Texas

Texas
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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Texas
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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Opinion
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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Texas
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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homelessness
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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Texas
11:39 am
Thu November 3, 2011

BP To Pay Texas $50 Million For 2005 Refinery Blast

BP has agreed to pay $50 million in civil penalties to the state for an explosion six years ago at its refinery in Texas City. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott charged BP with violating state air quality laws during and after the explosion. The blast in 2005 killed 15 workers and injured more than 170 others.

The settlement says BP does not admit any wrongdoing “because of the uncertainty and costs of litigation.” It also prevents the state from being able to sue BP over the claims in the future.

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Texas
12:39 pm
Tue November 1, 2011

State Climatologist: Drought at Least 1 More Year

Two Texas senate committees held a joint hearing Tuesday to discuss the state's ongoing drought.
Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News.

What does the future hold for the Texas drought? Two Texas Senate committees heard testimony today on what has become the worst single-year dry spell in Texas history. The state’s climatologist, John Nielsen- Gammon, told lawmakers not to expect relief anytime soon.

“Going forward this drought is likely to last another year at least because the primary trigger of the drought, La Nina in the Pacific, has returned so it’s extremely unlikely we will come out of drought conditions by the winter,” Nielsen-Gammon said during a hearing at the Capitol Tuesday morning. 

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Texas
10:43 am
Fri October 28, 2011

Galveston Island's West End Threatened By Erosion

The west coast of Galveston is eroding while the east coast remains resilient.
Photo by KUT News

Researchers at Rice University say urban development in Galveston Island should be more focused towards its east end. The island's length, width, and thickness sets a far stronger foundation in the long run than its west coast, according to the study, which was funded by the Shell Center for Sustainability.

"The west end of the island is low, and that makes it more susceptible to storm surge and breaching,"  Rice University oceanography professor John Anderson said. "It's also experiencing erosion rates of three to five feet a year, and during major storms those rates can easily be ten times that amount in a single event."

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Texas
1:36 pm
Thu October 27, 2011

Drought's Economic Impact Spreading Across Texas

Photo by Molly Jade for Texas Tribune

A year into the driest stretch in recorded state history, most Texans are still far from running out of water. But the devastating economic impact is beginning to extend beyond rural agriculture and into tourism, real estate and other staples of more urbanized economies.

The tiny town of Robert Lee, the self-described "Playground of West Texas,” is already reeling from these problems. 

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Texas
1:31 pm
Thu October 27, 2011

Fewer Counties Keeping Burn Bans in Place

Several counties have lifted bans on outdoor burning, but the Texas Forest Service says that doesn't mean the fire danger isn't still quite high.
Image courtesy of Texas Forest Service

At one point in in August, a record 251 out of the state's 254 drought-stricken counties banned outdoor burning. But thanks to last week's cold front and showers, that number has dropped to 220 according to the Associated Press. All the counties around Austin still have bans on outdoor burning. Travis County just readopted one earlier this week.

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Texas
3:59 pm
Wed October 26, 2011

The Biggest Nuclear Bomb Being Dismantled In Texas

This undated handout photo provided by the National Nuclear Security Administration shows the United States' last B53 nuclear bomb. It was dismantled Tuesday at a plant outside Amarillo, Texas.

Anonymous ASSOCIATED PRESS

Originally published on Wed October 26, 2011 10:04 am

The Energy Department has quietly dismantled the last of its enormous B-53 nuclear bombs. Workers at a nuclear management plant just north of Amarillo, Texas, separated some 300 pounds of high explosive from the uranium that surrounds it inside the bomb.

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Texas
5:17 pm
Sat October 22, 2011

Immigration Changes Get Mention at Citizenship Workshop

Photo by KUT News

Austin residents looking to become U. S. citizens got some help Saturday navigating the system. Immigrant Services Network of Austin, a coalition of immigrant service organizations, hosted a free workshop.

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Economy
2:02 pm
Fri October 21, 2011

The Top 5 Stats From Today's Texas Jobs Report

Bureau of Labor Statistics

The latest job numbers were released by the Texas Workforce Commission today, and while there's no startling news to report, there are some interesting tidbits:

  1. Texas's employment advantage may be fading. The state's unemployment rate is up to 8.5 percent from 8.2 percent a year ago, while the national unemployment rate has fallen from 9.6 percent a year ago to 9.1 percent this month.
  2. Austin had the lowest unemployment rate among the five largest cities in Texas, at 7.4 percent (same as last month, but up from 7 percent a year ago). The highest? El Paso, at 10.6 percent (up a full point from a year ago).
  3. Much of the state's job creation has come in the private sector, which added 26,500 jobs. But...
  4. The public sector is taking a beating. It lost over 11,000 jobs in September, and has shed 33,700 jobs since September last year.
  5. The highest percentage of job gains in the state came in the "Professional and Business Services" category, which includes professions like accountants, lawyers, computer engineers and the like. They're up 5.3 percent in job gains since last September.

The full release from the commission can be found here, with notes by KUT News.

Justice
1:34 pm
Fri October 21, 2011

As Cost-Saving Measure, Texas Prisons Cut Lunch On Weekends

Originally published on Fri October 21, 2011 1:30 pm

The state of Texas already made waves in September when it decided to stop honoring death row inmates' final meal requests. The decision was prompted by the huge meal requested by white supremacist Lawrence Russell Brewer.

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Crime
11:28 am
Fri October 21, 2011

From Botched Morton Case, Hope Emerges in Cold Inquiry

Almost everything that Caitlin and Jesse Baker know about their mother, who was mysteriously murdered 23 years ago when they were small children, comes from memories shared by relatives and from fading family photos of the smiling, petite brunette.

Over the years, aunts and uncles told them stories about their protective and generous sister. Their father recalled the loving wife who seemed to live in her pink sweat suit. Their grandmother shared pictures of their mother’s favorite horse, Molly, and tattered newspaper clippings of articles she wrote as a student journalist.

But no one has been able to answer the question that has tormented the Baker children for years: Who entered their North Austin home on Jan. 13, 1988, and beat Debra Masters Baker to death?

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