Austin
2:43 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

City Council Will Consider Turning 'Barking Springs' Into an Off-Leash Park

Austin City Council will consider taking a look at turning the spillway outside Barton Springs Pool into a city park.
flickr.com/dingatx

The Austin City Council will consider whether or not to turn the "free side" of Barton Springs Pool – some call it "Barking Springs" – into a city park.

A proposal from Council Member Chris Riley on tomorrow's agenda calls for studying the idea of turning the spillway that bridges the springs and Lady Bird Lake into an off-leash dog park, as well as allowing swimming there. Riley's resolution would direct City Manager Marc Ott to ask the Parks and Recreation Board and the Animal Advisory Commission what city code would need to be changed to make the park a possibility.

Earlier this month, the Austin Police Department banned drinking at the spillway after a rise in crime in the Barton Springs and Zilker Park areas.

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Border & Immigration
12:23 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Who Exactly Are the Local, State & Federal Authorities on the Texas-Mexico Border?

Gov. Perry authorized the deployment of 1,000 troops to the Texas-Mexico border to supplement DPS troopers securing the border.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Security at the Texas-Mexico border has grown exponentially after an influx of undocumented, and often unaccompanied, migrant children in recent months. In response to the surge, Texas Governor Rick Perry has deployed up to one thousand National Guard troops. In addition, there's been a surge in federal Border Patrol agents and Department of Public Safety troopers.

Suffice to say, there are a lot of boots on the ground along the Rio Grande. But what exactly is the role and responsibility of every local, state and federal agency in securing the border?

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AISD Budget
10:34 am
Wed August 27, 2014

AISD Passes 2015 Budget, Approves Pay Increase for Teachers & Employees

The Austin Independent School District board meeting on June 16, 2014.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Last night, the Austin Independent School District board approved a 2015 budget of over $1 billion, which includes pay increases for teachers and employees.

However, those increases are a one-time deal due to the so-called "recapture program" in the state's school finance laws, which will require a reallocation of $175 million in Travis County property taxes this year.

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Arts Eclectic
9:50 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Experience Early Music with the Austin Troubadours

The Austin Troubadours have been playing early music together for the past six years, but the members of the band (including Slobodan Vujisic, Meredith Rudusku, Bruce Colson, Victor Eijkhout, Neli Vujisic, John Walters, and Oliver Rajamani) have all been studying and performing for much longer than that.

They strive for authenticity, using painstakingly reproduced period instruments and even period-appropriate costuming, so seeing and hearing the Austin Troubadours is as close as one is likely to get to experiencing the music of the Renaissance.

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Crime & Justice
7:25 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Round Rock Teen Accused of Selling Pot Brownies Won't Get Life Sentence

Jacob Lavoro faced a sentence of up to life in prison for selling pot brownies.
Credit Williamson County

A 19-year-old in Round Rock is no longer facing the possibility of life in prison for allegedly making marijuana brownies and selling them for $25 each. The case involving Jacob Lavoro attracted national attention. An online petition against the punishment has more than a quarter million signatures. 

Williamson County assistant District Attorney Mark Brunner says they decided not to pursue a charge based on the total weight of the brownies to avoid jury "distraction" during a possible trial. 

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Education
4:32 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

PHOTOS: Garcia Academy Rings in the New School Year with a Tie-Tying Tutorial

A student begins his windsor knot.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

Students attending the Gus Garcia Young Men's Leadership Academy in northeast Austin were taught how to tie their uniform ties today.

The school is one of two newly-reconstituted, single-gender schools in the district, along with the Bertha Sadler Means Young Women's Leadership Academy. Both schools rang in their inaugural academic years yesterday. KUT joined the students as they perfected the intricacies of the windsor knot, led by the school's Principal Sterlin McGruder and Austin Independent School District Interim Superintendent Paul Cruz. 

Life & Arts
12:01 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Here's a Look Back at Roy Orbison, an Unassuming West Texas Boy Turned Rockstar

Roy Orbison plays a show in Clearwater Florida in December of 1961.
flickr.com/rockinred1969

Fifty years ago this month, Roy Orbison had his break-out hit "Pretty Woman." The catchy tune about an attractive lady walking by his song became the influence of countless covers and catapulted him into rock-n-roll history. His 1964 song, along with eight other singles, gave the "British Invasion" of the 1960s a run for their money.

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Energy & Environment
8:46 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Lawmakers Hear Proposals for Confronting Man-Made Quakes

After a surge in earthquakes across Texas over the last several years, state regulators are considering their options.
Credit Oliver Berg DPA/LANDOV

From StateImpact Texas: 

After a surge in earthquakes across Texas over the last several years, state regulators are considering their options. On Monday, the House Subcommittee on Seismic Activity heard some of those options.

Many of the quakes are likely caused by wastewater disposal wells, where the liquid waste from oil and gas drilling is pumped back into the ground. The Railroad Commission of Texas is the agency that regulates the state’s oil and gas industry, and it is proposing new rules for those wells.

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Life & Arts
7:05 am
Tue August 26, 2014

The Emmys: Past Winners Trump New Shows; 'Breaking Bad' Takes A Bow

Julia Louis-Dreyfus won her third consecutive Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for HBO's Veep. It was a big night for people who had already won.
Kevin Winter Getty Images

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 3:14 pm

  • Listen to the Conversation

[Note: The audio above is a conversation about the Emmy Awards I had today with Stephen Thompson, my co-panelist on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast.]

The Emmys are known for one thing more than any other, and that's repetition. Shows winning four times, actors winning three times — the most likely Emmy winner is always the guy who's already won.

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Education
4:21 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

Paul Cruz on Back-To-School, Budgets & the Future of Austin Schools

Interim Superintendent Paul Cruz says the district's decision to redraw school boundaries will be controversial among some parents, but they will have an input in the process.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

As the school year starts anew for Texas public schools, the Austin Independent School District is preparing for a year of changes.

In November, as many as five new school board members will be elected, a replacement superintendent will be hired in the wake of Meria Carstarphen’s departure and the district could face more, or less, funding after the legislature convenes in January.

The district’s interim superintendent Paul Cruz spoke with KUT about the difficulties facing Austin students, parents and educators as bells ring in the new academic year.

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Transportation
1:18 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

After Ridership Drops, Cap Metro Looking to Tweak Rapid Bus System

The launch of a new rapid bus line has caused ridership to go down. Capital Metro says they're looking to fix that.
Spencer Selvidge/KUT News

Austin's "MetroRapid" buses are larger and, let's be honest, nicer than your typical bus. They've got more doors, for one, which makes for faster loading and unloading. You can look up when the next one's going to arrive on your smartphone. They have Wi-Fi, too. In January, the first line debuted, the 801, running up and down North Lamar and Congress. This week, the second one started up, the 803, going from the Domain down Burnet, through downtown and down South Lamar. 

The Rapid bus system is the first major transit project in Austin since the troubled rollout of the MetroRail red line several years ago.* That project was late, over budget and struggled to attract riders.

The rapid buses, however, started on time and under budget. But six months after the launch of the first rapid line, ridership in its corridor is down 16 percent from two years ago during the same period. (You can view the ridership numbers obtained by KUT below.)

"We certainly didn't want that to happen. We hoped that wouldn’t happen. But it did happen," says Todd Hemingson, Vice President of strategic planning and development with Capital Metro.

So why, after premiering shiny new buses with plenty of features, did ridership go down in the corridor?

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Perry Indictment
11:52 am
Mon August 25, 2014

In Court Filing, Perry Lawyers Challenge Indictment

Credit Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Lawyers for Gov. Rick Perry challenged his indictment in legal filings Monday, calling the charges unconstitutional and asking the courts to throw them out.

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Politics
10:48 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Should The GOP Rethink Gay Marriage?

Protestors gather in downtown Houston in support of gay rights.
flickr.com/us006409

Mark McKinnon is best known as a longtime advisor for President George W. Bush, but recently he’s been taking a surprisingly liberal stance on a popular topic – gay marriage. In opposition to many of his GOP compatriots, McKinnon has been campaigning to bring same sex marriage to the Lone Star State. The Texas Standard’s David Brown speaks with McKinnon on his stance and how he plans to go about it.

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Crime & Justice
10:14 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Increases in Child Abuse & Neglect Cases Strain Travis County Courts

Private attorneys are being hired to represent child abuse and neglect cases in Travis County because of a shortfall of attorneys.
flickr.com/fabliaux

This story comes to us from our city hall reporting partner, the Austin Monitor.

Representatives of Travis County children and parents involved in legal abuse and neglect cases have only 10-minute judicial hearings to present evidence of their safety and living situations, according to county civil court judges. County attorneys for indigent children and parents say their caseloads are to the point that they must hire private attorneys to help represent those involved.

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Education
7:51 am
Mon August 25, 2014

How Can Technology Help Make Students of All Ages Lifelong Learners?

Credit Courtesy of Southwestern University

Students of all ages are gearing up to head back to class this week.

With that in mind, KUT’s Jennifer Stayton spoke with Southwestern University President Dr. Edward Burger about his book “The Five Elements of Effective Thinking,” the role of failure in academia, the proliferation of online classes and technology in education and how students can “find their fire."

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Ferguson
6:59 am
Mon August 25, 2014

At Michael Brown's Funeral, A Call For A Day Of Reckoning

Supporters of the fatally shot Michael Brown hold hands in solidarity as they are led by Tracy Martin, father of Trayvon Martin, at the Peace Fest rally Sunday in St. Louis.
Adrees Latif Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Mon August 25, 2014 2:22 pm

After two weeks of sometimes violent protests, the family of Michael Brown finally took some time to mourn on Monday.

The funeral service for the unarmed 18-year-old killed by officer Darren Wilson was held in a St. Louis megachurch.

Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, and his father, Michael Brown Sr., entered the church in silence.

At a rally on Sunday, that's what Brown called for: calm and peace while his son was laid to rest.

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In Black America Podcast
8:39 pm
Sun August 24, 2014

In Black America Podcast: BMI’s First African American Woman Chairperson

Susan Davenport Austin

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Susan Davenport Austin, Chairwoman of the Board, Broadcast Music Inc. Austin was appointed as chairwoman of the board of Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) in October of 2011. She is the first woman and first African American to lead the board that she has been apart of since 2007.

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Politics
4:40 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Interview: Rick Perry's Indictment is About More Than a Veto

During a press conference at the Texas State Capitol, Gov. Rick Perry called the indictment against him a farce and an "abuse of power."
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

The indictment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry on criminal charges has gained national attention – particularly since Gov. Perry is being seen as a possible presidential contender.

In a speech given at the conservative Heritage Foundation, Perry defended himself by saying he was acting within the constitutional boundaries of his veto authority. While much of the debate has centered around Perry’s veto authority, the real legal debate is much more serious. 

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KUT's Summer School
4:24 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

The Secret of Comedy Success? Learning to Fail.

KUT's Mose Buchele on stage at the Velveeta Room in downtown Austin.
Terrence Henry/KUT News

On Thursday night, KUT's Mose Buchele found himself in front of a microphone, on stage at the Velveeta Room, a comedy club on Sixth Street in Austin.

"How did I get here?" he wondered. 

This summer, KUT reporters have been going to class, so to speak, to learn new skills or crafts from experts around Austin. So when Mose decided he would try his hand at stand up comedy, he called Brian Gaar for some advice. 

Take a listen to what happened:

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Texas Standard
4:12 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Is ISIS a Real Threat to the Texas Border?

U.S. Army soldiers in the Qarah Cham village in Iraq, March 27, 2007.
Master Sgt. Andy Dunaway/U.S. Air Force

Texans are still talking about Gov. Rick Perry's statements this week on the growing threat posed by the Islamic State terror group, known by the acronym ISIS.

Gov. Perry told an audience at the conservative Heritage Foundation that "ISIS or other terrorists" could have crossed into the U.S. through the Mexican border. "I think there is a very real possibility that they may have already used that," Perry said. 

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