Texas News & Politics


How the felony corruption case against Rep. Dawnna Dukes unraveled

On Sept. 6, as they were preparing for their corruption trial against state Rep. Dawnna Dukes, a group of Travis County prosecutors went to the Capitol to meet with witnesses they believed were on their side, an official with knowledge of the case recounted. The first meeting was with Steve Adrian, the director of the House Business Office who previously had told a state investigator and a prosecutor...
Judge: Stop blocking abortion for teen immigrant in Texas

Judge: Stop blocking abortion for teen immigrant in Texas

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered Trump administration officials to stop blocking a pregnant 17-year-old immigrant from having an abortion while she’s being detained in Texas after crossing the Mexican border without authorization. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan of Washington, D.C., ordered administration officials to allow the teenager, identified only as Jane Doe, to be taken to an abortion...
Houston school district apologizes for altering homecoming queen's photo

Houston school district apologizes for altering homecoming queen's photo

When Ebony Smith was awarded the homecoming queen honors last week at a Houston-area school, she posed for the photo in a purple-jeweled crown nestled on her purple-dyed hair. The brightly colored hair is a dress code violation at North Shore Senior High School in Galena Park, just east of Houston, but how the school handled it caught everyone off guard. When the photo of Smith, alongside Homecoming...
Commentary: Helping immigrants should not mean denying them care

Commentary: Helping immigrants should not mean denying them care

The immigrant community is deeply committed to the values that this country works to uphold — values that brought many of us to this nation. The idea of the United States as a beacon for those fleeing persecution is deeply held by many communities, including many of those who come to the United States seeking a better life for themselves and their families. The Catholic community is also called...
Nebraska senator spills Dr Pepper on Ted Cruz during hearing

Nebraska senator spills Dr Pepper on Ted Cruz during hearing

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, has been “cut off” after spilling a soft drink on Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, during a hearing Wednesday with Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “General, thanks for being here. There was some drama there,” Sasse, Republican senator, said to Sessions. “Sorry to have added to the drama and distracted you for a minute. I was paying enough attention...
U.S. judge: Immigrant in Texas must have access to abortion

U.S. judge: Immigrant in Texas must have access to abortion

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered Trump administration officials to stop blocking a pregnant 17-year-old immigrant from having an abortion while she’s being detained in Texas after crossing the Mexican border illegally. After a hearing in her courtroom in Washington, D.C., U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan ordered administration officials to allow the teenager, identified only as Jane Doe...
Amarillo school employees on leave after allegations of negative remarks about student with disabilities

Amarillo school employees on leave after allegations of negative remarks about student with disabilities

A Facebook post that went viral alleged five Amarillo Independent School District employees made disparaging remarks about a student with disabilities, and now the district has placed the employees in question on administrative leave pending an investigation. According to the Amarillo Globe-News, Angela Hartfelder came across the Facebook post Friday morning and said she recognized the people in the...
City of Austin declares Oct. 20 ‘Tom Petty Day’

City of Austin declares Oct. 20 ‘Tom Petty Day’

The City of Austin, by way of a proclamation by Mayor Steve Adler, has named Oct. 20 “Tom Petty Day,” KVUE reports.  The day, this Friday, would have marked the singer’s 67th birthday.  Below is the text of the proclamation issued by Adler: Petty died earlier this month after suffering a cardiac arrest. The city was encouraged to designate the...
Commentary: Let’s build global consensus for reconnecting with nature

Commentary: Let’s build global consensus for reconnecting with nature

During the past few weeks, millions of people around the Gulf of Mexico have experienced the fury of Mother Nature. Four massive hurricanes and two earthquakes have devastated numerous communities. It is humbling to realize that despite enormous technical advancements, we are still as much at the mercy of nature’s wrath as the Teotihuacanos in southern Mexico were 2,000 years ago. When violent...
Commentary: Why Hartnett White is dangerous for environmental council

Commentary: Why Hartnett White is dangerous for environmental council

With each new appointee to the Trump administration, it’s like the president is trolling us. Put someone who sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 14 times in charge of the agency? Check. Appoint a man who wanted to eliminate the Department of Energy as its head? Check. But you ain’t seen nothing yet. Trump’s newest choice for the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality &ndash...

TEXAS DIGEST: A third of Rockport might not be rebuilt

ROCKPORT Mayor: Third of town may not be rebuilt The mayor of the Gulf Coast community of Rockport says Hurricane Harvey destroyed about a third of the town and that 30 to 35 percent of it will probably never be rebuilt. Mayor Charles “C.J.” Wax said during a panel discussion Tuesday in Victoria that only about 300 businesses out of the 1,300 in Rockport have reopened since Harvey came...
Lockhart balloon crash prompts call for medical checks on pilots

Lockhart balloon crash prompts call for medical checks on pilots

At its final hearing into the incident, the National Transportation Safety Board concluded Tuesday that the Federal Aviation Administration’s lack of oversight of commercial balloon pilots contributed to the deadly Lockhart balloon crash, which killed the pilot and all 15 paying passengers in July 2016. The safety board recommended that the FAA require medical checks for commercial balloon pilots...
Commentary: How social media posts can hurt criminal investigations

Commentary: How social media posts can hurt criminal investigations

Law enforcement officials are facing a new set of challenges in the age of social media. One such challenge is becoming more common — and I feel compelled to call attention to it. The act of capturing video or photographs of crime scenes and posting those images to social media is harmful to law enforcement investigative efforts. This year, we’ve experienced two high-profile incidents...
Commentary: What the U.S. will lose after its withdrawal from UNESCO

Commentary: What the U.S. will lose after its withdrawal from UNESCO

“Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” So begins the preamble to the Constitution of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. They were words written in 1945 by the American poet and playwright Archibald MacLeish, who served on the organization’s governing board at its founding...
NTSB calls on FAA to require medical checks for hot air balloon pilots

NTSB calls on FAA to require medical checks for hot air balloon pilots

Update 10:09 a.m.: The National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday recommended that the Federal Aviation Administration require medical checks for commercial hot air balloon pilots, setting the stage for a showdown between the agencies. The NTSB found that the FAA’s medical certificate exemption for balloon pilots contributed to the July 30, 2016 balloon crash near Lockhart, which killed...

Report: Texas water supplies in farm country pose cancer risks

Researchers with a nonprofit environmental advocacy group warn that high levels of contaminants in drinking water supplies in rural areas of Texas — including Central Texas — and across the country increase risks of cancer and birth defects, according to a report released Tuesday. The Environmental Working Group says drinking water in farm country is threatened by nitrates, chemicals found...
Judge: Gov. Abbott wrong to remove atheist display from Capitol

Judge: Gov. Abbott wrong to remove atheist display from Capitol

Gov. Greg Abbott engaged in improper censorship when he ordered the removal of an atheist group’s mock Nativity display from the Capitol in 2015, a federal judge has ruled. At the time, Abbott described the display — which depicted Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and the Statue of Liberty gazing upon the Bill of Rights as it lay in a manger — as a spiteful...
Texas lawmaker, citing Harvey Weinstein sex abuse scandal, seeks to end Texas Film Commission

Texas lawmaker, citing Harvey Weinstein sex abuse scandal, seeks to end Texas Film Commission

  State Rep. Matt Shaheen, R-Plano, called Monday for an end to the taxpayer-funded Texas Film Commission amid the recent controversy surrounding Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein.  “Over the past week, our nation has grown increasingly alarmed over allegations of rampant sexual abuse by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and others in the motion picture and TV industry,&rdquo...
Commentary: Texas risks harm if it hands over our voter data

Commentary: Texas risks harm if it hands over our voter data

While our state political leaders take pride in bucking Washington, there is one area where they’re being cooperative to our detriment: They are willing to hand a federal commission a treasure trove of voter data going back a decade. Election officials were thankfully forced to pump the brakes recently after we sought help from the courts. But the fight isn’t over. The order blocking some...

Texas ranks 9th in U.S. in rate of women killed by men in 2015, report finds

Texas came in ninth among the top 10 states with the highest rate of women killed by men in 2015, according to the Violence Policy Center’s latest “When Men Murder Women” report. The study said 1,686 women nationwide were killed by men in homicides involving a female victim and a male offender in 2015. Of the women who were killed in 2015, 93 percent were killed by men they knew...
Judge: Gov. Abbott wrong to order atheist exhibit removed from Capitol

Judge: Gov. Abbott wrong to order atheist exhibit removed from Capitol

Gov. Greg Abbott engaged in improper censorship when he ordered the removal of an atheist group’s mock Nativity display from the Capitol in 2015, a federal judge has ruled. At the time, Abbott described the display — which depicted Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and the Statue of Liberty gazing upon the Bill of Rights as it lay in a manger — as a spiteful...
Taking social flight with Travis Audubon, Waller Creek Conservancy, American Gateways

Taking social flight with Travis Audubon, Waller Creek Conservancy, American Gateways

It was like drifting from one waking dream to another. Heading to the Waller Creek Conservancy benefit. Contributed by © David Brendan Hall / http://www.davidhallphotog.com I first encountered that certain fantastical aspect to the Waller Creek Conservancy, which plans a series of high-design parks along a neglected stretch of downtown waterway, at a large dinner...
Texas Digest: Memorial service for slain Texas Tech officer Tuesday

Texas Digest: Memorial service for slain Texas Tech officer Tuesday

EL PASO Memorial service set for slain officer A public memorial service is planned this week in El Paso for Texas Tech University police officer Floyd East Jr., who was fatally shot last week in Lubbock. The East, 48, was an El Paso native, and the memorial service is set for noon Tuesday at the Abraham Chavez Theatre in downtown El Paso. A 19-year-old student from Seguin, Hollis Daniels III, is...
PolitiFact: 1 of 10 babies is born in Texas

PolitiFact: 1 of 10 babies is born in Texas

A Fort Worth pediatrician who supports continued federal backing of health insurance for children of the working poor suggested it’s an important issue in these parts because 10 percent of Americans start as Texans. Joyce Mauk, president of the Texas Pediatric Society, was quoted by the American-Statesman as saying: “One in 10 babies born in this country is born in Texas, and so it affects...
Commentary: Stop development deals. Get Amazon with the ‘Texas Model’

Commentary: Stop development deals. Get Amazon with the ‘Texas Model’

Austin is vying for Amazon’s impressive new “HQ2” — a second company headquarters that could supercharge the local economy with $5 billion in capital investment and 50,000 new, good-paying jobs. Landing the state-of-the-art campus would be nothing short of blockbuster. While Austin has much to offer and much to gain, it shouldn’t fall into the trap of proposing a mammoth...
Commentary: Amazon wants its HQ2 in utopia — and tax breaks, too

Commentary: Amazon wants its HQ2 in utopia — and tax breaks, too

Forget El Dorado, Brigadoon, the Emerald City, Seven Cities of Gold or Shangri-La. The city of Amazon, USA, is a shimmering on your horizon like a barely visible holograph from the future. Above it is a sign in otherworldly neon: All This Could Be Yours. Amazon is looking to locate a spanking new 50,000-employee headquarters somewhere in North America. To put the promise in perspective, it’d...
Alamo Cenotaph rally turns against George P. Bush’s re-election bid

Alamo Cenotaph rally turns against George P. Bush’s re-election bid

A demonstration Saturday to “Save the Alamo Cenotaph” morphed into a rally to defeat Land Commissioner George P. Bush for re-election in 2018. “They kind of go hand-in-hand,” said Lee Spencer White, founder of the Alamo Defenders Descendants Association. White called Saturday’s rally to challenge a master plan for redesigning the Alamo site, which includes restoring the...

TEXAS DIGEST: FBI investigates Columbus Day vandalism of tribe’s statue

EL PASO FBI probes Columbus Day vandalism of tribe’s statue A $10,000 reward is being offered as the FBI continues investigating the Columbus Day vandalism of a statue of a Native American woman on tribal land in West Texas. The El Paso Times reports federal authorities are investigating who poured red paint on a statue honoring Nestora Granillo Piarote, a member of the Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo...

Immigrant teen’s advocates: U.S. pushing anti-abortion agenda

Shortly after taking over the U.S. government office that oversees facilities for unaccompanied immigrant children, Scott Lloyd told a subordinate what to do with a teenager who wanted an abortion. Facilities under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services “should not be supporting abortion services pre or post-release,” but rather “life-affirming options counseling,&rdquo...
Local members of Congress react to Trump’s Iran policy change

Local members of Congress react to Trump’s Iran policy change

Members of Congress from Texas reacted to President Donald Trump’s announcement Friday that he would not certify Iran’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. The move reopens the door to Congress to reimpose sanctions against Iran. Here’s what they said: “President Trump has rightly determined that U.S. sanctions relief for Iran is not in the national security interests of...
Latinos had income gains, but not all the news is rosy

Latinos had income gains, but not all the news is rosy

Bladimira Martinez takes notes while her daughter and business associate, Yessenia Ramirez, conducts business in Pflugerville last month. Martinez recently started her own cleaning company after years of working for others at or near minimum wage. NICK WAGNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN The headlines have been heartening lately for Latinos in Austin and across the country, at...

TEXAS DIGEST: Fitness guru accused of multimillion-dollar fraud

FORT WORTH Fitness guru accused of multimillion-dollar fraud A North Texas fitness guru has been charged with submitting over $25 million in fraudulent claims to insurance companies. David Williams of Fort Worth is free on bond after his Thursday arrest. A criminal complaint alleges that between November 2012 and this past August, the 54-year-old trainer was paid more than $3.9 million through fraudulent...
Hearing halted on blocking Texas data for Trump election panel

Hearing halted on blocking Texas data for Trump election panel

A hearing over whether Texas can comply with a Trump administration request for state voter data, set for Monday in Austin, has been canceled by a state appeals court. State District Judge Tim Sulak had issued a temporary restraining order on Oct. 3 to block Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos from providing information on Texas voters — including full names, addresses and voting history...
ICE plans new 1,000-bed facility in South Texas ‘detention alley’

ICE plans new 1,000-bed facility in South Texas ‘detention alley’

As the Trump administration cracks down on illegal immigration, the federal government is making plans for a new privately run detention center along Interstate 35 in South Texas, adding 1,000 beds to what is already the world’s largest immigrant detention system. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement this month asked private companies to submit preliminary proposals for a new facility housing...
Will regulators shrug off the Lockhart balloon crash that killed 16?

Will regulators shrug off the Lockhart balloon crash that killed 16?

When balloon pilot Alfred “Skip” Nichols crashed his nine-story-tall hot air balloon into power lines near Lockhart in July 2016, the deadliest hot air balloon crash in modern American history did more than kill 16 people. It upended the lives of countless family members and loved ones. The toll on Patricia Morgan’s family was particularly grim: She lost both her daughter and her...
After Hurricane Harvey, Port Aransas faces long road to recovery

After Hurricane Harvey, Port Aransas faces long road to recovery

When the din of power saws and hammering had stopped, quiet filled the streets of Port Aransas on a recent warm Friday afternoon. Just blocks from the wrecked shops, restaurants and vacation rentals, the beach, cleared of debris, was empty. Seven weeks after the eye of Hurricane Harvey passed just north of this idyllic beach town of 4,000 residents — whose eccentric and laid-back vibe has made...
Texas among states most affected by lag in Hispanic education

Texas among states most affected by lag in Hispanic education

As America’s Hispanic population has expanded, the group has had an increasingly larger role in the country’s workforce. Despite that trend, a new study shows Hispanics are having a more difficult time than other ethnicities in landing better-paying jobs, with the shortfall being driven by a gap in higher educational attainment. The issue has particular impact in states such as Texas,...
Herman: Twitter silence from Texas Tweeter Laureate

Herman: Twitter silence from Texas Tweeter Laureate

The commander-in-tweet has shut down and shut up the official Tweeter Laureate of Texas. Sad. Thanks for nothing, Trump, you grump. After eight years and just under 26,000 of the more entertaining tweets on the planet, Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett’s Twitter feed ceased and desisted a couple of weeks ago. Specifically, the de facto restraining order was issued Sept. 28 in a White House...
Industry jockeying to raise billboards sky-high

Industry jockeying to raise billboards sky-high

The State of Texas has drawn a line in the sky that limits the height of billboards along our highways. Unfortunately, many billboard owners regularly ignore it. A number of the billboards that are subject to state regulation exceed the current height limit of 42 ½ feet, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. Ignorance is no defense since the permit application for every billboard...
Why Texas leaders erected Confederate monuments at the Capitol

Why Texas leaders erected Confederate monuments at the Capitol

Texas lawmakers in 1895 approved a monument “to the Confederate dead” to be placed on the grounds of the Capitol. Eight years later, more than 5,000 people gathered to see the Confederate Soldiers Monument unveiled — a particularly large crowd considering Austin’s population at the turn of the last century was just 22,000. At the unveiling, John H. Reagan, the former Confederate...
Trump wants former TCEQ head to lead his environmental advisory panel

Trump wants former TCEQ head to lead his environmental advisory panel

President Donald Trump has announced plans to nominate Kathleen Hartnett White, a climate change skeptic and former chairwoman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, to head the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality. White serves as a distinguished senior fellow-in-residence and director of the Armstrong Center for Energy and the Environment at the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation...
CIA’s Pompeo calls out WikiLeaks at UT; Assange responds via Twitter

CIA’s Pompeo calls out WikiLeaks at UT; Assange responds via Twitter

CIA Director Mike Pompeo, speaking at the University of Texas Thursday, called WikiLeaks a hostile non-state intelligence agency bent on the destruction of the United States, and also identified Hezbollah as another “perfect example” of a non-state threat that has to be defeated. As Pompeo was answering questions at the 2017 Texas National Security Forum at the Etter-Harbin Alumni Center...
House approves $36.5 billion in disaster relief after Abbott blowup

House approves $36.5 billion in disaster relief after Abbott blowup

The U.S. House passed a $36.5 billion emergency funding package Thursday to help victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and California wildfires, a day after Gov. Greg Abbott urged the 36 House members from Texas to vote against it. Abbott’s harsh criticism of the bill in a Houston Chronicle story Wednesday — and of the Texas GOP members of Congress, in particular, as “spineless&rdquo...
Tortoise (not a turtle) stumps park officials with Texas beach trip

Tortoise (not a turtle) stumps park officials with Texas beach trip

Wait a second... you’re not a sea turtle. A video of a lone, possibly lost, but characteristically slow and steady tortoise wandering the beach at Texas’ Mustang Island was shared to the park’s Facebook page earlier this week. The video was captured by a park visitor who questioned what the little guy was doing so far from his preferred habitat of “dry scrub and grasslands...
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