Texas

Abortion and Women's Health
7:54 am
Tue August 5, 2014

Federal Trial Over Texas Abortion Regulations Continues in Austin

Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman's Health, stands outside the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in Austin.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

A trial over new abortion restrictions in Texas continues in Austin today. Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel heard the first day of arguments for and against two provisions: One, that abortion clinics must become surgical centers by Sept. 1 and two, that abortion physicians in McAllen and El Paso must receive admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of the clinic where they perform the procedure.

When the legal challenge to the law, known as House Bill 2, began, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Jan Soifer, argued the provisions will drastically reduce the number of abortion providers in Texas. 
Fewer than 10 facilities that meet the new requirements will be open, and all of them in the state’s major cities.

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HB2
7:47 am
Mon August 4, 2014

Abortion Rights Advocates Back in Court to Challenge House Bill 2

Abortion rights advocates are back in court on Aug.4, 2014 to argue against two provisions of the state’s new abortion law.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Abortion rights advocates are going back to court today to argue against two provisions of the state’s new abortion law. This isn’t the first time U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel has heard arguments against the newest abortion law in Texas, HB2. He struck down two provisions last year, but an appeals court overturned his decision in March.

This time, the law’s opponents are going after a provision that goes into effect in less than a month.

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Texas
2:29 pm
Fri August 1, 2014

State Contractor Pulls Out of Foster Care Redesign

Credit Todd Wiseman/Karolina Michalak/Felipe Hadler

The private contractor leading the state’s foster care redesign initiative has voluntarily terminated its contract with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

Providence Service Corporation of Texas has notified DFPS of its intention to terminate the contract through which it was caring for 1,100 foster children in 60 counties in North and West Texas as part of the state’s foster care redesign initiative. An increased reliance on private contractors is pivotal to the department's redesign initiative to streamline the foster care placement process and keep children closer to home.

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Immigration
9:29 am
Fri August 1, 2014

Central American Immigrants Are Welcomed in This Texas Town

Federal officials opened the doors to give a tour of the newly renovated detention facility in Karnes City, Texas, designed to house mothers and children aprehended at the border.
I

Today, buses with Central American mothers and children apprehended at the border  start arriving in Karnes City, about 54 miles southeast of San Antonio.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)  just finished remodeling a facility there. But unlike other cities, this detention center isn’t causing a stir in the community.

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Abortion and Women's Health
4:32 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Another Texas Abortion Clinic Closes, This Time in Austin

Planned Parenthood clinical assistant Nicki Bailey discusses the new abortion laws with a patient in Austin.
Eric Schlegel, Texas Tribune

A women’s health care provider, whose Austin location offered abortions, is closing its doors today. 

The clinic is run by Whole Woman's Health, whose president and CEO, Amy Hagstrom Miller, blames the closure on the state’s new abortion law. The law requires clinics to upgrade to surgical centers by Sept. 1.

"It’s a decision that the state has made," Hagstrom Miller says. "It’s been a real challenge to try and fight back and do everything that we can, but in the end there’s no way that we can afford to build an ambulatory surgical center or do that kind of remodeling."

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Texas
7:37 am
Thu July 31, 2014

Book News: George W. Bush Coming Out With Biography Of His Father

George H.W. Bush (left) congratulates his son George W. Bush as the two former presidents attend last year's dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas.
David J. Phillip AP

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 6:16 am

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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Texas
4:05 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Why a Tanker of Kurdish Oil is Stranded by the Galveston Coast

A stock photo of a ship in the Port of Galveston
flic.kr/p/5p2Sdj

Tensions between the government of Iraq and Kurds in the northern part of the country have once again reached a boiling point. Now, Baghdad is cutting off payments to Kurdistan, because of a controversy involving a tanker off the coast of Texas.

The semiautonomous region of Kurdistan has successfully exported several shipments of oil this year.  Baghdad opposed those exports, claiming that the oil belongs to the Iraqi people, and the use of its natural resources should be decided by the central government. Most recently, Baghdad successfully filed for a court order to keep one million barrels of crude oil from being unloaded in Galveston.

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Border & Immigration
9:46 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Texas Officials Justify Cost of Enhanced Security Operations at the Border

The heads of the Texas National Guard and the Texas Department of Public Safety answered questions from Texas lawmakers about the cost of shoring up security measures at the border at a State Capitol hearing on July 29, 2014.
Lizzie Chen for KUT News

The heads of the Texas National Guard and the Texas Department of Public Safety say they never recommended deploying National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border – as Gov. Rick Perry ordered earlier this month.

It came as some state lawmakers grilled officials on what’s being accomplished with the millions of dollars in extra spending aimed at shoring up security along the Texas-Mexico border. Up to 1,000 Texas National Guard troops are being deployed to the border for up to a year. It will cost the state up to $12 million a month, which includes money for training, even learning Spanish.

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Same-Sex Marriage
1:41 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

AG Files Brief Supporting Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Texas Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott speaks to supporters at Lavazza Espression on Congress Avenue in Austin.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office filed a brief on Monday arguing that Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage is constitutionally sound and a matter for voters, not courts, to decide. 

The brief was filed with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where the state is appealing a state district court judge’s February ruling that the ban is unconstitutional. The case pits two same-sex couples against Gov. Rick Perry, state Health Commissioner David Lakey and Abbott, who is also the Republican nominee for governor.

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Border & Immigration
11:14 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Migrant Children Have State, Federal Foster Care Competing for Parents

On June 24, 2014, volunteers gather at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, where the Rio Grande Valley Catholic Charities have a makeshift shelter to help handle the surge of immigrants who have crossed into the U.S. in recent weeks.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

The influx of children from Central America arriving at the Texas-Mexico border has many people asking how they can help.

One way people can help is by becoming foster parents – but acting as a foster parent for the federal government is different than being a foster parent for the state.

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Border & Immigration
10:02 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Can National Guard Troops Make Arrests Along the Texas Border?

Texas Adjudant General John Nichols speaks at a press conference on the deployment of the Texas National Guard to the border on July 21, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Can the National Guard troops being deployed to the border arrest and detain people? Only if Gov. Rick Perry says they can. But experts do have some concerns about giving law enforcement powers to a reserve military force.

From a legal standpoint, the National Guard has no authority to enforce federal immigration law, because the troops will be operating under the governor’s authority. In this case, Gov. Perry has called them up, and not President Barack Obama.

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Border & Immigration
4:40 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

How Can You Measure the Success of National Guard Troops on the Border?

Members of the Texas National Guard
flickr.com/texasmilitaryforces

The eyes of the nation are focused on the Texas-Mexico border, due to the humanitarian crisis involving undocumented and unaccompanied minors. This week, Gov. Rick Perry announced the deployment of 1,000 Texas National Guard Troops to the border.

Politically speaking, Gov. Perry’s message is that the Federal Government is failing in its duties. But in a story set to be published in Sunday’s Austin American-Statesman, investigative reporters Jeremy Schwartz and Eric Dexheimer pose a question: just what constitutes “mission accomplished?” 

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Border & Immigration
3:58 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

How Austin Can Help Unaccompanied Minors at the Border

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Unaccompanied minors and other immigrants continue to arrive at the border, creating a national dialogue on immigration reform.

President Obama is expected to meet with the presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras today to discuss the humanitarian crisis along the border.

Organizations and faith-based groups around the country are doing what they can to assist the minors. Austin is no exception – several organizations and churches are currently accepting donations. Here’s a roundup:

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Texas Foster Care
7:17 am
Fri July 25, 2014

After Child Deaths, Texas Lawmakers Examine Foster Care Practices

State lawmakers have had several committee meetings to discuss possible reform to the state's foster care system. Yesterday's meeting was the third in the past two months.
Credit David Garzon

Texas lawmakers have already convened several times this year to discuss rampant – and persistent -- problems in the state’s foster care system. On Thursday, another hearing at the Capitol took place to look into what can be changed.

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Border & Immigration
4:15 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

Who Are The Kids Of The Migrant Crisis?

Volunteers such as this woman — who's with a group that calls itself "Las Patronas" — throw bags of food and water to migrants in Veracruz, Mexico, who are headed toward the U.S.-Mexico border.
Courtesy of Deborah Bonello

Originally published on Thu July 24, 2014 5:23 pm

Since October, a staggering 57,000 unaccompanied migrant children have been apprehended at the southwestern U.S. border. Sometimes, they've been welcomed into the country by activists; other times they've been turned away by protesters.

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Border & Immigration
6:38 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Amid Wave Of Child Immigrants, Reports Of Abuse By Border Patrol

Thousands of young immigrants, many of them from Central America, have crossed illegally into the United States this year, causing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 24, 2014 1:21 pm

Some of the immigrant children crossing the border say they are being subjected to abusive and inhumane treatment in U.S. Border Patrol stations in South Texas. This includes frigid holding rooms, sleep deprivation, verbal and psychological abuse, inadequate food and water, denial of medical care, and worse.

Dozens of children have come forward to make complaints against Customs and Border Protection officers. The agency responds that any complaints are the result not of mistreatment, but of its stations being overwhelmed by the surge of minors.

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Texas
8:01 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Fort Hood Memorial Moves Forward But Still Needs Money

An artist's rendering of the pavilion at a memorial remembering the shootings at Fort Hood in 2009.
November 5, 2009 Ft. Hood Memorial

People trying to build a memorial for victims of the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood hope a ground breaking ceremony they held Tuesday will help raise the last amount of cash they need to complete the project. 

It's been almost five years since Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan opened fire at the Army post, killing 13 people and wounding more than 30. Hasan, 43, was sentenced to death last year by a military jury.

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Affordable Care Act
4:26 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Could Medicaid Expansion Boost the Texas Economy?

A new study from Families USA suggests taxi drivers are among the 1.5 million Texans who would get health insurance if Texas expanded Medicaid eligibility.
flickr.com/bionicteaching

If Texas accepted federal funding to expand Medicaid, roughly 1.5 million more people would have health insurance. Now a new study suggests more than half of them are people who work in service industries that help fuel the state’s economy.

The report by Families USA says the people in Texas who’d benefit most from closing the coverage gap are cashiers, drivers, cooks and servers, hotel clerks and construction workers, for example.

Many of them don’t earn enough to qualify for a tax subsidy under the Affordable Care Act, Dee Mahon with Families USA says.

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Border & Immigration
10:44 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Texas Sends National Guard Troops to Border, Despite Opposing Voices

From left: Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw, Gov. Rick Perry, Texas National Guard Maj. Gen. John Nichols and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst spoke at a press conference on border security on July 21, 2014 at the Texas State Capitol.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Gov. Rick Perry is sending National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border. He says the troops are needed, as the Border Patrol has been focusing on migrant children crossing the border illegally, and not criminal activity from drug and human traffickers.

Gov. Perry’s announcement comes a month after he directed the Legislature to spend millions of dollars increasing the number of Department of Public Safety officers near the border – a move Perry says it's working.

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Border & Immigration
1:55 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Watch: Gov. Perry's Border Announcement

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is ordering National Guard troops to the border with Mexico.

Gov. Perry says the U.S. Border Patrol is overwhelmed with the humanitarian needs of the tens of thousands of children coming in from Central America, and unable to devote enough of its resources to border security.

Perry is also calling on the federal government to pay for another 1,000 guard troops at the border until more Border Patrol officers can be brought in. The announcement follows last month’s deployment of Texas DPS resources to the Rio Grande.

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