1:31 pm
Thu November 17, 2011

Texas Voter ID Law in Jeopardy?

Photo by Simrat Sharma KUT News

The U.S. Department of Justice informed the Texas Secretary of State’s office that it has yet to provide the federal government sufficient information about the contentious voter ID law — which could affect the bill's scheduled implementation date of Jan. 1.

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central texas
4:48 pm
Wed November 16, 2011

Former Morton Prosecutor Apologizes for “System’s Failure”

Former Williamson County prosecutor Ken Anderson as he was about to testify last month about how Michael Morton was wrongly convicted for the murder of his wife
Photo by Texas Tribune

The former Williamson County District Attorney who helped secure a 25-year sentence for Michael Morton for a crime he didn’t commit apologized today and suggested he has been wracked with guilt. Ken Anderson, now a Williamson County district judge, held a last minute press conference this afternoon.

“I don’t know how strong I can say this,” he said on a live stream of the news conference that we watched on KXAN’s website. “If there’s anybody who’s confused about whether I’m beating myself up and whether I’m absolutely sick about this case, you’re wrong, because I am.”

But Anderson stopped short of admitting any wrongdoing, adding that, “I’m apologizing for the system’s failure.”

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5:14 pm
Mon November 14, 2011

TCEQ: Leander and Cedar Park Could Run Out of Water in 2012

Leander and Cedar Park in Williamson County are among eighteen Texas communities on a high priority water list maintained by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, according to our reporting partners, the Texas Tribune.

The Tribune put together the interactive map you see above using data collected from the TCEQ. Each color dot indicates the estimated number of days a city has left until it runs out of water unless something changes.

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4:41 pm
Mon November 14, 2011

Texas Town in Race to Find New Water Source

Keith Tilley, director of public works for the town of Groesbeck , photographed at Fort Parker Lake i Fort Parker State Park.
Photo by Allison V. Smith

On her way to work recently, Jackie Levingston, the volunteer mayor of this ranching town east of Waco, stopped at an office in City Hall to pay her water bill. “Before there’s no water left to buy,” she said, making a sad joke.

Groesbeck, which has received no measurable rainfall since April, ranks near the top of the state’s list of communities in danger of running out of water. The most intense drought in Texas history has caused the water against the dam dividing the Navasota River, Groesbeck’s sole source of water, to fall 44 inches below its normal level.

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10:03 am
Thu November 10, 2011

“The Only Winner in War is Medicine"

Friday is Veterans Day. This week during Morning Edition, KUT has been reporting on how United States military engagement has left a lasting impact on the lives of Texans.

This morning, KUT's Jennifer Stayton examined advances in medical technology that resulted from the need to treat wounded soldiers. 

“The only winner in war is medicine,” Col. Evan Renz said. Renz directs the Army’s burn center in San Antonio.

Check out the video above that Katie Hayes Luke shot and edited for our story. 

Central Texas
5:05 pm
Wed November 9, 2011

Suspect in Michael Morton Case Identified

Photo courtesy of Texas Tribune

A suspect whose DNA has been linked to the 1986 murder of Christine Morton and the 1988 murder of Debra Baker is on his way to the Williamson County Jail, according to John Raley, attorney for Michael Morton. Morton was exonerated of his wife's murder last month, based on the DNA evidence that showed someone else committed the crime. 

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3:05 pm
Wed November 9, 2011

Mexican Deportees Strain Cities South Of Texas Border

A group of illegal immigrants from Central America deported from the United States eat at a shelter near the Mexico-U.S. border, in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, July 28, 2010. Last year, the U.S. deported a record number of immigrants — and the Mexican border towns where they are being released face serious problems coping with the influx.
Alfredo Estrella AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 9, 2011 1:52 pm

For many Mexican migrants who've just been deported from the United States, the border city Reynosa is where the American Dream dies.

Maria Nidelia Avila Basurto is a Catholic nun who heads a church-run shelter for deportees in Reynosa, in the northeast corner of Mexico, just across from McAllen, Texas.

"Many of them arrive with nothing," she says. "We have to give them everything — clothes, shoes, everything."

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2:51 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Texas Oil Regulators Scrap Concealed Firearms Ban

Photo courtesy of Texas Tribune


Texas Railroad Commission employees will now be able to carry concealed firearms as they go about their work, following a unanimous vote on Tuesday by the three commissioners.

"[Railroad Commission] employees often work alone in remote and desolate areas of the state where they may encounter criminals or dangerous wild animals," Barry Smitherman, the newest commissioner, said in a statement. "The least we can do is allow them to exercise their legal right to carry firearms in accordance with state law.”

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1:32 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

FEMA To Close Bastrop Emergency Center November 18

FEMA will close its Bastrop recovery center November 18. Victims have until December 8 to apply for relief from the September wildfires.
Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News.

In a sign that victims of September’s 34,000 acre Bastrop wildfire have received the majority of services they need to begin their recovery, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Disaster Recovery Center in Bastrop will close next Friday.

"Just the physical presence will be gone," FEMA spokesperson Ericka Lopez said. "However, we will still have other federal representatives that will be doing public infrastructure works, as well as additional work in the Bastrop area and other Texas wildfire affected areas."

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10:34 am
Tue November 8, 2011

Supreme Court Declines Duane Buck Death Row Case

Death row inmate Duane Buck.
Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice AP

Originally published on Mon November 7, 2011 7:11 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear the case of Texas death row inmate Duane Buck, who alleged that race played an improper role in his death sentence. In September, the court issued a rare stay of execution while it considered the merits of the case. Monday's action lifts the stay and allows the state to set a new execution date.

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2:35 pm
Mon November 7, 2011

Appeals Court Stays Skinner Execution

Hank Skinner's execution, scheduled for Wednesday, has been stayed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
Photo by Caleb Bryant Miller for KUT News

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has granted a request to stay the execution of death row inmate Henry 'Hank' Skinner. The decision comes after two letters were filed on Skinner's behalf.

Skinner's defense attorneys sent a letter to Governor Rick Perry, requesting he hold off Skinner's execution long enough to conduct DNA testing. The Innocence Project sent a similar letter to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

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4:39 pm
Fri November 4, 2011

Audit: State Inspected Only 65 Percent of High Priority Pipelines

Photo by rcbodden http://www.flickr.com/photos/rcbodden/

With 270,000 miles of gas and oil pipelines in Texas, how closely do you think the state is monitoring the lines under its supervision? Consider that two deadly pipeline accidents happened last year in Johnson County and the Panhandle.

According to a new report from the Texas State Auditor, the Texas Railroad Commission (TRC) inspected 65 percent of high priority pipeline systems. The report also found that the TRC’s own inspection plan is incomplete and lacks accuracy.

However, the report found that the TRC inspection regime was “substantially in compliance” with state and federal regulations.

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10:13 am
Fri November 4, 2011

Crossing The Border: A Case For Legalizing Drugs

Pink wooden crosses are placed where the corpses of eight murdered women were found in 2001, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The town has been a site of much of the violence of the drug war along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Alfredo Estrella AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun November 6, 2011 8:23 am

On the U.S.-Mexico border, officials are dealing with the war on drugs. Towns there have been plagued with violence. Commentator Austin Bay is a retired colonel in the Army Reserve and a Texas native with his own memories of the area. He has a proposal to reduce the drug-related brutality.

Mexico's border cities weren't always war zones. At one time, Matamoros was a fine place to get a steak. The orphanage in Nuevo Laredo, where my friend Fred volunteered, was lively and the kids delightful.

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1:17 pm
Thu November 3, 2011

Daughter Beaten By Dad Who's A Texas Judge: It Happened Regularly

Hillary Adams (left) as her father was striking her with a belt. She set up a video camera to record what she says was one of many such beatings.
YouTube.com (warning, video is graphic)

Originally published on Thu November 3, 2011 4:51 pm

Hillary Adams, who videotaped her father beating her in 2004 and released it to the world last week because she believes he should not be serving as a judge in Texas, said this morning that such punishments happened regularly and that she believes her father "needs help and rehabilitation."

For his part, Judge William Adams says that "in my mind I haven't done anything wrong. ... She wasn't hurt, it was a long time ago" and she was just "being disciplined."

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12:44 pm
Thu November 3, 2011

First Person: Formerly Homeless Veteran

With Veterans Day one week away, we wanted to bring you the story of a veteran who suffered through homelessness. So we sent videographer Jeff Heimsath to interview Jeffery Anderson.

Anderson currently lives in Temple, and he served more than five years of active duty in the United States Army, including two tours in Iraq. But when his wife became ill when pregnant with their fourth child, she needed his help at home.

Anderson says he asked the Army to be placed on rear detachment for three months until the baby was delivered. But he was told to choose his family or the Army.

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