Texas

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

Pie4all88/Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard: The Texas Attorney General’s office and the Harris County Attorney’s Office are going after shops selling the synthetic cannabinoid Kush. Instead of prosecuting users, the offices have jointly filed 10 lawsuits against Houston-area novelty stores , where up to 40 percent of sales come from the drug. One novelty store has agreed to a nearly $1.2 million settlement after an undercover sting operation.

Why I Won’t Fall for Fall Weather in Texas This Year

Sep 13, 2016
Pexels (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard: It’s September! It must be fall! I know this because you can’t raise an eyebrow right now without hearing about football games or school starting or the latest fall fashions. September’s on the calendar, in the newscasts, planted firmly in the zeitgeist. Thinking about it — this new, exciting season — I get a little shiver. Isn’t that a nip in the air I just felt? No, it’s just the air-conditioning going full throttle.

What Can Austin Do to Support Its Musicians?

Sep 13, 2016
Austin Anderson/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard: Austin bills itself as the “Live Music Capital” of the world. But a flood of newcomers to the city has produced some dire consequences for the very people who've earned the city that title – the musicians who can no longer afford to live there. Mayor Steve Adler says the city has reached a tipping point.

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From Texas Standard: Since the 1970s, federal law has stated that all children with disabilities are entitled to a free public education appropriate to their needs. Nationwide, the percentage of kids who receive special ed services is around 13 percent. But in Texas, that number is substantially lower. Just 8.5 percent of all public school kids in Texas are enrolled in special ed programs – the lowest percentage in the country. That number appears to be no mere accident – instead, it’s a rather specific objective.

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From Texas Standard: For years, Texas has led the nation in the number of executions, but the state's death chamber has been idle since April, and there have been several high-profile stays of execution. Could this be a sign of something broader going on when it comes to the death penalty in Texas?

Joy Diaz/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard: Many nights – somewhere in a Texas Child Protective Services office – there's a child sleeping, tucked in somewhere among the desks and computers instead of spending the night with a family. That’s because there are not enough families in Texas registered to foster kids who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. But the situation would be much worse for CPS without the help of these children’s extended families. Thousands of aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends around Texas volunteer to care for kids while they're in the system. CPS calls this type of care a kinship placement .

U.S. Army/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard: In Rosa Brooks ’ new book, “ How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon ,” she writes about how a post-9/11 U.S. military is embroiled in three, not two wars: "If I were a member of Congress right now, I would be hopping mad."

Texas Department of Public Safety

From Texas Standard: For a while, we've known that human trafficking is a big problem in Texas. But a new study from D.C. advocacy group called the Polaris Project looked at nearly a decade's worth of data and found that much of human trafficking in Texas operates in illicit bars and cantinas. My Lo Cook , director of Polaris' efforts in Mexico, says the cases in Houston center around cantinas, which researchers see as common venues for human trafficking in Southern California as well. Houston has more cases than other cities, Cook says, in part because local officials and organizations make the effort to link cases together and prosecute them.

Pete Szilagyi/Marfa Public Radio

A seemingly average Thursday morning in small-town Alpine, TX turned traumatic after a 14-year-old female freshman student shot and injured another female student before turning the gun on herself. Brewster County authorities said the shooter was found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, and the victim suffered non-life-threatening injuries. The identities of the shooter and the victim have not been released. In a press conference Thursday afternoon, Brewster County Sheriff...

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From Texas Standard: On September 11, 2001, Margaret Mathers was living in New Jersey and her husband Charles was on his way to a meeting at the World Trade Center. Mathers had scheduled a dentist appointment that morning but stayed home when a neighbor told her to turn on the TV after the first plane hit. They watched the second plane hit and Mathers remembers thinking, "We're at war. Somebody is at war with us and I don't know who it is."

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From Texas Standard: The Dallas Morning News is making some news of its own: the editorial board announced Tuesday that it recommends Hillary Clinton for president. Their refusal to endorse Donald Trump is the first time the paper hasn't endorsed the Republican presidential candidate in 52 years, since they sat out endorsing either candidate in 1964. It's also the first time the paper has endorsed a Democrat in 75 years – since FDR. Keven Ann Willey , editor of the Dallas Morning News...

Tamir Kalifa / Texas Tribune

The federal government is accusing Texas of circulating “inaccurate or misleading information” to poll workers and would-be voters about relaxed identification requirements for the November elections. “Limited funds are being spent on inaccurate materials,” the U.S. Department of Justice wrote in a legal filing Tuesday. The filing asked U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos to “issue corrections to past press releases and other public statements” by Texas officials and “update and...

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From Texas Standard: Editor's note: This story uses first names only because of an ongoing case with Child Protective Services. Since at least the 1970s, researchers in Texas have been calling substance use a "family affair." A study by the Texas Research Institute's Drug Abuse Clinic compared two groups of families similar to each other in every aspect – from socio-economic status to ethnic background. The only difference was that one group had at least one family member who was an addict. The study found fathers dealing with drugs were critical and arrogant, mothers were disenfranchised and children were bitter and resentful. That was in the '70s, but the story is not so different today.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

From Texas Standard: The debate over campus carry across Texas has been a noisy one – and nowhere’s been noisier than the University of Texas at Austin. You've likely heard about the student protests , the counter-protests, and, of course, the sex toys. But now a YouTube video has upped the ante on the outrage scale .

Matamoros Planning Commission

From Texas Standard : Texan and Mexican border cities are often interconnected - for example, Brownsville and its sister city of Matamoros are seen as one binational urban area. Thousands of people commute each day between the two cities for work and school, including Mauricio Ibarra. He's the planning director for the city of Matamoros and he has an idea for making the two cities feel even more connected: an international recreational and bike trail surrounded by museums, schools, and parks...

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From Texas Standard : About 10 percent of the country’s homeless youth live in Texas – that means more than 100,000 young people don’t have a steady place to live. Austin and San Antonio are two of three U.S. cities participating in a 100-day challenge to reduce a systemic aspect of youth homelessness. The short-term challenge is part of a long-term goal by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to end all youth homelessness by 2020. The goal is to see what works in Austin, San...

Ana Ramirez/Victoria Advocate

From Texas Standard : Texas oyster reefs have taken a beating over the past several years. It started with Hurricane Ike in 2008, followed by drought and then flooding. Now the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission is making some changes to how oysters are fished in Texas waters. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department field technicians dump a dredge full of oysters onto a boat in West Matagorda Bay. They’re counting dead and live oysters and looking for “spat” – or baby oysters less than an inch...

Reshma Kirpalani for KUT

In 2010, when the Bastrop Education Foundation approved a grant for a children's songwriting workshop, they had no idea what music would spring forth. The idea was for New York-based composer Jim Papoulis to travel to the Central Texas, meet with Bastrop County's school children and help them craft the lyrics for a tune. Papoulis was set to arrive in the fall of 2011. That September, the most destructive wildfires in Texas history struck Bastrop . "The question was 'should we do it? Is it...

Geralt/Pixabay (CC0)

From Texas Standard : Thanks to computers and cameras in things we use and wear, there’s more data available about us than ever before. Whatever you’re doing right now, you’re producing data. Whether you’re walking your dog, sitting in traffic, or jogging on the treadmill, you are leaving a trail of data points behind you like bread crumbs. James Pennebaker , University of Texas at Austin psychology professor, says much of that data is being tracked. “Every place I go, I know there’s records,...

D. Jude/Wikimedia Commons (CC0)

From Texas Standard : Texas is being invaded by an aquatic menace. No, I’m not talking about Alligators or Barracudas, I’m talking about Zebra mussels . At the very least you’ve probably heard that name in passing, as scientists and state officials alike have labeled them the scourge of Texas lakes and waterways. But what exactly is a Zebra mussel? Robert McMahon , is a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. “They’re Bivalve – the...

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