Big freighters and small barges in the Houston Ship Channel.
Tensions between the government of Iraq and Kurds in the northern part of the country have once again reached a boiling point. Now, Baghdad is cutting off payments to Kurdistan because of a controversy involving an oil tanker off the coast of Texas.
The semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan has successfully exported several shipments of oil this year. Baghdad opposed those exports, claiming that the oil belongs to the Iraqi people, and the use of its natural resources should be decided by the central government. Most recently, Baghdad successfully filed for a court order to keep one million barrels of crude oil from being unloaded in Galveston.
The Texas Standard’s David Brown recently spoke with Terry Wade, Houston Bureau Chief for Reuters, about how the tanker came to be there in the first place. Continue Reading
A "very early version" Google's prototype vehicle. The self-driving car doesn't include a steering wheel.
Google is taking the wheel – taking it literally out of the car.
The company is set to launch a test fleet of driverless cars in the near future. It’s completely re-imagining the automobile, removing fundamental features like the gas pedal and the steering wheel. The work raises a fundamental question: is there a market for such automated vehicles?
The Texas Standard’s David Brown spoke with University of Texas engineering professor Kara Kockelman, who has analyzed how driverless cars may impact our society. “We’re all incredibly busy, we’d love to have that time to be getting things done … legally … in our vehicle,” she says.
Although the technology is rapidly progressing, it isn’t without its share of drawbacks. Continue Reading
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Border agents seized a total of 580 bundles of marijuana – totaling 11,973 pounds – from a truck in Del Rio, Texas.
While fracking for oil along the Texas border has become a big business for petrol companies, a new entity seeks to tap into the lucrative market – drug smugglers.
As infrastructure and activity increases to meet the demand of the booming industry, drug smugglers are starting to take advantage of the new roads and increased traffic, much of which is located on private ranch lands.
“Because there are so many different companies, and so many different trucks going through that area, it provides a sort of way to blend in if you will,” National Journal writer Ben Geman tells The Texas Standard’s David Brown. “Essentially what’s happening is you’ve got smugglers who are stashing marijuana, or other drugs, in trucks that are either ‘cloned’ to look like one of the industry trucks, or some type of truck that seems to fit right in driving around on these ranch lands.”
The situation has fomented a new partnership between law enforcement and oil and gas companies as they seek to monitor the oil fields’ vast expanse. While smugglers may be able to use the fracking boom to their advantage now, that might not be the case for long. Continue Reading