Texas Standard
3:28 pm
Mon April 20, 2015

Looking Back on the BP Oil Spill: How It All Started

What we knew – and when we knew it – about the Deepwater Horizon explosion.
SkyTruth/Flickr

From Texas Standard:

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded. Two days later, it crashed into the ocean. By mid-May, an underwater camera showed the broken pipe constantly gushing black liquid into the Gulf of Mexico.

As the oil spread, so did the panic. Crews tried several different methods to keep it from spreading across the Gulf and into sensitive ecosystems. Engineers tried everything from a containment dome to a “top kill” – sealing the pipe with cement. Nothing worked.

Read more
Texas Standard
3:06 pm
Mon April 20, 2015

Texas Businesses Stand Ready For Trade With Cuba

Madfab/Pixabay

From Texas Standard:

Two years ago, the WestStar Food Company’s business with Cuba was good. Patrick Wallesen, the company’s president, says WestStar exported agricultural products through the port of Corpus Christi for more than a decade.

“We averaged about 5,000 metric tons a year of product. Primarily into beans, black beans, great northern beans,” Wallesen says.

Read more
Education
11:57 am
Mon April 20, 2015

Fenves Named Next President of UT Austin

University of Texas President Bill Powers speaks to Provost Gregory Fenves during a board of regents meeting on July 10, 2014.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: After more than three weeks as the sole finalist for the job, Gregory Fenves has been named the next president of the University of Texas at Austin. 

And this time, the current executive vice president and provost has been elevated without any dissent. The vote to hire him was 8-0 by the UT System Board of Regents. Regent Wallace Hall abstained from voting.

Read more
Education
9:56 am
Mon April 20, 2015

Fried Food in School Cafeterias: 'It's About Freedom and Liberty,' Says Ag Commissioner

Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller says a ban on deep fryers in school cafeterias goes against his philosophy of local control.
Sarah Jasmine Montgomery/KUT News

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller wants to end a decade-old ban on deep fried food in Texas public schools. 

Miller, who was elected last year, believes local school districts — not the state or federal government — should decide whether schools serve fried foods. He says the ban on deep fat fryers goes against his philosophy at the Department of Agriculture. 

“We’re about giving school districts freedom, liberty and individual responsibility," Miller says. "We’re all about local control and not big brother, big government control.” 

Read more
Energy & Environment
9:30 am
Mon April 20, 2015

Downward Oxygen Trend a Risk for Salamanders

Lower levels of dissolved oxygen in the Edwards Aquifer, along with lower flow, could affect the endangered Austin Blind salamanders in Barton Springs.
City of Austin, via YouTube

From the Austin Monitor:

Barton Springs is the only known home to the endangered and federally protected Barton Springs and Austin Blind salamanders. Unfortunately for these unique creatures, the level of life-sustaining dissolved oxygen in their ecosystem has dropped on average over the past 35 years.

Watershed Protection Department engineer Abel Porras brought the issue to the Wednesday meeting of the Environmental Board, noting that water flow in the Edwards Aquifer is a major determining factor in the equation, though man-made contaminants may also play a role.

Read more
U.S.
7:50 am
Mon April 20, 2015

5 Years After BP Oil Spill, Effects Linger And Recovery Is Slow

Pelicans are nesting at Queen Bess Island in Barataria Bay. Five years ago, the nesting season here was marred by the oil gushing out of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Debbie Elliott NPR

Originally published on Mon April 20, 2015 3:19 pm

Five years ago, BP's out-of-control oil well deep in the Gulf of Mexico exploded. Eleven workers were killed on the Deepwater Horizon rig. But it was more than a deadly accident — the blast unleashed the nation's worst offshore environmental catastrophe.

In the spring and summer of 2010, oil gushed from the Macondo well for nearly three months. More than 3 million barrels of Louisiana light crude fouled beaches and wetlands from Texas to Florida, affecting wildlife and livelihoods.

Today, the spill's impacts linger.

Read more
Higher Ed
2:00 pm
Sun April 19, 2015

Higher Ed: Choosing a College

Credit Dawn Endico/flickr

What does Spring bring with it? The weather turns warmer. Flowers bloom. Taxes are due. And for students pursuing an education beyond high school, it's time to make a big decision: where to go to college. It can be a stressful but also exciting time in a student's academic career. In this week's episode of KUT's podcast Higher Ed, Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger discuss how students can determine if a college is the right place to study.

Read more
2015 Legislature
4:43 pm
Fri April 17, 2015

Fracking Bill Gets Tentative OK from Texas House

A bill that would override local fracking bans in Texas was tentatively approved by members of the House on April 17, 2015, with a vote of 122 to 18.
Eddie Seal, Texas Tribune

A bill that would override local fracking bans in Texas was approved by members of the House, after several hours of debate. 

The bill is aimed at blocking cities from banning activities like hydraulic fracturing. Last year, voters in the city of Denton approved a ban on fracking in their city limits.

State Rep. Drew Darby, a Republican from San Angelo and the bill's author, says it’s intended to preserve the state government’s right to regulate oil and gas activity.

Read more
Austin
3:08 pm
Fri April 17, 2015

Austin Tries to Head Off Another Lifeguard Shortage

A lifeguard at the Northwest Park pool.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Last year, we met Redding McArdle outside Hyde Park’s Shipe Pool. The two-year-old wore blue arm floats and a bathing suit, but the gates to the pool were locked, and McArdle had a slightly dejected look on his face.

Read more
Crime & Justice
2:58 pm
Fri April 17, 2015

Drunk Driving Awareness March

Surviving family members of victims of drunk driving and APD officers march around the Texas Capitol to raise awareness. Central Texas mother Nancy Pratt (centered) lost her daughter Brianne in a DWI crash in 2013.
Anthony Green/KUT News

Austin police Chief Art Acevedo and Texas state representative Jason Villalba joined AAA Texas, community members and leaders Friday in honoring local lives lost to drinking and driving. 

A press conference was followed by a silent march around a cloud-covered Texas Capitol for the city's third annual March for Change. Last year, Texas drivers experienced more than 24,000 alcohol related crashes that resulted in over 1,000 deaths, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.

Read more
KUT Weekend
12:05 pm
Fri April 17, 2015

Listen to Our Weekly News Podcast!

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

Agenda Texas
11:24 am
Fri April 17, 2015

Agenda Texas: Here's a Look at This Session's Buffet of Tax Cut Proposals

Todd Wiseman via Texas Tribune

There's a buffet of tax cuts lying before state lawmakers this session, and cut supporters say the state wins no matter what gets put on its plate.

Lawmakers have served up plans to cut business franchise taxes, slice sales tax rates and even nibbled around the idea of a proposal to phase out property taxes entirely. While some of these proposals won’t make the plate this session, the state is prepped to approve billions in tax cuts before the legislature’s regular session gavels out in six weeks.

Read more
2015 Legislature
8:02 am
Fri April 17, 2015

John Legend Heads to the Lege to Drum Up Support for Criminal Justice Bills

Musician John Legend spoke at the Texas Capitol yesterday along with other lawmakers including Houston Democratic Sen. Rodney Ellis.
Sarah Montgomery for KUT

John Legend is well-known for his music. He’s won Grammys and, most recently, he and Chicago rapper Common won an Academy Award for the original song “Glory” from the film Selma. During his acceptance speech, Legend used the podium to draw attention to the high incarceration rate in the U.S.

Yesterday, he came to the Texas Capitol to continue that advocacy and kick off a national campaign called Free America, which aims to drop the country’s incarceration rate.

Read more
Two Guys on Your Head
7:14 am
Fri April 17, 2015

Does Money Really Make You Happy?

Credit flickr.com/photos/76657755@N04/

The idea that money doesn't make you happy is easy to get behind if you have it, but if you don't it can be a hard concept to buy into (pun intended). Yet the correlation between money and happiness is more complicated then one might think.

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke explain the relationship between money, security, opportunity, memory and happiness.

Goats and Soda
5:35 am
Fri April 17, 2015

'Mad Cow' Disease In Texas Man Has Mysterious Origin

Colored brain scan of a 17-year-old boy with mad cow disease. The bright yellow spots are a sign that the thalamus is damaged by diseased proteins.
Simon Fraser Science Source

Originally published on Fri April 17, 2015 10:49 am

It began with anxiety and depression. A few months later, hallucinations appeared.

Then the Texas man, in his 40s, couldn't feel the left side of his face.

He thought the symptoms were because of a recent car accident. But the psychiatric problems got worse. And some doctors thought the man might have bipolar disorder.

Eventually, he couldn't walk or speak. He was hospitalized. And about 18 months after symptoms began, the man died.

Read more
Politics
6:11 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

Public Integrity Unit Move Halted, For Now

Democrat's Point of Order sends bill back to committee
Liang Shi KUT News

A point of order from state representative Mary Gonzalez (D-El Paso) delayed a vote on a bill that would remove a key function of the Public Integrity Unit. Among the duties of the Unit, a division of the Travis County District Attorney's Office, is investigating allegations of corruption leveled against state-level officials, such as members of the Texas Legislature or employees of state agencies.

Under the bill authored by state representative Phil King (R-Weatherford), that function would go away. Investigation would be the responsibility of the Texas Rangers, an elite division of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Prosecution would be handled by the District Attorney's Office in the home county of the accused.   

Read more
Texas Standard
2:54 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

Is the Houston-Dallas Bullet Train Plan De-Railed?

A high-speed train similar to this one could connect Dallas and Houston - but not if some state legislators get their way.
facebook.com/texascentral

This story comes from Texas Standard.

Do anti high-speed rail efforts in the Texas legislature and in DC mean it’s an idea that’s going nowhere fast?

Aman Batheja is following the issue for the Texas Tribune.

On Who is Opposed to High-Speed Rail:

“The issue here is the rural communities between Dallas and Houston … The mayors of Dallas and Houston and a majority of the elected officials there strongly support the train project – they’re very strongly behind it. It’s the rural communities that are trying to figure out what’s in it for them.”

Read more
Texas
1:00 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

DPS Chief: Resume Border Security Contract Inquiry

Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steve McCraw gives testimony during the joint Interim Committee to Study Human Trafficking in La Joya, Texas July 24th, 2014.
Credit Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

Looking to clear the Texas Department of Public Safety's name, the agency’s top official is asking the head of the state's anti-corruption unit to renew a halted investigation into $20 million no-bid border security contracts.

Read more
In Black America Podcast
12:31 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

The 2014 NFL Season and Super Bowl XLIX

Credit The National Football League

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. presents highlights of the 2014 NFL season and Super Bowl XLIX. Featured on today’s program are Jarrett Bell, USA Today Sports NFL columnist, Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner, and Newy Scruggs, Sports Director with KXAS-TV.

Read more
2015 Legislature
10:42 am
Thu April 16, 2015

Texas DREAM Act Repeal Vote Delayed, As Supporters Continue Protests

Supporters of the Texas Dream Act gather on the steps of the Capitol on April 15.
Sarah Montgomery for KUT

Today, the Senate won’t vote on a bill that would repeal in-state tuition for undocumented students, known as the Texas DREAM Act. The bill from New Braunfels Sen. Donna Campbell seemed to have enough support for a floor vote yesterday, but the bill was taken off the chamber’s intent calendar today.

Read more

Pages