Texas

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

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump visited El Paso Wednesday afternoon to meet with first responders and survivors of Saturday’s mass shooting.

Those who greeted the president include Gov. Greg Abbott, Sen. John Cornyn, Sen. Ted Cruz, El Paso Mayor Dee Margo and others.

Residents, however, turned out in force to protest the visit.

Gov. Greg Abbott surrounded by lawmakers and press
Jesus Rosales for The Texas Tribune

Days after a white gunman murdered 22 people in El Paso in a shooting fueled by racism, Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday said that he will hold another series of roundtable discussions to consider legislative proposals to address the tragedy.

Did 8chan Radicalize Mass Shooters?

Aug 7, 2019
a computer keyboard
Pexels

Before the mass shootings in El Paso, the Christchurch mosque in New Zealand and the Chabad of Poway synagogue in San Diego, the alleged shooters each posted racist manifestos on the same online forum – 8chan.

Updated at 7:15 p.m. ET

President Trump visited survivors of the shooting in Dayton, Ohio, on Wednesday before heading to El Paso, Texas, the site of the weekend's other deadly violence. Trump remained out of public view during the Dayton stop.

On the ground in El Paso, Trump said, "We had an amazing day."

"The love, the respect, for the office of the presidency, it was — I wish you could have been in there to see it," he told reporters.

El Paso is a border town with a predominately Hispanic population and a culture linked to both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. And now the community feels like it is being targeted because of that.

Anette Elizabeth Allen / NPR

President Donald Trump spoke this morning after 29 people were killed this weekend in mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas. Authorities say both shooters obtained their assault-style weapons legally, which has reinvigorated calls for federal action on gun control. 

Earlier this morning in a tweet, Trump called on Congress to pass legislation expanding background checks for firearms, but also suggested any reform be tied to "desperately needed immigration reform." 

About 20 minutes before the shooting started at an El Paso Walmart, a rambling screed was posted to an online message board saying the massacre was in response to an "invasion" of Hispanics coming across the southern border.

Beto O'Rourke
Michael Minasi for KUT

As authorities investigate a mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart that left 20 people dead and more than two dozen others injured Saturday, police say the 21-year-old North Texas man arrested may have written a manifesto revealing that the crime was racially motivated.

Sandy Heath was at a funeral service Saturday morning when she got a phone alert about an active shooter. That prompted her church to go on lockdown.

Then came the text messages from friends and family making sure Heath, 75, was ok. And, could she help?

Updated Sunday at 11 a.m. ET

Twenty people are dead and 26 wounded after a mass shooting at an El Paso, Texas, Walmart on Saturday morning, according to state and local authorities.

Speaking at a news conference, Gov. Greg Abbott said that what should have been a leisurely day of shopping "turned into one of the most deadly days in the history of Texas."

"We pray that God will be with those who've been harmed in any way," he added.

The Church of the Visitation before fire destroyed it on Monday.
Courtesy of the Catholic Diocese of Austin

From Texas Standard:

In tiny Zabcikville, some 90 minutes north of Austin, you’re bound to run into Green’s Sausage House. The popular spot has been around since the late 1940s.

Puerto Rican flag
Oscar Rohena/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Liliana Diaz lives in El Paso, but the rest of her family – her parents, even her daughter – live in Puerto Rico.

A Texas Department of Public Safety seal
Jacob Villanueva

A top official at the Texas Department of Public Safety has been arrested on suspicion of sexual assault, according to Travis County court records. He was fired the same day.

Vote signs outside early voting locations in Austin on Feb. 23, 2014.
Callie Richmond for The Texas Tribune

Just as they do every year, hundreds of county officials from all over Texas are packing a hotel ballroom in Austin this week for three days of all things elections.

cow
Susanne Nilsson/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Presidio County is one of 22 in the state that still abides by open-range laws that allow cattle to roam, more or less, where they want. That means it’s perfectly legal for cattle to wander onto any unfenced property. But a 1980 “estray law,” which applies statewide, allows sheriffs to collect unidentifiable cattle. But that conflicts with the open-range laws in those counties. Now, Presidio County Sheriff Danny Dominguez has asked Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to settle the dispute.

Photo courtesy of Albert Prieto-Márquez, Miquel Crusafont Catalonian Institute of Paleontology

From Texas Standard:

A dinosaur fossil has stumped scientists ever since they found it in Big Bend National Park in the early 1980s. Now, 30 years later, paleontologists report that new data helped them determine that the fossil actually belongs to a whole new dinosaur species.

Gabriel C. Pérez/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

A recently-published health study indicates expectant mothers living near extensive oil and gas development run a higher risk of having children with birth defects.

CletusDitto/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

For people who experience psychosis, getting care early on helps them better manage symptoms and lead productive lives. But for those living in rural Texas, care is often impossible to find. And without it, those living with psychosis can struggle to stay employed, maintain relationships or simply move through the world.

Image via Social Media

Federal authorities have released an 18-year-old Dallas-born U.S. citizen who had been detained in immigration custody for more than three weeks after being stopped at a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint, according to multiple reports.

TSilver Falls is often dry and overgrown with vegetation.
Leaflet /Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

The Ogallala Aquifer is a massive store of groundwater that quenches the thirst of people, crops and livestock throughout the Great Plains. The aquifer extends, roughly, from Midland, Texas, through the Texas Panhandle and all the way to South Dakota. In fact, it's the aquifer that makes the current way of life on the Plains possible. So what happens if it becomes depleted? 

Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán
Drug Enforcement Administration/Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

After sentencing Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán to life in prison plus 30 years, the United States ordered a forfeiture of $12.6 billion worth of his assets. But Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or AMLO, says the money should be put to use in Mexico, where many of his crimes were committed. 

One of NASA's first employees, key to creating the U.S. space program, has died at 95. Chris Kraft was the agency's first flight director and managed all of the Mercury missions, as well some of the Gemini flights. He was a senior planner during the Apollo lunar program. Later he led the Johnson Space Center in Houston and oversaw development of the space shuttle.

From Texas Standard:

In the fall, Texas A&M University will start a new program to better serve Texans with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Aggie ACHIEVE will gives these students access to a full university experience – something not often available to them. They’ll reside on campus, attend classes alongside fellow Aggies, and will have a personalized education plan geared toward future employment. 

Texas Democrats See Opportunity In 2020 House Races

Jul 22, 2019
Democrat Julie Johnson represents House District 115, which stretches from Carrollton to Irving in northwest Dallas County.
Miguel Perez/Kera News

From Texas Standard:

While no one expects Texas to "turn blue" any time soon, an energized Democratic Party could mean tighter races for the Texas House of Representatives in 2020. In 2018, winning margins in 17 House races were 10% or less. And 10 of those were in North Texas

How Texas Fits Into Trump's HIV Eradication Plan

Jul 18, 2019
Julia Reihs/KUT

From Texas Standard:

This week, several federal officials, including the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, met with health workers in Austin to talk about a strategy for combatting HIV. It’s part of the Trump administration’s larger plan to significantly reduce the number of new infections of the virus over the next 10 years. The president wants to start that effort by spending $291 million in the next fiscal year.

How Should Texas Choose Its Judges?

Jul 17, 2019
Texas Supreme Court building
Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Texas is one of only seven states where trial court judges are chosen via partisan elections. Gov. Greg Abbott, who is a convert to the idea that this might not be the best way to select judges, signed a law in June creating a 15-member commission to study judicial elections. 

Texas Teachers Are Getting Pay Raises, But How Much Depends On The District

Jul 16, 2019
Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

The Texas Legislature passed a multibillion-dollar school finance bill during its most recent session. The funds provide a pay increase for teachers and other members of school staff. But now comes the hard part: how to actually apportion those raises.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Rockdale, Texas, an hour outside of Austin, was depending on a company called Bitmain – a Bitcoin “mining” company – to bring new jobs and revenue to the town after the Alcoa coal plant closed more than a decade ago. But when Bitcoin started losing value in 2018, Rockdale suffered. Bitmain postponed the opening of its facility, and ended up hiring a fraction of the several-hundred people it had originally promised. 

Julia Reihs/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Texas will soon become the second state to require high school seniors to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Louisiana was the first state to do so.

The new requirement will go into effect in the 2020-2021 school year, with the goal of getting Texans more money for college. 

Andrew Kreighbaum is a federal policy reporter for Inside Higher Ed. He says when college-bound students don’t fill out a FAFSA, they potentially lose out on money available to them. 

Tim Patterson/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

As Texans gear up for the 2020 elections, some hopeful candidates are struggling to get on the ballot. As a result, the Libertarian and Green Parties and others have sued the Texas secretary of state's office, alleging election laws in Texas discriminate against third-party and independent candidates.

Mark Jones is a political science fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute, and says candidates who want to get on the ballot for the governor’s race, for example, but who haven’t won enough votes in past elections, have to get signatures from the public.

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