Texas
8:22 am
Wed July 1, 2015

State Employees' Same-Sex Spouses and Their Children Are Now Eligible for Benefits

Diane Jones and Bryna Wortham stand with Rev. Richard Bates at their wedding ceremony at the Travis County Courthouse on June 26, 2015
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Today is the first day state employees can apply for benefits on behalf of their same-sex spouses and their children.

Every year, during the summer's open enrollment period, Cathy Terrell's typically pretty busy. Terrell and her team manage the benefits of close to 333,000 state employees and retirees with the Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS). The ERS oversees the benefits of every state agency excluding the UT and Texas A&M systems.

After last week's Supreme Court decision to allow same-sex couples to marry in every state, Terrell realized this open enrollment season will be busier than ever.

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The Two-Way
4:35 am
Wed July 1, 2015

Border Patrol Urged To Crack Down On Corruption In Its Own Ranks

U.S. agents compare notes as they patrol along the Mexico border near McAllen, Texas. A draft report by outside experts calls for steps to confront any claims of corruption in the Border Patrol.
Eric Gay AP

Originally published on Tue June 30, 2015 8:17 pm

A new government report recommends that the U.S. Border Patrol double its internal affairs investigators to focus on corruption and the alleged mistreatment of migrants along the Mexican border.

The interim report, written at the request of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, focuses on three themes: rooting out corruption within the agency; reining in the unauthorized use of force by Border Patrol agents; and improving departmental transparency.

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The Two-Way
12:21 pm
Tue June 30, 2015

11:59:60 — Look For An Extra Tick Of The Clock Tonight

Clocks around the world, like Big Ben, will have an extra second added tonight.
Oli Scarff Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 30, 2015 6:38 pm

If you're worried about finishing everything on your to-do list, you'll get an extra second today to cram it all in.

The extra second is called a "leap second." At the very end of the day, the clock will read 11:59:60 Universal Time (the official time that international timekeepers use) or 7:59:60 p.m. ET.

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Health
11:37 am
Tue June 30, 2015

Austin Regional Clinic to Stop Taking Unvaccinated Children as Patients

Austin Regional Clinic officials say unvaccinated pediatric patients pose health risks to other hospital patients.
US Army Corps of Engineers/flickr

The Austin Regional Clinic will stop accepting new unvaccinated pediatric patients — that is, children whose parents have opted them out of routine vaccinations. The ARC announced its new policy this morning.

The regional health system, which has locations in Austin plus six surrounding cities, cites patient safety as the reason for the new regulation, set to take effect Wednesday.

“Parents who are unwilling to commit to a vaccination schedule will need to find another physician outside of ARC,” clinic officials said in the release.

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HB 2
9:41 am
Tue June 30, 2015

Supreme Court Reprieve Lets 10 Texas Abortion Clinics Stay Open For Now

The U.S. Supreme Court gave a reprieve to Texas clinics that provide abortion services.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 30, 2015 11:38 pm

Tuesday would have been the last day of operation for 10 clinics in Texas that provide abortion services. But on Monday the U.S. Supreme Court, in one of its final actions of this session, said the clinics can remain open while clinic lawyers ask the court for a full review of a strict abortion law.

Two dozen states have passed regulations similar to the ones being fought over in Texas.

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Law
7:24 am
Tue June 30, 2015

Supreme Court Concludes Term With Death Penalty Ruling, Looks Ahead

The gurney in the the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Okla. On Monday the Supreme Court voted 5-4 in a case from Oklahoma that the sedative midazolam can be used in executions without violating the prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.
Sue Ogrocki AP

Originally published on Tue June 30, 2015 12:52 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday issued the last of its opinions for this term — on the death penalty, anti-pollution regulations and the power of independent commissions to draw congressional and state legislative districts. In addition, the court issued a set of orders that set up cases to be heard next term on affirmative action and abortion.

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Abortion
3:04 pm
Mon June 29, 2015

Supreme Court Temporarily Halts Texas Abortion Rules

Credit Eric Schlegel, Texas Tribune

The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily blocked some elements of Texas' House Bill 2, which puts new restrictions on abortion clinics in the state. Abortion providers say the rules in question, which were to go into effect July 1, would have forced as many as 10 abortion clinics to close.

That would have left Texas with as few as eight abortion clinics, mostly in big cities.

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Same-Sex Marriage
2:35 pm
Mon June 29, 2015

Jim Obergefell: I'm 'Humbled To Be a Part' of Landmark Same-Sex Marriage Case

Jim Obergefell (second from left) celebrates the outcome of his landmark same-sex marriage case at the Texas Capitol.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

The plaintiff at the heart of last week's historic Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage is trekking the country on a multi-state tour that brought him to Austin today. Jim Obergefell is the named plaintiff in Obergefell v. Hodges.

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Arts Eclectic
1:39 pm
Mon June 29, 2015

Doctuh Mistuh's Summer Double Feature

In recent years, the production company Doctuh Mistuh has staged crowd-pleasing musical versions of Evil Dead, Silence of the Lambs, and Reefer Madness; it's safe to say that pop culture musical theater is in their wheelhouse. So it's not too surprising that they're the company that secured the rights to produce the regional premiere of Heathers, the Musical, based on the 1988 dark comedy cult film. 

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Marriage
1:09 pm
Mon June 29, 2015

Texas AG: Clerks Can Refuse Marriage Licenses to Same-Sex Couples (Updated)

Credit Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

UPDATE Monday 1 p.m. A Texas State Senator is asking the Department of Justice to monitor and intervene, if necessary, in Texas' implementation of the Supreme Court's ruling that legalizes same-sex marriage nationwide.

The request comes after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an advisory opinion yesterday, saying some government officials could refuse to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, if they object on religious grounds.

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Same-Sex Marriage
12:09 pm
Mon June 29, 2015

First Austin Couple in Line For Marriage License Gets Legally Married

Rev. Karen Thompson of Austin's Metropolitan Community Church marries Lupe Garcia, left, and Cindy Stocking on June 27, 2015.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT News

The first same-sex couple to get to the Travis County Clerk’s Office on Friday, before the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, was legally married over the weekend.

At their ceremony on Saturday, Lupe Garcia and Cindy Stocking seemed calm, as though they’d stood at the altar together before with Reverend Karen Thompson, but they were getting married for the first time.

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It's All Politics
11:47 am
Mon June 29, 2015

Cruz: Opposition To Same-Sex Marriage Will Be 'Front And Center' In 2016 Campaign

Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz says the Supreme Court overstepped its bounds on same-sex marriage and health care.
Lydia Thompson NPR

Originally published on Tue June 30, 2015 11:40 am

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz intends to make his opposition to the Supreme Court's decision last week to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide "front and center" in his presidential campaign.

In an interview with Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep on Sunday in New York City, the GOP presidential hopeful doubled down on his belief that the court had overstepped its bounds in both the marriage decision and in upholding Obamacare. And as a result, Cruz said, the justices should be subject to elections and lose their lifetime appointments.

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The Two-Way
11:09 am
Mon June 29, 2015

Supreme Court Says Use Of Lethal Injection Drug Is Legal

Originally published on Mon June 29, 2015 12:47 pm

Updated at 10:46 a.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 opinion, says the sedative used in Oklahoma's lethal injection cocktail does not violate the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Here's the background to the case, in the words of SCOTUSblog:

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Texas
10:54 am
Mon June 29, 2015

Many Central Texas Counties Now Issuing Marriage Licenses to All Couples

The Travis County Clerk issued 313 marriage licenses Friday to both same- and different-gender couples.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

After the Supreme Court decision Friday legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states, some county clerks around the U.S. began issuing licenses right away, including Travis County in Texas. Other counties held out, though, citing a need for updated forms that incorporated the new rule.

Those forms had been distributed by Monday, so more counties opened up marriage licenses to both same- and different-sex couples Monday morning. This is despite a statement from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton that called the Supreme Court's decision "lawless" and said that Texas county clerks could opt-out of issuing licenses to same-sex couples if it violates the clerk's religious beliefs. They'd still face lawsuits if they did so, he said, but the state would provide pro bono representation in those cases.

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Transportation
10:43 am
Mon June 29, 2015

More Rain Means More Potholes on Austin Streets

Cyclists and motorists beware: The amount of potholes on Austin's roads has nearly doubled, thanks to all the rain, and the traffic.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

The drenching rains that have fallen on Austin this year have provided sizable benefits: Reservoirs are recovering, lawns are green, and this summer will be cooler as a result. (Maybe a little more humid, too.)

But there are, of course, downsides to the rain, most notably the serious damage to lives and property from flooding. Austin’s infrastructure is taking a hit, too, and you don’t have to go far to find it. It’s right underneath you. 

Yes, we’re talking about potholes. Those holes in the road form thanks to two things: water and traffic, both of which Austin has plenty of lately.

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Education
9:40 am
Mon June 29, 2015

Supreme Court Will Revisit UT Affirmative Action Case

Fisher v UT, which deals with the school's using race as a factor in its admissions process, will be revisited by the U.S. Supreme Court.
KUT News

Today, the Supreme Court decided that it would take up the case of Fisher v the University of Texas at Austin, a suit dealing with a controversial admissions case at UT Austin. A white woman, Abigail Fisher, sued the school in 2008, claiming the university rejected her based on her race. The University says race is one of a few special circumstances it considers in admissions.

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KUT Weekend
7:40 pm
Fri June 26, 2015

Listen to Our Weekly News Podcast!

KUT Weekend brings you our favorite stories from the KUT newsroom. Updated Fridays!

Texas Standard
1:59 pm
Fri June 26, 2015

What the Decision on Same-Sex Marriage Means to One Texas Family

'I'm very excited,' says Ronald 'Ronnie' Macklin.
Texas for Marriage/facebook

From Texas Standard:

The Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruling in favor of same-sex marriage today. All 50 states are now required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Ronald “Ronnie” Macklin and his partner, Fritz Johnson-Macklin, are one of those couples. From the Austin suburb of Pflugerville, Ronnie joined Texas Standard to talk about his family’s story –  just minutes after learning about the Supreme Court decision.

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News
1:49 pm
Fri June 26, 2015

Same-Sex Wedding Ceremonies Begin in Travis County

After 15 years together, Darin Upchurch (left) and Ted Burton were finally married today at the Travis County Courthouse.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Rev. Richard Bates, a retired Methodist minister, began performing marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples today on the fifth floor of the Travis County Courthouse, including Ted Burton and Darin Upchurch. 

First, they had to get their marriage license at the Travis County Clerk's Office. They wore tan linen jackets and brightly colored checkered shirts to the clerk's office. It was an emotional moment.

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Two Guys on Your Head
12:04 pm
Fri June 26, 2015

Demystifying Phantom Pain

Credit hortonsoandp.com

Understanding how our brains interpret pain is an ongoing investigation. Some think pain can be as much a physical phenomenon as it is a cultural one. While in the West pain management seems to be just part of life. We wanted to investigate what psychology can tell us about pain and the brain.

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke, kick off our three-part series on "Pain and The Brain" with a discussion of "Phantom Pain." What it is, and how psychologists are finding new ways of helping patients who suffer with it.

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