Texas Standard

In the 21st century, what happens in Texas drives the American narrative.  Texas Standard is setting a new bar for broadcast news coverage, offering up-to-the-moment coverage of politics, lifestyle and culture, the environment, technology and innovation, and business and the economy – from a Texas perspective – and uncovering stories as they happen and spotting the trends that will shape tomorrow’s headlines. Hosted by award-winning journalist David Brown, Texas Standard features interviews with researchers, innovators, business leaders, political thinkers and experts – across Texas and around the globe – that reflect a diversity of opinions. A one-hour daily news magazine, Texas Standard is produced in the state capital in collaboration with KUT Austin, KERA North Texas, Houston Public Media and Texas Public Radio San Antonio, as well as news organizations across Texas, Mexico and the United States. Visit TexasStandard.org to read our newest stories and hear our latest show.   

Weather Puts 'American Sniper' Trial on Ice

A Native Texas Tribe Now Has Legal Eagle Feathers

Jun 17, 2016
Screenshot via YouTube/The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

From Texas Standard:

They called it "Operation Powwow" — back in 2006, a federal agent went undercover to raid a tribal ceremony. It ended with threats of prison time and fines for tribe members participating in the powwow.

The crime? Using eagle feathers without a permit.

But now the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas has won a decade-long legal battle over use of the feathers, what the tribe considers to be a victory for religious liberty.

 


Why The Words We Use After a Tragedy Matter

Jun 14, 2016
Reno Tahoe/flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

After yesterday's broadcast, which concluded with a roundup of reaction to the Orlando shooting from Texans on social media, Texas Standard received a comment from a listener who noted what he considered to be a conspicuous absence of something in the conversation – the mention of words like "ISIS" and "terrorism."

This comment plays into something bigger: how we choose what words to use when speaking about an unspeakable tragedy. What's the significance of the rhetoric surrounding events like the Orlando massacre?


Scurzuzu/flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The Catholic Church, no stranger to controversy on a constellation of topics, has become rather pointed on one political matter – payday lending.  The Diocese of Fort Worth has now asked the city to strictly regulate the industry in the only major city in the state without any such regulations.

Bishop Michael Olson, head of the Diocese of Fort Worth, issued the call to action. He says that the Catholic charities in the city saw a pattern with the people they were assisting: many of them had fallen into a cycle of debt.

 


Flickr/Zach Petersen (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The day after the biggest mass shooting in U.S. history, and the biggest terror attack in the U.S. since 9/11, President Obama addressed the nation.

Speaking to an issue he has addressed repeatedly during his two terms in the White House, President Obama struck, if not a note of resignation, something close to it.

The "powerful assault rifle" the president referred to is the AR-15, a long weapon with an instantly recognizable profile that belies its military origins – a model quite popular here in Texas. Its private ownership is protected by the Second Amendment, of which there are two dominant and dissonant visions.

 


Flickr/cliff1066 (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

According to reports, the Orlando gunman Omar Mateen had been questioned by the FBI twice – in 2013 and 2014. But yet, he wasn't on their watch list.

Paul Miller, associate director of the Clements Center for National Security at the University of Texas at Austin, says the FBI's internal processes are fairly opaque.

"I'm not convinced they are very consistent from case to case either," he says. "The FBI handles a very large caseload, they go through these things all the time. They can't afford to put everyone on the watch list."

 


Daniel Plumer/flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

A Midland man was stung over 50 times and his dogs died after being stung over 1,000 times. In Texarkana, a swarm of bees surrounded a woman's car, trapping her inside. A man mowing his lawn in Raymondville was swarmed, suffered more than 200 stings, and died. A farmer in Lozano died after being stung more than 3,000 times.

These are no ordinary bees. Entomologists call them killer bees, or Africanized bees – a hybrid of two species, the African honey bee and various European cousins. They look like European honey bees, stripes and all, but are smaller. And their impulse to sting is 10 times greater – bees will pursue victims as far as half of a mile away from hives.


Flickr/Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

A political analyst outlines three aspects of LBJ's campaign in 1964 against Republican nominee Barry Goldwater that could easily apply to Clinton's coming campaign against Trump.

 


Flickr/Michael Vadon (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

When Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was the state's attorney general, he worked on a lawsuit against GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump – then a Republican businessman entering the political sphere on another bid for the highest office in America.

It was 2012 and the top law enforcement official in the state was overseeing a consumer protection team building a suit against Trump University, which had bilked Texas taxpayers out of $2.6 million.

The consumer protection team built a $5.4 million dollar case against Trump, but Lauren McGaughy of the Dallas Morning News says the lawsuit was never filed.

 


Flickr/Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg said this week, "Eight, as you know, is not a good number for a multi-member court."

To wit: Texans are waiting for a Supreme Court decision over state abortion restrictions this session, but the court isn’t at full-strength after the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia last year. This raises the possibility of a potential stalemate. And a tie among the highest court in the country doesn't get a do-over – it just means the lower court ruling stands.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

From Texas Standard:

Over the past week, the Brazos River has risen to its highest level in more than 100 years. The rains that caused the overflow have led to at least six deaths in Texas.

Meteorologists are predicting that some 10 inches of rain will fall in the Houston area over the next several days. If so, we may be looking at another round of devastation in the fourth largest city in the nation. Houston has activated its emergency operations center.


Flickr/Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton intends to rise to the challenge of that old Texas motto: Come and Take It.


Flickr/Julio César Mesa (CC BY-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The store shelves are bare. Food riots are growing. Patients are dying at hospitals because supplies are exhausted. Major airlines are discontinuing service to this country, and yet it is home to the largest reserve of underground oil in the world.

Venezuela, just to the south, may not be top of the news but what happens there next is important to us here in Texas.

 


Alex Steffler/flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Today marks the beginning of hurricane season – and with it, stories about hurricane preparedness. There's no shortage of them, seeing as how we've recently capped off National Hurricane Preparedness Week. 

Michael Bilodeau

From Texas Standard:

1. “You may all go to hell and I will go to Texas.” Davy Crockett said this angrily after losing his Tennessee bid for the U.S. Congress.

I think he really said, “Y’all can go to hell,” but grammatical purity likely corrupted the original transcription.

 


Roy Luck/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old Texan arrested and charged with assaulting a public servant at a traffic stop on July 10, 2015, ended up in jail in part because she didn’t have $500 to make bail. Robert Durst, on the other hand, was arrested in New Orleans on charges of murder for slaying a friend, then released on a $2.5 million bond.

Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) says those two disparate cases come to mind as examples of two separate systems of justice in the country: “One for the rich and one for the poor.”


U.S. Customs and Border Patrol/Flickr (Public Domain)

From Texas StandardData from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection show apprehensions of families and unaccompanied minors crossing the Texas-Mexico border has hit levels not seen since the 2014 border surge. There were more than 7,100 such cases in the Rio Grande sector last month alone.

Summer is the time we usually see spikes in illegal border crossings, so what does this mean for the coming season?


Momentum Instruction

From Texas Standard:

In Texas education, there always plenty of fodder still out there to spark outrage. Take a proposed social studies textbook titled “Mexican-American Heritage”submitted to the Texas Education Agency as required for review before appearing on bookshelves in the classroom.

Tony Diaz, an activist based in Houston and host of Nuestra Palabra on KPFT, says this book is the opposite of what activists and scholars, who have campaigned for more visibility of Latino stories in history, wanted to include in the Texas curriculum – in part because of its racist undertones.


klndonnelly/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Amid reports that Kenneth Starr, Baylor University's high-profile president, was fired this morning over a scandal related to the university's response to sexual assault allegations against football players, university officials said they expect to announce the results of an internal inquiry by June 3. They declined to directly address Starr's future.


Kenneth C. Zirkel/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

One phrase often heard this year: There's never been a political year like 2016. But that’s not exactly true.

Pexels (CC0)

From Texas Standard:

This week, Texas lawmakers in both the Senate and House vowed to end the abuse of emergency leave for state workers.

Beth Cortez-Neavel/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, most low-income, black and Hispanic people were segregated to the east side of what is now IH-35 in Austin. Now, the same people who’ve lived in the area for decades are being pushed out. Old houses are torn down to make way for new ones and property taxes are rising rapidly.


Are Cops in Schools Creating a 'Climate of Fear?'

May 18, 2016
Flickr/Jan Paul Yap (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard: A viral video was making the rounds, showing a 12-year-old girl body slammed by a police officer in a San Antonio school. That officer has since been fired, but the incident raised concerns about 

From Texas Standard:

Friday morning the Obama administration issued a directive – what some on the right see as a decree – telling every public school district in the country to allow transgender students to use bathrooms that match their gender identity. If schools refuse to allow this, they could be in violation of the Civil Rights act of 1964.

The notice comes in the middle of a heated national debate over bathroom laws in public spaces, but it has no official force of law behind it. It amounts to what the New York Times calls an “implicit threat.”

Attached to the letter that went out to schools across the U.S., was a 25-page booklet of what are called emerging practices, or tips on how to comply.


Flickr/Charles Wagner (CC BY-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

It's here: A long-awaited decision from the Texas Supreme Court on how schools are funded. The plaintiffs are two-thirds of the state's school districts, charter schools and even business interests, all claiming that the Texas way of financing education is so inefficient as to be unconstitutional.

Now the state's highest court has handed down its opinion.

Kate McGee, education reporter for KUT in Austin, says the court ruled the state's school finance system isn't unconstitutional. The court's opinions – three concurring opinions with no dissents – say the system "satisfies minimal requirements," reversing a lower court's decision that the state's school finance is so bad as to be illegal.


Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

On April 17, around 7:50 in the early evening, an explosion at the Adair Grain and West Fertilizer Company rocked the small town of West, Texas. That was three years ago.

Fifteen people died, including 12 volunteers fighting the fire at the plant. More than 160 people were injured. The blast was so severe it caused a small earthquake – the concussion waves were visible to the naked eye. A nearby middle school, nursing home and apartment complex were demolished. Neighborhood homes were destroyed.

It seemed possible that the fires could have been started by a short circuit somewhere – the facility was old – or that a golf cart with dodgy electrics might have been the spark that set off the blaze. But state and federal officials say the explosion at West was the outcome of a criminal act.


Don't Get Soaked by Buying a Flood-Damaged Car

May 11, 2016
Jocelyn Augustino/Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

You may have noticed we've had a damp past few months. Of the many images from the recent downpours across Texas, few of those images communicate the depth of it all better than photos of capsized cars, up to their windshields in floodwaters. Even more dramatic is if your own vehicle has been flooded. Recently, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced it's stepping in to help compensate many of those who have lost their cars due to water damage.

Flickr/eulothg (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

You can't talk Texas oil without talking about the competition. In that regard, the eyes of Texas are upon Saudi Arabia right now. Over the weekend the Saudis ended the 20-year tenure of oil minister Ali al-Naimi. Al-Naimi is credited as a pillar in the development of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC. Now, energy investors and analysts alike are waiting to see how this change could affect an already tumultuous oil economy.

Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData, says that timing is the most surprising aspect of al-Naimi's replacement.


Pexels (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

There’s yet another battle for transgender civil rights in the U.S. – Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is calling for the resignation of the new superintendent of Fort Worth schools, Kent Paredes Scribner. Scribner recently issued new guidelines asking that students have access to restrooms consistent with "the gender identity that each student consistently and uniformly asserts.”

Patrick released a statement saying Scribner has lost his focus and his ability to lead Fort Worth ISD through placing his personal political agenda before the needs of the district's students.


Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Walk onto any historically Black college or university campus across Texas and you’re likely to hear calls from a Greek organization like Kappa Alpha Psi. That's one of the many Greek organizations established by African-Americans. Greek life is often strong at HBCUs and so is the emphasis on black identity, empowerment and leadership.

Three Secrets of Life From My 101-Year-Old Mother

May 5, 2016
Courtesy W.F. Strong

My mom lived to be 101 and five months. She said once you reached 99, you started counting your age like a newborn – in months: 99 and six months, 99 and nine months. She used to advise that if you wanted to live to be a hundred, you should live to be 99 and then be very, very careful.

Mary B. Strong, whose name doubled as her motto, was a tough, no-nonsense woman. A Daughter of the American Revolution, survivor of the Great Depression; an honest as the day is long woman of the Texas soil. She had what John Wayne called True Grit.

I think anyone who lives so long, one in about 40,000, must have True Grit. So what was the secret to her longevity?


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