TIME Drones

Drones Help Find Stray Dogs in Texas

Drones Texas Tests
Eric Gay—AP A test drone with a wing span of almost 13 feet flies over a ranch near Sarita, Texas, Jan. 15, 2014.

It's for a TV show

We all know about drones and their more dangerous missions – flying in war zones, crashing onto the White House lawn. But now they’re being used in Texas for a gentler reason: to find stray dogs.

The World Animal Awareness Society (WA2S) is filming a new television show called “Operation Houston: Stray Dog City,” USA Today reports, to examine the stray dog problem in Houston and profile the people trying to save the animals.

That’s where the drones come in. Tom McPhee, executive director of WA2S, said the drones will “draw a big circle in the air” while volunteers and GPS technology work on the ground, and that combination will help them count all the stray dogs in the Houston area.

“It’s another amazing tool,” McPhee said of drones.

[USA Today]

TIME 2016 Election

Ted Cruz Doesn’t Own TedCruz.Com

Ted Cruz Announcement
Tom Williams — Roll Call/Getty Images Sen. Ted Cruz speaks during a convocation at Liberty University's Vines Center in Lynchburg, Va., where he announced his candidacy for president on March 23, 2015.

An Obama supporter does

Sen. Ted Cruz may have been the first Republican to declare his candidacy for the 2016 presidential race, but he appears to have missed the boat on purchasing a web domain featuring his own name.

Instead, web users landing at tedcruz.com see only two phrases: “Support President Obama” and “Immigration Reform Now!”

With the .com domain out of the picture, the Texas senator has officially settled with tedcruz.org, instead.

TIME 2016 Election

Ted Cruz Becomes First Major Candidate to Jump Into 2016 Race

In this March 10, 2015, photo, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, appears in Washington
Pablo Martinez Monsivais—AP Senator Ted Cruz appears in Washington on March 10, 2015

"I am running for President and I hope to earn your support," Cruz announced on Twitter

(WASHINGTON) — Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz has become the first major candidate for president, kicking off what’s expected to be a rush over the next few weeks of more than a dozen White House hopefuls into the 2016 campaign.

“I am running for president and I hope to earn your support,” the tea party favorite said in a Twitter message posted just after midnight on Monday.

Cruz will formally launch his bid during a morning speech at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, choosing to begin his campaign at the Christian college founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell rather than his home state of Texas or the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire. It’s a fitting setting for Cruz, a 44-year-old tea party darling whose entry into the 2016 campaign drew cheers Sunday among fellow conservatives.

Amy Kremer, the former head of the Tea Party Express, said that the Republican pool of candidates “will take a quantum leap forward” with Cruz’s announcement, adding that it “will excite the base in a way we haven’t seen in years.”

Elected for the first time just three years ago, when he defeated an establishment figure in Texas politics with decades of experience in office, Cruz has hinted openly for more than a year that he wants to move down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Senate and into the White House.

In an online video promoted on his Twitter account, Cruz offered a preview of his campaign’s message.

“It’s a time for truth, a time to rise to the challenge, just as Americans have always done. I believe in America and her people, and I believe we can stand up and restore our promise,” Cruz said as images of farm fields, city skylines and American landmarks and symbols played in the background. “It’s going to take a new generation of courageous conservatives to help make America great again, and I’m ready to stand with you to lead the fight.”

While Cruz is the first Republican to declare his candidacy, he is all but certain to be followed by several big names in the GOP, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and two Senate colleagues, Kentucky’s Rand Paul and Florida’s Marco Rubio.

The Houston Chronicle first reported details about Cruz’s campaign launch. His move puts him into pole position among those whose strategy to win the nomination counts on courting the party’s most conservative voters, who hold an outsized influence in the Republican nominating process.

“Cruz is going to make it tough for all of the candidates who are fighting to emerge as the champion of the anti-establishment wing of the party,” said GOP strategist Kevin Madden. “That is starting to look like quite a scrum where lots of candidates will be throwing some sharp elbows.”

Following his election to the Senate in 2012, the former Texas solicitor general quickly established himself as an uncompromising conservative willing to take on Democrats and Republicans alike. He won praise from tea party activists in 2013 for leading the GOP’s push to partially shut the federal government during an unsuccessful bid to block money for President Barack Obama’s health care law.

In December, Cruz defied party leaders to force a vote on opposing Obama’s executive actions on immigration. The strategy failed, and led several of his Republican colleagues to call Cruz out. “You should have an end goal in sight if you’re going to do these types of things and I don’t see an end goal other than irritating a lot of people,” said Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch.

Such admonitions mean little to Cruz, who wins over crowds of like-minded conservative voters with his broadsides against Obama, Congress and the federal government. One of the nation’s top college debaters while a student at Princeton University, Cruz continues to be a leading voice for the health law’s repeal, and promises to abolish the Internal Revenue Service and scrap the Department of Education if elected president.

Last weekend in New Hampshire, one voter gave Cruz a blank check and told him to write it for whatever amount he needed.

“He’s awfully good at making promises that he knows the GOP can’t keep and pushing for unachievable goals, but he seems very popular with right wing,” said veteran Republican strategist John Feehery. “Cruz is a lot smarter than the typical darling of the right, and that makes him more dangerous to guys like Scott Walker and Rand Paul.”

The son of an American mother and Cuban-born father, Cruz would be the nation’s first Hispanic president. While in New Hampshire this month, Cruz told voters his daughter, Caroline, had given him permission to join the presidential race in the hopes that the family puppy would get to play on the White House lawn instead of near their Houston high-rise condo.

“If you win, that means Snowflake will finally get a backyard to pee in,” Cruz said his daughter told him.

To get there, Cruz knows he needs to reach out beyond his base. He is set to release a book this summer that he said would reflect themes of his White House campaign, and said in a recent Associated Press interview he will use it to counter the “caricatures” of the right as “stupid,” ”evil” or “crazy.”

“The image created in the mainstream media does not comply with the facts,” he said.

TIME Law

Texas Moves Closer to Allowing Guns on College Campuses

UT Chancellor William McRaven, a retired Navy admiral, opposes the measure

The Texas Senate approved a bill on Thursday that would allow people to carry concealed handguns on college campuses.

Supporters say the measure, which has the backing of gun rights groups, will help licensed students over 21 better protect themselves. The Senate voted on the measure along party lines, and the Republican-controlled House is taking it up next week.

But the move to legalize licensed weapons on campuses has prompted opposition from law enforcement and university leaders, including University of Texas System Chancellor William McRaven, a retired Navy admiral who oversaw the operation that killed Osama bin Laden.

“I continue to remain apprehensive about the effects of this legislation on UT System institutions and our students, staff, patients and visitors,” McRaven said in a statement to TIME. “I continue to hear from students, parents, staff and faculty about their uneasiness related to this legislation. In light of this, it is my responsibility to continue to express our concerns as the Senate bill goes to the House and the House bill goes through the process.”

While most states either ban concealed arms on campus or leave the decision to colleges and universities individually, seven states have provisions that allow for concealed weapons on public post-secondary campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Several Republican-held legislatures, including in Florida and Montana, are also considering easing their restrictions on weapons on campuses.

While the Texas legislature has failed to pass similar bills three times since 2009, this bill has strong backing in the House and Governor Greg Abbott has expressed his support.

Still, student groups and higher education leaders are voicing their opposition.

“There is great concern that the presence of handguns, even if limited to licensed individuals age 21 or older, will lead to an increase in both accidental shootings and self-inflicted wounds,” McRaven wrote in an open letter to state leaders in January.

— Charlotte Alter contributed reporting.

TIME cities

Someone Is Posting Racist Stickers on Austin Storefronts

The stickers used the city’s logo, but the mayor condemned them

Stickers that say “exclusively for white people” were posted on local businesses in Austin, Texas this week.

The stickers were marked with the city logo and claimed to be “sponsored by the City of Austin,” but Mayor Steve Adler moved quickly to reject that claim and condemn them.

“This is an appalling and offensive display of ignorance in our city,” Adler said in a statement Wednesday. “Austin condemns this type of hurtful behavior. Our city is a place where respect for all people is a part of our spirit and soul.”

The city said it would monitor businesses for additional postings and would “take appropriate action” if more stickers show up.

TIME apps

Livestreaming Apps Dominate Buzz at South by Southwest

Meerkat app
Kay Nietfeld—AP Meerkat app

From Meerkat to Stre.am, SXSW is buzzing

(AUSTIN, Texas) — A live-streaming app called Meerkat, calls to online activism and pedicabs with a “Game of Thrones” Iron throne seat were the top topics of conversation at South by Southwest over the weekend, as 33,000-plus members of the technology, marketing and media industries poured into Austin, Texas.

“You never know what’s around the corner at South By Southwest, it could be a small thing or it could be life changing,” said David Rubin, Pinterest’s head of brand, at the social media company’s annual barbecue on Saturday. He said the festival is a good place to schmooze with clients and do some recruiting.

“Pinterest is about creativity and the employee base is quirky and interesting, so it’s a good place to meet potential employees,” he said.

The five-day festival is not yet half over, but buzz-worthy trends are already emerging. Here’s a look at top topics so far at the annual gathering of the Technorati.

LIVE-STREAMING APPS

An app called Meerkat is dominating conversations. The simple app allows people to live stream anything at the touch of a button. The app used to let users automatically Tweet live streams too, but that came to a stop after Twitter confirmed Friday it acquired Periscope, a Meerkat rival, for undisclosed terms and limited Meerkat’s access to Twitter.

At a panel Friday about government patents, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker had used Meerkat to stream her official swearing in of the new chief of the U.S. Patent and Trademark office Michelle Lee on Twitter. “Being the first @cabinet official to share key events on this exciting new platform,” she tweeted. Countless others streamed other panels and events.

Meanwhile, rival live-streaming app Stre.am is a finalist for SXSW’s innovation awards.

ONLINE ACTIVISM

Some major political figures are using the festival to call for online activism. Former Vice President Al Gore gave a rousing talk about the need for urgent action on climate change on Friday. Gore called upon SXSW attendees to get involved in supporting climate change legislation ahead of environmental talks in Paris in December.

“We are at a fork in the road, we can win this, but it requires passion,” he said.

In a keynote on Saturday, Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al Saud of Saudi Arabia discussed her efforts to bring women into the workplace and announced a new breast cancer awareness campaign that will rely on social and mobile media to spread the word in the Middle East, including the Twitter-ready hashtag #10ksa.

Often in the Middle East, “a woman doesn’t want to admit unhealthy status,” she said. “There are larger cultural issues involved to talk about breast cancer.”

CORPORATE STUNTS

Promotions are everywhere. HBO’s “Game of Thrones” is employing pedicabs with Iron-Throne seats and hosting “SXSWesteros,” an event site that serves a “Game of Thrones” beer and allows fans a chance to sit on the show’s Iron Throne.

Meanwhile, smartphone battery pack maker Mophie created buzz with St. Bernard dogs that “rescued” more than 300 festival-goers low on batteries when they tweeted a plea for help to Mophie. The dogs, all locally owned by people in Austin, are part of the St. Bernard’s Rescue Foundation, which was created to raise awareness about rescue dogs.

“People don’t get exposure to St. Bernard’s ever,” said Mophie spokesman Kevin Malinowski. “People get them as puppies when they’re so cute, but once they grow up they can’t handle them, so this is almost an education.”

RUSSELL BRAND’S NO-SHOW

A documentary about actor Russell Brand, called “Brand, a Second Coming,” was a headliner for the film portion of the festival. Brand was set to appear at the Friday premiere and give a talk as well as discuss his daily YouTube show “Trews,” in which he talks about news topics. But that day Brand announced on his blog that he wouldn’t appear at the festival, saying he was uncomfortable with how the documentary turned out, and backed out of the talk.

“I apologise sincerely to the organisers of SXSW for my non-attendance, especially Janet Pierson, Brian Solis and Rynda Laurel from the interactive festival who were responsible for the keynote talk that I was due to do,” he wrote in the blog post.

TIME Campaign Finance

Ted Cruz: Lift All Contribution Limits on Campaign Cash

Senator Ted Cruz speaks to supporters at the Strafford County Republican Committee Chili and  Chat in  Barrington
Joel Page—Reuters Senator Ted Cruz, (R-Texas) speaks to supporters at the Strafford County Republican Committee Chili and Chat in Barrington, N.H. on March 15, 2015.

"Money absolutely can be speech"

(BARRINGTON, N.H.) — Unlimited political cash would give rank-and-file conservative activists greater sway in picking their representatives, including the president, White House hopeful Ted Cruz told New Hampshire voters on Sunday.

Cruz, a first-term senator who represents Texas, said deep-pocketed donors should have the same rights to write giant campaign checks as voters have to put signs in their front yards. Both, Cruz said, were an example of political speech, and he added that “money absolutely can be speech.”

“I believe everyone here has a right to speak out on politics as effectively as possible,” Cruz told a voter who asked him about the role of the super-rich in politics.

Cruz, making his first trip to New Hampshire this year, was using a two-day visit to this early voting state to lay the groundwork for an expected presidential campaign. Three of the seven questions he took during a town hall-style meeting were statements encouraging him to run for president.

Cruz steadfastly insisted he was not yet a presidential candidate and said he was merely considering it. “I am looking at it very seriously,” he said a day after making a campaign-style trip to South Carolina, another early nominating state.

After the session, one activist gave Cruz a blank check and told him to write it for whatever amount he needed.

Cruz, mindful that accepting the check would trigger his official entrance to the Republican primary, declined but told an aide to follow up with the man after a campaign is official.

“Stay tuned,” he said.

But Cruz also told voters his daughter, Caroline, had given him permission to join the presidential race in the hopes that the family puppy would get to play on the White House lawn instead of near their Houston high-rise condo.

“If you win, that means Snowflake will finally get a backyard to pee in,” Cruz said his daughter told him.

Cruz, a tea-party favorite, is expecting to formally join a crowded field of presidential hopefuls in the coming weeks. In the meantime, he has been courting party activists and donors to help him counter deep-pocketed rivals such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Asked about the outsized role of money in politics at his first event in New Hampshire this year, Cruz said he understands voters’ frustration but that cannot trump the constitutional rights to free speech.

“Right now, the system is crazy,” Cruz said of the campaign finance rules.

At a later appearance at a GOP fundraiser in New Hampshire’s rural Grafton County, Cruz said Democrats were working to limit activists’ rights through a proposed constitutional amendment to restrict campaign spending. The Democrat-backed proposal last year was more an election year posturing than a viable plan to change the Constitution.

“Is there not one lion of the Left who will stand for free speech?” Cruz said in Lincoln.

In the Senate, Cruz has proposed lifting all campaign contribution limits in exchange for immediate disclosure.

“The answer is not to muzzle citizens. It is to empower citizens,” Cruz said.

Yet Cruz acknowledged that heavy spending had been a headache during his 2012 campaign for Senate. “In the Senate race, I had $35 million in nasty attack ads against me,” Cruz said. “And you know what? It was their Constitutional right to do so.”

TIME Crime

Eddie Ray Routh Found Guilty of Murdering American Sniper Chris Kyle

The 27-year-old was sentenced to life in prison

A Texas jury on Tuesday found Eddie Ray Routh guilty of the murder of American Sniper author Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Routh, 27, a former Marine, admitted to killing ex-Navy SEAL Kyle and Littlefield at a shooting range in 2013, but professed his innocence because of supposedly suffering a psychotic break. Erath County district attorney Alan Nash told the jury to ignore Routh’s insanity defense, arguing that his apparent episodes of mental instability were caused by alcohol and marijuana abuse, according to the Associated Press.

“I am tired of the proposition that if you have mental illness that you can’t be held responsible for what you do,” he said.

Routh’s defense attorney Warren St. John insisted that his client was battling schizophrenia, claiming that the mental disorder created a delusion that Kyle and Littlefield were going to kill him.

“He was not intoxicated, folks, he was psychotic,” he said.

The case, heard in Stephenville, Texas, attracted national interest in large part because of Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-nominated film adaptation of Kyle’s book about his four tours during the Iraq war, with the controversial movie grossing over $430 million worldwide.

Kyle was renowned as the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history with 160 confirmed kills.

Littlefield’s mother, Judy, expressed her relief at the guilty verdict outside the courtroom, “We’ve waited two years for God to give justice for us on the behalf of our son,” she said in a statement. “And as usual, God has been faithful and given us the verdict we want.”

TIME weather

Expect More Bad Weather in the Southern U.S. and Rockies on Monday

An Oklahoma Department of Transportation sand truck rest on it's top in the median of US 412 west of Enid, Okla. Sunday, after it was involved in an accident with another vehicle on Feb. 22, 2015
Billy Hefton—AP An Oklahoma Department of Transportation sand truck rest on it's top in the median of US 412 west of Enid, Okla. Sunday, after it was involved in an accident with another vehicle on Feb. 22, 2015

Motorists should prepare for hazardous travel conditions

The Rocky Mountains and Southern Plains are in for snowy and icy conditions Monday as a winter storm continues to move across the region.

Multiple accidents have already been attributed to the storm, with injuries being reported in Utah and Kansas, according to the Weather Channel. Motorists should continue to take utmost caution.

Those planning on catching a flight may want to double-check the status of their bookings. Dallas–Fort Worth International Airport canceled about half of the flights scheduled for Monday after already grounding around 160 flights on Sunday. Denver International canceled more than 330 flights over weekend, according to Denver’s Channel 7 News.

Meanwhile, schools in Texas, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Louisiana, New Mexico and Alabama have announced cancellations or delays of classes due to weather concerns.

Read next: 7 Reasons to Love This Freezing Weather

TIME LGBT

Gay Couple Becomes First to Wed in Texas

Marriage Equality
Eric Gay—AP A man wearing a rainbow-colored tie and Equality Texas flag rallies on the steps of the Texas Capitol to call for more equality for same-sex couples on Feb. 17, 2015, in Austin, Texas.

"We'll be making history"

Two women were legally married in Austin, Texas Thursday morning, becoming the first gay couple to wed in the state.

Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant, who have been together almost 31 years, said their vows outside the Travis County Clerk’s Office, the Austin Statesman reports. The couple said they had been denied a marriage license there eight years ago. Their wedding comes just two days after a Texas judge ruled the state’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional.

“It’s very exciting,” Bryant said before her wedding. “My little one was worried about missing her history class. I said we’ll be making history.”

[Austin Statesman]

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