Here is the list of enterprise stories in Texas for the week of March 11. If you have questions, please call News Editor James Beltran at 972-991-2100.
For technical assistance, call 800-527-8936. AP stories, along with the photos that accompany them, can also be obtained from http://www.apexchange.com. Reruns are also available from the Service Desk (800-838-4616) or your local AP bureau.
Bureau fax numbers are: Dallas 800-991-1844; Austin 512-469-0800; and Houston 281-872-9988.
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BEAUMONT, Texas — The nation's largest prison system is turning to electronic weaponry to combat the persistent headache of illegal cellphones smuggled to inmates. Final testing starts this week at the first of two Texas Department of Criminal Justice prisons to get a managed access system designed to block calls from unauthorized phones. Then wardens at the Stiles Unit outside Beaumont and the McConnell Unit near Beeville in South Texas, which together hold about 5,000 inmates and historically have been the worst for illegal cell phone use in Texas, should be handed technology that diverts calls, texts, emails and internet log-in attempts from contraband phones. Michael Roesler, senior warden at the Stiles Unit, hopes the effect will be to transform cell phones secretly held by inmates into paperweights carrying a hefty price tag. "If the cell phone becomes the proverbial paperweight, the reward of taking a chance of losing their good time, their status, their class, their parole possibility is too great a risk for them to hang on to," Roesler said. By Michael Graczyk. AP Photos.
AUSTIN, Texas — Natalie Maines doesn't know if the Dixie Chicks will ever write new music again. But a decade since her putdown of then-President George W. Bush altered the fate and fortunes of the Grammy-winning band that Maines now calls "tainted," she tells The Associated Press she likes being a housewife and is still somewhat surprised to play to empty seats . The 38-year-old spitfire isn't packing venues this week at the South by Southwest music festival while performing her album "Mother," which marks her solo debut. "I think that I though time would heal and I would come around," Maines said of her long absence. "I'm still waiting." By Paul J. Weber. AP Photos.
LONDON — In terms of chronological age, Charlotte Church — at just 27 — is probably too young for a comeback tour and album. But launching a second act can be tough when you charmed the world at 12. As a young girl, she sold many millions of records and performed live for a president and a pope before being laid low by a no-win confrontation with Britain's tabloid press and the release of what even she admits was some mediocre pop material and a not-so-great reality TV show. Now she's emerged from her basement studio in Wales — a hangout for local songwriters and musicians — with a wealth of new material she's releasing in the United States on CD and showcasing at live performances at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas. By Gregory Katz.
AUSTIN, Texas — You never know what might happen when a lawmaker brings a gun to a knife fight. But Second Amendment rights advocates are about to find out. "I suppose, in part," said state Rep. Harold Dutton, describing his plan to legalize carrying switchblades, "it's political." Across the country, this has become the year of the knife. New federal rules will allow pocketknives on airplanes. And state legislatures from Tennessee to Kansas to Indiana to Alaska are considering measures to legalize the switchblade, the favored weapon of fictional midcentury street gangs. By Michael Brick.
AUSTIN, Texas — Call it much ado about Algebra II. The math class of logarithms and coefficients, exponents and imaginary numbers — and just how faithful a predictor successfully passing it is of a student's success in college and in life — has become a key point of contention at the Texas Legislature. A series of bills before lawmakers would tweak high school graduation requirements, aiming to give students more options in career training and vocational skills, thus helping them land well-paying technical jobs that don't necessarily require college degrees. But that could mean no longer requiring Algebra II for all students, something opponents say will ultimately produce future Texans who are less prepared for the demand of the workforce of the future. By Will Weissert.
Eds: Moving Saturday.
AUSTIN, Texas — The 60-day warm-up at the Legislature filled with ceremonial resolutions and four-day weekends for the Senate is over. Time for lawmakers to roll up their sleeves. Folks around the Capitol like to grouse about how little gets done in the early days of the 140-day legislative session, but the Constitution prevents lawmakers from passing bills during the first 60 days. The idea is to give legislators a chance to figure out what new laws the state needs and to hold hearings, as well as get to know each other. The newbies who fill the ranks of the Texas House and Senate this session appreciate the chance to figure out how the levers of power work. But now they need to buckle their seatbelts, because the last 80 days will be a whirlwind. So far though, the session has little of the drama of last year. By Chris Tomlinson.
Eds: Moving Sunday.
EXCHANGE-SCARRED BUT STRONGER
FRISCO, Texas — She reveals her vulnerabilities for all to see. The jagged scar that runs down her left cheek. The eye that lags a beat behind the other. The shrunken end of her "little arm." Lauren Scruggs bares all of this in the middle of a bustling Frisco gym. She lies on a table, visible to everyone, during scar tissue massages at physical therapy. Her trainer's fingers work their way along the scars — the same path a plane propeller took when it sliced off her left hand and eye more than a year ago. Her physical therapist, Sheri Walters, didn't expect to hit it off with Scruggs, but over the past year, the two women have formed a special connection. And through devastating challenges, their relationship has sustained them. By Sarah Mervosh, The Dallas Morning News. Eds: Not for online use in the Dallas area.
Posted Saturday, March 9. Staff photos.
EXCHANGE-TEXAS HISTORY PORTAL
DENTON, Texas — A trip back in time is only a click away at the University of North Texas. The school operates the Portal to Texas History, a researcher's paradise where historians, genealogists, students — anyone with a computer — can browse thousands of books, maps, photographs and newspapers for an endless stream of information, whether an ad showing the price of milk in 1920 or clues about their grandmother's ancestry. By Diane Smith, Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Posted Tuesday, March 12. Staff photos by Max Faulkner.
SAN ANTONIO — When the hydrogen-filled German airship Hindenburg exploded and crashed in New Jersey on May 6, 1937, following a swift Atlantic crossing, images of the spectacular disaster were captured for eternity. The crash killed 36 people, dented Nazi prestige and put a quick end to lighter-than-air commercial flight. It also left questions that have lingered for almost eight decades about what really brought the great ship to earth. Last fall, a British television production company came to San Antonio and enlisted scientists at the Southwest Research Institute to try to resolve the mystery once and for all. By John McCormack, San Antonio Express-News.
Posted Sunday, March 10. Handout photos by Matthew Blais. AP file photos.
HOUSTON — The Hat Store is chock full of neat piles of unformed hats, felt to the left and straw to the right. Lay aside any notion you have that this is a quaint nook. The wall behind the cash register tells a different story. Cohen's hats have been worn by Merle Haggard, Patrick Swayze, both Bush presidents, Brooks and Dunn, Leon Russell (for 40 years), Jimmy Stewart and Eddy Arnold, to name a few. Shaquille O'Neal had to duck through the doorway. Lyle Lovett, a regular, stopped in a few weeks ago, and Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons visited a few days ago. By Kyrie O'Connor, Houston Chronicle.
Posted Friday, March 8. Staff photos by Karen Warren.