News, policy discussions, and major events happening in or related to Texas, told from an Austin perspective

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

The way people in Texas define sexual assault has broadened quite a lot over the last ten years. Texas law prohibits not only physical sexual assault, but also forcing someone to participate in photos or movies and unwanted sexual experiences while intoxicated and unable to consent.

According to a new study by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, sexual assault in Texas is much more common now than it was about 10 years ago.


It is Hispanic Heritage Month – a heritage that runs so deep in Texas that the original contracts of the first Anglo-American settlers who came to what would become the state of Texas were all handwritten in Spanish.

U.S. Army, flickr.com/soldiersmediacenter

The unemployment rate for veterans dropped a bit in 2014, but still, veterans are more likely to be unemployed than non-veterans.

The unemployment rate among women veterans, for example, was 8.5 percent in 2014, compared to 6.2 percent among non-veteran women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

A program from the Texas Veterans Commission is trying to change that, by teaching veterans and their spouses how to be small business owners — something Duncan McGhee loves to do.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

For many of the people who survived the Memorial Day weekend flood last May, the destruction isn’t yet a part of the past.

So this weekend, volunteers started going out to the hard-hit areas to help out, and they're asking for help from anyone able to join them.

When somebody asks you where you were on Sept. 11, 2001, how do you answer?

If you were in New York City, there's a health organization that might be looking for people like you.

From Texas Standard:

Picture this: A prominent Republican speaks at one of the country's most liberal enclaves, The University of California at Berkeley. Not only is it a full house, he gets a standing ovation.

Image via Flickr/Mark Taylor (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Tuesday it was the iconic song from Rocky – “Eye of the Tiger” – used at the Kim Davis and Mike Huckabee rally.

Image via Texas Observer, courtesy Progreso ISD

From Texas Standard:

A "systematic breakdown" is how a recent report from the Texas Education Agency described the Progreso School District.

Flickr/Anita Gould (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

We talk a lot about how the trajectory of the nation turned in the months and years that followed September 11, 2001. One of the many lives that took a turn that day was that of David Peters.

He was a former Marine who reenlisted as an Army chaplain after 9/11. Peters was attached to a combat unit on the ground in Iraq and then served as a chaplain at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in New York. Although he now works and lives in Austin and the surrounding area, on September 11, 2015, Father Peters will return to New York. He’ll be giving a sermon at St. Paul’s Chapel near ground zero.

Courtesy of Abdulrahman Zetoun

From Texas Standard:  

Of the millions displaced by the Syrian civil war and the atrocities committed by ISIS terrorists, hundreds of those trying to escape the violence have ended up here, in Texas.

One of those individuals, Abdulrahman Zetoun, arrived in America back in January. In Syria, life was riddled with violence.

"We used to wake up and sleep with the sounds of bombs and explosions and machine guns," Zetoun says. "To see every day dead bodies and injured peoples on the sides of the roads."

Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

From Texas Standard:   

After a guest editorial was published in the Houston Chronicle warned of a potential meltdown in the state's healthcare safety net, Governor Greg Abbott sent an email from his personal account to a top adviser asking to "see the financials" of author Kenneth Janda's company, Community Health Choice, a non-profit health insurer.

Photo by Jarekt/wikimedia commons

A group of health care providers is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review its challenge against a Texas abortion law. Earlier this year, a federal appeals court upheld two provisions of the 2013 law, but the Supreme Court allowed the provisions to go on hold while the plaintiffs appealed the lower court’s decision.  

Tamir Khalifa/Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday endorsed new laws to further tighten restrictions on Texas abortion providers, including a proposal that likely would bar fetal tissue donation.

Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram

From the Texas Tribune

FORT WORTH — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's first courtroom appearance as a criminal defendant was a 30-minute affair in which Paxton's lead lawyer quit for unspecified reasons, the attorney general requested that no cameras be allowed at his trial and the judge admonished everyone to limit public statements about the case.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

An annual study released by researchers at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute shows just how universal the experience of sitting in traffic is for Austin commuters. Capital city drivers spent a total of 51 million hours delayed on the road in 2014, putting Austin at number 29 on a list of cities with the worst traffic delays.

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

The Texas agency that handles child abuse and neglect cases started using a system this week aimed at identifying the riskiest cases.

Pixabay user Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

From Texas Standard:

Weather experts have a way with words – like 'polar vortex' and 'superstorm' – and now, 'Godzilla' El Niño. Of course, forecasting is an imperfect science, but if predictions hold, Texas could soon see some serious rainfall.

For now, most of the state has been pretty dry so it may be the perfect time to make a few repairs and plans in preparation for potential downpours.

Kimberly Lankford is a contributing editor with Kiplinger. She joined the Texas Standard to advise us on how to prioritize.

UT Austin Team to Develop Campus Carry Plans

Aug 20, 2015
Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: University of Texas at Austin President Greg Fenves announced Thursday that he has convened a working group of students, faculty and staff to recommend new rules to comply with a state law allowing people to carry guns on public college campuses.

State lawmakers passed the campus carry legislation this spring, but it doesn't go into effect until 2016. It was originally written to allow the concealed carry of handguns on virtually all areas of campus, but it was amended at the last minute to allow schools greater autonomy to choose where guns can and cannot be carried. Each policy must be approved by the school's governing board of regents, and will probably face strict scrutiny from gun rights advocates and opponents of the law. 

Guatemalan Activist Granted Stay of Deportation

Aug 18, 2015
Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

Sulma Franco, an LGBTQ activist from Guatemala, was granted a stay of deportation today by immigration officials in San Antonio. She traveled this morning from Austin to San Antonio with a group of activists and supporters to submit her application for the stay.

Franco had been facing deportation, and since June she'd been living in sanctuary at Austin's First Unitarian Universalist Church. Franco requested asylum in the U.S., but was denied based on a “clerical error,” according to activists working for her cause.

In Guatemala, LGBTQ activists have been targeted and killed, Franco argued. She says that she feared for her life there.


Austin, Houston, Brenham and parts of Alabama will be the first to see Blue Bell ice cream back in stores later this month.

The Brenham-based company said today it would start rolling products back out Aug. 31, after listeria contamination at its production facilities forced it to recall all of its products and shut down its factories for cleaning. The contamination was linked to 10 illnesses, three of which resulted in deaths.