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Introducing “Texas Standard” – News, Arts & Culture By Texans, For Texans

There’s a new weekday news, arts and culture program coming to the West Texas airwaves – Texas Standard.

Produced at KUT in Austin, with collaboration from public radio stations in big cities and small towns across the state, Texas Standard brings West Texas listeners a new source for expansive coverage of statewide, national and international news – from a distinctly Texan perspective.

Starting on Monday, March 2 – Texas Independence Day – you can catch the show live each weekday from 10 – 11 am. 

Classical Midday will still air from 11 am – noon each weekday.

In addition to carrying the program, we’ll also be regularly contributing to it – bringing the sounds, stories and unique personalities of West Texas to listeners across the state.

In the meantime, you can check out some of the of innovative radio journalism we’re bringing to West Texas next week. Our reporters have already been featured on the program in recent weeks.


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A Border Patrol veihicle drives past vehicle barriers near Deming, NM. (Jim Greenhill via Flickr/Creative Commons)

A Border Patrol veihicle drives past vehicle barriers near Deming, NM. (Jim Greenhill via Flickr/Creative Commons)

DHS Employees Prepare For Possible Shut Down

PHOENIX – The president’s plan to use executive action to help an additional 4 million or so unauthorized immigrants get work permits has its share of opponents.

Among its critics is the union representing some 18,000 Border Patrol agents, the National Border Patrol Council.

Agent Chris Cabrera is with the union in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, which is the busiest part of the border.

“We are out here risking our lives every day,” Cabrera said. “And for someone to come in and throw a de facto amnesty on the table, it just goes against our basic mission as an agency.”

But a fight in Congress over the president’s immigration executive actions is now impacting Cabrera and his colleagues’ wallets.

The Department of Homeland Security, which includes Border Patrol, will run out of funding on Friday.

House Republicans’ funding measure for DHS adds on a provision to end the president’s immigration programs. But Democrats won’t agree to that.


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Raymond Skiles, the Park's wildlife biologist, has monitored the bird since the 1980s. (Ian Lewis / KXWT)

Raymond Skiles, the Park's wildlife biologist, has monitored the bird since the 1980s. (Ian Lewis / KXWT)

Big Bend National Park Continues Annual Trail Closure To Protect Peregrine Falcons

The peregrine falcons are returning to Big Bend National Park for their breeding season, and the Park, as they have done in previous years, has closed a small section of the South Rim trail of the Chisos Mountains to hikers, to give the birds a quiet and safe place to raise their young.

Every February, Raymond Skiles – the Park’s wildlife biologist – hikes up to the South Rim with trail closure signs, to keep hikers from getting too close to the peregrine falcon’s nesting area.


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A Border Patrol truck traveling on US 90 between Alpine and Marfa. (Armand Morin)

A Border Patrol truck traveling on US 90 between Alpine and Marfa. (Armand Morin)

Border Agents Would Work through a Homeland Security Shutdown

As the showdown in Washington over funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) gets closer to a Friday deadline, two lawmakers in Virginia are pushing a last-minute bill that would guarantee that border agents and other homeland security employees receive backpay if a deal isn’t reached by the deadline.

Republican Representatives Don Beyer and Rob Wittman introduced the “DHS Employee Retroactive Pay Act” on Tuesday.

The lawmakers say the bill’s aim is to provide “a degree of certainty” for the department’s employees, who for the most part would be expected to work through a homeland security shutdown.

“[Border Patrol] agents are exempt from furlough, so they will continue to do their jobs,” says Bill Brooks with the Border Patrol’s Big Bend Sector.

Gil Kerlikowske – Commissioner for the Border Patrol’s parent agency Customs and Border Protection (CBP) – is pushing for Congress to come up with a funding solution, saying a shutdown would have “significant” impact on cross-border trade, and on DHS employees directly.


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A worker transfers crude oil from a truck to a pipeline that sends the oil to several states. The FBI says a recent case involving stolen oil has set a precedent. The courts ruled that the theft of oil by implication meant the oil was destined to cross state lines, meaning the weight of federal law can now be applied to cases that once were tried in state court. Tools and equipment stolen here have also been smuggled to borderland Mexico.(Lorne Matalon)

A worker transfers crude oil from a truck to a pipeline that sends the oil to several states. The FBI says a recent case involving stolen oil has set a precedent. The courts ruled that the theft of oil by implication meant the oil was destined to cross state lines, meaning the weight of federal law can now be applied to cases that once were tried in state court. Tools and equipment stolen here have also been smuggled to borderland Mexico.(Lorne Matalon)

Theft In The Oilfields Of Texas and New Mexico Traced To Borderland Mexico

The decline in the price of crude oil is translating into job losses in the oilfields of Texas and New Mexico.

And that means there’s renewed focus on an ongoing problem in the oilfields, and that’s the theft of oil, tools, piping and copper wire by laid off or disgruntled workers.

The FBI has a team working full-time to identify stolen oilfield equipment which in at least one case was smuggled to borderland Mexico.

“They live paycheck to paycheck,” said Midland County, Texas Sheriff Gary Painter driving past an oil well.


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A view of the metal containers carrying marijuana that were found by CBP officers at the Presidio Port of Entry. (CBP)

A view of the metal containers carrying marijuana that were found by CBP officers at the Presidio Port of Entry. (CBP)

Odessa Man Arrested after Failed Smuggling Attempt at Presidio Border Crossing

An Odessa man was arrested at the Presidio-Ojinaga, Mexico border crossing on Monday after attempting to smuggle 124 pounds of marijuana into the U.S.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) says the bust happened around 7 am Monday when 53-year-old Jose Antonio Tarango entered the Presidio Port of Entry from Mexico in a 2001 Chevrolet Silverado truck.

A CBP officer instructed the vehicle aside for a secondary inspection, where the agency says officers noticed “anomalies” in all of the truck’s four tires.

After an x-ray scan of the vehicle, officers located what CBP describes as “specially made metal collars” attached to all four rims that were found to be filled with marijuana.

Tarango was arrested and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to face federal drug smuggling charges.

Two planned pipelines would export natural gas from the Permian Basin across the border to Mexico. (Energy Transfer Partners)

Two planned pipelines would export natural gas from the Permian Basin across the border to Mexico. (Energy Transfer Partners)

West Texas to Mexico Pipelines On Track for 2017 Finish

A Dallas-based company looking to build two sizable natural gas pipelines from Far West Texas to Mexico says it plans to have both pipelines built and operating by early 2017.

Energy Transfer won a contract from Mexico’s electricity commission to build the manage the pipeline’s construction. It’s estimated the two 42″ lines could carry a combined 2.8 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day.

In an earnings call this week, the company’s CEO Kelcy Warren – also the owner of the Lajitas Golf Resort near Big Bend National Park – said the company’s making progress on meeting that timeline.

“We’re very excited about our business south to Mexico,” Warren said. “The next two projects that we were winners on, we’re looking at both of them to come on in the first quarter of 2017, and we are finalizing negotiations and everything is on track to that timeline.”

One of the pipelines would stretch from near the towns of Monahans and Pecos south through the Marfa area to Presidio. The other would travel from the same area west to the border near El Paso.

Some West Texans are worried about how the pipeline’s construction would impact roads and the environment, while some people across the border are wary of selling their land for development on the Mexican side.

The company’s also looking to expand its holdings in South Texas and other parts of the Permian Basin.

Cars and trucks heading east on Interstate I-10 east of El Paso pass through a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint in Hudspeth County, Texas. The county, the first gatekeeper in the state legal system, is not accepting federally initiated drug cases sent to it from the checkpoint. (Lorne Matalon)

Cars and trucks heading east on Interstate I-10 east of El Paso pass through a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint in Hudspeth County, Texas. The county, the first gatekeeper in the state legal system, is not accepting federally initiated drug cases sent to it from the checkpoint. (Lorne Matalon)

Texas County Declines To Accept Federal Drug Cases From Border Patrol Checkpoint

SIERRA BLANCA, Texas – A border county in Texas with two U.S. Border Patrol highway checkpoints is refusing to prosecute drug cases previously sent to it from those checkpoints.

The county—and all four states bordering Mexico—wants funding from Washington, D.C. to handle cases that federal prosecutors decide to send to state courts.

But federal money has run dry.

A program that reimbursed California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas for prosecuting federally initiated cases hasn’t been funded since 2013.

The largest of the two federal checkpoints in the county is sometimes dubbed “Checkpoint of the Stars” because people such as Willie Nelson, Snoop Dog (aka Snoop Lion) and Fiona Apple have been arrested here after dogs detected marijuana.


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Prada Marfa near Valentine, Texas on February 18, 2015 (Travis Bubenik / KXWT)

Prada Marfa near Valentine, Texas on February 18, 2015 (Travis Bubenik / KXWT)

Renovation of Damaged Prada Marfa Art Installation Begins

Renovation of the badly damaged Prada Marfa art installation near Valentine, Texas has begun and will continue over the next few weeks.

The popular roadside art installation was vandalized by a Waco resident named Joe Magnano almost a year ago, an act Magnano claimed was meant to be its own kind of art and an act of protest.

Magnano pleaded guilty to criminal mischief charges in November, and was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, plus $10,000 in restitution to Ballroom Marfa, the nonprofit art gallery that takes care of the installation.

Ballroom has estimated restoring the piece could cost anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000.

The gallery’s deputy director Katherine Shaughnessy says the restitution money likely won’t be enough to  cover the cost of completely restoring the piece.

That effort began this week with the careful removal of the installation’s awning, “Prada Marfa” emblem and glass.


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Modular concrete canisters containing nuclear waste are shown at the bottom of a storage pit near Andrews, Texas. (Dave Bowser)

Modular concrete canisters containing nuclear waste are shown at the bottom of a storage pit near Andrews, Texas. (Dave Bowser)

West Texas Site Wants Nation’s Spent Nuclear Fuel

Texas’ only radioactive waste dump wants to open its gates to tens of thousands of metric tons of spent nuclear reactor fuel now scattered across the country – a large expansion it is pitching as a temporary solution for a problem that has bedeviled federal policymakers for decades.

Waste Control Specialists is seeking federal approval to temporarily store highly radioactive waste at its complex in Andrews County, northwest of Midland. In a letter sent Friday to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the company, formerly owned by the late Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons, said it plans to file a federal license application in early 2016.

“Our nation needs a safe, centralized interim storage solution,” company President Rod Baltzer told reporters Monday. “We believe Andrews County and WCS offers that safe storage solution.”


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Texas_Standard_Centered_HD
A Border Patrol veihicle drives past vehicle barriers near Deming, NM. (Jim Greenhill via Flickr/Creative Commons)
Raymond Skiles, the Park's wildlife biologist, has monitored the bird since the 1980s. (Ian Lewis / KXWT)
The KXWT tower in Gardendale, TX. (KXWT File Photo)
A Border Patrol truck traveling on US 90 between Alpine and Marfa. (Armand Morin)
Texas_Standard_Centered_HD

Introducing “Texas Standard” – News, Arts & Culture By Texans, For Texans

There’s a new weekday news, arts and culture program coming to the West Texas airwaves – Texas Standard.

Produced at KUT in Austin, with collaboration from public radio stations in big cities and small towns across the state, Texas Standard brings West Texas listeners a new source for expansive coverage of statewide, national and international news – from a distinctly Texan perspective.

Starting on Monday, March 2 – Texas Independence Day – you can catch the show live each weekday from 10 – 11 am. 

Classical Midday will still air from 11 am – noon each weekday.

In addition to carrying the program, we’ll also be regularly contributing to it – bringing the sounds, stories and unique personalities of West Texas to listeners across the state.

In the meantime, you can check out some of the of innovative radio journalism we’re bringing to West Texas next week. Our reporters have already been featured on the program in recent weeks.

Continue reading

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The KXWT tower in Gardendale, TX. (KXWT File Photo)

KXWT Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Update 7:30 PM (2/25/15): AT&T resolved its issue and we’re back on-air at 91.3 FM.

We’re experiencing technical difficulties with our 91.3 FM signal this afternoon, but are working as quick as we can to get it back up to speed. Thanks for your patience!

Remember you can still stream us online – just click here – or find us on the NPR News app, TuneIn Radio, or any other mobile online radio app.

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Classical Pianist Richard Dowling (Peter Schaaf)

KXWT Presents: Classical Pianist Richard Dowling in Midland

Join us for an evening of classical music from Texas-born pianist Richard Dowling in Midland on Wednesday, February 25 at 7 PM. 

Dowling has been hailed as “an especially impressive fine pianist.” Others have praised his work for its “impeccable control of colors and textures” and its “magnetic power.”

His repertoire ranges from Beethoven to Debussy, to the ragtime compositions of Scott Joplin. Dowling is a Texas native who made his orchestral debut with the Fort Worth Symphony at the age of 18. He studied at the Moores School of Music in Houston, and later received his Master’s Degree at Yale University.

The free performance takes place at 7 PM at Saint Nicholas Episcopal Church in Midland – 4000 W. Loop 250 North. No tickets required.

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Texas-born Richard Dowling. (Credit: www.richard-dowling.com)

Richard Dowling, World-Renowned Pianist

Today Julia West speaks to Richard Dowling, the pianist featured in an evening of classical music on Wednesday — February 25 at 7 PM  at Saint Nicholas Episcopal Church in Midland.

Dowling was born in Texas, but he has performed in solo recitals all over the world, from Singapore to Austria. The pianist has won numerous awards and competitions, including the San Antonio International Keyboard Competition and the Houston Tuesday Musical Club Competition.

Dowling received his Master’s Degree at Yale University. He currently lives in New York.

Wednesday’s performance takes place at 4000 W. Loop 250 North.

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KUT: First Same Sex Couple Married in Texas

KUT in Austin reports that the first legal same sex marriage license in Texas has been issued to a couple in Travis County.

Sarah Goodfriend & Suzanne Bryant were officially married this morning, after a court order from a district judge was delivered to Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir to proceed with the marriage.

DeBeuvoir spoke with the Texas Standard about details on the order.

“It’s a temporary restraining order commanding me to immediately cease and desist relying on the unconstitutional Texas prohibitions against same sex marriage.

It’s a court order that says this particular couple has been cited by the court for me to issue a same sex marriage license to.

I am happily following the court order, but the court order only applies to this one couple.”

DeBeuvoir tells KUT the court’s order was based on the understanding that one of the couple is “medically fragile” and “may not survive the wait on what the courts are going to rule in the future as a final decision about gay marriage.”

You can follow KUT and the Texas Standard’s continuing coverage here and here.

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Booster Shot: Heart Attacks

For Booster Shot, this month’s topic is heart attacks.

“When we say you’re having a heart attack,” said Brenda Neckels, Divisional Director of the Center for Heart Disease at Medical Center Hospital, “that means your heart is dying, and the longer amount of time you have that pain, the more tissue dies.”

Heart attacks are caused by a lack of blood flow to the heart, usually by a blockage of plague or an artery spasm.

Signs of heart attacks are different for males and females.

Neckels explained, “The classic man presentation is crushing chest pain, radiating down the arm, maybe up to the jaw, nausea, vomiting, and sweating. And some people have jaw pain without chest pain.”

Women say they feel tired, bloated, and experience abdominal discomfort.

“And a big thing that people will tell you,” Neckels continued, “is if they have a sense of what we call foreboding. So initially, if you’re just having pressure in your chest, you sit down and rest. If it goes away and doesn’t come back, it could have been nothing. If you have a bad feeling about it, and it doesn’t go away, or it comes back when you get back up, then you need to go to a doctor.”

Risk factors for heart attacks include tobacco use, diabetes, high blood pressure, high testosterone, a sedentary lifestyle, and a family history of heart disease.

“So you need to eat less junk, move more, and don’t ever, ever, ever use tobacco products,” Neckels instructed.

Support for Booster Shot is provided by Medical Center Hospital, the only Level 2 Trauma Center in the Permian Basin. More information at 432-640-6000 or mch odessa (dot) com. Medical Center Health System, “Your One Source for Health.”

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