festival
1:34 pm
Sun October 19, 2014

Carrie Fountain and the 'Daring Political Act' of Writing About Motherhood

Carrie Fountain at the 2010 Texas Book Festival. "Writing poetry has always been, quite simply, about trying to make sense of the experience of being in the world," she says.
Larry D. Moore [Creative Commons]

Carrie Fountain is searching for something.

The Austin-based poet recently released "Instant Winner," her second book of poems. In it, she reflects on parenthood and captures vignettes of moments from everyday life.

Fountain will be reading at the Texas Book Festival on Sunday, Oct. 26. She spoke with Texas Standard's Emily Donahue about her book in advance of the festival.

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Ebola
8:04 am
Sun October 19, 2014

Texas Hospital: 'We Are Deeply Sorry' For Missing Ebola Diagnosis

The exterior of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 12, 2014 2:29 pm

In a full-page letter published in Sunday's Dallas Morning News, Barclay Berdan, the CEO of the company that owns Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, said the hospital was "deeply sorry" for missing the ebola diagnosis of Thomas Eric Duncan.

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Voter ID
7:21 am
Sat October 18, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Texas Voter ID Law to Be Enforced in Upcoming Election

Texas voters will be required to show one of seven forms of approved identification at the polls when early voting begins Monday, after Saturday's U.S. Supreme Court decision.
Credit: KUT News

The U.S. Supreme Court is allowing Texas' voter ID law to be enforced for the Nov. 4 election. The law requires voters to show one of seven forms of approved identification when voting.

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Ebola
5:29 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

Health Workers in U.S. at Risk for Ebola Should Be on No-Fly List, Perry Says

Gov. Rick Perry speaks at a press conference about Ebola at the Capitol on Oct. 17, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is calling it "indefensible" that one of the nurses who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who was treated at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital and died last week, would be cleared to fly from Ohio to Dallas. She had told health officials she had a low fever before being cleared to fly. 

Gov. Perry is also joining fellow Texan Sen. Ted Cruz in pressing for a travel ban to and from the West African countries most affected by the Ebola virus, exempting people like health care workers. 

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Texas Standard
3:56 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

Life in Dallas Goes On Despite Ebola Fears

Medical personnel transport an ebola patient in Dallas.
flickr.com/thespeakernews

The eyes of the country are on Texas, as the public continues to follow the progress of a small string of Dallas residents that have contracted the Ebola virus.

While the wide scale global and political implications have been inundating the news, the viewpoint from the ground in Dallas can easily be washed away in a sea of analysis and criticism. Helping us gain a little perspective on the situation is Robert Wilonsky, digital managing editor at the Dallas Morning News who paints a more nuanced picture of the scene there.

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Affordable Care Act
9:07 am
Fri October 17, 2014

Obamacare Coverage Expansion in Texas Prompts Alternative Health Care Models

Walmart recently opened a Care Clinic in Copperas Cove, Texas, near the Fort Hood military base.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Although the Affordable Care Act has led to thousands of people in Texas getting insurance for the first time, many consumers aren’t turning to care at a doctor’s office.

Instead they’re turning to places that are convenient -- places like Walmart.

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Ebola
7:18 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

Officials in Austin Discuss Ramped Up Efforts to Prepare for Any Local Ebola Case

Dr. Philip Huang, medical director of the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department, spoke at a press conference on Ebola on Oct. 16, 2014.
KUT News

Austin officials say they’re ready for any potential local cases of the Ebola virus.

Starting this week, when someone in Austin and Travis County calls 911 for medical help, an operator will ask more questions than usual about symptoms and travel history so that emergency responders can be prepared.

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Ebola
8:00 am
Thu October 16, 2014

Texas Nurses Concerned About Ebola

Thomas Eric Duncan (L), Nina Pham (C) and Amber Joy Vinson (R). Duncan was the first person diagnosed with the Ebola virus in the U.S. He died Oct. 8. Pham and Vinson, both Presbyterian healthcare workers, were also infected with the virus.
Facebook/Krystina Martinez

This story comes from KERA – KUT's public radio sister station in Dallas.

After two of the nurses who treated Thomas Eric Duncan became sick with Ebola, their colleagues across the state are expressing concerns about preparation for handling Ebola. 

In the fight against Ebola, nurses are in the line of fire.

“Nurses are that front line, they know where the potential for things to go wrong are, and that’s why they need to raise their concerns,” says registered nurse Cindy Zolnierek. Zolnierek is executive director of the Texas Nurses Association, which has more than 7,000 member nurses.

So far, Zolnierek says she is hearing some concerns about readiness, but also statements of confidence.

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HB2
6:58 am
Thu October 16, 2014

Fifth Circuit Sets December Deadline for Briefs in Texas Abortion Law Lawsuit

Briefs from both sides in a Texas aborrtion law lawsuit are due by Dec. 8, 2014 before the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
photo courtesy Bobak Ha'Eri

Some abortion clinics in Texas have started reopening, following the U.S. Supreme Court's temporary stay of parts of the state's restrictive abortion law.

"All of those 13 clinics that had been forced to close by the Fifth Circuit are now able to reopen, and specifically El Paso and McAllen," says Esha Bhandari, an attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is litigating a lawsuit against two provisions of the state’s 2013 abortion law.

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Ebola
5:38 am
Wed October 15, 2014

Second Texas Health Worker Tests Positive for Ebola as Official Tries to Calm Fears (Update)

Dallas Hazmat workers begin decontaminating the apartment of the second Dallas health care worker who has tested postitive for Ebola.
Dallas Police Department, @DallasPD

Update: The Texas Department of State Health Services this morning confirmed a second health care worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas has tested positive for Ebola. The worker reported a fever on Tuesday and DSHS says he or she was immediately isolated at the hospital.

No information about the health care worker's identity is being released at this time but, like the first health care worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital to be diagnosed with Ebola, this person took care of Thomas Eric Duncan – the first Ebola patient to die in the U.S. of the virus.

DSHS officials say they've already reached out to people who made have had contact with this second health worker. Those people will be monitored for potential symptoms.

The second diagnosis of a Texas health care worker comes a day after DSHS Chief David Lakey made statements in an effort to calm fears among health workers about the possible spread of Ebola.

Original Story (Oct. 14, 7:38 p.m.): The chief of the Texas Department of State Health Services says the team in Dallas is committed to containing the Ebola virus, and he says he understands the high level of anxiety among health care workers.

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HB2
6:06 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Supreme Court Halts Texas Abortion Restrictions

Credit Eric Schlegel, Texas Tribune

The U.S. Supreme Court has halted the enforcement of two provisions of Texas' new abortion law, known as House Bill 2, for now.

"Tonight, our reality in Texas was recognized by SCOTUS and they ruled on the side of Texan Women," said Amy Hagstrom Miller in a statement. Miller is the president and CEO of Whole Woman's Health, which is a plaintiff in the case against the provisions. "We are so proud to have led this fight."

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Voter ID
5:23 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Appeals Court Allows Voter ID Law to Be Enforced in November Elections

Credit KUT News

A federal appeals is allowing a Texas' voter ID to go ahead for the November election. The law requires voters to show an approved photo ID before casting a ballot.

The ruling comes after a federal judge in Corpus Christi struck down the law last Thursday, calling it an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, and adding that it intentionally discriminated against Hispanics and African-Americans.

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Oil
12:50 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Will Low Oil Prices Rattle The Texas Economy?

The benchmark price of oil is lower than it has been in four years.
Photo by MIRA OBERMAN/AFP/Getty Images

From StateImpact Texas:

The benchmark price of U.S. crude hovers around $85 a barrel. That’s lower than it's been in four years and $15 below where it was a year ago. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Economic growth has stalled internationally – This has slowing the demand for oil, but oil supplies are increasing thanks to the shale boom in the U.S. and the fact that OPEC – the cartel that sets prices internationally – has not cut production.
  •  The dollar is strong – The higher valuation of U.S. currency means that oil prices are down but –because the dollar’s also at a four-year high – the oil is still pricey, driving down demand.
  • Speculators are betting on prices to drop – Weekly production of oil is expected to reach a 45-year high next year, the market’s going bearish, driving the prices down.

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Perry Indictment
8:53 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Perry's Lawyer Confirms Governor Will Come to Court Next Hearing

Gov. Rick Perry has been ordered to attend an Oct. 31, 2014 court hearing in Austin related to his indictment.
KUT News

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s lawyers were back in court today, without their client. When the scheduling hearing was over, the judge set a pretrial hearing for Friday, Oct. 31.

One issue to be discussed is whether Special Prosecutor Michael McCrum was properly sworn in, which will determine whether he’s qualified to continue as attorney pro tem, in the place of District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg.

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Voter ID
2:58 pm
Sat October 11, 2014

Federal Judge Strikes Down Texas Voter ID Law (Updated)

A federal judge has struck down Texas' Voter ID law.
KUT

UPDATE (Saturday 2:30pm): The judge in the Texas Voter ID case has formally issued an injunction barring the state from enforcing the new photo identification requirements under Senate Bill 14. 

 

Unless an appeals court intervenes, the ID requirement will not be in effect for the November election.

 

UPDATE (Friday, 2pm): Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott wants a federal judge who struck down the state's voter ID law to clarify her ruling by the end of today.

In a filing Friday, Abbott writes:

The scope of the planned injunction appears to be quite broad (much broader than it should be, even assuming the Court is correct regarding the merits of this case), but it is not described in any detail. Nor does the Court’s opinion announce the anticipated timing of its injunction. It is not clear if the Court’s injunction will apply to this election. 

Abbott also says the judge should allow the ID requirement to stay in effect for the upcoming November election, as the case is appealed.

 

EARLIER: A federal judge in Corpus Christi has struck down a Texas law requiring voters to show ID before casting a ballot, calling it an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote.

The law was passed by the 2011 Texas Legislature, and has been the subject of plenty of legal wrangling ever since. Republican leaders call it a protection against voter fraud. Democrats say it's aimed at discouraging minorities from voting.

Several groups representing Hispanic voters -- along with the Justice Department -- sued the state.

In her ruling today, Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos largely agrees with the plaintiffs. She cites the limited number of accepted forms of ID as an unconstitutional barrier to the right to vote, and saying it intentionally discriminates against blacks and Hispanics.

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Texas
11:30 am
Fri October 10, 2014

Despite Drought, Texas Pecan Season Shaping Up to Be Pretty Sweet

There should be plenty of pecans available for pies and treats this year.
flickr.com/mrjoro

Fall in Texas is synonymous with the sweet taste of pecans, be it in pies, cookies, or by themselves. And although it may be early in the season, pecan sellers have already begun to set up stands along Central Texas roads.

This year’s early winter freezes, in addition to the ongoing drought, will undoubtedly have some effect on the season’s production rates. But because Texas is large and areas that grow pecans experienced varied weather, the Texas Pecan Growers Association says buyers should expect prices to be about the same this year as last year.

“The crop is not really low. When the crop is really low, the prices usually go much higher, but because there is a decent crop in Texas, they shouldn’t go too high," TPGA Associate Director of Sales and Marketing Blair Krebs said.

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