Texas

Jon Shapley for KUT News

He's everyone's favorite cardio-loving community activist — a relatively new emissary of Austin weird.

His name is Broderick James, but he's better known as the Rundberg Running Man, a local fixture you can find dancing, running and freestyle rapping on the corner of Lamar and Rundberg on a daily basis. While many Austinites know him for his daily exploits, most people outside the city would simply peg him as a typical fitness freak.

James wants to change that, only there's a problem: money. 

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In a neverending battle of one-upmanship it seems — for now at least — Texas has the upper hand over the rest of the nation in the tech game.  

A report from the Tech America Foundation found that Texas surpassed long-time tech export leader California with a total $45.1 billion in tech exports, compared to California's $44.8 billion in exports in 2012. Texas and California also led the nation in tech jobs with 330,977 and 328,301 jobs — 22 percent and 21 percent of the 1.4 million tech jobs in the U.S.

To illustrate the data, we've created an infographic you can see below. 

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The Kallison family name has resonated amongst Texans for generations.

It's the name of the department store in San Antonio crowned by a cowboy carrying a saddle on his right shoulder. It's also the of the Kallison Ranch, the place that brought Texas ranching into the 20th century.

"The Harness Maker’s Dream" recounts the story of Nathan Kallison, the Jewish Russian who escaped persecution and later became a successful rancher in Texas.

 

The Texas Board of Education, which has long been an ideological battleground for the teaching of evolution, says it will limit the use of citizen review panels and instead give priority to teachers in determining science and history curricula.

Because Texas public schools represent such a large market for textbook publishers, the state has an outsized influence on what is taught in the rest of the country.

The Central Texas Food Bank
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.

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.

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.

One Square Mile: Texas

What does Texas look like one square mile at a time? That’s the question producers of a new series airing on PBS stations across the state are asking.

Texas is made up of more than 268,000 square miles. A new series produced by KLRU Austin PBS, “One Square Mile: Texas,” focuses on just nine of them – from the Texas Panhandle to the Gulf Coast and several places in between, including Austin.

The 26-minute documentaries follow eight to 10 people in each place: teachers, police officers, pastors and artists. And it does so with the requirement they all live or work within one square mile of each other.

If you want to lift weights or use the treadmill at Downsize Fitness, you have to be at least 50 pounds overweight.

Kendall Schrantz is a fan – and a member.

The 24-year-old has struggled with her weight since she was in the second grade. The looks she got at other gyms made her uncomfortable.

But now she drives more than an hour to Downsize Fitness in Fort Worth three times a week, just to exercise.

"It's worth every single penny I paid for gas," she said. "It's worth the time I spend on the road, the miles."

Michael Stravato

Nghi Ho and Al Hoang, the Republicans who are vying to unseat Rep. Hubert Vo, are talking about the usual issues, like abortion. They are also talking about some unlikely topics, like the Communist government in Vietnam, the birthplace of all three candidates running in the southwest Harris County district, which includes most of Alief.

“It shows that a place like Alief has come a long way from what it was when it was first established as a fairly Anglo suburb of Houston,” said Mustafa Tameez, a political consultant for Vo’s first race.

A 33-year-old Texas woman named Marlise Munoz has been connected to life support machines for more than a month, after she collapsed on the kitchen floor of her home.

Her husband says she would not have wanted to be kept alive this way, but the hospital has refused to follow that wish, citing a Texas law that forbids medical officials from cutting off life support to a pregnant patient.

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A nationwide shortage of Sriracha sauce has fans of the hot stuff in something just short of a panic, but one state representative has a plan for Texas to come to the rescue.

State Representative Jason Villalba (R-Richardson) has propositioned California-based Huy Fong Foods Inc. to move its operations to Texas after production of the peppery product was halted due to complaints from citizens living near its factory in Irwindale, CA.

KUT's David Brown spoke to Villalba about state and city pitches to recruit Huy Fong, California's "over-regulated" business climate and his go-t0 Sriracha dishes.  

Mose Buchele for KUT

In today’s meeting of the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state Agency that regulates the Texas oil and gas industry, Commissioner David Porter announced the search for a staff seismologist in response to the rash of small earthquakes that have sprung up throughout the state along with the boom in oil and gas production.

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Update 12/30/13: The Federal Aviation Administration has selected Texas A&M - Corpus Christi as one of six drone testing sites across the U.S. The FAA says the Corpus Christi site "plans to develop system safety requirements for UAS vehicles and operations with a goal of protocols and procedures for airworthiness testing." 

Sites in Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota and Virginia were also chosen.

Hear more about A&M's drone plans in the interview below.

Original story 10/09/13: From Manhattan to Afghanistan, drones have become big news and big business. Now, there’s a move to turn the skies over Texas into one of the world’s leading drone test sites. 

KUT’s David Brown talks with Ron George, a senior research development officer at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi , and one of the planners of a new drone development center.

At 10 on a crisp West Texas morning, five camel-trekkers stand under the open sky of the Davis Mountains. A few feet away, guide Doug Baum and Jason Mayfield load up five camels.

Baum, a former zookeeper, runs the Texas Camel Corps. The group guides camel treks around the world. In the Big Bend region, camels were for a brief time widespread, and the guides have brought them back.

'As Good As They Come'

You have to like a man who brings his own camel to a camel trek. On Mayfield's arm is a tall, beautiful blond named Butter.

Update: The Amber Alert for Natalie Jasso has been canceled. Information about her condition was not immediately available.

Original Story: (6:03 a.m.): Law enforcement agencies across the state are looking for a two week-old baby girl who they believe was abducted by a male family member.

There’s an active Amber Alert for Natalie Jasso. The infant was last seen last night in Robstown, Texas – near Corpus Christi.

Natalie is Hispanic and has black hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a white beanie and a white onesie with pink flowers on it.

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Texas homeowners may be paying among the highest insurance rates in the country– but at least they’re no longer the highest. 

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners' latest report says while premiums for Texas homeowners have dropped to third in the nation, they’re still above the national average. 

Rates in other states are higher, in part, because the figures now include the cost of windstorm insurance. Mark Hanna of the Insurance Council of Texas says the states with the top rates have something else in common.

Courtesy of Jerome Weeks / KERA News

From StateImpact Texas: 

Against the backdrop of a debate over whether Texas has enough power generation (i.e. power plants) to meet growing demand, two instances of large-scale outages in the past few weeks show a more common vulnerability: power lost to fallen or damaged power lines during storms. Could anything have been done to prevent the outages? The short answer is yes. But chances are you won’t like the full explanation.

National Weather Service

Update, Saturday PM: Late Saturday evening, the National Weather Service issued a Winter Weather Advisory for Austin and the surrounding area. Light ice accumulation and freezing drizzle are making road conditions hazardous. The Austin Police Department is urging people to stay off the roads as much as they can, and if you must drive, to do so slowly and with caution, avoiding bridges and overpasses. APD is reporting nearly two dozen crashes. The weather advisory is in effect until 6 a.m. Sunday. 

DELAYS:

  • The Austin Independent School District is delaying classes & bus routes by two hours. The district says tardies due to weather will be excused.
  • Other area districts on two-hour delays: Manor, Eanes, Del Valle, Round Rock, Pflugerville, Hutto and Leander -- all morning Pre-K has also been canceled at Leander.

Wendy Davis made headlines earlier this year with her abortion rights filibuster heard around the nation. In September and October, she teased the Texas body politic with her gubernatorial guessing game.

After bursting into the race in early October with a big announcement in Fort Worth, the Davis campaign has hit the ground running, from Brownsville, to … Pharr, Texas?

So where’s Wendy Davis? That's what Paul Burka is asking.

The current dean of Texas political writers and senior executive editor at Texas Monthly, Burka sat down with KUT’s David Brown to discuss the Davis campaign. 

 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Before that afternoon fifty years ago, neither Sid Davis nor Julian Read could have expected what they’d be called upon to do – much less that they’d both be eyewitnesses to history. 

Davis was a young radio reporter based in Washington D.C.

Read was on the other side of the journalistic fence, serving as press aide for Texas Gov. John Connally.

But they were both on a press bus in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963 – the day President John F. Kennedy was shot.

After 50 years of virtual silence, Austinite Julian Read recently opened up to KUT about his experience that day. 

Throughout November, KERA will mark the 50th anniversary of the John F. Kennedy assassination by taking a closer look at that fateful day, what it meant to the country, how it changed Dallas, and more.

Today, we take a look at hate letters sent to Dallas following the assassination.

After John F. Kennedy was shot 50 years ago, hundreds of folks mailed letters to Dallas, many of them furious at the city.

The letters wound up at Southern Methodist University.

Voters in Houston on Tuesday rejected a bond referendum that would have allowed Harris County, Texas, to borrow $217 million that it could then spend on turning the Astrodome into one very large convention and exhibition hall.

The vote was 53 percent against the referendum, to 47 percent in favor.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has directed the National Guard Bureau to resolve a dispute that is making it difficult for same-sex couples to receive military benefits.

The Pentagon started to recognize same-sex marriages soon after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act this summer. But some states are resisting.

Feeling moody lately? Depressed even?

Maybe it’s your job. Maybe it’s the weather. Or maybe it’s the state you live in.

Acting on over a decade’s worth of surveys, a team of researchers have charted relative moodiness state by state across America.

The study measured personality traits, including the so-called big five personality traits test: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism, or OCEAN. So how does Texas measure?

Sports talk shows and news outlets have been all over the story of a Texas parent who filed a complaint about bullying after his son's high school football team lost a game last week by the score of 91-0.

If you haven't heard about what happened during that game, here's how Fort Worth's Star-Telegram sums up the story:

USACE

This is part three of a series looking at the infrastructure of dams in Texas, and what can be done to improve it. You can find part one here, and part two here.

In 1978 a massive storm hit the West Texas town of Albany. It dumped 23 inches of rain in just eight hours. Waters caused 9 deaths, flooded hundreds of homes, and broke through a local dam. Troy Henderson, who now works on the Brownwood Texas Lake Patrol, says since then he’s followed a simple rule.

“If I were to build a home somewhere, I’d make sure that if it was downstream from a lake that their dam is property maintained,” he told StateImpact Texas, “and the reason I say that is, I lived in Albany in 1978.”

TCEQ

This is part two of a series devoted to looking at the infrastructure of dams in Texas, and what can be done to improve it. You can find part one here.

In 2008, the Texas State Auditor’s office released the kind of report that keeps public officials awake at night.  It found that state regulators were not ensuring the proper maintenance of thousands of dams in Texas. The audit found that state inspectors had never visited hundreds of dams that could cause loss of life if they failed.

TCEQ

This is part one of a StateImpact Texas series devoted to looking at the infrastructure of dams in Texas, and what can be done to improve it.

Of the 1,880 dams inspected by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality since 2008, 245 were found to be in bad condition, according to the TCEQ. Around 2000 of the state’s dams were built with federal help in the wake of the great drought of the 1950s. Almost all of those are now past or nearing their projected 50 year lifespan, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Statistics like these don't come as a surprise to the people who work with dams in the state of Texas.

In the mid-1970’s, Eugene Robinson began his career in journalism. He joined The Washington Post in the '80's, covering domestic and foreign affairs before moving on to a managing editor post.

More recently, Robinson's become known nationally as a Pulitzer prize-winning columnist and contributor to MSNBC. Prior to his appearance at the University of Texas to deliver this year's Mary Alice Davis Distinguished Lecture in Journalism, Robinson stopped by the KUT studios to talk about the current political climate and how the politics of Texas – and healthcare – factor into it. 

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