The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

Texas is taking its first steps to bring down the state’s maternal mortality rate. On Friday, a task force set up by the state legislature met to discuss the numbers, which place Texas at the top of the developed world when it comes to women who have died after giving birth.

Texas Public Radio’s Ryan Poppe reports:

In 2013, the Texas Legislature authorized the creation of the state’s Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force to examine why so many Texas women are dying less than a year after giving birth. State lawmakers have extended the life of the program until 2023.

Texas had developed the nation’s highest maternal mortality rate in 2014 with over 35 deaths per 100,000 births. Most of those deaths were minority women.

“African-American women are 2 to 3 times more likely to suffer maternal death than women of other ethnic or racial groups. African-American women contributed 28 of the maternal deaths while accounting for only 11-percent of the delivers,” says Dr. Lisa Hollier, chair of the task force.

The group’s study of the issue shows that hemorrhaging and heart-related issues were the two most common causes of death immediately following childbirth, whereas drug overdoses were more common in the months following childbirth.

Blake Rocap, with NARAL Pro-Choice Texas says a simple solution would be to provide Texas women more access to care.

“Many times the access to care for women without health care is through the Texas Healthy Women’s program and I think it goes without saying that it’s had some issues,” Rocap says.

According to the medical journal “Obstetrics and Gynecology,” Texas has the highest maternal morbidity rate in the nation.




One of the state’s most toxic Superfund sites has been leaking dioxin after being hit by Harvey, the Environmental Protection Agency confirmed Friday.

The San Jacinto River Waste Pits, which holds toxic waste from a shuttered paper mill, leached carcinogenic material into surrounding river sediment.

Samples collected by the agency near the site found dioxins present at two thousand times the allowable level.

The EPA says the storm damaged a temporary protective cap that was put in place in 2011 to contain the sludge.

That announcement comes after the agency had previously said that there was no apparent damage to the cap following Harvey.

According to the World Health Organization, dioxins are a known human carcinogen, and can cause reproductive and developmental problems. Pregnant women and young children are advised not to eat fish caught near the site.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt recently said that in October, he will announce a plan to permanently remove the waste from the pit.




Two Houston-area high schoolers were kicked off their private school football team for protesting during the national anthem at a Friday night game.

Cedric Ingram Lewis and Larry McCullough, two players for the Victory and Praise Christian Academy team in Crosby, said the dismissal was done immediately, and in front of fans.

After the anthem, coach Ronnie Mitchem asked the boys to turn in their uniforms, and dismissed them from the team.

In a Facebook post about the incident, Mitchem said that he is a former U.S. marine and said that while he doesn’t have a problem with protesting, doing so during the anthem is the “wrong way to do it.”

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