The Two-Way
11:34 am
Sat April 25, 2015

1,400 Confirmed Dead In Nepal After Powerful Earthquake

Volunteers help with rescue work at the site of a building that collapsed after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Saturday. The temblor is the worst in Nepal in 80 years.
Niranjan Shrestha AP

Originally published on Sat April 25, 2015 4:08 pm

Updated at 4:50 p.m. ET

Authorities in Nepal say nearly 1,400 people are confirmed dead following a powerful earthquake near the capital Kathmandu, where homes and ancient temples collapsed amid the intense temblor and strong aftershocks.

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Texas Standard
5:15 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

APD Returns Rare, Stolen Guitar to Hill Country Musician

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo tweeted this picture of police posing with Wilkins and his newly-returned guitar.
@ArtAcevedo

From Texas Standard.

Austin Police returned a pretty special Gibson guitar this week. It was one of only three produced. Willie Nelson owns one, Dan Rather owns one, and now, Walt Wilkins has his back. Wilkins is a singer-songwriter based in the Texas Hill Country.

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Austin
4:59 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

Can City Officials Create a Level Playing Field for Cab, Uber and Lyft Drivers?

Raido Kalma/flickr

Many things have changed in the five years since the Austin City Council last approved a contract with taxi franchises.

For one, ride service companies like Uber and Lyft have become more of a norm than an anomaly. Still, cab companies say their drivers are not operating on a level playing field when it comes to regulations.

Now, the Austin City Council, for the first time, says it's going to do an analysis of exactly how level the field is.

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KUT Weekend
3:32 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

Listen to Our Weekly News Podcast!

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

Texas Standard
3:32 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

How the BP Oil Spill is a Prototype for Future Disasters

Anchor-handling tugboats battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon in 2010.
Ideum/flickr

From Texas Standard

As we look back on the last five years since the Deepwater Horizon disaster, some big questions linger: What will the next disaster be, and can we prepare for it?

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Transportation
2:43 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

Austin's Transportation Future: A Conversation With Anthony Foxx

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.
Credit DOT

Austin suffers from plenty of traffic congestion, but the city is hardly alone there. Across the country, cities are having to confront the question of how to move more and more people around in a limited amount of space. On Friday, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx came to Austin to discuss transportation issues and what the city can learn from others. 

His visit brought him to the University of Texas at Austin's Center for Transportation Research, where he got to see research in traffic modeling and connected vehicle technology. The U.S. Department of Transportation recently released 'Beyond Traffic,' a 30-year plan on the future of transportation in the country. "It looks at long-term trends and begins to shape the types of choices we have ahead of us," Foxx says. "And I came here today to see what kind of work is being done on research and innovation in transportation that's consistent with our plan." 

We spoke for a few minutes on Austin's traffic issues, transportation innovation, and difficulties consistently funding infrastructure and maintenance of the roads we already have. 

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Texas Standard
1:09 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

Statewide Drought Over? Yes, But…

Texas has been in an ongoing drought since October of 2010. But the statewide drought may now just be a regional one.
Via Pixabay.

From Texas Standard:

The U.S. Drought Monitor puts out a map every week that updates drought conditions in Texas. This week’s map looked mostly white – which indicates no drought at all – with some peach, orange and red in the center – indicating moderate to exceptional drought.

Last year at this time, only small parts of the state were in the clear. Two years ago, 99 percent of the state was in some level of drought.

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Two Guys on Your Head
12:55 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

Why 'Reading' Audiobooks Isn't a Shortcut: Listening vs. Reading, and Your Brain

Credit audiobooks rock/flickr

Have you ever told someone, "Hey, I read that book!" then continued with a guilty, "...well, I listened to the audio version." 

It's time to wash that guilt right out of your soul, because in this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke, talk about how our brains process information differently based on how we consume it.

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Education
10:54 am
Fri April 24, 2015

New High School Graduation Plans Means More Work for Texas School Counselors

As a school counselor at East Side Memorial, Jennifer Mullins juggles between catering to the academic and personal needs of students. That responsibility has increased since the state passed HB 5.
Credit Sarah Jasmine Montgomery/KUT

KUT and our city hall reporting partner the Austin Monitor are looking at needs that have typically been paid for by the state, but have become local responsibilities. Some call them unfunded mandates. KUT News and the Austin Monitor will look at key examples of that interaction in our series, “The Buck Starts Here.”  Today, Tyler Whitson and Kate McGee take on education.

Jennifer Mullins is sitting in her office at Eastside Memorial High School when a staff member comes in and asks for a stress ball. There’s a student outside that needs help. Mullins walks out the door and immediately takes control. 

"Hey bud, hey! Stress ball! Just breathe," Mullins says.  The student was having a negative reaction to a medication.

Mullins is one of two school counselors at Eastside Memorial High School who handles both emotional and academic support. Every student there is labeled at-risk. Mullins says she spends half her time dealing with students' needs outside the classroom.

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Health
10:04 am
Fri April 24, 2015

State Health Tests Prodded Blue Bell Recall

A sign on an ice cream case in an Austin convenience store warns shoppers of the Blue Bell recall.
John Jordan/Texas Tribune

Via the Texas Tribune:

It’s the phone call no company in Texas wants to receive.

Shortly after lab tests on two Blue Bell ice cream flavors — Mint Chocolate Chip and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough — came back “presumptive positive” for the deadly bacteria Listeria monocytogenes , Kathy Perkins reached for the phone and contacted the Brenham-based company with the unfavorable news.

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Austin
8:07 am
Fri April 24, 2015

Why Texas Isn’t Paying for What it Wants from Austin’s Classrooms

Public education in Texas faces funding challenges, and the Austin Independent School District may be the perfect poster child for the issue.
Nathan Bernier/KUT News

KUT and our city hall reporting partner the Austin Monitor are looking at needs that have typically been paid for by the state, but have become local responsibilities. Some call them unfunded mandates. KUT News and the Austin Monitor will look at key examples of that interaction in our series, “The Buck Starts Here.”  Today, Tyler Whitson and Kate McGee take on education.

It’s no secret that public education in Texas faces funding challenges, and the Austin Independent School District may be the perfect poster child for the issue. While the district sends more tax revenue to the state annually for redistribution than any other, it implemented austerity measures in 2008 and has been dipping into its reserves since 2012.

AISD Chief Financial Officer Nicole Conley stressed the issue when she spoke with the Austin Monitor. “We're utilizing our reserves to really maintain funding that we know is important for students,” she said.

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2016 Election
5:14 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

The Ticket: A Presidential Podcast

The Ticket, produced by KUT and the Texas Tribune, is our new podcast focused on the 2016 presidential race.

In the pilot episode of The Ticket, KUT's Ben Philpott and the Texas Tribune's Jay Root bring back the Tribune's “Stump Interrupted” feature to break down Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential announcement speech at Liberty University last month and talk with former Texas GOP Chairman and current Rand Paul campaigner Steve Munisteri.

The Salt
4:32 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

How Texas Ranchers Try To Clinch The Perfect Rib-Eye

Donnell Brown and another cowboy move a grouping of bulls from one pen to another on rib-eye ultrasound day in March at the R.A Brown Ranch.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Thu April 23, 2015 6:03 pm

We're heading into grilling season, which means breaking out the burgers and brats. But if you're a true meat lover, the slab you'll want to be searing is the rib-eye.

The rib-eye is the bestselling cut of beef in America both at the supermarket and the steakhouse, according to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

Beef lovers go crazy for it because of its marbling — the network of fat within muscles that melts on the grill and makes the steak juicy and tender.

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Texas Standard
3:17 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Will Police Harass More Blacks for Open Carry Than Whites?

A Texas lawmaker is worried blacks will be harassed more often for open carry than whites. His amendment may have opened a back door to unlicensed carry statewide.
Lucio Eastman/Wikimedia Commons

From Texas Standard

The open carry of handguns has gotten a thumbs up from the Texas Legislature this session – not too much surprise there.

But one unexpected amendment would prevent police officers from stopping those who carry openly just to check for the proper licensing. 

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Life & Arts
3:13 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Chickens and Chaos: Why Austin Comedy is Sort of Like a Moon Tower

Austin, Texas is the only city in the world known still to have moonlight towers.
Jeremy Fuksa/flickr

Four years ago, non-native Austinite Jim Ritts thought it was time the Live Music Capital of the World had its own comedy festival.

“It’s a phenomenal festival town,” he says, and he figured that Austin could make room for a fest devoted solely to comedy. What with the recent “comedy renaissance” and the strong local comedy scene in Austin, he felt like the timing was perfect to launch the Moontower Comedy & Oddity Festival, which is taking place now through Saturday around town.

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It's All Politics
1:14 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Senate Confirms Loretta Lynch As Attorney General

Loretta Lynch testifies during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in January 2015.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 23, 2015 1:23 pm

The Senate voted Thursday, 56-43, to approve the nomination of Loretta Lynch to serve as U.S. attorney general, ending a more than five month-long political impasse that had stalled her bid to become the first black woman to lead the Justice Department.

Lynch, 55, grew up in the shadow of the civil rights movement in North Carolina, where her family had preached for generations. Most recently, she prosecuted terrorists, mobsters and white collar criminals as the top federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, a district that covers 8 million people.

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Texas Standard
11:21 am
Thu April 23, 2015

Books for Avoiding April Showers

62295661@N07/Flickr

From Texas Standard:

Clay Smith of Kirkus Reviews brings us two hard-hitting books to read during April showers – both of them tackling issues swirling about in popular media and the news.

In fiction, Smith recommends God Help the Child by Toni Morrison. In the book Morrison, the only living Nobel prize winner for literature, tackles race and childhood.

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In Black America Podcast
10:10 am
Thu April 23, 2015

In Black America Podcast: A Talk With Janet Cheatman Bell

Janet Cheatman Bell
Kevin O. Moone

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Janet Cheatham Bell, author, editor and publishing consultant.

After graduating from Indiana University in 1964, Bell began her professional career as a high school librarian in Saginaw, Michigan. In early 1968 she accepted a position at the Ohio University Library in Athens. A few months later, in the wake of student responses to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, the university recruited her to teach freshman composition and African American literature.

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The Two-Way
9:30 am
Thu April 23, 2015

U.S. Operations Killed Two Hostages Held By Al-Qaida, Including An American

President Obama expresses his condolences today to the families of the American and Italian aid workers killed in a U.S. counterterrorism operation in January.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Thu April 23, 2015 4:31 pm

Updated at 5:20 p.m. ET

President Obama offered his "grief and condolences" to the families of the American and Italian aid workers killed in a U.S. counterterrorism operation in January. Both men were held hostage by al-Qaida.

"I take full responsibility for a U.S. government counterterrorism operation that killed two innocent hostages held by al-Qaida," Obama said.

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Transportation
8:30 am
Thu April 23, 2015

More Lanes Are Coming to Austin's Highways, But They Won't Be Free

The MoPac Improvement Project will add one tolled lane in each direction to North MoPac. The lane will be free for transit.
Miguel Gutierrez, Jr./KUT News

KUT and our city hall reporting partner the Austin Monitor are looking at needs that have typically been paid for by the state, but have become local responsibilities. Some call them unfunded mandates. KUT News and the Austin Monitor will look at key examples of that interaction in our series, “The Buck Starts Here.”  Today, we take on Austin’s highways. You can read Tyler Whitson's companion piece over at the Austin Monitor.

We hear it all the time: Austin’s growing too fast, and we don’t have enough housing or roads for the people already here, not to mention the million more people that will be in the region in a little over a decade. To better accommodate an influx of people and cars, new additions are being planned for several of the region’s major highways. 

But there’s no such thing as a free ride on most of these new lanes, and to understand why, it helps to do a little time traveling.

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