House Approves Protections for Breastfeeding Moms

Apr 24, 2015
Ken Hammond (USDA) / Wikimedia Commons

The Texas House on Thursday gave preliminary approval to a measure that would require public employers to provide accommodations for mothers who need to pump breast milk while at work. 

House Bill 786, by state Rep. Armando Walle, D-Houston, easily passed on Thursday on a voice vote. The measure would require public employers — state agencies, local governments and public schools — to support the practice of expressing breast milk and make “reasonable accommodations” for female employees to do so. 

Such accommodations include sufficient break time and a private room, other than a bathroom, for a woman to pump breast milk. 

While federal law provides protections for hourly employees who need to express breast milk at work, it exempts salaried workers, including schoolteachers, Walle said.

Oil, Gas, Power, Prices: Big Themes From Big Meet

Apr 24, 2015
C.M. Keiner / CC

HOUSTON — In the year since the energy industry last gathered in for its big annual confab in Houston, prices for oil and natural gas took a dive that few, if anyone, saw coming.

A chastened parade of energy executives, analysts, academics and government officials from several countries delivered speeches and participated in panels as part of HIS’s CERAWeek energy conference, worrying over prices and making a profit, and speculating on what it could all mean for economies and consumers around the world.

Slideshow: Brush Up Your Shakespeare

Apr 24, 2015
Collection of the McNay Art Museum, Gift of the artist 2012.32.7

There is nothing that says theatre, in the traditional sense, like William Shakespeare. We read his plays while still in school, perhaps see "Romeo and Juliet," or "A Midsummer Night's Dream" played by an amateur theatre troupe. Sometimes, we get our first glimpse of Shakespeare's genius through movies. Sir Laurence Olivier on the big screen, playing "Hamlet," "Richard III," and "Henry V," showed us the dramatic and historical side of Shakespeare. These movies also demonstrated the power of music to enhance the drama. The composer Sir William Walton, led the way.

Jack Morgan

Creating, producing, and collecting Fiesta medals. It’s one of the odd things about Fiesta that distinguishes it from citywide celebrations elsewhere. To find out more about one of the quirkier aspects of Fiesta, I headed downtown last week...

Rains threaten the first Friday of Fiesta in downtown’s Alamo Plaza. Thousands of people mingle in front of dozens of vendors who have set up a double row of fold-up tables in front of the Menger Hotel. What they’re selling and trading is the entire focus of the opening event called Fiesta Fiesta.

Unusual Ice Cream Recalls Raise Questions About Cause

Apr 24, 2015
Blue Bell website

WASHINGTON — Major recalls from two well-known ice cream companies due to the discovery of listeria bacteria raise questions about how the pathogen could have contaminated multiple ice cream manufacturing plants — and whether the discoveries are related.

Blue Bell Creameries of Texas and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams of Ohio — extremely popular brands in their home states — took all their products off shelves this week. Blue Bell ice cream is linked to 10 illnesses in four states, including three deaths. There are no known illnesses linked to the Jeni’s recall, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The recalls are unusual: Listeria is rarely found in ice cream because it can’t grow at freezing temperatures. On Thursday, Blue Bell said it would close its facilities in Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama for intensive cleaning. The plants will be closed next week and possibly into the following week, a spokesman said. Blue Bell did produce some ice cream in its plants this week, but that product will be used for testing and data gathering and won't be sold to the public.