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For many Texas families, tax-free shopping is a back-to-school tradition. This weekend, swap those folders for flashlights and binders for batteries. Emergency supplies are tax exempt starting Saturday morning.

It’s a first for Texas-- to help folks stock up for severe weather season. Families intent on cleaning out the hardware store should check the state’s “tax free” list before they buy.

As College Costs Rise, Texas Schools Open Food Pantries For Students

Apr 20, 2016
Jerod Foster / Texas Tribune

The stereotype is so old that it’s enmeshed in popular culture: College students arrive on campus to find a surplus of food — enough for food fights in dining halls or to pack on the infamous “freshman 15.” 

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Millions of people use various types of fitness trackers (wrist bands, clip-ons and smart watches) to help keep in shape. However, some online product reviews question their reliability.

Federal Judge Approves $20.8 Billion BP Spill Settlement

Apr 5, 2016
Marc Morrison

A federal judge on Monday approved a $20.8 billion settlement negotiated between BP and a group of plaintiffs including the federal government, Texas and four other Gulf Coast states and hundreds of local governments stemming from the energy giant's 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.

Commentary: When Cuba Became Personal

Mar 30, 2016
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Barack Obama recently became the first U.S. president to visit Cuba in nearly 90 years. The island was also on commentator Stephen Whitley’s wish list of places to visit. But Cuba always seemed out of reach until the recent easing of restrictions on travel. He learned some lessons during a Spring Break trip there.

Indictment Aside, Crystal City Mayor Is Running Again

Mar 28, 2016
Robin Jerstad / Texas Tribune

CRYSTAL CITY — Leaning forward on a two-seat swing beneath a shady tree, Ricardo Lopez ticked off his lofty political ambitions: First, win his re-election bid for mayor in this South Texas town. Next, swiftly resign to prepare for an all-out sprint for Texas lieutenant governor. After that, maybe focus on something more grandiose. 

D.Fajio/Flickr

The English language can be pretty confusing to even native speakers. Vowel sounds change depending on the word. There are letters that are silent in some words, but not in others. However, one of the biggest linguistic debates centers around the lack of a second-person plural pronoun.

Rethinking How Prison Works

Mar 22, 2016
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The United States is the world’s biggest jailer, with 2.3 million people locked up here.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Dade Middle School in Dallas has had a history of problems. Some community leaders want the Dallas school district to boost neighborhood involvement and turn Dade into what’s called a community school. Some folks believe more community and parental involvement would make a difference there.

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Lactose Intolerance is a common problem - about 65 percent of the human population has it. And while it can’t be cured, it’s rarely dangerous and you can manage lactose intolerance.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Funeral services were held Thursday for Jose Raul Cruz, the North Texas teen killed Sunday by an off-duty Farmers Branch police officer.  At Cruz's funeral, one man shared his story about the teen.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

The Dallas Independent School District is trying out a new approach to discipline in six of its schools. It’s called restorative discipline. Instead of suspending kids from school or sending them to the principal’s office, teachers first get students together to talk about the problems they’re having, or causing. 

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Head lice is a common problem among kids.  The CDC estimates the parasitic insects infest between six and 12-million children, ages three to 11, each year.  But Texas and at least 24 other states have reported cases of so-called super lice, which are harder to eliminate.

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At least two North Texans ended up in the hospital after using a synthetic opioid called U-47700 at a recent party. One is in ICU. Other cases involving the drug across the country led to deaths. 

Joost Nelissen / flickr

About 500 Dallas school district employees have to move out of the building they work in. That’s because small amounts of lead and other substances were found in the water there.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

How do you get girls passionate about engineering? On a middle school field trip, one group is using marbles.

FanDuel.com

The nationwide debate over daily fantasy sports has focused on Texas for the last few days. Last Friday, one of the two major fantasy websites FanDuel agreed to pull out of Texas. The other site, DraftKings sued in Dallas County to have fantasy sports betting declared legal.

Travis County GOP Apoplectic Over New Chairman

Mar 2, 2016
YouTube screengrab/Texas Tribune

The newly elected chair of the Republican Party in the county that includes the Texas Capitol spent most of election night tweeting about former Gov. Rick Perry’s sexual orientation and former President Bill Clinton’s penis, and insisting that members of the Bush family should be in jail.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

People in Texas are significantly more likely than adults nationwide to report that it has gotten harder to see a doctor in the past two years. That’s one finding in a new poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Commentary: Why We Need More Lawyers Like Atticus Finch

Feb 25, 2016
Flickr.com

Writer Harper Lee died last Friday at age 89. But her classic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, lives on. With more than 40 million copies sold, it’s never been out of print. Lee’s tale of racial injustice in the South had a major impact on contributor William Holston -- in particular, its central character. 

Fort Worth Independent School District

Texas has a handful of schools built underground. One of them is in Fort Worth. Washington Heights Elementary was built nearly 40 years ago to reduce energy costs and noise. KERA recently went underground to dig up dirt on this unusual school.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

John Wiley Price is facing the two biggest challenges of his three decades as a Dallas County commissioner.

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Jeb Bush isn’t expected to win the Republican primary in South Carolina, but where the former Florida governor finishes might impact the major donor support he’s had in Texas.

WFAA

Television news anchors wear a lot of hats: they inform us, they entertain us, and sometimes they even comfort us. John McCaa has served all of those roles as an anchor at WFAA-TV. Today on "Think" and during a public forum tonight, he talked to Krys Boyd about being a calming and level-headed presence when the news might cause some to panic.

The Future Of U.S. Infrastructure

Feb 18, 2016
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Traffic is, of course, a huge drain of drivers' time. And it turns out it's also a drain on our wallets, as traffic costs American about $121 billion per year in wasted productivity and inefficient fuel usage. That's according to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

At least some of the rush-hour madness can be attributed to poor infrastructure: potholes, crumbling highways, bridges on the verge of collapse.  

3 Ways To Build A Better University

Feb 17, 2016
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There are three major goals of highly selective colleges, according to Jonathan R. Cole, author of “Toward a More Perfect University.” They are to transmit knowledge, to research and discover scientific breakthroughs and to build an educated citizenry to participate in democracy.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

The state of Texas deemed Elisha M. Pease Elementary a substandard school. Teachers and principals kept leaving the struggling Dallas campus. The kids were out of control.  Pease Elementary is one of several Dallas schools the district is trying to turn around with a new program. 

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Five stories that have North Texas talking: President Obama will appoint court justice Scalia’s successor in “due time”; Houston banned suspension for early elementary students; Jeb Bush’s looking to his older brother for help; and more.

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Millennials are the largest generation in the United States today and politicians want their vote. But we don’t know a lot about their voting habits. Alexander Heffner has studied millennials. He’s host of PBS’ "The Open Mind."

Flickr.com

Polls shows interpretations of what being a feminist means vary across age groups today, but the fact that the conversation continues likely pleases the person who did much to raise the nation’s consciousness about the issue.

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