United States

How Mexico supplanted China as the nation’s top trade partner

A shooting at one of the most famous megachurches in Texas, Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston, leaves one dead and a child in critical condition. We’ll have the latest.

For most of the past few decades, the title of “top trading partner to the U.S.” has belonged to China – but the U.S. Census Bureau reports that last year, the United States’ biggest trading partner was Mexico.

Civil rights groups have filed a federal complaint against Bonham ISD alleging disciplinary discrimination against Black and disabled students.
The latest on a mysterious listeria outbreak.

And Russian propagandists twisting the narrative over border standoff between the Biden administration and Gov. Greg Abbott.

Remembering political trailblazer Eddie Bernice Johnson

The death of a giant in Texas politics: reaction to the passing of longtime political trailblazer Eddie Bernice Johnson.

A new year brings a new mayor in Houston. What John Whitmire plans to do to address the most pressing issues facing the city.

What 2024 heralds for one of the busiest thruways in Texas: the north-south corridor of Interstate 35.

An economist with the Dallas Fed shares red flags for Texas employment.

The San Antonio-Havana connection: A new cross-cultural art exchange between the two cities.

Also: Longhorn Nation recovers from a semifinal loss to Washington in the College Football Playoff.

Unraveling the ‘Iron Pipeline’ of gun smuggling from Texas to Mexico

Following the state’s takeover of Houston schools, a plan to eliminate libraries and use the space for kids who misbehave in class.

Watch that water bill: Not only is use up, some municipalities are raising rates to try to drive down demand.

A three-part series explores how the Texas Attorney General’s Office became an incubator for conservative legal strategies that are reshaping Texas and the nation. Eleanor Klibanoff of the Texas Tribune joins with more.

A new focus on trying to cut down the flow of arms from Texas into Mexico.

And we’ll talk to Sethward, the Texan who’s become a viral sensation for losing on “America’s Got Talent.”

Texas outlawed red-light cameras years ago – but this town still has them

As a deadline approaches for bills to be filed in the Texas Legislature, proposals on guns and secession are making headlines. There is rare bipartisan support building around a proposal that proponents say would boost the effectiveness of background checks for buying a firearm, a move prompted by the school shooting in Uvalde.

When it comes to property tax relief, are Texas Republicans a house divided? There is a possible battle looming between the Texas House and Senate.

And the last red-light cameras still giving out tickets in Texas – and the push to switch them off for good.

Why Texas and the U.S. need larger apartments

Is there a Speaker in the House? Texas’ role in the drama over who will lead the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. No state sends more republicans to Congress than Texas, but those republicans are at loggerheads over who to pick as House speaker, and it’s brought Congress to a standstill before the next session’s even underway. Sean Theriault of UT Austin explains what’s happening and why. Also new travel restrictions as a Covid outbreak spreads in China. How concerned should Texans be, and will the restrictions really help? And W.F. Strong looks back on an historic sunken treasure discovery and more today on the Texas Standard:

Corpus Christi designated a World War II Heritage City

A date that will live in infamy, and a new designation for Corpus Christi as a World War II heritage city. We’ll have details. Other stories we’re covering: as the thoughts of many Texans turn to winter preparedness, concerns grow over the power grid and staffing problems for the agency that oversees it. Also a Politifact check of a claim about gun homicides. And remembering a Lubbock-born Texas iconoclast who transformed the creative landscape. Michael Hall of Texas Monthly looks back on the words and music of Jo Carol Pierce who passed away last week. Those stories and much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: March 21, 2022

Historic confirmation hearings begin for the first Black woman nominated to sit on the highest court in the nation. What to expect in the confirmation hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson. A Houston-based legal scholar weighs in. Also, the U.S. repose to the invasion of Ukraine. With President Biden set to go to Europe this week, Texas democratic congressman Mark Veasey of Fort Worth joins us to talk about what comes next. And a Johnson Space Center Historian on Making Space for Women in the story of NASA. And big trouble for small airports across the Lone Star State. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: August 19, 2021

The Biden Administration recommends booster shots for many vaccinated Americans. We’ll take a look at who’ll get them first, why they’re needed and more of what we know about the latest push on the federal front to fight the spread of the Delta variant. Also, what Governor Abbott has made the center of his own pandemic strategy, and why. And a lawsuit that challenges what hospital employers can and can’t mandate. Plus, in our Tech Segment, Omar Gallaga on what the T-Mobile hack may mean for you. And a state lawmaker pushing for changes in virtual learning statewide. All those stories and much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: December 11, 2019

The house moves closer to impeachment, but any closer to the removal of the commander in chief? We’ll do a breakdown of the next steps in the process. As members of the house prepare to vote on the removal of a president, they also hand him a political victory on trade. One that will have a real impact on the Lone Star State. Plus the eyes of Texas might be upon you more than you think. We’ll take a closer look at the state’s network of surveillance centers. And a surprising shift in the incarceration of minorities. Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: January 24, 2019

After school shootings nationwide, a Texas county recruits its very youngest students in an effort to be prepared for the worst. We’ll have the latest. Also, a crisis beyond our borders that could become a crisis on our border in rapid order. Political turmoil in Venezuela reaches a boiling point. We’ll explore. And Texas lawmakers keep promising to focus on education; code for a renewed push for vouchers charter schools and other alternatives? We’ll take a closer look. Plus 19 places to visit in 2019: five of em are in Texas. You may want to take notes. Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: August 28, 2018

After NAFTA, now what? The president says a new trade deal with Mexico doesn’t need Canada along for the ride. What does it mean for Texas? We’ll take a look. Also, for only the second time ever, Texas politicians assemble to drum up support from the state’s disability community. Who’s saying what and do prospective voters like what they’re hearing? And Beto and Ted’s excellent adventure: why a filmmaker is turing a midterm Battle Royale into a motion picture. And starving in the Texas suburbs: hidden hunger and the effort to address it. Plus prehistoric insects buggin the Lone Star State? Those stories and so much more on today’s Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: August 14, 2018

As members of the senate return to Washington, one issue in particular is set for the spotlight, again. The issue of the Border Wall never really went away. But now demands from the President, and a separate issue congress has kicked the can on, appear to be coming together, we’ll explain. And pilots in training report problems with their planes but the Air Force doesn’t want to talk about it. What’s really happening in the skies over Texas? Plus kids return to classes in San Antonio but who’s really playing the teachers salaries? At one community school, a controversy. And are you ready for a visit to the man camps? Those stories and a whole lot more on today’s Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: July 13, 2018

Can the U.S. reduce the number of asylum seekers without leaving them in limbo? Talks underway today with Mexico, we’ll explore the plan and its prospects. Also, if you’re traveling from Dallas to the Texas capitol in 20 minutes, you sure ain’t on IH-35. Instead, it’s the promise of a planned new transport system call the hyperloop. But how much of it is hype? And round up the herbicides. Texas A&M develops a clever way to kill the weeds currently choking Texas cotton growers. Plus state versus city: headed soon for the courts? Also the week in Texas politics with the Texas Tribune and much more today on the Standard:

Texas Standard: March 12, 2018

The president’s gamble over tariffs: why Texas may be in the crosshairs if Europe decides to go tit-for-tat. We’ll have a conversation with the EU ambassador. Plus, full speed ahead for the general election? For dozens of Texas candidates, the brakes are still on for the runoffs. We’ll lift the curtain on what it takes to get past the next political hurdle. And is a historic part of downtown El Paso ready for the bulldozer? Some residents say no one prepared them, and they’re pushing back. Also evangelical women in the era of Trump and me too. After allegations from a porn star and more, can Trump still count on support from the religious right? Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

The One Musician To Get A Ticker Tape Parade Was A Texan

New York City has held over 200 ticker-tape parades since the first one in 1886, which honored the Statue of Liberty. Lindbergh got a ticker-tape parade for his solo transatlantic flight. Jesse Owens was celebrated for his 4 gold medals with a parade in 1936. Churchill had a blizzard of ticker tape float down on him in 1946. The Apollo 11 moon landing team received a hero’s welcome in ticker-tape in 1969. Of all the people and professions honored in this way over 130 years, only one has been a musician.

You might be thinking: Elvis Presley – “Suspicious Minds” but no, Elvis never got a parade. Or maybe you are thinking Michael Jackson – “Billie Jean”, but no, Michael Jackson never received that honor either. You need to think in a more classical way.

The only musician ever to return to America as a kind of conquering hero was Harvey Lavan “Van” Cliburn, Jr., a tall, lanky Texan from Kilgore. In 1958, he managed to pull back the iron curtain and thaw the cold war for a few magical weeks. And he didn’t do with a Springfield Rifle or a Sherman tank: he did with a Steinway.

Nigel Cliff, Van Cliburn’s biographer, says that his genius revealed itself early. His mom, Rildia Bee, quite an accomplished pianist herself, taught piano at home. She had just finished with her last pupil of the day and left young Van sitting with him while he practiced his Chopin before going home. She went to fix supper. After fifteen minutes she heard the young student still playing and went back to hurry him home. She was surprised to find 3-year-old Van there playing Chopin by ear. So his mom immediately made him one of her students.

At ten, Van told his mom and dad that his dream was to become a classical pianist. His father said, “Well if you are going to be a pianist, you’re going to be the best.” He built a music room onto their ranch-style home’s garage and furnished it with a Steinway. There, Van Cliburn practiced three to four hours a day and by the time he was 16, he had amassed the ten thousand hours they say is required to turn aptitude into artistry.

Van did have distractions along the way. As he grew well over six feet before high school, the basketball coach came to recruit him. His mom told the coach that Van’s hands were insured for a million dollars. No way he was going to risk them playing basketball.

Van Cliburn was accepted to Juilliard when he was 17. Would have loved to have seen him arrive there and lean his lanky Texas frame against his professor’s door and say, “Howdy, I’m here to study music with y’all.”

He excelled there, too, and was accepted a few years later to compete at the Moscow International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition. This event was Russia’s way of showing the world that they not only led technologically, having put Sputnik, mankind’s first satellite, in space six months before, but that they were also culturally superior to the decadent West.

Here is where the Texan entered. He strolled confidently across the stage and shocked the Russians with his mastery of Tchaikovsky. Olga Kern, one of the finest Russian classical pianists alive today, said, “Van Cliburn won because he played in a grand way. Soaring. It was beautiful; the piano was singing. It sounded so new and fresh. It was incredible.” And when she visited his boyhood home in Kilgore years later, she said that she understood where he got that style because East Texas had enormous trees, vast fields, and a natural sublimity that perhaps shaped him.

Van Cliburn had a reception in Moscow that would have been the envy of any rock star. Women swooned. They cried over his powerful and fresh interpretation of Tchaikovsky. They brought flowers to the stage and laid them before the piano. And when the judges believed he had won, they were afraid to award him the victory. So they went to Khrushchev himself and asked if they could declare Van Cliburn the winner. Khrushchev asked, “Did he win? Well, give it to him.”

And so Van Cliburn returned to New York a victorious cultural warrior. He was given a ticker-tape parade like none other – the only one, ever, for a musician. He made the cover of Time Magazine. The headline read: “The Texan Who Conquered Russia.”

Texas Standard: February 20, 2017

One month after taking office, historically low approval ratings for the President: but in Texas new numbers tell quite a different story. Also a working vacation for members of congress? Many appear to be busy this week avoiding hometown constituents but who’s gonna pay for that wall? Mexico warns the price for deteriorating relations may be an end to intelligence cooperation. And have you seen the redbuds blooming? Seen the calendar? A new reality taking root in Texas. And the first president of the united states was… John who? Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

One Texan In The Global Village

There is an unusual map of the world that was once a popular poster. You still see it around in many places because it is a map that makes you see the world in new ways. This map reduces the world’s 7.3 billion people to a village of just 100 people. It keeps all the ratios the same so we can get a look at the world in miniature.

So on this map you will see that there are 60 Asians in the world – that’s counting China, Japan, India and Eastern Russia. More than half of the world lives in Asia.

Europe has 11 people. Africa has a few more: 16. Africa has a lot more room. If you add all of the Americas together, from the North Pole all the way down to Tierra del Fuego in Argentina, you get 14 people.

The United States is only five people. Texas is one whole person in that village. Imagine. Out of the entire population of this vast planet, only one gets the honor, the rare pleasure of being a Texan.

Reminds me of another map observation from Bob Wheeler, author of “Forged of a Hotter Fire.” I like to make sure I mention Wheeler’s book whenever I can because his work floats around the internet with his name divorced from it. He gets no credit.

Here is what Bob Wheeler has to say in his marvelous little Texas-centric book: “Look at Texas for me for just a second. That picture with the Panhandle and the Gulf Coast and the Red River and the Rio Grande is as much a part of you as anything ever will be. As soon as anyone anywhere in the world looks at it they know what it is. It’s Texas. Take any kid off the street in Japan and draw him a picture of Texas in the dirt and he’ll know what it is.”

Wheeler said that he thought “most everyone everywhere would like, just once, to be a real Texan – to ride a horse or drive a pickup,” perhaps they longed to drive off to the freedom of vast blue skies to horizons unknown. Wheeler believed that everyone, deep down, had a longing for something that might be called Texas. Might be so.

W.F Strong is a Fulbright Scholar and professor of Culture and Communication at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. At Public Radio 88 FM in Harlingen, Texas, he’s the resident expert on Texas literature, Texas legends, Blue Bell Ice Cream, Whataburger (with cheese) and mesquite smoked brisket.