Alexandra Hart

Texas Standard assistant producer
Dion Hinchcliffe/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

We’re three days into 2018 – how are your New Year’s resolutions going? If you stumble along the way, you’re not alone; some research shows that up to 80 percent of people who make a resolution will have given up on it by February.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT News

From Texas Standard.

As we make the turn from 2017 to 2018, one of the big areas we ought to keep an eye on is the economy. The jobs Texans do in the future will look a little different than they have in the past. That’s of course in part due to the impacts of technology, but it also has to do with the needs of the community.

Dr. Ray Perryman, who heads the economic and financial analysis firm the Perryman Group in Waco, says the biggest gains will be in health care.

Image via Flickr/mwwile (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

You almost can’t talk about the Texas economy without mentioning the oil and gas industry. Much of the state’s wealth, and its global image, is tied to energy production. But the oil market is a fickle beast.

In a new piece for The New Yorker, staff writer and native Texan Lawrence Wright tracks the boom and bust cycles of the state’s energy industry, and looks at whether the state’s fortunes might always be beholden to black gold.

From Texas Standard.

Among the items on a busy Congressional agenda this week was a little-noticed vote on reauthorization and possible expansion of the legal authority for one of the biggest NSA surveillance operations ever authorized against U.S. citizens. An outcry from privacy advocates and a bipartisan group in Congress has, at least temporarily, stalled the extension.

Yuri Samoilov/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

Multiple school districts in north and northeast Texas were notified by the Texas Department of Agriculture recently that they were likely exposed to a data breach. The warning estimates that personal information of some 700 students across 39 districts could have been leaked when an employee’s state-issued laptop was hit with a ransomware attack.

10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs Office, U.S. Army

From Texas Standard.

As more high-ranking men are dropped from prominent positions due to sexual harassment allegations, workplaces are taking a hard look at policies and training around the issue. But what if current harassment training practices are doing more harm than good? Some research suggests that they may be. And if what employers are doing isn’t working, what does work?

Larry Lamsa/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

The University of Texas System is looking to add a new campus – in New Mexico.

Earlier this week, the Board of Regents narrowly approved a bid to run the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The school joined 40 other entities hoping to manage the lab, which is known for developing nuclear weapons during World War II. The lab continues to manage some of the nation’s nuclear assets, and does significant research in the areas of cybersecurity and other technology fields.

Galveston Bay Dolphin Research and Conservation Program

From Texas Standard.

Much debris has been cleared out, but three months after Harvey’s landfall, the ecological damage is still being assessed. Not long after the storm clouds cleared, oyster and shrimp farmers lamented the hit to their livelihoods from extensive rains and runoff.

But researchers at the University of Houston at Clear Lake have been looking at the storm’s effect on other marine life, too – and they’ve discovered that bottlenose dolphins, have developed some puzzling ailments after the storm. Kristi Fazioli, a research associate with the Environmental Institute of Houston at the University of Houston Clear Lake, helps study this population.

Divya Darsi/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

The drug war between the Mexican government and drug cartels has been raging ever since then-President Felipe Calderon declared a crackdown on narcos in December 2006. Hundreds of thousands have died, and that’s not even counting the mass kidnappings, with innocent people disappearing without a trace.

Ariel Dulitzky has been looking into some of these disappearances. The University of Texas law professor was appointed in 2010 by the United Nations Human Rights Council to a working group investigating the increase in kidnappings. His new report looks into some of these disappearances.

Lynda Gonzalez for KUT

From Texas Standard:

It is impossible to calculate the loss suffered by the survivors of the shooting at Sutherland Springs. Even if victims tried to sue for damages, the most obviously culpable person – the shooter – is dead. That’s often the case at the end of such tragedies.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

The cost of college continues to creep higher and higher – and financial aid isn’t keeping up.

More Texans are receiving those hefty student loan bills in the mail after graduation, but is college still worth the investment?

Nonprofit online college WGU Texas took the temperature of how Texans are feeling about the state of higher education in their annual poll, which you can read here.

Josh Blank of Strategic Research Associates conducted the study, and he says most Texans are still on board with higher ed.

Pavel Mezihorak for KUT News.

From Texas Standard.

With more options for transportation, could it be time to ditch the personal car completely?

Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin have created a new tool to help people make that call. It’s called Ride or Drive, and it calculates the cost of car ownership versus relying on transportation networking companies like your Lyfts and Ubers.

Dr. Todd Davidson, a research associate at the University of Texas at Austin’s Energy Institute and the co-creator of the Ride or Drive web tool, says they built the online calculator so people could evaluate their own personal situations.

Alexandra Hart

From Texas Standard:

Two Texas teams are heading to California to compete in this weekend’s SpaceX hyperloop competition.

Four years ago, SpaceX founder Elon Musk published a white paper outlining a new concept in mass transit. The idea is to shuttle people around in pods, traveling at high speeds. Since Musk made his proposal, engineers have been working to perfect that technology, hoping to make the hyperloop a reality.

Photo courtesy of Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi

From Texas Standard:

Texas A&M–Corpus Christi is going from the Gulf Stream to the TV screen.

The coastal university will be featured on the  "Shark Week" television series Wednesday, displaying artificial reefs for the Gulf Coast that are designed to attract wildlife in areas where the ocean floor is largely made up of mud or sand.

Flickr/Thomas Hawk (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Walking outside lately, you've probably noticed Texas' triple-digit temperatures. For those living or working in some of the state's prisons, going outside isn't even required to feel the heat, because some units do not have air-conditioning. Inmates have sued to get some relief, and this week they were handed a victory of sorts.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT Austin

From Texas Standard:

Soon, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) will begin billing local police departments across Texas for any lab work done by the agency. The service used to be free but DPS is now charging in order to make up for budget cuts to its lab system made during the regular legislative session.

Jeff Heimsath / KUT News

From Texas Standard:

The 2016 election campaign featured much concern for the fate of coal miners and auto workers, whose jobs have been swept away by automation and globalization. Today, there may be another group at risk for large-scale cuts – retail workers.

Photo Courtesy of Houston Forensic Science Center

From Texas Standard:

By now you’ve likely heard of fentanyl, one of the narcotics at the center of the nation’s opioid crisis. But now, authorities in Houston are issuing an urgent warning that goes beyond the narrative of addiction. Officials have found a powerful analogue of fentanyl, carfentanil, a drug so powerful that mere skin contact can lead to lethal exposure.

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From Texas Standard:

President Donald Trump has called the North American Free Trade Agreement "the worst trade deal in the history of the world." But a group of Texas business leaders begs to differ. In a step toward preserving what works about NAFTA, the Texas Association of Business and Texas Business Leadership Council have formed the Texas-Mexico Trade Coalition.

Bullion Vault/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The Texas Bullion Depository is the state's plan to build something like its own version of Fort Knox – it would be the first state-administered gold bullion depository in the nation. It's now one step closer to becoming a reality. State Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced Wednesday that a private company, Lone Star Tangible Assets, has been tapped to run the depository.

Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

People in Texas and around the nation are waiting to hear from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is scheduled to testify Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee. The committee, which is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, is expected to ask him about his meetings with Russian officials. Sessions asked that the hearing be open to the public.

IBM logo
Patrick Finnegan/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

IBM is calling its employees into the office. After decades of allowing a large part of its workforce to telecommute, Big Blue is requiring many of those remote workers to start showing up to a physical office building, like the company's location in north Austin.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. /KUT News.

From Texas Standard:

in 46 states, texting while driving is illegal. But not in Texas. It appears that could change on Tuesday. Though many cities in Texas ban using smartphones while driving, a bill is en route to the governor's desk that specifically outlaws texting while driving. But your apps and GPS might still be within legal reach.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From Texas Standard:

The end may be near for straight-ticket voting in Texas. House Bill 25, which would ban the practice, passed out of the Senate on Thursday. It's got one more stop in the lower chamber before heading to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk. Prominent Democrats are decrying the bill – saying it would dilute Democratic votes.

Tom/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Mosquito season is looming large in Texas, and with it, renewed fears of mosquito-borne illnesses. Several Zika cases have already been reported this year in the Rio Grande Valley.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT News.

From Texas Standard:

With the legislative session set to end on May 29, time is running out to pass a state budget, and resolve the avalanche of other bills that are still moving between chambers of the Legislature. And then there are the governor's priority items, some of which are still stuck, because lawmakers can't agree how to pay for them.

Alex Proimos/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The American Health Care Act (AHCA) – a Republican response to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare – was hastily passed by the U.S. House Thursday, when votes reached a critical tipping point. To become law, the AHCA must still get enough votes in the Senate.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

No sanctuary in Texas – that seems to be the top story across the Lone Star State, as a controversial bill essentially banning governments from implementing “sanctuary city” policies for undocumented immigrants, heads to the governor's office. The Texas Senate voted 20-11 to approve the version of Senate Bill 4 that the House passed last week. Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted "I'm getting my signing pen warmed up."

USAG Italy/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The Texas House of Representatives is set to consider a bill Wednesday that would make it mandatory for public high school students to pass the civics test that immigrants must take to become U.S. citizens. If House Bill 1776 passes, end-of-course assessments for U.S. history classes in public high schools would also be eliminated.

Martin do Nascimento/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

Monday afternoon, Kendrex J. White, a 21-year-old junior at the University of Texas, allegedly stabbed and killed Harrison Brown and wounded three others. So far there is no known motive.

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