Texas

Affordable Care Act
4:50 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Even Texans With Health Insurance Struggle to Afford It, Study Suggests

Texas still has the highest rate of uninsured people in the U.S. The Health Reform Monitoring Survey-Texas report says even some people with health insurance are struggling to pay for it.
healthcare.gov

Texas still has the highest rate of uninsured people in the country, about one in four, and a new survey, the Health Reform Monitoring Survey-Texas report, suggests even some people with health insurance are struggling to pay for it.  

The report looked at how Texans were feeling in September about health care and insurance just before the Affordable Care Act health insurance marketplace launched. Vivian Ho, an economist with Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, helped produce the report. She says they're trying to measure the impact of the health care law in Texas.

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Religion
9:57 am
Wed February 19, 2014

'Crypto-Jews' In The Southwest Find Faith In A Shrouded Legacy

Rabbi Stephen Leon leads a Friday night service at B'nai Zion synagogue in El Paso, Texas. Leon has converted crypto-Jews in the region.
Courtesy of Peter Svarzbein/ mongovision.com

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 11:32 am

Code Switch has been writing about some overlooked cultural interactions that have helped shape what Jewish identity is today, and we continue the series with this post about the murky and fascinating history of crypto-Jews in the Southwest.

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Fort Hood
8:04 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Video: Site of Fort Hood Massacre Demolished, Memorial to Be Built

In August 2013, a military jury convicted Nidal Hasan and sentenced him to death. The appeals process is likely to drag on for years.
Landov

It was over four years ago when Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan entered the troop-filled soldier processing room at Fort Hood and opened fire with a laser sighted pistol.

Yesterday, the Fort Hood Directorate of Public Works confirmed demolition of Building 42003, the soldier processing room where most of the attack took place.

Video of the demolition – seen below – shows a backhoe tearing into an exterior wall of the building and pulling pieces of it to the ground. The November 2009 attack left 13 people dead and more than 30 wounded.

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Valentine's Day
2:17 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

On Border, Flowers an Unlikely Form of Contraband

Ivan Pierre Aguirre for Texas Tribune

EL PASO — The flowers that decorate offices, homes and restaurants along the Mexico border have been inspected as closely at border crossings as many door panels and car trunks, well-known hiding places used by drug mules to export heroin, cocaine and marijuana.

In the weeks before Valentine’s Day, flower shipments passing through Mexico and into the United States have surged. But nestled in those floral arrangements may be tiny pests and diseases that can wreak havoc with domestic plants in the United States. The job of preventing those pests from entering the country falls to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents who inspect all plants that pass through the border crossings in Texas and elsewhere.

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Aging in Texas
9:10 am
Fri February 14, 2014

In Texas, Elderly Population Gets Help from Increasingly Older Caregivers

Henrietta City, left, helps Betty Finn at her apartment in Austin on Feb. 12, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

As older Americans make up a greater percentage of the population, more of them are finding themselves in need of home care workers.

That workforce is aging as well, and Texas is no exception. 

Take Henrietta City. She's in her early 60s and she helps Betty Finn in her early 80s every week. On a recent afternoon that meant trying to hang a clock on a wall of Finn’s apartment, but the work takes a lot of different forms. 

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Same-Sex Marriage
8:35 am
Thu February 13, 2014

Same-Sex Marriage Supporters in Texas Await Federal Judge's Decision

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia is slated to rule soon on a case challenging Texas’ constitutional ban of same-sex marriages.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/fabliaux

A U.S. district judge is slated to rule soon on a case challenging Texas’ constitutional ban of same-sex marriages. The judge heard arguments Wednesday in a federal court in San Antonio. 

The plaintiffs in the case are two same-sex couples – one lives in the Austin area and another near Dallas. They’re asking for a preliminary injunction on Texas’s law. But even if U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia,  a Clinton appointee, finds the state ban unconstitutional, plaintiffs' attorneys don’t expect that we’ll see the long lines of gay couples waiting to get married – like we did after a recent decision in Utah.

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Texas
2:09 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

How the Ongoing Drought is Affecting Texas BBQ

The Texas drought has caused a spike in beef prices.
flickr.com/cpencis

Barbecue is sacrosanct in the Lone Star State, with brisket being arguably the most Texan of dishes. But since 2006, Texas' extended drought has proved a problem for ranchers. In 2011 – the driest year on record – many cattle ranchers gave up, choosing to sell off as they watched their land dry up.

That wave of sell-offs not only affected Texas ranchers, but also affected the bounty of beef ribs, chopped beef and beautifully marbled brisket throughout the state. Texas Monthly BBQ editor Daniel Vaughn tells Texas Standard's David Brown it's not only caused beef prices to rise, but could affect the taste and quality of Texas barbecue for years to come.

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Texas
5:56 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

How Did the Magna Carta End Up in Houston?

Hereford Cathedral archivist Rosalind Caird examines the Magna Carta in
Photo courtesy Hereford Cathedral

This Friday, a rare copy of the Magna Carta and an accompanying King's Writ will go on display in Houston at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Known as one of the most important documents in history, the Magna Carta was written and signed by King John and England's feudal barons in 1215. It directly inspired international constitutional law and the tenets upon which the U.S. Constitution is based.

So why has this rare copy — one of only four in existence — traveled from its home at Hereford Cathedral in England to Houston of all places?

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Same-Sex Marriage
8:49 am
Tue February 11, 2014

Will Texas' Same-Sex Couples Benefit From New Federal Protections?

Cori Samilpa of Austin waves an LGBT flag as the 2013 Austin Pride Parade makes its way down Congress Avenue.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

The U.S. Department of Justice says it will extend federal protections to all U.S. same-sex couples married legally – regardless of where they live.

That includes couples living in Texas – which has banned such marriages. So what does this federal decision mean for the state?

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Texas
11:24 am
Mon February 10, 2014

Governor Candidates Sparring Over 'Third World' Remark

Laura Buckman / Bob Daemmrich

The latest debate between the major candidates for governor is taking place in the letters to the editor section of McAllen's newspaper, The Monitor. The sparring began after remarks about the border made by Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, in which he compared public corruption in South Texas to “third-world country practices.”

Abbott made the comment during a campaign stop in Dallas last week. Democrats immediately took issue with his comparison. His expected Democratic opponent, state Sen. Wendy Davis, joined them with a letter to The Monitor on Sunday. She called on Abbott to apologize for his remarks, disputing his comparison and calling it hurtful to the state and harmful to economic development in border communities.

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University of Texas
8:14 pm
Sun February 9, 2014

Sources: Cigarroa to Step Down as UT Chancellor

UT Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa at the House Select Committee hearing on Dec. 18, 2013
Credit photo by: Bob Daemmrich

Francisco Cigarroa, the chancellor of the University of Texas System, will announce Monday that plans to step down to become the head of the pediatric surgery unit at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, three sources tell The Texas Tribune.

Cigarroa's intention to resign his post was first reported late Sunday by the Austin American-Statesman. A Sunday release by the system said Cigarroa and Paul Foster, the chairman of the Board of Regents, will appear together at a Monday morning news conference at which the chancellor will make a "special announcement."

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Affordable Care Act
7:44 pm
Sat February 8, 2014

Refugees in Texas Face Hurdles Signing Up for Obamacare Plans

Pastor John Monger, top right, worries about refugees understanding the ins and outs of the Affordable Care Act.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

This story is a result of a partnership with the Austin-American Statesman’s Tim Eaton and Kelly West. You can find more at Statesman.com.

By the end of March,  all people in the U.S. legally must have health insurance – or pay a tax penalty next year. That includes refugees, who often lack the English skills to understand the ins and outs of the insurance system.

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Texas
1:54 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Photos: Mack Brown & Wife Sally Honored by City

Mayor Lee Leffingwell proclaims January 30th as "Mack and Sally Brown Day." A small ceremony was held for the couple in the council chambers at City Hall.
Sam Ortega for KUT News

Former Longhorns head coach Mack Brown and wife  Sally were honored by the City of Austin last night.

Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell issued a proclamation marking Thursday, Jan. 30 as “Mack and Sally Brown Day” in the capitol city. Brown resigned in December after 16 seasons with 158-48 record, being replaced by Louisville’s Charlie Strong.

See photos of the event in the slideshow above.

Education
7:48 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Fewer Social Studies Requirements for Texas Students Worry Advocates

Next year, high school students will only have to take three years of social studies to graduate instead of four, which has advocates concerned about the role of social studies in an increasingly global society.
Ryan Stanton, Flickr

The State Board of Education will make its final decision today on new high school graduation requirements. The changes come after state lawmakers passed a bill last year that reduces the number of required courses to graduate. Among the changes: students only have to take three social studies classes to graduate instead of four.

In the early 1990s, Texas became the first state to require students to take four social studies classes to graduate. The change back to three has some worried that Texas students won’t be as prepared for an increasingly global society.

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Texas
11:26 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Almost Half of Texas Lacks Savings to Cover Job Loss, Medical Emergency

Volunteers sort food at the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas. A new report suggests almost half of Texas households aren’t financially prepared in the event of a job loss or health emergency.
Credit KUT News

Another national report card is out, and Texas households are still struggling to beef up their savings. 

Almost half of Texas households don’t have enough savings to pay for basic expenses for three months, which means most families aren’t prepared in the event of a job loss or health emergency.

According to the Corporation for Enterprise Development’s 2014 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard, the state’s policies are also not helping residents achieve financial security.

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Texas
8:41 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Texas' Income Gap Widens as Minority Populations Grow

In Texas, poverty rates among Hispanics and African Americans are about 2.5 to 3 times higher than whites.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address tonight. He’s expected to make a big deal about economic mobility and reducing income inequality in the U.S.

But the challenges are substantial when it comes to narrowing the divide. Texas has the eighth highest level of income inequality,  based on 2010 Census data.

"In terms of Texas, we have a lot of upper end income inequality," says Mark Frank, an economics professor at Sam Houston State University. "We have a lot of income inequality because we have the top 1 percent or .01 percent."

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Abortion
7:06 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Is Texas' Abortion Law an Undue Burden? What's at Stake in New Rules

A federal appeals court is deciding whether certain provisions of Texas’ new abortion law are unconstitutional by using the undue burden test.
photo courtesy Bobak Ha'Eri

A federal appeals court is deciding whether certain provisions of Texas’ new abortion law are unconstitutional.

In making that decision, judges will have to weigh those provisions using what’s known as “the undue burden test.”

For two decades, judges have been weighing the constitutionality of abortion regulations using this concept.

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Texas
3:17 pm
Sun January 26, 2014

Hospital In Texas Removes Life Support From Brain-Dead Woman

Timm Hobbs, along with his two sons, Keegan and Layton, were part of a group near John Peter Smith Hospital supporting the decision of JPS in the case of Marlise Munoz and her baby earlier this month.
Ben Noey Jr. MCT/Landov

Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 9:08 am

A Fort Worth, Texas, woman who was 14 weeks pregnant when she was found unconscious and brain-dead after suffering a pulmonary embolism, has been taken off life support after a weeks-long court battle by the hospital to keep the ventilator on.

A ventilator that had kept Marlise Munoz's heart and lungs functioning for two months was switched off at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, a family attorney said.

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Texas
3:16 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Judge Orders Pregnant, Brain-Dead North Texas Woman Removed From Life Support

Marlise Munoz, right, has been on life support since November. Her husband, Erick, is on the left.
Facebook

Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 5:04 pm

A state district judge has ruled that Marlise Muñoz, the brain-dead North Texas woman who’s 22 weeks pregnant, must be removed from life support by 5 p.m. Monday.

The decision Friday afternoon comes after John Peter Smith Hospital declared publicly for the first time that Muñoz has indeed been brain dead since late November. The hospital also says the fetus inside Muñoz is "not viable."

For weeks, hospital officials had said she isn’t dead and that her condition is serious.

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Affordable Care Act
7:40 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

It's Official: Texas OKs Extra Rules, Training for Obamacare Navigators

Texas Insurance Commissioner Julia Rathgeber listened to testimony at a public hearing on proposed rules for health insurance navigators in Austin on Dec. 20, 2013.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

Texas now has extra requirements for Affordable Care Act navigators who help consumers find their way around the federally-run health insurance marketplace. 

Beginning at the end of 2013 and lasting through early January, the Texas Department of Insurance listened to public testimony and received more than 300 pages of written comments on the proposed rules.

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