Two Guys on Your Head
11:56 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Need A Couple Doctors For The Holidays?

Credit www.dogpsychologistoncall.com

As a gift to our listeners, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke bring you a special holiday edition of Two Guys On Your Head. We'll explore questions about the link between freewill and gratitude, why we feel so compelled to recreate traditions exactly as we remember them, and why yawning is contagious.

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Energy & Environment
10:32 am
Fri December 19, 2014

After a Lark of a Year, Austin Birders Prepare for Annual Christmas Count

The red-legged honeycreeper was one of three rare species found in the state this year by Texas ornithologists.

The annual Austin Christmas bird count is happening this Saturday, when bird enthusiasts, or birders, take a census of what birds they can spot across the entire Austin area. So far, 2014 has already been an unusual year for bird sightings in Texas.

Three species of birds never seen in the state before were spotted this year in Texas. 

Those were a red-legged honeycreeper, a gray-crowned rosy-finch and a pair of common cranes – which, as the name might suggest, are indeed common, but they’re typically a European species.

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Energy & Environment
10:25 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Copenhagen Turns to Two Wheels and Takes Off

Cyclists commuting in the Copenhagen neighborhood of Norrebro.
DPA /LANDOV

From StateImpact Texas:

Rain or shine, in the light of summer or the early afternoon darkness of winter, under heavy sleet, unrelenting winds or drifts of snow, people in Copenhagen just bike. They bike in fur coats, they bike in suits and ties. They bike old, they bike young. They wheel their kids around on a cargo bike with a wooden box carrying the children up front, taking them to and from school; this is Copenhagen’s take on a minivan. People just bike, and after arriving in the city myself, I soon found out why: it’s usually the fastest way to get around. So I rented a bike, too.

Today, 60 percent of people in the city’s core commute by bike. In the greater Copenhagen area, over 40 percent do. “We see the same numbers [of commuting by bike] all year round,” says Copenhagen Environmental and Technical Affairs Mayor Morten Kabell.

“It’s not something that’s in Copenhagen’s genes, or that we’re weirder or stranger than any other people on earth,” Kabell says. “Every city can do this.”

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Arts Eclectic
8:54 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Celebrate the Holidays at the Hideout

For the past year or so, the talented performers at the Hideout have been staging a weekly Big Bash, and all-star improv show that happens every Friday night at the downtown theater. In each show, a rotating cast of Hideout regulars  present a handful of games and sketches, followed by a longer-form improvised "movie" in the second half of the show.

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Austin
3:52 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

City Hopes for a Smooth Rollout Ahead of Brazos Street Conversion

City of Austin officials say one-way streets are good for moving cars through, but two-way streets are better for accessing your destination.
flickr.com/photos/mrlaugh

Austin's downtown traffic flow will change starting next month. The City of Austin is converting Brazos Street from one way to a two way street between East Cesar Chavez and East Sixth streets. 

Austin Transportation Department Director Rob Spillar says a number of cities have gone through this process to slow traffic.

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Science
3:11 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

UT Forms Committee to Investigate Missing Brains

The University of Texas at Austin disposed of 100 brains donated from the Texas State Hospital. Now a committee will look into the decision-making process behind the disposal.
Adam Voorhes

The University of Texas at Austin made international news in recent weeks over confusion about what happened to hundreds of donated human brains. Now the university is forming a special three-member committee to look into the case.

Last month, a KUT story highlighted the mystery of 100 missing brain specimens that had been donated from the Austin State Hospital, what they used to call the Texas State Lunatic Asylum.

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Austin
2:21 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Sexist Comment by Austin Police Officer: Isolated Incident or Part of Broader Culture?

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo says sexist comments from officers undermine a departmental goal of securing communities' trust.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Update (2:19 p.m.): Officer Andrew Pietrowski officially retired from the Austin Police Department on Friday, Dec. 12 after learning KUT would air his comments this week.

Original Story (9:07 a.m.): Police Chief Art Acevedo suspended two officers in November for making jokes about rape victims. The Austin Police Association said at the time that the respective three-day and five-day suspensions were "fair and appropriate." The incident took place after a local attorney had released a video in which the two Austin police officers are laughing and one of the officers comments: "Go ahead and call the cops. They can't un-rape you."

Recently, offensive comments were made to KUT's reporter Joy Diaz, while she was covering a police-related story. A quick warning: This story contains offensive remarks made about women. 

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo is convinced APD's culture is changing for the better. And says comments like "[cops]can't un-rape you" are examples of behavior that he calls "[the] extreme minority."

Statistically, when you consider the couple of thousand police officers in Austin, he’s right. However, there are still regrettable police shootings and some minorities still feel targeted by police. But Austin is no longer the ticking bomb some say it was before Acevedo took over the department in 2007. Questions still linger, however, about whether or not APD is clearly letting its officers know that inappropriate comments will not be tolerated.

Take for instance the recent comments of Officer Andrew Pietrowski.

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Energy & Environment
11:02 am
Thu December 18, 2014

How Denmark and Texas Became Wind Energy Kings

Three turbines sit just offshore at the Avedore Holm wind energy test site near Copenhagen, Denmark. The turbines are operated by DONG Energy.
Terrence Henry/StateImpact Texas

From StateImpact Texas:

Standing on the shore of the Baltic sea a few miles outside of Copenhagen, Denmark, the view’s about what you’d expect. Rocky shore, grey horizon, a boat here or there. But this shore is special. Look up, and you’ll see — and hear — three giant offshore wind turbines cutting through the air. Each stands 500 feet tall, with three blades (each close to 200 feet long), spinning non-stop.

“The blades look quite thin, but don’t be cheated,” says Rune Birk Nielsen, with DONG Energy, which runs the turbines. “They each weigh about twenty tons. They are massive.” Each turbine has a capacity of 3.6 megawatts, or enough to power 3,000 Danish homes.

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Texas
8:03 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Volunteers Caring for Texas Children Need Financial Support, Report Suggests

A new report from the Center for Public Policy Priorities says more than 250,000 children in Texas are living with volunteer caregivers who need financial support.
Filipa Rodriques/KUT News

In Texas, more than 250,000 children are living with grandparents or other volunteer caregivers, but a new report from the Center for Public Policy Priorities suggests that many of them are not up to the task financially and could use more support and guidance.

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2014 Elections
7:11 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Majority of Texas Voters Chose 2014 Candidates Based on Political Party

Straight ticket voting in Texas reached an all-time high in the 2014 elections, according to a new report.

Straight ticket voting in Texas reached an all-time high in last month’s elections, according to a new report released by the Austin Community College Center for Public Policy and Political Studies.

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Energy & Environment
12:06 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

What Spain Can Teach Texas About Solar Energy

A tower at Abengoa solar plant at "Solucar" solar park.
Marcelo del Pozo/REUTERS

From StateImpact Texas:

About an hour’s drive outside of Sevilla, Spain’s old city, past grazing black-footed pigs and olive orchards, sits the Abengoa Solucar complex, and it’s truly a sight: Imagine cresting a hill and then all of the sudden seeing several large towers, over 500 feet high, with hundreds of beams of light striking them — solar rays from an army of mirrors arrayed in a circle on the ground below. They’re called heliostats.

“These heliostats are reflecting solar radiation toward the receiver that we have at the top of the tower,” says Valerio Fernandez, manager of the complex. The rays from the heliostats strike the top of the towers, like hundreds of magnifying glasses focused on one point in mid-air. The top of the tower shines so bright, you can’t look at it without sunglasses.

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Austin City Council
11:35 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Get to Know Your Geographically-Elected Austin City Council

Austin finalized its new, geographically-elected city council last night.
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

The city's first council under the 10-1 plan was finalized last night. Austin voters elected the remaining seven council members and the Mayor of Austin. The new council is, for the first time, majority female, with seven female council members. The only incumbent in the bunch, Council Member Kathie Tovo – who's also a likely shoe-in for the position of Mayor Pro Tem.

The remaining nine council members, and Mayor-elect Steve Adler, may not be so familiar. Below, you can find detailed biographies of each of the newly-elected 10-1 council members and an interactive map with voting totals – including their previous experience in government, their employment history and (for some) their previous work with other council candidates.

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The Two-Way
11:13 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Obama Unveils 'New Approach' On Cuba As Former Foes Chart New Course

President Obama announced Wednesday that the U.S. will work with Cuba to normalize diplomatic ties.
Doug Mills UPI /Landov

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 1:41 pm

Updated at 2:39 p.m. ET

President Obama announced today the most significant change in U.S. policy toward Cuba in more than 50 years, paving the way for the normalization of relations and the opening of a U.S. Embassy in Havana.

Obama said "we will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries."

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In Black America Podcast
8:02 am
Wed December 17, 2014

In Black America Podcast: Remembering Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee

Rudy Dee and Ossie Davis

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with the late Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee.

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Austin
12:10 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Steve Adler's Goal: Turn Austin into Social Innovator for the World

Steve Adler is Austin's new Mayor. Up until now, he's been a political outsider. He is an attorney who believes in social causes.
Credit Joy Diaz, KUT News

  Steve Adler is Austin's new mayor. He easily defeated city councilman Mike Martinez in Tuesday's runoff election. But, even though Adler appeared to be the favorite in recent polls, he wasn't always expected to win this race.

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2014 City Council Runoff Elections
10:56 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Liveblog: The 2014 Austin City Council Runoff Elections

Mayor-elect Steve Adler shakes a young supporters hand at his Election Night party.
Joy Diaz/KUT

After years of build-up and build-out, tonight the Austin City Council will finally transfer from an at-large, seven-member council to a geographically elected council with 10 members. Two of the council seats were decided on Election Day in November – Delia Garza won the District 2 seat and Ann Kitchen won District 5. Council Member Kathie Tovo, after nearly beating fellow Council Member Chris Riley with 49 percent of the vote, won the District 9 seat after Riley’s November concession.

The remaining seven races, and the race for Mayor of Austin, will be decided by today’s runoff elections.

UPDATE: The final numbers are in. Here’s a look at the Austin City Council runoff winners according to the Travis County Clerk's unofficial voting totals:

District 1 – Ora Houston wins with 74.25 percent of the vote over opponent DeWayne Lofton

District 3 – Sabino “Pio” Renteria wins over Susana Almanza 59.76 percent over 40.24 percent

District 4 – Greg Casar wins the seat over opponent Laura Pressley with 64.62 percent of the vote. Pressley garnered 35.38 percent of the vote

District 6 – Don Zimmerman defeats Jimmy Flannigan with 51.21 percent in a close race. Flannigan carried Election Day, but his 48.79 percent in total runoffs wasn’t enough to win the seat.

District 7 – Leslie Pool wins with 66.23 percent over Jeb Boyt’s 33.77 percent.

District 8 – Ellen Troxclair wins the seat by less than 60 votes, earning 50.23 percent of the vote against opponent Ed Scruggs, who got 49.77 percent of the vote.

District 10 – Sheri Gallo defeats Mandy Dealey with 54.76 percent of the vote. Dealey got 45.24 percent of the vote.

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Austin ISD
10:39 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Here are the Austin School Board Election Runoff Results

There are three Austin School Board seats up for grabs in the run off election.
Photo by KUT News

Update (10:37): With 100 percent of the Austin ISD precincts reporting, Kendall Pace is officially the winner in the AISD School Board At-large District Nine race. Ted Gordon won in District One with 56 percent of the vote and Paul Saldana won in District Six with 53 percent of the vote.

Update(10:05 p.m.): With 92 percent of the Austin ISD precincts reporting, Kendall Pace continues to have a healthy lead over Hillary Procknow in the at-large District Nine race for Austin School Board. 

In District One, Ted Gordon continues to inch ahead of David Thompson. As of the last report, Gordon has 55 percent compared to Thompson's 44 percent. But voter turnout was very low in that district, with fewer than 6,000 people voting. 

In District Six, the race is even closer between Paul Saldana and Kate Mason-Murphy. However, Saldana continues to inch ahead of Mason-Murphy with 53 percent of the vote. That race saw low voter turnout, too. 

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Arts Eclectic
2:39 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

City Theatre Presents a 'Reckless' Holiday

This holiday season, the folks at City Theatre are presenting Reckless, a non-traditional holiday-based dark comedy that the New York Times called "a bittersweet Christmas fable for our time."

On Christmas Eve, Rachel Fitzsimmons learns that her idyllic life is not so idyllic after all when her husband takes out a contract on her life. As things continue to unravel, she encounters killers, game show hosts, insane therapists and more. City Theatre artistic director Andy Berkovsky calls it "the perfect little holiday play."

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Austin
1:25 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

University of Texas Launches Center for Sports Leadership

President Bill Powers and Founding Director Daron Roberts talking to Texas Standard’s David Brown about the new Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation.

The University of Texas at Austin has announced a new sports leadership initiative.

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Austin
12:34 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Here's What Austin Googled in 2014

Sports and celebrities were on the minds (and fingertips) of Austinites this year who couldn't resist taking to search giant Google to expand their knowledge of Ebola, figure out when to mark Easter 2014 on their calendars and relive the filmography of Robin Williams. 

The U.S. may not have won the 2014 World Cup, but the global phenomena dominated the list of the top trends in Google searches in Austin this year, according to the company's 2014 Zeitgeist report. Spikes in more than a trillion Google searches were analyzed, and the annual report is supposed to reflect the "topics and people that defined 2014," the company says.

Take a look below to see what captivated Austinites in 2014, and watch the video announcement of the search survey above.

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