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

There are still many unknowns about the fate of children separated from their families at the border. But in a recent investigation by the Associated Press, reporters discovered loopholes that could lead to deported parents losing their kids to adoption in the U.S.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Here at KUT, we’re trying to make civic participation easier. Early voting begins Oct. 22 in Texas — and we want to make sure you’re ready.

Brian Crabtree/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

As we've seen since 9/11, partnerships to strengthen national security can sometimes make for interesting bedfellows. One case in point is a collaboration between the Department of Homeland Security and Texas A&M's AgriLife Extension Service. Under the 10-year project, the institutions will launch a new Center for Excellence in cross-border threat screening and supply-chain defense. The project has nearly $4 million in funding for its first year.  

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / The Texas Tribune

Once a hub for refugees starting new lives and reuniting with their families, refugee resettlement efforts in Texas are now a shadow of what they once were.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

After years of rampant expansion, Houston-based Mattress Firm filed for bankruptcy protection Friday in an effort to get out from under $3.2 billion in debt. The retailer will likely close 700 of its 3,355 stores, 200 of which will likely close in the next few days.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

With the registration deadline only three days away, Texans looking for voter-registration forms on the Secretary of State's website this weekend got an error message for nearly a day. Applications for mail-in ballots were also inaccessible. Information about who's running for office this November was also knocked offline.

Service was restored by late Saturday.

From Texas Standard:

"South Texas ... that's where I stay." Those words from the late rapper Pimp C – edited, fans will note – exemplify the fierce regional pride artists and fans alike have in the Houston-area rap scene.

Bryan Kemp/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The universities of Texas and Oklahoma will face off this Saturday in the annual Red River Showdown, at the Texas State Fair. The rivalry goes all the way back to 1900, with many years of gamesmanship in between. In 1999, Mike Leach, Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator, played a prank before the game that led to Oklahoma gaining a 17-point lead in the first quarter.

Mike Mozart/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The arrival of fall come some welcome things, like cooler weather and Halloween decorations. But it also means flu season is approaching – and lots of people are headed to their local clinic or pharmacy to get their flu shot. After last year's "high severity flu season" as reported by the Centers for Disease Control, some may be wondering how effective this year's flu shot might actually be.

Marcia O'Connor/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Among the many annual traditions in the Lone Star State, few are as well known or as deeply etched with tradition and Texas excess as the State Fair of Texas. From outrageously fried confections to Big Tex and, of course, plenty of football. The event held at Dallas' historic Fair Park is larger than life. This year State Fair-goers have a new attraction to visit, one that recalls the roots of an old-fashion county fair: The Livestock Birthing Barn was conceived (pun intended) after a heifer gave birth to a calf during the fair last year. Now, all fairgoers can learn about the miracle of life through the incubation and birthing process of various livestock animals. The goal of the Livestock Birthing Barn is to highlight the agricultural importance of breeding livestock and its role in our everyday lives.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

State elections officials are warning people who think they registered to vote through the online service Vote.org that their registrations may not be valid. But Travis County election officials now say the registrations are valid, and that they will process them as they would any other application.

Texas does not have online voter registration. But if Travis County's reading of the law holds up, it could be a loophole that allows for de facto online registration.

Joey Palacios / Texas Public Radio

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush signed a resolution Tuesday agreeing to changes to the Alamo grounds.

The master plan calls for closing streets around the Alamo, creating a museum, and relocating the Cenotaph monument that honors defenders to another spot in the plaza – a proposal that generated some public opposition.

Abby Livingston / The Texas Tribune

Two people were taken to the hospital Tuesday after a "white powdery substance" was sent to the Houston campaign office of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, according to authorities who said the power turned out not to be hazardous.


From Texas Standard:

Fifty years ago Tuesday, a protest by thousands of students in Mexico City ended with military tanks on the streets and hundreds dead. Just in the past few weeks, the Mexican government officially recognized that on the night of Oct. 2, 1968, it ordered the killings of students. For the first time since the massacre, a government official called it a “crime of the state.” That recognition is by no means an apology, but it is a step that may help survivors begin the healing process.

Jill Ament/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Dr. Shahid Hashmi, a Pakistani immigrant, is president of the Victoria Islamic Center. He’s one of the founders of the center and spearheaded efforts to build the original mosque back in 2000. Many of Hashmi’s longtime friends were there on Saturday to congratulate him on the completion of the new building, including a local real estate agent, Shirley Buckert.

Morgan Childers/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

As the clock approached midnight  Sunday, word began to spread that Canada was ready to sign on the dotted line of the new trade agreement with the U.S. and Mexico. Formerly known as the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, the retooled trilateral deal is called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA. But the new name is only a small part of the changes.

Renee Dominguez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

There’s a question that moves in parallel with the increased use of computerized voting machines – can your vote be hacked? It’s a question that was put to the test in the 2016 presidential election cycle, when Russia was found to be influencing voters in the election, but not the voting machines themselves. Some say the risk of vote-hacking could be reduced by using paper ballots in addition to electronic vote-counters.

Renee Dominguez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

There’s a question that moves in parallel with the increased use of computerized voting machines – can your vote be hacked? It’s a question that was put to the test in the 2016 presidential election cycle, when Russia was found to be influencing voters in the election, but not the voting machines themselves. Some say the risk of vote-hacking could be reduced by using paper ballots in addition to electronic vote-counters.

Austin Price/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Texas has long had a “tough on crime” reputation, and the numbers back that up.

Texas is seventh in the nation when it comes to its incarceration rate: 891 out of every 100,000 people are in lockup.  And it has long led in number of executions, too. Since the death penalty was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976, Texas has executed more than 550 inmates, including two this week.

Why Is The Center Missing From Texas Politics?

Sep 28, 2018
Julia Reihs/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

During these highly partisan times, you might be wondering, what happened to the political center? What happened to that willingness to work together despite party affiliation to get things done? Experts agree the center is definitely not holding. And they’re not sure when it’s going to come back.

U.S. Department of Defense (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

Many have compared Judge Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation with that of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991. But not long before that, there was another Washington appointment held up by sexual harassment allegations, this one involving a Texan. John Tower was a four-term U.S. senator from Houston when, in 1989, George H.W. Bush nominated him to be Secretary of Defense.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

NOTE: The deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot for the Nov. 2018 election in Texas was Oct. 26 — thus, it is now too late to request one.

We got a question for our TX Decides project from Victoria, who asked:

I am registered in Bastrop County but am working in D.C. at the moment, is there a way to get a ballot?

The short answer is: Yes. You can vote by mail.

Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

The morning of Oct. 2, 2017 was not the first time that India Landry, a senior at Windfern High School outside Houston, refused to stand when the Pledge of Allegiance came on over the intercom.

The protest had gotten her kicked out of her English class five times; her law teacher told her she was disrespectful, according to a 2017 lawsuit. But on that October morning, when the then-17-year-old refused to stand, she was expelled.

Raquel González

From Texas Standard:

Let’s start 50 years ago when the United Nations declared family planning as a human right. Here's what Mexico’s UN Representative, Antonio Martínez Báez, said back then: “México emitió su voto favorable, con profunda convicción, reiterando así su actititud de lograr una completa igualdad para la mujer en todos los campos jurídicos, económicos y sociales.” 

He said that his country voted in favor of the resolution, and not only in favor, but with deep conviction, in the hopes that women could achieve full equality under the law and in every facet of life.

Mexico took that UN resolution to heart.

Michael Marks/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Sonora is a place most people only encounter on their way to someplace else. It’s located along Interstate 10, 170 miles west of San Antonio and nearly 400 miles east of El Paso. The town of about 3,000 people is the kind of place that’s rarely in the news. But like a lot of other things in Sonora, that changed on Friday, with an unexpected and catastrophic flood.

Derek K. Miller/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

In February, 12-year-old Linda Rogers died when her home in Northwest Dallas exploded as she was getting ready for school. A preliminary report cited a crack in a natural gas line.

An investigation by the Dallas Morning News finds that, since 2006, more than two dozen homes across  North and Central Texas have been destroyed or damaged because of natural gas leaking from Atmos Energy's aging system. Nine people have died. At least 22 others have been injured.

Recognizing The 'Inner Lives' Of Doctors Can Make For Better Patient Care

Sep 24, 2018
Laura Rice/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

At pivotal moments in our lives – often during moments of crisis – many of us will interact with doctors. They may be delivering a child, giving us bad health news or making a decision that could end the life of someone we love. All of those scenarios can be emotional for us as patients, but they can also be difficult for the doctor.

Wikimedia Commons

From Texas Standard:

College is expensive. These days, average in-state tuition and fees at a public university will run just under $10,000 per academic year; it goes up to $35,000 for private universities, according to data from the College Board.

Jeffrey Pratt Gordon

From Texas Standard:

There’s Ronnie, Charlie, Bill, Mick, Keith and – Bobby?

The man who many consider the sixth member of the Rolling Stones is a Texan named Bobby Keys. He grew up in Slaton, just outside Lubbock, and played saxophone with just about everyone, it seems –from Chuck Berry and Carly Simon, to John Lennon and Sheryl Crow. Plus the Stones, of course.

A documentary about Bobby Keys is screening Wednesday in Austin.

Doris Kearns Goodwin Says Even In Turbulent Times, We Can Learn From Past Crises

Sep 18, 2018
LBJ Library photo by Yoichi Okamoto

From Texas Standard:

In this age of Twitter-driven, toxic politics, it's an interesting intellectual exercise to try and imagine how historians might someday look back on the current era in American history. To call it turbulent seems almost to be an understatement. But history itself may help us understand the times we're living in.