Weather
8:43 am
Thu September 18, 2014

Central Texas Downpours: Travis County Deputy Missing in Flood Waters, Flash Flood Warning Expires

Water over the road at a low water crossing on Bell Springs Road in Dripping Springs.
Laura Rice, KUT News

The Travis County Sheriff’s Department says this morning that the person missing in flood waters in West Travis County is a Sheriff’s Deputy.

Travis County Sheriff’s spokesperson Roger Wade says the female deputy was doing a routine check of low water crossings when her own vehicle was washed from the road at around 2 a.m. Wade says sheriffs found the vehicle submerged shortly after that.

"We are still searching out here in hopes beyond hopes that she's clinging to a tree out here somewhere," Wade says. "We will not stop searching until we find her."

The Austin Police Department, Travis County Search and Rescue, the Lakeway Police Department, the Austin Fire Department, Travis County Emergency Medical Services are assisting in the search for the missing deputy.

Update (7:36 a.m.): The National Weather Service’s Flash Flood Warning affecting Bastrop, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays and Travis Counties has expired. There are still 46 low water crossings closed in the Austin area, according to the city’s flood monitor ATX Floods.

In addition, power has been restored power to some Austin Energy customers, but 2,216 are still without power. You can view a map of affected areas on the Austin Energy Storm Center website.

Update (7:16 a.m.): Austin police have issued reverse 911 calls to 353 homes in the Onion Creek area. The occupants have been notified to take precautions after the LCRA meter showed a rise in Onion Creek. APD says they'll warn residents if Onion Creek reaches flood stage. The City of Austin says waters are rising in the area but are not expected to threaten homes.

Barton Springs Pool is temporarily closed because of flooding.

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Texas Standard
4:37 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

How Marshall, Texas Became Ground Zero for 'Patent Trolls'

A Texas company has claimed the patent for podcasting – and it's gone after some of entertainment's biggest names.
Flickr user Patrick Breitenbach, https://flic.kr/ps/rNSVJ

A courtroom in Marshall, Texas – population 25,000 – is deciding patent cases with implications for some of entertainment's biggest names.

Marshall was the setting for a court case against CBS this week. A small company, Personal Audio, has sued media giants including Apple, Sirius XM, and CBS for damages related to alleged infringement of their podcast patent. (Podcasts are digital files on the Internet that can be downloaded to a computer or media player.)

A jury found CBS did infringe the patent – awarding Personal Audio $1.3 million.

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Austin Energy
1:32 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

How a Cooler Summer Cost Austin Energy $16.5 Million

Austin Energy earns 40 percent of its revenue in the summer months.
flickr.com/pyxopotamus

Aside from the month of August, this summer has been relatively cool as far as Texas summers go.

With that reprieve from stifling heat came an unanticipated gap in revenue for utility providers, and it's forced Austin Energy – which earns nearly half of its revenue in the hottest months of the year – to reexamine its budget.

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In Perspective
10:00 am
Wed September 17, 2014

In Perspective: Is the Israeli-Palestinian Cease-Fire a Calm Before Another Storm?

This summer’s escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has come to a relative stand-still with both sides currently holding to the cease-fire signed late last month. But many say the conflict is far from resolution.

In its inaugural episode, “In Perspective” invites subject matter experts from UT-Austin, New York University, and Rice University to discuss the conflict, its future and its impact on Israeli and Palestinian cultures with KUT’s Rebecca McInroy.

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Science
6:22 am
Wed September 17, 2014

Boeing And SpaceX Win $6.8 Billion In NASA Contracts

In an image provided by NASA, astronaut Randy Bresnik prepares to enter Boeing's CST-100 spacecraft for an evaluation at the company's Houston Product Support Center. NASA awarded Boeing with a $4.2 billion contract Tuesday.
AP

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 6:29 pm

NASA has chosen Boeing and SpaceX to build the vehicles that will transport its astronauts to the International Space Station, putting the two American companies on a course to take over a job that NASA has recently relied upon Russia to perform: carrying out manned space flights.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says vehicles from the two companies are expected to be ready for service by 2017.

Announcing its decision Tuesday, the space agency included these details:

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Affordable Care Act
5:30 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Thousands in Texas Must Prove Immigration Status to Keep Health Coverage

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services is telling people they have until Sept. 30 to prove their citizenship or immigration status, or else lose health coverage.
healthcare.gov

The number of people in Texas without health insurance has declined by less than half a percentage point since implementation of the Affordable Care Act, according to a new report out by the Census Bureau. The number dropped from 22.5 percent in 2012 to 22.1 percent in 2013.

Now, some of the people who recently got coverage may lose it.

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Education
4:05 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

State Education Officials Reignite Texas Textbook Battle

The State Board of Education will hear public comment on the overhaul of textbooks until Sept. 30.
Ryan Stanton, Flickr

The State Board of Education got an earful today about proposed changes to Texas students’ social studies textbooks. The Board is considering the adoption of new textbooks, despite claims from some that they contain misleading or biased statements and even misrepresentations of history.

Faculty from Texas universities who found instances of inaccuracy and misrepresentation in the textbooks testified all day before the board, along with and members of religious groups who alleged their faiths were being misrepresented. It's the social studies books' first overhaul since 2010.

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Texas
1:28 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Texas Still Tops Census List of Highest Uninsured Rates

A U.S. Census Bureau suvey showed 22.1 percent of Texans were uninsured in 2013, a slight drop from 22.5 percent in 2012.
Todd Wiseman/KUT

From the Texas Tribune:

The rate of Texas residents without health insurance has dropped slightly but continues to outpace every other state, according to early figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

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Arts Eclectic
12:48 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

See 'Young Frankenstein' in Wimberley

R. Michael Clinkscales and Lariena Brown in 'Young Frankenstein'
Credit Bill Peeler

Mel Brooks' 'Young Frankenstein' was released 40 years ago, and remains one of his most-loved films. Co-written by Gene Wilder, it's a loving parody of the classic Universal monster movies of the '30s (particularly, of course, the Frankenstein movies).

The musical version, officially titled The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein, opened on Broadway in 2007 and has quickly become a fan favorite. Like the original, it's a send up of old monster movies, but it takes the film's love of old-school vaudeville and burlesque up a few notches, coming complete with dancing girls and a fresh batch of vaudeville-style jokes.

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Energy & Environment
11:26 am
Tue September 16, 2014

Research Links Drilling Activities to Water Contamination in North Texas

The study explored different scenarios that may have accounted for elevated methane in the groundwater.
Courtesy of Thomas Darrah, OSU

For years, some residents of Parker County in North Texas have believed that nearby gas drilling was responsible for high levels of methane in neighborhood water wells. Research published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences appears to back that up.

The study looked at water contamination in Texas and Pennsylvania. It suggests that faulty cement jobs on drilling wells could be at fault in North Texas. Cement is poured between the rock wall and the steel tubing of oil and gas wells to block contaminants.

“We think either there isn’t enough cement in this location or more likely there are cracks or imperfections in that cement. That’s what allowed the strong gas to move up through the well and then out into peoples drinking water,” says Robert Jackson, a professor of environmental sciences at Stanford, who co-authored of the study.

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Austin
10:00 am
Tue September 16, 2014

Could Lyft & Uber Soon Be Legal in Austin?

The battle between ride-sharing companies and the city has been going on for years, but a new proposal could allow the services to function within the law.
flickr.com/photos/raidokaldma

As of right now, ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft aren’t exactly legal.

They operate, sure, but the services' drivers face fines of up to $1,500 if they're caught driving-while-ride-sharing. While some tout the apps as a convenient alternative to cabs, many, including the City of Austin, argue the drivers don’t face the same regulatory and safety standards as their cabbie counterparts.

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2015 Legislature
7:35 am
Tue September 16, 2014

Texas Fails In Nursing Home Care, Prompting a Push for Change

Texas is the worst state in the nation when it comes to nursing home quality, according to a new report from a national advocacy group – Families for Better Care, out on Sept. 10, 2014.
Image courtesy flickr.com/hapal

Texas is the worst state in the nation when it comes to nursing home quality, according to a new report from a national advocacy group – Families for Better Care.

The group has ranked Texas last for the second year in a row, so Texas lawmakers have been discussing what to do to change this when they return to Austin in January.

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2014 Elections
7:31 am
Tue September 16, 2014

Listen: The Ballot Boxing District 3 Forum

District 3 candidates gathered at the North Door for the third installment of Ballot Boxing, a partnership between KUT, the Austin Monitor, the Austin Chronicle, KXAN and Univision 62.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

The 12 candidates vying for District 3's seat on the Austin City Council met for the first time last night at the North Door for the third installment of Ballot Boxing, a series of in-district debates sponsored by the Austin Chronicle, the Austin Monitor, KXAN, Univision 62 and KUT.

Candidates discussed congestion issues, affordable housing, issues surrounding gentrification and the future of Austin going forward with the city's new 10-1 representation system. You can view photos of all the candidates from last night's forum above and listen to the forum in its entirety below.

Politics
6:01 am
Tue September 16, 2014

Obama To Announce Buildup In U.S. Efforts To Fight Ebola

Workers unload medical supplies to fight the Ebola epidemic from a USAID cargo flight in Harbel, Liberia, in August.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 8:43 am

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa is already the deadliest on record, having killed more than 2,400 people. Health experts warn it could get much worse, if the spread of the disease isn't contained quickly.

That alarm has President Obama meeting today with experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Obama is expected to announce a major buildup in U.S. efforts to address the threat of Ebola.

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Business
4:49 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Study: Texas' Income Inequality Could Affect State Revenues

Standard & Poor's says income inequality will tie Texas' hands in future budgeting issues, calling it a "systematic" problem.
Gabriel Cristover Perez/KUT

A new study from Standard & Poor’s suggests that income inequality is leading to lower state tax revenues in Texas. The study also finds inequality weakens overall economic growth, with a stronger effect in states like Texas that depend on sales tax revenues.

Still, the state has seen expanded growth in average tax revenue, the study said – 5.48 percent revenue growth from 2000 to 2009 compared to the 4.07 percent in sales tax-dependent states and 5.25 percent growth in income tax-dependent states.

The credit-rating agency says the growing gap slows potential growth and lowers the growth of the state's overall tax base, which is “stronger and only statistically significant” in sales tax-reliant states. The inequality could prove problematic in future budgeting, as S&P says Texas can’t correct the problem by simply raising taxes.

Texas currently has the sixth highest level of income inequality, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and the state’s lowest earners have seen their incomes drop 10 percent in the last decade. 

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Affordable Care Act
4:23 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Affordable Care Act Returns to Texas Lawmakers' Agenda

The Texas Senate Affairs Committee heard testimony on the Affordable Care Act on Sept. 15, 2014.
Liang Shi for KUT News

Today, the Texas Senate Affairs Committee heard testimony on the Affordable Care Act – from enrollment numbers to costs to identity theft concerns. The public hearing comes after Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst asked lawmakers to study what he called “emerging negative impacts” of the law.

About 734,000 people in Texas signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act during the first enrollment period, and with another one about to begin, the Texas Department of Insurance says Texas has roughly 200 state-certified navigators who help people use healthcare.gov after taking federal and Texas-specific training courses.

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Texas
4:13 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Texas Schools Get Military Gear Through Federal Program

Austin Police Officer Cory Ehrler monitors the entrance to Ridgetop Elementary School after classes start on the Monday following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
Tamir Kalifa via Texas Tribune

Texas school districts dominate the list of those receiving military equipment — including firearms and armored vehicles — through a federal initiative, according to a letter sent by a coalition of civil rights and education advocacy groups to the U.S. Department of Defense on Monday.

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Austin ISD
12:01 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Austin ISD Celebrates Inaugural Pride Week

The Austin Independent School District began its first celebration of PRIDE Week today.
Credit http://www.flickr.com/asaustin

For the first time, the Austin Independent School District is celebrating Pride Week, which will feature conversations and celebrations to show support for their lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender staff and students.

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Border & Immigration
8:59 am
Mon September 15, 2014

After Crossing Four Borders, Migrant Family Faces Two More Critical Battles

Sara Beltran-Rodriguez's daughter Neyely has a brain tumor. She's spent the last three years in and out of hospitals. Karnes County Residential Center granted the family temporary medical asylum.

Last month, hundreds of children who were attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border – many of them unaccompanied on their journey – were moved to a family detention center south of San Antonio.

The Karnes County Residential Center houses hundreds of immigrants that, as of now, stand little chance of being released from the facility.

In many cases, immigrants have been priced out of their release bonds, with some bonds as high as $25,000. In effect, the detainees have been denied the release, except for one family.

Sara Beltran Rodriguez and her daughter were the first to be released from the facility. And while they’ve traveled thousands of miles and crossed several borders on their journey to Texas, the family has another life-threatening battle to fight.

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in Black America Podcast
8:42 pm
Sun September 14, 2014

In Black America Podcast: Smart Music Entertainment with Larry ‘LAK’ Henderson

Larry 'LAK' Henderson, Founder and CEO Smart Music Entertainment

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Larry "LAK" Henderson, founder and CEO of Smart Music Entertainment, and the creator of a new sound of hip-hop music that is used as a tool to inspire learning, and awaken the consciousness of youth and people in our communities.

Henderson's educational hip-hop music has received airplay on major radio stations around the world, and he is a noted speaker on hip-hop and its impact on our communities.

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