Texas

Texas
2:48 pm
Thu September 22, 2011

Study Shows New Texas Jobs Going to Immigrants

Immigrants wait to hop a train heading towards the U.S./Mexico boarder.
KUT News

About 80 percent of all jobs created in Texas since 2007 have been filled by legal and illegal immigrants. That's according to the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that wants to limit immigration.

The group's new study cites census data that claims that, of the 279,000 jobs created in the last 5 years, 225,000 jobs were taken by immigrants. 93 percent of those workers were not U.S. citizens. 

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Texas
1:32 pm
Thu September 22, 2011

TDCJ Will End Final Feasts Before Executions

The Walls Unit at the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville, where the state conducts executions.
Image courtesy flickr.com/BizarreRecords

The long-standing tradition of allowing death row inmates one last special meal of their choosing before they enter the execution chamber ends today, said Brad Livingston, executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

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Texas
4:19 pm
Tue September 20, 2011

U.S. Supreme Court Stays Cleve Foster Execution

Cleve Foster was scheduled to be executed tonight for the rape and murder of a Fort Worth woman in 2002.
Photo by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice

For the second time in a week, the U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily stayed an execution in Texas.

Cleve Foster, a former Army recruiter, was scheduled to die this evening for the 2002 rape and murder of 28 year-old Nyanuer Pal, of Fort Worth. Foster's co-defendant died in prison last year.

This is the third time the high court has halted Foster's execution. Lawyers have argued he received ineffective counsel during his trial and earlier appeals.

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wildfires
10:54 am
Tue September 20, 2011

Cause of Bastrop Fire "Likely Electrical"

Photo by KUT

UPDATED 1:55 pm: The full Texas Forest Service report on the cause of the Bastrop Fire is available here.

Earlier: The 34,000-acre Bastrop Fire was "most likely electrical" in nature.  The Texas Forest Service has concluded its investigation into the blaze that destroyed more than 1,500 homes and claimed two lives.

The fire began on Labor Day, when wind speeds were gusting to 40 miles an hour and relative humidity was down to 10 percent.

TFS released the cause of the blaze but not a copy of the investigation report. KUT News has filed an Open Records Request to obtain the information. TFS has up to ten business days to respond. 

The Texas Forest Service says the Bastrop the fire is 95 percent contained.

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drought
2:06 pm
Fri September 16, 2011

Biologists Set To Rescue Fish From Drying Texas Rivers

Originally published on Fri September 16, 2011 11:34 am

This news story from the Associated Press gives you an idea of just how bad drought conditions are in Texas:

Wildlife biologists on Friday will evacuate two species of minnows from the shrinking waters of a West Texas river in the first of what could be several rescue operations involving fish affected by the state's worst drought in decades.

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wildfire
1:15 pm
Fri September 16, 2011

Bastrop Effort Shifts To Recovery, Rebuilding

Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Firefighting efforts are winding down in Bastrop County as crews finally tame the restless blaze that has blackened 34,000 acres. No fire is burning outside the containment lines. The blaze is now considered 80 percent contained.

Weather over the next few days is “becoming our friend,” Bastrop County Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Fisher said, noting that wind speeds and temperatures are lower while humidity is above 50 percent.

“We’re beginning to see sort of the end of this,” Fisher said.

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wildfires
9:51 am
Fri September 16, 2011

Bastrop Fire Evacuees Return To Find Only Ashes

Jeans hang on a clothesline next to a burned down trailer home in Bastrop, Texas. A wildfire raging for nearly two weeks has blackened 50 square miles and destroyed more than 1,500 homes.
Erich Schlegel AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu September 15, 2011 8:39 pm

For 17 years, Linda and Roger Ward lived in their two-story dream house in a subdivision in Bastrop County, southeast of Austin, Texas. They loved to sit on their back deck and listen to the wind in the pines.

On the afternoon of Sunday, Sept. 4, everything changed.

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Texas
9:51 am
Fri September 16, 2011

Texas Execution Put On Hold By Supreme Court

Originally published on Fri September 16, 2011 6:30 am

Duane Buck, "a black man convicted of a double murder in Texas 16 years ago was at least temporarily spared from lethal injection" on Thursday when the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to "his lawyers' claims that race played an improper role in his sentencing," The Associated Press writes.

As the wire service adds:

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wildfires
11:53 am
Thu September 15, 2011

Last of Bastrop Fire Evacuees Return Home

Evacuated residents listen intently during a meeting last week at the Bastrop Convention Center. The last of the evacuees were allowed to return to their properties this morning.
Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

The remaining evacuees from the Bastrop Complex wildfire are returning home today, some of them still unsure if their houses were among the more than 1,600 that are now estimated to have been destroyed.

The last evacuation orders were lifted at 10 a.m. this morning in the neighborhoods of Eastern Tahitian Village, Pine Forest, McAllister Road, and the remainder of ColoVista.

Twelve days after the wildfire broke out in Bastrop County, firefighters have contained 75 percent of the fire zone’s 50 mile perimeter. While crews battled numerous flare ups overnight, no additional homes were burned.

 “They’re working day and night, and we think that every day that goes by, we’ll be making it safer and safer and safer for our citizens,” Bastrop County Emergency Operations Coordinator Mike Fisher said during today’s morning briefing. “I feel very comfortable that we’re not going to have a major rekindle of the magnitude that we’ve seen on the Labor Day weekend.”

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nasa
1:17 pm
Wed September 14, 2011

NASA Unveils Next Generation 'Monster' Space Rocket

Artist concept of SLS launching.
NASA

Originally published on Wed September 14, 2011 1:02 pm

If things go without a hitch NASA announced that its new Space Launch System could take its first manned test flight in 2017.

The new design looks a lot like the Apollo era rockets that took American astronauts to the moon, but NASA said the new spacecraft is much more powerful than any other rocket they've made before and could set up astronauts for deep space exploration. The SLS will be NASA's first exploration-calss vehicle since the Saturn V took astronauts to the moon.

At the unveiling of the plans Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) called it a "monster rocket."

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wildfires
11:39 am
Wed September 14, 2011

Bastrop Fire Situation “Getting Stable”

A mail box label notifies letter carriers that a Bastrop fire evacuee has yet to return home.
Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Firefighters in Bastrop successfully battled about 18 flare-ups yesterday as winds gusted to 20 miles per hour and the relative humidity dropped below 15 percent. The weather outlook is slightly worse for today, but fire officials are optimistic they can contain the stubborn wildfire that has persisted for 11 days.

Most of yesterday’s flare-ups were in areas already blackened by the 34,000-acre wildfire. Fire crews and helicopters moved quickly to extinguish them. About 600 firefighters are still working on the Bastrop Complex blaze.

Meteorologists predict slightly stronger winds and low humidity today, but nothing like the 40 mile per hour gusts that initially fanned the flames on Labor Day weekend when the fire began.

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drought
5:38 pm
Tue September 13, 2011

WilCo Nixes Smoking In Parks, Hays Extends Burn Ban

Southwest Williamson County Regional Park is one the places affected by the smoking ban.
Photo by City of Round Rock http://www.flickr.com/photos/cityofroundrock/

Williamson County followed Austin’s lead today and banned smoking in parks, nature preserves, and along trails. The parched conditions make it ripe for wildfires. Outdoor cooking is still allowed as long as it’s done in an enclosure that contains all flames and sparks.

Austin banned smoking and charcoal grilling in parks back in April. The restriction will remain in effect during the Austin City Limits music festival, which takes place in Austin’s Zilker Park this weekend.

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wildfires
5:18 pm
Tue September 13, 2011

Bastrop State Park To Be Closed Through October

Scorched trees in Bastrop State Park.
Photo by Mose Buchele, KUT News

Don’t make any plans to visit Bastrop State Park at least until November. Texas Parks and Wildlife officials say the area will be closed to public so firefighters can extinguish hot spots and conduct damage assessments after a wildfire tore through most of the 6,500 acre park.

Another big job: cutting and mulching downed trees and left over timber that could serve as fuel for a future fire.

New satellite imagery shows less of the park was damaged than initially estimated.

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Texas
4:02 pm
Tue September 13, 2011

Texas Poverty Grows By 9 Percent In One Year

Photo by The Trucking Tourist http://www.flickr.com/photos/brianlromig/

Almost one in five Texans is living at or below the federal poverty line, according to fresh data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The increase from 4.26 million in 2009 to 4.63 million in 2010 represents an increase of almost 9 percent.

The federal poverty threshold for a two parent family of two is $22,314 per year.

“That’s a pretty meager existence for families to be able to make ends meet and provide all the basic things we need have a healthy, productive lifestyle,” Center for Public Policy Priorities senior researcher Frances Deviney told KUT News.

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wildfires
2:58 pm
Tue September 13, 2011

Pictures of Bastrop State Park Fire Damage

All but 100 of the 6,000 acre Bastrop State Park was burned by a wildfire that tore across the county last week. The fire is now 70 percent contained, and the total burn zone is 34,000 acres. KUT's Mose Buchele toured the Bastrop State Park today and captured these pictures of the damage. Click on the image to read the caption.

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