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

Julian Aguilar / The Texas Tribune

EL PASO — The press release went out Monday, the reporters showed up Tuesday morning, then the U.S. Border Patrol abruptly canceled its Election Day "crowd control exercise" without immediately stating a reason.

Michael Marks/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Many Texans are still feeling the effects of heavy rains this fall. In the Hill Country, places like Kingsland and Marble Falls are picking up the pieces after the Llano River breached its banks. The city of Austin is in the midst of a full-scale review into why its water treatment system was overwhelmed for nearly a week. And then there’s Sonora, a town of about 2,700 people an hour south of San Angelo which was hit by a catastrophic flood just over a month ago.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

In Central Texas, there are three state House seats that are uncontested by the GOP:  Democratic incumbents Donna Howard (HD 48), Celia Israel (HD 50) and Eddie Rodriguez (

Liam James / NPR

These are the congressional races we're watching in Central Texas.

District 10 | District 17 | District 21 | District 25 | District 27 | District 31 | District 35

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

Heading into Election Day, there’s a lot on the minds of Texas’ some 1.1 million current and retired public educators. As part of our Texas Decides series, we checked in with Texas teachers and education advocates about some of their concerns as they go out to vote.

Seal of the Texas Railroad Commission
Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

From Texas Standard:

From KTZZ and KUT:

Tuesday is midterm Election Day. Of course you’ve heard about the heated Texas Senate race, and some of the state’s more competitive congressional districts, the governor’s race. But there are also several statewide races on the ballot this year that aren’t getting much attention – like railroad commissioner. Current commission chairman, Republican Christi Craddick, is running for a second term against Democrat Roman McAllen and Libertarian Mike Wright.

For residents of the Rio Grande Valley, immigration is more than an election issue. It doesn't ebb and flow with the tides of politics; it is embedded in the lives of people who live there.

Lynda Gonzalez for KUT

One year ago, a gunman burst into the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. It's been a year of recovery and learning to live without the two dozen people who died in the attack.

Julia Reihs/KUT

From Texas Standard

As Election Day gets closer, the airwaves are getting more crowded with political ads. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and his challenger, Congressman Beto O'Rourke, in particular, have raised lots of money in their campaigns and are now spending it on TV and radio.

Austin-based Marketplace reporter Andy Uhler noticed some of the ads in English and Spanish are complicated by more than the issue of translation.


From Texas Standard:

According to the Department of Labor, it's 1969 again, meaning unemployment now stands at 3.7 percent, with earnings up over the past year by more than 3 percent. That's in part because, since March of this year, there have been more jobs than workers every single month.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

EL PASO — President Donald Trump on Thursday doubled down on his intent to militarize and fortify the border against a caravan of Central American asylum-seekers slowly making their way toward the United States, saying his administration recently did away with "catch and release" for undocumented immigrants and plans to erect tents to hold future border crossers — including their children — until their immigration cases are resolved.

NIAID/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone over the age of six months gets the flu vaccine before the end of October, but many won't for various reasons. While the following information should not be interpreted as one more reason not to get vaccinated, it certainly is worth considering that there may be a viable flu-shot alternative this year. 

A crew works to solder fencing at the Progreso-Nuevo Progreso International Bridge Tuesday morning.

From Texas Standard:

Over the years, Texas has served as a gateway for many traditions now embraced as a part of life. A lot of these cultural mashups that Texans celebrate come from our neighbors to the south.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. /KUT

From Texas Standard:

Given a choice, many businesses might prefer to have less government regulation. Take America's automakers who've resisted the tightening of federal mileage and emission rules for years, claiming those laws make it tougher to sell cars. But now, one of the biggest players in the industry, General Motors, wants the government to adopt higher mileage standards nationwide, and create a national zero-emissions vehicle policy.

Micheline Maynard, who runs the crowdfunded journalism project Curbing Cars, and is a former Detroit bureau chief for The New York Times, says gasoline-powered vehicles are still going to be the bulk of GM's business, but it has asked for these standards in order to level the playing field in the electric-vehicle market.

Margaret Nicklas/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

On any given day between May and November, Bethany Bolling and her team of microbiologists at the Texas Department of State Health Services laboratory in Austin can be found sorting and sucking up mosquitoes for testing.

“The Culex species, we test for West Nile virus, Saint Louis encephalitis virus and Western equine encephalitis virus. And then our Aedes species mosquitoes, we test for Zika virus, chikungunya virus and the dengue viruses. Once we do the testing, if we detect any positive or virus-positive mosquito pools, then we call the local jurisdiction that sent us those mosquitoes and let them know there is virus activity in their area,” Bolling says.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From Texas Standard:

This political season in Texas, yard signs have been at the center of stories that sound straight out of The Onion. There’s the couple who turned their front lawn into a giant, hand-painted Beto O’Rourke sign. Or the anti-Brett Kavanaugh sign in Hamilton that police threatened to confiscate after Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller posted about it on Facebook. Our Texas Decides series continues with a listener question you might call a sign of the times.

Kristen Cabrera/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Cosmetology has been taught in high schools for decades, thanks in part to funding from the federal Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. But this year, the rules covering that grant money have changed, and that's causing some consternation among students and instructors. 

Yanira Hernandez twists strands of her mannequin's hair into a cinnamon bun shape.

The junior at Manor Senior High School, just outside Austin, is one of more than 12,000 Texas high school students on track to get a cosmetology license upon graduation. With the license, she'll be able to quickly enter the job market, and either forgo expensive higher education or help supplement it.

Margaret Nicklas/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

In part 2 of our series on the impact of West Nile, we look at reducing the risk of the virus.

Eighty percent of people infected with West Nile virus never have symptoms, so that’s a big reason confirmed cases are lower than actual infection numbers. But even of those who do seek medical care with serious symptoms, less than 40 percent of adults and only a quarter of children are ever tested for West Nile.

That’s according to research done by a team including Dr. Kristy Murray. She studies insect-borne diseases at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. She says many doctors choose not to test for West Nile because it has no specific treatment or cure. But Murray says forgoing a diagnosis may put others at risk.

Julia Reihs / KUT

President Donald Trump suggested in an interview that he could sign an executive order eliminating automatic citizenship for children born in the U.S. to noncitizens. If he follows through, the order would undoubtedly set off a legal challenge that would ultimately end at the U.S. Supreme Court.

NOAA Photo Library/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

As the winter season draws nearer, many Texans have noticed the sudden rain, flooding and chilly weather that's hit our state. Ironically, there were fewer severe-weather events in Texas this year – something that Texas A&M University's newspaper, The Battallion, captured in a recent headline.

Chuck Yarling

From Texas Standard:

West Nile virus made big headlines in Texas in 2012. But the truth is, it probably infects thousands of people here each year, even though the actual number of confirmed cases tends to be quite low. That’s because an estimated 80 percent of those infected don’t have any symptoms and never see a doctor. Others will become sick with flu-like symptoms and recover. But for a small number of people each year, West Nile causes permanent disability, paralysis and death.

In 2012, 68-year-old Chuck Yarling was an avid runner, biker and swimmer who’d competed in more than 100 triathlons. In fact, he’d competed in one just weeks before he fainted in his apartment on an August afternoon. He awoke days later in a rehabilitation hospital a different man.

sleeping baby
Esparta Palma/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

When it comes to the Latino block of the electorate, you’ve probably heard politicians and analysts describe it this way.

Mikala Compton for The Texas Tribune

After being threatened with a lawsuit over early voting access at Texas State University, Hays County commissioners voted Friday to expand voting hours on campus.

In an emergency meeting, the Republican-dominated court voted to re-open the early voting site that operated on campus during the first three days of early voting. The polling location at the LBJ Student Center will reopen on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The commissioners also agreed to add an Election Day voting site at the university.

flickr.com/texasmilitaryforces; U.S. Army photo by Maj. Randall Stillinger.

President Donald Trump is now planning to send between 800 and 1,000 active-duty U.S. troops to the southern border to counter a caravan of migrants from Central America. The migrants are now making their way through Mexico. The president has called the approaching caravan a national emergency.

To get a perspective from the border, Texas Standard Host David Brown spoke with John Ferguson, the mayor of Presidio, in far west Texas, and Chris Cabrera, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council.

Nancy Newberry Photography

From Texas Standard:

First, to make sure we’re all on the same page, homecoming mums are something that vaguely resemble a chrysanthemum corsage. From this fluffy centerpiece comes a stream of decorations: ribbons, braids, trinkets, pennants, teddy bears, Christmas lights – the gaudier and bigger the better. Giving a mum or a garter – that’s the smaller version boys wear on their arms – to your homecoming date is a uniquely Texas tradition. It is the type of thing that, when presented to non-Texans, typically elicits this kind of response:

“The burdens imposed by closing the on-campus early voting location fall particularly and disproportionately on the county’s young voters, who are significantly more likely to live on or near campus and are less likely to have easy, immediate access to reliable transportation to vote off-campus,” Beth Stevens, the Texas Civil Right's Project's voting rights legal director, wrote.

Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

We're just 12 days away from Election Day, and four days into early voting across the Lone Star State. Many polling places are reporting record early-voting turnout. Sharon Navarro, a professor of political science at University of Texas at San Antonio, says that shows voters are energized this year.

Laura Rice/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

From the gridlock in Washington, to actual physical clashes between protestors on the streets of Portland, and now a series of what appear on the face of it politically-motivated bomb scares. The party lines seem more entrenched than ever. Indeed, several experts told the Texas Standard just last month – the political center just isn't holding.

Callie Richmond for The Texas Tribune

The Trump administration is expected to send 800 or more troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to support border enforcement already stationed there at a time the president has called a “national emergency.”

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

When we think of cotton we just think of the fiber – the white fluffy stuff you see while driving down the highway. But there's a lot more to the cotton plant than that. In fact for every one pound of fiber cotton plants produce, about 1.6 pounds of cotton seeds are grown. And there's just not a lot you can do with cotton seeds other than plant more cotton.

But Keerti Rathore has been working for almost a quarter century to change that. He wants you to be able to eat cotton seeds.

Rathore, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research plant biotechnologist, has received approval for his genetically modified cottonseed from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.