Texas

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

Fire In Big Bend National Park Destroys Historic Sites, Causes Closures

May 24, 2019
Historic barracks and officers quarters in Big Bend National Park were extensively damaged in an overnight fire on Thursday.
Tom VandenBerg / National Park Service

A fire that started in Mexico and jumped the Rio Grande soon after has ignited fires on the U.S. side of the river in Big Bend National Park, causing damage to historic buildings and forcing site closures throughout the southern pocket of the sprawling West Texas park.

Central American migrants who were detained in a Border Patrol holding facility in McAllen, Texas, described atrocious living conditions and widespread sickness.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection shut down its largest migrant processing center in South Texas for 24 hours on Tuesday after 32 detainees got sick with the flu. This is the same location where a 16-year-old Guatemalan boy became sick, and died Monday at another Border Patrol station.

Julia Reihs / KUT

Susan Morrison was two years old when her dad left.

Her mother, Eleanor, was left to care for Susan and her two siblings. The experience led Susan on a journey to change the Texas Constitution to make sure other kids didn't have the same experience she did growing up.

Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Travis Krause grew up on the South Texas plains of Medina County, on land his family has been tending to since 1846. Krause always knew he wanted to carry on the tradition, but when he left the family ranch to study wildlife and fisheries sciences at Texas A&M University, his father encouraged him not to come back. For years, Krause’s dad wasn’t able to make a living from his cow and calf operation, and he didn’t want the same hardships for his son.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Momentum for one of Gov. Greg Abbott's priority issues this legislative session appears to have dwindled. Ordinances passed in Dallas, Austin and other Texas cities, which require private employers to offer paid sick leave to employees, will remain on the books now that an attempt to prohibit them failed to pass in the legislature.

Miguel Gutierrez / Texas Tribune

Over the tearful opposition of the Legislature’s first-ever LGBTQ Caucus and several failed attempts at a procedural block, the Texas House passed a religious liberty bill Monday that LGBTQ advocates fear would license discrimination against their communities.

A 16-year-old has become the fifth migrant child since December to die after being apprehended at the U.S. border.

Philips Communications/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Brazil is a country rich in resources, and driven by a perpetual sense of hopefulness about its future. But it’s also a place plagued by corruption. Most recently, federal prosecutors there are investigating an alleged cartel of U.S. and European companies that supposedly paid Brazilian officials in order to land contracts to put more of their medical devices in Brazil’s public health system.

Photo courtesy of Denson Carman Fontenot

From Texas Standard:

On Valentine’s Day this year, Denson Carman Fontenot walked into All Faiths Funeral & Cremation Services in Austin to make arrangements for his daughter Courtney Meeks. Meeks was a mother of two girls. She was 32, and she struggled with her mental health, addiction and homelessness.

a Whataburger restaurant
Carlo Nasisse /KUT

From Texas Standard:

Whataburger ranks No. 7 among the country's Top 10 burger chains. But here in Texas, few brands, burger or otherwise, inspire as much loyalty. News that the company has hired investment bank Morgan Stanley to "explore our options," which it said in a statement to the San Antonio Business Journal, has many fans worried about its future. Whataburger's motivation isn't clear, but expansion could be on the menu.

Joaquin Castro On Insulin Prices And The President's New Immigration Plan

May 17, 2019
Photo courtesy of RAICES

From Texas Standard:

U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro is focused on two very different issues right now: convincing drug companies to drop the price of insulin, and speaking out against President Donald Trump's new immigration plan.

Natalie Krebs/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Many Millennials, who are often saddled with student debt and face a sometimes shaky job market, have put off large purchases like homes. But that’s not the case in Midland.

Juan Figueroa for KUT

County judges and voting groups say they're concerned an update to a sweeping voting bill could reduce the number of countywide polling places in minority communities – particularly in larger metropolitan areas in Texas.

Galveston's Year-Round Oyster Harvest Halted After Ship Channel Chemical Spill

May 15, 2019
Spencer Selvidge/KUT

From Texas Standard:

On Sunday thousands of fish, crabs and other sea life washed up dead on beaches surrounding Galveston Bay. The Texas Department of State Health Services has warned people not to eat any seafood from the area, and it halted oyster harvesting in the bay indefinitely.

Rancorous Supreme Court Nomination Fights Go Back Further Than You Think

May 15, 2019
Marion S. Trikosko/Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

From Texas Standard:

When there's a vacancy on the Supreme Court, a president has the opportunity to fill that slot with someone who shares his or her political perspective and values. As a result, the president cements a legacy. But nominations can spark backlash from a opponents, which happened when Lyndon Johnson nominated Abe Fortas for chief justice as Johnson was finishing up his term as president in the late 1960s. Some conservative senators vowed to prevent the lame-duck president from pushing through his nominee. This happened more than 50 years ago, but it's an echo of what's happening today with our current president, his Supreme Court nominees and Congress.

Caroline Covington/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Energy is the invisible driver of nearly everything we do. It gets us to work, lights our homes – it even powers the equipment we use to broadcast Texas Standard. Energy – and access to it – determines the wealth, health and growth of societies. Michael Webber explores how energy has shaped civilization in his new book “Power Trip: The Story Of Energy.

Webber says he became interested in the topic during an undergraduate history class at the University of Texas at Austin.

Juan Figueroa / Texas Tribune

After LGBTQ lawmakers in the Texas House killed a religious liberty bill they feared could be dangerous to their community, the Texas Senate has brought it back — and looks to be fast-tracking it.

Pexels

From Texas Standard:

The Trump administration finalized a rule last week that aims to curb the rising cost of prescription drugs. Pharmaceutical companies will have to stipulate the list price of a drug in a TV ad if a month's supply of that drug costs more than $35. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says the rule, which encourages drug companies to be more transparent about their prices, should ultimately benefit consumers.

Chris/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

In 2014, a Cleveland police officer killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was playing at a park with a toy gun – a gun that police thought was real. In the intervening years, police officers have killed approximately 153 more people who were holding toy guns. Investigative reporter Alain Stephens, a Texas Standard alumnus who now contributes to The Trace, says these toy guns look surprisingly realistic, and that’s by design.

Robert Hensley/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

In 1980, writer David Dillon posed the question in a commentary published in Dallas magazine: "Why is Dallas architecture so bad?"

At the time, Dallas was at the height of a building boom, but in Dillon's eyes, new construction in the city did not have the best interests of the public at large at heart. The article launched Dillon's career as a critic of Dallas architecture for the Dallas Morning News, shaping the city's conversation about itself and in so doing, reshaping its landscape.

Teen-aged siblings who were both on a kidney transplant list in San Antonio received organs from the same donor on the same day.

Sandra Bland's Own Video Of 2015 Texas Traffic Stop Surfaces

May 7, 2019
Screenshot from Department of Public Safety dash cam video shows Sandra Bland as she exits her car after DPS officer Brian Encinia has drawn his taser on July 10, 2015.
Texas Department of Public Safety

Cellphone video recorded by Sandra Bland, a black woman found dead in a Texas jail in 2015 following a confrontational traffic stop, shows for the first time her perspective as a white state trooper draws his stun gun and points it at close range while ordering her out of the car.

Abel Cheung, cropped by Noble Story /Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0 )

From Texas Standard:

During the 2016-2017 NBA season, the Houston Rockets shot just over 40 three-pointers a game. That was a record at the time, but it didn't last long. The next season, the Rockets shot more than 42 threes a game – a record that also lasted only one season. This past year, the Rockets broke their own record once again, shooting 45 threes a game.

In Austin, Texas, a new raft of anti-LGBT legislation is working its way through the state legislature. One of the bills would allow state licensed professionals of all stripes — from doctors and pharmacists to plumbers and electricians — to deny services on religious grounds. Supporters say the legislation is needed to protect religious freedoms. But opponents call them "religious refusal bills" or "bigot bills."

Lynda M. González/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Many more women and young children are migrating to the U.S. than in years past. But the academic research about their experiences is limited.

Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Edward James Olmos occupies a special place in the hearts of Texans, primarily because he played Selena’s dad, Abraham Quintanilla, in Selena, the biopic about the singer's life. But Olmos’ film acting and directing career spans 40 years.

lee leblanc/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

In many parts of Texas, it has become a lot easier to recycle in recent years. Got a plastic bottle or an aluminum can? Just throw them into the blue bin instead of the gray one. But problems inside and outside of Texas have led to issues with our recycling system.

For one thing, not everything can go into the blue bin. Lots of things aren’t recyclable, so let’s sort out some of those misconceptions first.

Flickr/AgriLife Today (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Ranchers and cattlemen have some beef with U.S. meatpackers. They claim the meatpackers are purposefully driving down the price the cattle raisers get for their beef. In 2015, meatpackers started to pay ranchers less for their cattle. It would make sense then, that the price of ribeye in the supermarket would also drop around that time. But that didn't happen.

Stephanie Tacy/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Texas news outlets often report on death penalty stories, given that the state leads the nation in prisoner executions. But rarely do reports tell the stories of women on death row. Those women are housed in a prison in Gatesville, and as I wait for the guards to bring over inmate Linda Carty, I notice the room is very different from the crammed spaces where I’ve interviewed men on death row. There’s still glass separating us, but this room is spacious and well-lit.

'Avengers: Endgame' Is A Cultural Moment

Apr 26, 2019
Twitter Trends 2019 /Flickr (CC BY 2.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

From Texas Standard:

After 11 years and 21 movies, the epic conclusion to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU, hit theaters Thursday, and it sent shockwaves through the internet.

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