Top Stories

Polio-like Illness Appears in Texas, Parks Department Raises Concerns over Border Wall, And More

What we’re following today at Houston Public Media

Cases of polio-like illness appear in Texas

Texas has seen eight cases so far this year of an illness similar to polio.

Two of those cases are in the Houston-Galveston area, with several more being checked out by the CDC.

It’s called acute flaccid myelitis and typically shows up during the hotter parts of the year, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The condition typically affects children and impacts the nervous system.

Symptoms include sudden onset of arm or leg weakness, facial droop, and difficulty speaking, among others.

A state health official says instances of the condition have been increasing every other year since 2014.


HISD’s third leadership change from firey board meeting

The Houston Independent School District is bringing in a new interim superintendent. It’s the third leadership change this year for Texas’ largest school district.

At a contentious meeting Thursday night, the school board voted 5-4 to replace Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan with former superintendent Abelardo Saavedra, while they are searching for a permanent one. 


Parks department raises concerns over border wall plan

A view of Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in South Texas.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says it’s concerned about the Trump Administration’s plans for a border wall through a South Texas state park.

The Department of Homeland Security says it will waive a variety of environmental laws in order to speed up construction of about 17 miles worth of border barriers and roads in Hidalgo County. This comes a day after the department announced similar waivers for the building of border gates in Cameron County. 

The government says about 14 miles of the Hidalgo County project will be segments of wall intended to close gaps in the area’s existing border barriers.


Research: Texas communities have nuanced views on immigration

As divisive, contradicting opinions dominate political discussions on immigration, new research aims at illuminating more nuanced views.

Qualitative research by the National Immigration Forum shows varied perspectives in 27 rural and suburban communities across the country, including Sugar Land, Corpus Christi, El Paso and Lubbock.

Child Advocates of Fort Bend CEO Ruthanne Mefford took part in round tables to gauge perspectives in Sugar Land and said there was consensus around finding a middle ground.


Cruz’s 9-point lead points to messaging success

A Quinnipiac University poll shows Senator Ted Cruz holding a 9-point lead over Congressman Beto O’Rourke among likely Texas voters.

The poll shows 8 percent more respondents viewed Cruz favorably than unfavorably. By contrast, negative views of O’Rourke slightly outweighed positive ones. Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at UT Austin noted that, as recently as June, half of Republicans had no opinion of O’Rourke.

“I think that defined a very clear path for the Cruz campaign,” Henson says, “and that path was to make sure that when Republicans started forming opinions about O’Rourke it was one that was negative and perhaps even tinged with a bit of danger.”


How Thursday’s failed Soyuz launch may impact ISS program

An expert on space exploration told Houston Matters Thursday that, after the failed space launch of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, one of the main questions is whether the incident will impact the work at the International Space Station (ISS).

Eric Berger, senior space editor at Ars Technica, said that, to survive in the long term, the ISS needs people on board. Currently, there is an American astronaut, a German astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut on the space station and they were due to come back in mid-December “and now the question,” Berger noted, “is will there be a crew up there in time to replace them.”