Wade Goodwyn

Wade Goodwyn is a NPR National Desk Correspondent covering Texas and the surrounding states.

Reporting for NPR since 1991, Goodwyn covers a wide range of issues from politics and music to breaking news and crime and punishment. His reports have ranged from weather calamities, religion, and corruption, to immigration, obituaries, business, and high profile court cases. Texas has it all, and Goodwyn has covered it.

Over the last 15 years, Goodwyn has reported on many of the nation's top stories. He's covered the implosion of Enron, the trials of Jeff Skilling and Kenneth Lay, and the prosecution of polygamist Warren Jeffs. Goodwyn's reporting has included the siege of the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas, the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, and the trials of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols in Denver. He covered the Olympic Games in Atlanta and the school shootings in Paducah Ky., Jonesboro, Ark., and Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.

Among his most recent work has been the wrongful prosecution and conviction of black and Hispanic citizens in Texas and Louisiana. With American and Southwest Airlines headquartered in his backyard, coverage of the airline industry is also a constant for Goodwyn.

As Texas has moved to the vanguard in national Republican politics, Goodwyn has been at the front line as what happens politically in Texas, which is often a bellwether of the coming national political debate. He has covered the state's politicians dominating the national stage, including George W. Bush, Tom Delay and rising GOP star Texas Governor Rick Perry

Before coming to NPR, Goodwyn was a political consultant in New York City.

Goodwyn graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in history.

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Some of the most painful stories of 2013 came from a small community in Oklahoma, the town of Moore. It was hit by a monster F5 tornado in May. Two dozen people died. More than a thousand homes were wiped away. The damage was estimated at $2 billion. But when NPR's Wade Goodwyn returned to Moore recently, he found the worst damage might not be visible.

WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: Stand in the middle of Lakeview Drive in Moore, and you're surrounded by a lot of wide-open Oklahoma. Turns out an F5 tornado can clear quite a stretch of land.

At 10 on a crisp West Texas morning, five camel-trekkers stand under the open sky of the Davis Mountains. A few feet away, guide Doug Baum and Jason Mayfield load up five camels.

Baum, a former zookeeper, runs the Texas Camel Corps. The group guides camel treks around the world. In the Big Bend region, camels were for a brief time widespread, and the guides have brought them back.

'As Good As They Come'

You have to like a man who brings his own camel to a camel trek. On Mayfield's arm is a tall, beautiful blond named Butter.

Four decades ago, Austin, Texas, had a population of 250,000 and a reputation as a laid-back oasis of liberal politics and live music. Today, the Austin metro area is home to 1.8 million people and has some of the nation's worst traffic congestion.

For years, the city has done little to address the growing problem. But most in the Texas capital now agree something has to change if Austin is to save what's left of its quirky character.

Friday's 50th anniversary of assassination of President John F. Kennedy is an important moment for Dallas: The city wants to use the occasion to demonstrate how much it has changed.

In the 1960s — after the president's murder — Dallas became known around the world as "The City of Hate." And it was a hotbed of right-wing politics, a magnet for the extremes of the conservative movement at the time.

If the world would like to see evidence that Dallas is no longer the City of Hate, it need not look further than the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

In 2012 a federal court struck down Texas' ID law, ruling it would potentially disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of minority voters.

But that federal decision was invalidated when the Supreme Court last year ruled part of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional. So now Texas is test-driving its voter ID law — one of the most restrictive voter ID laws in the nation.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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And closing arguments will begin this morning in the trial of Major Nidal Hasan at Fort Hood, Texas. Hasan faces the death penalty. He's accused of killing 13 people and shooting 32 others.

From Killeen, Texas, here's NPR's Wade Goodwyn.

WADE GOODWIN, BYLINE: The defense rests. With those three words, Major Nidal Hasan put an end to his non-existent defense case. It was a case he never wanted to make, anyway. He began the trial by wishing to plead guilty to the charges, but military law prohibits that in death penalty cases.

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And let's hear now about a proposed airline merger. In a surprise move, the Justice Department announced yesterday that it will try to stop American Airlines and U.S. Airways from becoming one. This is largely because of two other mergers that made both Delta and United Airlines much bigger. Those deals were approved back in 2008 and 2010. Now, as NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports from Dallas, the government seems determined to change course.

Army Ranger Justin Slaby served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. While he was back in the U.S. preparing to deploy for a fourth tour, his left hand was blown off by a faulty grenade in a training accident. After being fitted with a state-of-the-art prosthesis, Slaby was encouraged by one of his doctors to try for a career in the FBI. What happened next has landed the ex-Ranger and the FBI in court and already tarnished the career of a high-ranking agent.

It's not even noon yet but every table out front of the Pecan Lodge in downtown Dallas is filled with veterans with barbecue heaped on their plates, smirking at the gobsmacked newbies. First timers are easily discernible by the stunned looks on their faces when they walk in and see the line.

The National Rifle Association is holding its annual convention in Houston this weekend. More than 70,000 people are expected to attend for speeches and demos and acres of guns, ammo and camo.

The NRA is coming off of a major victory: the defeat of gun control legislation in the Senate. While the talk in the convention hall is about keeping up the fight and staying true to the Constitution, a small protest against gun violence is being held outside.

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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

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And I'm Renee Montagne.

Nearly 10,000 mourners gathered yesterday to honor the men who died fighting a fire in a fertilizer plant in Texas. They packed the basketball arena on the campus of Baylor University in Waco. At least 14 people died when that fire led to an explosion in the little town of West - which is just north of Waco.

NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports.

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President Obama visited Waco, Texas, on Thursday day to take part in a memorial for those killed in the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, last week.

With the house-to-house search over and the living and dead largely accounted for, the town of West, Texas, began the transition from shock and disbelief to communal grieving.

On Friday night, mourners gathered at St. Mary Church of the Assumption to remember the dead. Many of the dead were first responders who were fighting a roaring fire for 30 minutes before the explosion, which was felt 80 miles away in Fort Worth.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn caused a stir when he suggested that there might be many more people missing than thought.

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We're going to touch briefly now on another dramatic story, the deadly explosion at a fertilizer plant in the small Texas town of West. Authorities now confirm that the death toll has risen to 12. That's how many bodies have been recovered so far. The cause of the fire and subsequent blast on Wednesday night are still unknown. From West, here's NPR's Wade Goodwyn.

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And let's turn now, briefly, to West, Texas, the scene of this week's fertilizer plant explosion. Many questions remain unanswered there. In fact, it's still hard to estimate how many people were killed. We do know that regulators had a few concerns with this plant in the past, though it's not clear if anybody questioned the plant's location near homes and a school.

And amid all these questions, the people of West are picking up and taking stock. Here's NPR's Wade Goodwyn.

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This story is part of a two-part series about the construction industry in Texas. Find the first part here.

Homes in Texas are cheap — at least compared with much of the country. You can buy a brand new, five-bedroom, 3,000-square-foot house near Fort Worth for just $160,000.

But that affordability comes at a price — to workers, many of whom are in the country illegally and make $12 an hour or less, but also to business owners.

Like almost everything in the Texas, the construction industry in the Lone Star State is big. One in every 13 workers here is employed in the state's $54 billion-per-year construction industry.

Homebuilding and commercial construction may be an economic driver for the state, but it's also an industry riddled with hazards. Years of illegal immigration have pushed wages down, and accidents and wage fraud are common. Of the nearly 1 million workers laboring in construction here, approximately half are undocumented.

There are few things in life more joyful than discovering a giant oil or natural gas field in Texas. You're suddenly rich beyond your wildest dreams. When the scope and size of the natural gas reservoir in the Barnett Shale in North Texas first became apparent, there were predictions that the find would last 100 years.

Well, that was over the top. But University of Texas geology professor Scott Tinker, who designed and authored a new study of the Barnett Shale, says there's still a lot of gas down there, even after a decade of drilling.

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In Texas, a court of inquiry has been convened to consider prosecuting a Texas judge. He's Ken Anderson. He used to be the district attorney in Williamson County, Texas, and he could face criminal charges for concealing exculpatory evidence. That's evidence that could clear a defendant of guilt. The inquiry concerns his conduct during what has become an infamous case - the prosecution and conviction of Michael Morton. Morton was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to life in prison for murdering his wife. NPR's Wade Goodwin reports.

Another member of the Bush family is throwing his hat into the political ring: George Prescott Bush, 36, the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, has announced he is running for office in Texas.

The Bush name is still strong in the Lone Star State: George P. has already raised nearly $1.4 million, though he still hasn't said which statewide office he will run for.

Sen.-elect Ted Cruz of Texas is a bright young Hispanic star who will be sworn in this week in Washington. The Republican Party nationally hopes Cruz will be part of the solution to its growing problem luring Hispanic voters.

Almost nobody had heard of Cruz when he began his campaign for the U.S. Senate. But when he stepped in front of a microphone, he could light up a room in a way that made the other Republican candidates seem lifeless.

A growing number of lawmakers are indicating they are open to considering new gun control measures in the wake of Friday's school shooting in Newtown, Conn. But while much of the national debate has focused on limiting access to guns, others are suggesting that schools should arm themselves to defend against attacks.

David Thweatt, school superintendent for the small Texas town of Harrold, northwest of Fort Worth, decided in 2006 that it was time to arm his staff. There's only one school in Harrold, a K-12 with 103 students.

A federal court in Texas on Monday will take up the case of a high-school student who refuses to wear her location-tracking school ID.

The 15-year-old sophomore says the ID badge, which has an embedded radio frequency identification tag, is a violation of her rights. The student, Andrea Hernandez, believes the ID is "the mark of the beast" from the Book of Revelation.

Republican governors got together in Las Vegas last week to take stock of the election results, which continue to sink in.

Going into Election Day, Republican confidence was high that the Grand Old Party would sweep President Obama aside, retake the U.S. Senate and reshape the country in the aftermath.

So on Nov. 6, when the results came in, many if not most Republicans were shocked by the president's victory. Pat McCrory, the newly elected governor of North Carolina, however, saw it coming.

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