John Hinckley Jr. is escorted by police in Washington, D.C., following his arrest after shooting and seriously wounding president Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981. (AFP/Getty Images)

John Hinckley Jr. is escorted by police in Washington, D.C., following his arrest after shooting and seriously wounding president Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981. (AFP/Getty Images)

John Hinckley, Who Tried To Kill A President, Wins His Freedom

Thirty-five years after he tried to kill a president, John Hinckley has won his freedom.

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has granted a request for Hinckley to leave the mental hospital where he’s lived for decades, to go live full-time with his elderly mother in Williamsburg, Va.

The release could happen as early as next week, the judge ruled. Under the terms of his order, Hinckley is not allowed to contact his victims, their relatives or actress Jodie Foster, with whom he was obsessed. Hinckley also will not be permitted to “knowingly travel” to areas where the current president or members of Congress are present. The judge said Hinckley could be allowed to live on his own or in a group home after one year.

“Mr. Hinckley shall abide by all laws, shall not consume alcohol, illegal drugs… shall not possess any firearm, weapon, or ammunition and shall not be arrested for cause,” Senior U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman ordered.

On March 30, 1981, outside the Washington Hilton Hotel, a shaggy-haired Hinckley aimed his gun at President Ronald Reagan and fired six times.

Reagan spent nearly two weeks in the hospital recovering from wounds and blood loss. His press secretary, James Brady, was shot in the head. Brady survived but spent the next 28 years in a wheelchair. A year after the attack, a court found the perpetrator, Hinckley, not guilty by reason of insanity.

“The verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity was a bad verdict,” President Reagan’s daughter Patti Davis told NPR last year.


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Paulino Agustín and Sinael Altamirano prepare ground in the mountains of Chiapas state, a prime coffee growing region in Mexico. They are digging before planting coffee trees which typically don't produce coffee beans for three years after planting. (Lorne Matalon)

Paulino Agustín and Sinael Altamirano prepare ground in the mountains of Chiapas state, a prime coffee growing region in Mexico. They are digging before planting coffee trees which typically don't produce coffee beans for three years after planting. (Lorne Matalon)

Fraying At The Seams: The Challenge And Opportunity Of Fair Trade Coffee

CACAHOATAN, Chiapas — The lives of thousands of small-scale coffee growers in Latin America and Mexico are better off because of fair trade. But the system is fraying at the seams in one of the world’s most important coffee-growing regions because of a perfect storm defined by low prices, a damaging fungus and unscrupulous middlemen.

Central America and southern Mexico are major parts of the fair trade coffee mosaic and 80% of the world’s fair trade coffee comes from Latin America.


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Dr. Emilio Zamora, a history professor at UT Austin, discusses factual errors in a proposed Mexican-American studies textbook during a press conference on July 18, 2016. (Marjorie Kamys Cotera)

Dr. Emilio Zamora, a history professor at UT Austin, discusses factual errors in a proposed Mexican-American studies textbook during a press conference on July 18, 2016. (Marjorie Kamys Cotera)

Scholars and Activists Lambast Proposed Mexican-American Studies Textbook

If the State Board of Education approves a proposed Mexican-American studies textbook this fall, Texas students could learn that the Aztecs waged war because of “bloodlust,” 19th-century Mexican industrial laborers often drank on the job and slavery was in swift decline just before the Civil War, scholars and activists said at a press conference Monday.

Activist groups and professors with the Responsible Ethnic Studies Textbook Coalition gathered Monday at the Texas Education Agency to list their concerns with the book, “Mexican American Heritage,” and call on the board to reject it.

“Excessive errors render the proposed textbook useless and even counterproductive,” said Emilio Zamora, a professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin who reviewed the textbook at the request of board member Ruben Cortez, D-Brownsville.

The text was the only submission the board received after it issued a call in 2015 for textbooks to be used in Mexican-American studies classes at the high school level. Roughly 10 high schools in Texas currently offer Mexican-American studies; the content of the course varies from school to school, but is often interdisciplinary and includes history, literature and current events. Activists had hoped that a state-approved textbook would make it easier for teachers to start offering the class.

At the press conference, Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, noted that the publisher of “Mexican American Heritage,” Momentum Instruction, LLC, has never published a textbook before, and one of the text’s contributors is Cynthia Dunbar, a conservative former board member.

The board next meets July 19-22, but discussion of the textbook is not on its agenda. The board will hold public hearings on the book in September and vote on whether to adopt it in November. If the board approves “Mexican American Heritage,” districts will still be free to use the textbooks and other materials of their choosing.


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Pipe for the Trans-Pecos Pipeline sits at a staging yard southeast of Marfa, Texas. (Lorne Matalon)

Pipe for the Trans-Pecos Pipeline sits at a staging yard southeast of Marfa, Texas. (Lorne Matalon)

Judge Throws Out Landowner’s Lawsuit Against Pipeline Company

A federal judge has shot down a Presidio County landowner’s lawsuit against the Trans-Pecos Pipeline.

For more than a year now, some landowners and residents in the Big Bend region have been speaking out against Dallas-based Energy Transfer’s natural gas pipeline from the Permian Basin to the Mexican border. But opponents haven’t been able to stop the project from moving forward.

The company has been gearing up for construction in recent weeks, with the Alpine Avalanche reporting that trenching is expected to begin in Brewster County by mid-August or early September.

Part of the pipeline is slated to run through John Boerschig’s 11,000-ace “South Shurley Ranch” south of Marfa, Texas. Boerschig is among the dozens of landowners whose land has been condemned by the pipeline company under Texas’ eminent domain laws.

Boerschig sued the company in federal court earlier this month, claiming the company’s move to condemn his land against his will violated his 14th amendment right to due process.

District Judge Robert Junell dismissed the lawsuit on Wednesday, citing the “Anti-Injunction Act,” which prohibits federal courts from blocking proceedings in a state court.

Junell agreed with the pipeline company’s argument that the company’s eminent domain action against Boerschig is already a court matter at the state level, making it out of federal jurisdiction.


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The orange ribbon on a west Texas ranch marks the route of the Trans Pecos Pipeline. The controversial pipeline will ferry natural gas from the oil and gas rich Permian Basin of Texas to Mexico. The pipeline was commissioned by Mexico's Federal Electricity Commission. Construction is headed by a consortium that includes Energy Transfer Partners of Dallas, led by CEO Kelcy Warren, and Grupo Carso, owned by Mexican industrialist Carlos Slim.  in 2015, Slim was ranked second on the annual Forbes' Billionaires Ranking.

The orange ribbon on a west Texas ranch marks the route of the Trans Pecos Pipeline. The controversial pipeline will ferry natural gas from the oil and gas rich Permian Basin of Texas to Mexico. The pipeline was commissioned by Mexico's Federal Electricity Commission. Construction is headed by a consortium that includes Energy Transfer Partners of Dallas, led by CEO Kelcy Warren, and Grupo Carso, owned by Mexican industrialist Carlos Slim. in 2015, Slim was ranked second on the annual Forbes' Billionaires Ranking.

Trans Pecos Pipeline: Unfinished Business In Ranch Lands Of West Texas

MARFA, Texas — Six landowners in west Texas have won a series of awards totaling in the millions of dollars against a company building a controversial natural gas pipeline. A seventh case was adjudicated in favor of the company.

The landowners are part of a group of approximately 40 people or landholding entities that are contesting compensation offers from Trans-Pecos Pipeline, LLC, a subsidiary of Energy Transfer of Dallas.

The pipeline has been designated by Texas state regulators as being in the public’s interest, specifically that this pipeline project meets the standard of “common carrier,” that it will transport, in this case natural gas, for any natural gas producer who has the money to pay for the pipeline service, without discrimination.

 With “common carrier” status comes the notion that a given project is in the public interest and with that comes legal power of eminent domain, the power to seize private land. Companies that exercise that power are obligated to pay compensation to affected landowners in recognition, in this instance, of the change to that land that construction of a 143-mile pipeline implies.

View more images of the Trans-Pecos Pipeline and some of the land it will cross


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This dish, an African stew, consists of vegetables and legumes, the essence of a plant-based diet. A leading hospital has become the first in historically beef-loving Texas to formally promote plant-based and vegetarian food for patients and visitors. (Lorne Matalon)

This dish, an African stew, consists of vegetables and legumes, the essence of a plant-based diet. A leading hospital has become the first in historically beef-loving Texas to formally promote plant-based and vegetarian food for patients and visitors. (Lorne Matalon)

Leading Texas Hospital In Midland Formally Promotes Plant-Based Diet

MIDLAND, Texas—A leading hospital in Texas is making a name for itself by taking on the ranching industry, an iconic fixture in the history of the Lone Star State. The hospital is now promoting a plant-based diet rich in vegetables and whole grains for patients and visitors.

First, here’s a definition. “Plant-based” diet means ingestion of fruits, vegetables, legumes like alfalfa, peas, beans and peanuts, and no meat.

Nurturing cattle, sending them to the feed lot and then onto the slaughterhouse, is a part of the culture here, burnished into a big part of what makes Texas, Texas. Now, Midland Memorial Hospital, a major medical player in the heart of cattle country, has become the first in the state to buck that culture.


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RMB Lonn Taylor Web
John Hinckley Jr. is escorted by police in Washington, D.C., following his arrest after shooting and seriously wounding president Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981. (AFP/Getty Images)
Paulino Agustín and Sinael Altamirano prepare ground in the mountains of Chiapas state, a prime coffee growing region in Mexico. They are digging before planting coffee trees which typically don't produce coffee beans for three years after planting. (Lorne Matalon)
RMB Lonn Taylor Web
photograph by Robertbody at en.wikipedia
RMB Lonn Taylor Web

Ten Reasons for Hispanic History

On this edition of The Rambling Boy, Lonn gives ten reasons for telling the story of Marfa’s Hispanic community.

The Rambling Boy is broadcast Monday evenings after the 7 pm newscast.
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photograph by Robertbody at en.wikipedia

Ringtails: Outlaws of the West Texas Night

They’re among the most secretive of West Texas creatures. You could spend a lifetime exploring the Southwest – and never catch a glimpse of one. Ringtails are often referred to as “cats.” In fact, they’re a member of the raccoon … Continue reading

Nature Notes is broadcast Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:35 am and 4:45 pm
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RMB Lonn Taylor Web

Funerals, family, tall tales, and a new friend

On this edition of The Rambling Boy, Lonn reflects on funerals after attending a memorial service for Joaquin Jackson, a former Texas Ranger, author and actor, who died on June 15, 2016.

The Rambling Boy is broadcast Monday evenings after the 7 pm newscast.
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National Park Service photograph by Cookie Ballou

Beware the Buzzworm: Rattlesnakes in West Texas

At the buzz of a rattlesnake, the heart races, and the adrenalin flows. Our response is primal, physical. But rattlesnakes also exert a power over the imagination. For many, the fear of rattlesnakes is mixed with fascination. Rattlesnakes are impressive … Continue reading

Nature Notes is broadcast Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:35 am and 4:45 pm
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Host Travis Lux (far left) with Greg Kwedar, Gabriel Luna, and Clint Bentley

Wed. Jul 13 Interview: Transpecos Opens Marfa Film Festival

On this edition of West Texas Talk, host Travis Lux sits down with three of the folks behind Transpecos — a new film about three Border Patrol agents whose slow day on the job takes a dramatic turn when a cartel drug runner passes through their makeshift checkpoint.

Clint Bentley (co-writer and producer), Greg Kwedar (co-writer and director), and Gabriel Luna (lead actor) talk about West Texas, the research behind the film, and its relevance to current social and political conversations.

West Texas Talk is broadcast live at 6:30 pm each weekday.
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