Music
10:56 am
Thu July 30, 2015

Advocates Offer Suggestions to an Austin Music Scene That 'Needs Improvement'

Protesters gathered to speak out against a Hyatt development near Cheer Up Charlies.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Austin music leaders are suggesting changes the city could make to protect and enliven its live music industry. On Wednesday, they presented their recommendations at Holy Mountain, a downtown venue closing its doors later this year – partly because of rising rent.

The recommendations are aimed at five issues advocates say are plaguing Austin’s music scene, including affordability of commercial space, stagnant event revenues, venue preservation, permitting and code enforcement complications and a gap in community engagement.

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Transportation
9:49 am
Thu July 30, 2015

CTRMA Announces MoPac Project Delay, Again

The Mopac Improvement Project originally budgeted about $20 million for bumps in the road during construction; it currently has about $6.5 million left. There is a chance the transportation authority will have to find additional funding for the road.
MoPac Improvement Project

From our city reporting partner, the Austin Monitor: Mike Heiligenstein, the executive director for the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, told board members Wednesday that the MoPac Improvement Project is expected to be fully operational sometime in the second half of 2016, a far cry from its originally stated Sept. 17, 2015, completion date.

Lead contractor CH2M Hill is responsible for the design and construction of CTRMA’s express lane project, which affects MoPac from Cesar Chavez Street to Parmer Lane. But the originally budgeted $200 million proposal has seen numerous delays because of labor shortages, drilling problems, weather issues, continual run-ins with unidentified utility infrastructure and debatably differing site conditions than those originally agreed upon, Heiligenstein said.

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Transportation
9:41 am
Thu July 30, 2015

What You Need to Know About Changes to Vehicle Inspection and Registration

The state Department of Motor Vehicles has a new system for vehicle registration and inspection.
twostepsonesticker.com

If you drive a car in Texas, every year you need to do two things: get your vehicle inspected and renew its registration. Until this year, those were two separate stickers on your windshield.

But that’s changing now – which means a few new steps you'll want to be aware of.

Starting this year, the two stickers on your windshield are becoming one. Now Texans will get their vehicles inspected before renewing their registration, and then get just one sticker for both when they’re done.

It’s a big change that will eventually affect nearly every vehicle in the state. And it can be kind of confusing.

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Texas Standard
4:20 pm
Wed July 29, 2015

The Ethics of Fetal Tissue Donation

Scientists use fetal tissue and cell cultures to research new diseases and examine how cells regenerate.
Flickr/cellculture (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Planned Parenthood is under scrutiny over their alleged involvement in fetal tissue research. The Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion group, has now released three different secretly recorded videos of Planned Parenthood employees discussing fetal tissue. While the videos don’t provide any concrete evidence that Planned Parenthood is illegally profiting from fetal tissue donation, critics say the video certainly raises questions about how fetal tissue donation is done.

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Politics
2:37 pm
Wed July 29, 2015

Paxton: Texas Planned Parenthood Video 'Consistent' With Others

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton testifies on July 29, 2015, before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on an investigation into Planned Parenthood's practices.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton confirmed on Wednesday that a video obtained by his office as part of its investigation into Planned Parenthood's practices is “consistent” with other undercover videos released by an anti-abortion group of the organization’s executives discussing fetal tissue donations.

Testifying before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, Paxton said his office had “gained possession” of “hours of recordings” involving a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas as part of its inquiry into Planned Parenthood’s practices regarding fetal tissue donation in Texas. Paxton declined to go into specifics about the recordings and how they were obtained.

Instead, Paxton detailed a recent visit by AG investigators to a Planned Parenthood facility in Houston where they witnessed how the abortion provider handles fetal remains before they are sent to a contractor who disposes them.

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Wayback Wednesday
1:07 pm
Wed July 29, 2015

When the Dallas Cowboys Called Austin Their Summer Home

Then-Dallas Cowboy Deion Sanders takes a ride in a custom golf cart in front of St. Edward's main building.
Milton Hinnant/The Dallas Morning News

Tomorrow, the Dallas Cowboys start a month-long training in Oxnard, Calif., ahead of the 2015-2016 season. The state of California has long been a staple base of operations for the Cowboys – California Lutheran College in Thousand Oaks served as the team’s longest-serving venue for camp from 1963 until 1989, and the state’s hosted 10 camps since 2001.

But, before the Cowboys migrated back to California for camp, the team spent its most productive (and controversial) summers right here in Austin, when the team used St. Edward’s University as a base of operations during their Super Bowl runs of the 1990s.

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In Black America Podcast
12:53 pm
Wed July 29, 2015

Dr. Steve Perry: Revolutionizing Education in America

Dr. Steve Perry's website calls him "America's Most Trusted Educator."

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. Steve Perry, Founder and Principal of the Capital Preparatory Magnet School, located in Hartford, CT.

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Austin
12:14 pm
Wed July 29, 2015

Austin's Digital Inclusion Program Serves as a Model for Other Cities

'Unlocking the Connection' is an Austin program aimed at bridging the city's digital divide.
Brad Flickinger/flickr

Federal housing officials were in Austin Tuesday — not to give direction,  but to learn from the local housing authority's successes in closing the digital divide. The federal government is taking a model for digital inclusion from Austin to other cities around the country.

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Austin City Council
9:00 am
Wed July 29, 2015

Zimmerman Suit Could Undo Campaign Finance Law

Council Member Don Zimmerman has filed a federal suit against the City of Austin alleging its campaign finance rules are in violation of the First Amendment.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From our city hall reporting partner, the Austin Monitor:

City Council Member Don Zimmerman, who plans to run for re-election in 2016, has filed suit in federal court against the city of Austin, seeking to overturn four important provisions of the city’s campaign finance rules. If he wins, the changes would have an immediate and lasting impact on how elections are conducted and financed in Austin.

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The Two-Way
7:22 am
Wed July 29, 2015

Texas Authorities Release More Jailhouse Video Relating To Sandra Bland Case

In this undated frame from video provided by the Waller County Sheriff's Office, Sandra Bland stands before a desk at Waller County Jail in Hempstead, Texas.
AP

Originally published on Wed July 29, 2015 10:00 am

Officials in Waller County, Texas, have released more jailhouse video that they say dispels some of the conspiracy theories surrounding the case of Sandra Bland, who was found hanged in her cell two weeks ago.

Her death was ruled a suicide by a medical examiner but her family says she was not suicidal.

NPR's Martin Kaste filed this report for our Newscast unit:

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Austin
3:24 pm
Tue July 28, 2015

Zimmerman Files Lawsuit Challenging City Campaign Finance Limits

A lawsuit filed by councilmember Don Zimmerman argues that campaign fundraising restrictions violate First Amendment rights.
Callie Hernandez/KUT News

District 6 City Council member Don Zimmerman filed a lawsuit Monday challenging the City of Austin's campaign finance restrictions, which he argues violate First Amendment freedoms.

In particular the suit addresses fundraising caps and blackout periods, arguing that these restrictions impede the council member's ability "to serve as a strong voice of fiscal restraint and liberty on the Council...[and] to communicate my views with my constituents and my city," according to the press release from Zimmerman's office.

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Arts Eclectic
2:36 pm
Tue July 28, 2015

7 Towers Theatre Gets 'Closer'

Last year, the folks at 7 Towers Theatre company made a decision to try and focus on smaller, more intimate shows this season. The result of that decision is their current production of Closer, a four-character dramatic comedy about, as director Amanda Gass says, "human relationships and the way that people are kind of messed up and treat each other poorly."

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Texas Standard
1:03 pm
Tue July 28, 2015

Review: Should You Get The New Dr. Seuss Book?

What Pet Should I Get?
Courtesy Penguin Random House

From Texas Standard:

By now, you've probably heard about the latest book – newly discovered and rushed to publication — by Dr. Seuss. It's been about as well-kept a secret as Harper Lee's "Go Set A Watchman," which came out a few weeks ago. We decided to call in our resident Texas expert on literature to find out whether you should get "What Pet Should I Get?"

Claiborne Smith is the editor-in-chief of Austin-based Kirkus Review.

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Education
9:55 am
Tue July 28, 2015

Program Aims to Give College Credit Where it's Due

Many community college students have actually earned enough credits for an associate's degree, but they don't even know it.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From the Texas Tribune: Across Texas, tens of thousands of students have earned enough college credit for an associate degree without knowing it. A new project led by the University of Texas at Austin hopes to track them down. 

The program to be announced Tuesday, known as Reverse Transfer, will attempt to get those students their degrees — and maybe convince them to continue their schooling. If successful, there could be benefits for the students and the state, its creators say. And officials hope its use will extend beyond Texas. 

"It's a win-win-win solution all the way around," said UT-Austin Registrar Shelby Stanfield, who led the initiative. 

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Energy & Environment
9:18 am
Tue July 28, 2015

Austin's First Triple-Digit Day Arrives Late, With More to Follow

Austin experienced its first 100-degree temperature day yesterday.
flickr.com/mrgarin

Austin’s seen its first triple-digit day of the summer. Just before 1 p.m. yesterday, Central Texas thermometers cracked the triple-digit seal, according to the National Weather Service. While the thermostat has thankfully stayed pretty low so far this year in Austin, that’s going to change.

When it comes to triple-digit days in Austin, the best way to describe what’s happening is, “Never would’ve been better than late.”

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Austin
2:03 pm
Mon July 27, 2015

Council Plans Improvements for Austin's 'Eastern Crescent'

A city council group plans to tackle development and economic issues in what they're calling the city's 'Eastern Crescent' region.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

The challenges of economic development and gentrification facing East Austin are nothing new. But they will get some new attention from a group of city council members convened by Mayor Steve Adler.  The group will be focusing on a part of the city some council members are calling the “eastern crescent.”

The exotic, almost alluring term “eastern crescent” was introduced recently into the city council lexicon. Council member Leslie Pool threw it out in a June audit and finance meeting. She was talking to city staff about a public improvement district in East Austin.

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Austin
12:26 pm
Mon July 27, 2015

Report Calls for Action on 'Repeat Offender' Properties

A report argues the city isn't doing enough to hold owners of properties frequently cited for code violations to task.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

There are thousands of rental properties in Austin – after all, most people who live in Austin rent – and of those thousands, there are more than two dozen that have racked up 300 code violations from the City of Austin. A new study provides suggestions on how to handle the so-called “repeat offenders.”

The study’s author argues that the city could be focusing more on these violations, rather than dedicating more Code Compliance resources towards the policing of short-term rentals.

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News
12:09 pm
Mon July 27, 2015

More Women Than Men Now Emigrating to U.S. From Mexico, Study Says

Google Maps

When you hear the words "Mexican immigrant," what image pops into your head? 

Maybe you're picturing a male day laborer. But Rogelio Saenz from the University of Texas at San Antonio says the latest data does not reflect that.

"Women are becoming​ much more a part of the Mexican immigrant population," Saenz says.

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Higher Ed
2:00 pm
Sun July 26, 2015

Best of Higher Ed: Teaching Happiness

This summer, KUT is revisiting episodes of the podcast "Higher Ed." This episode was originally posted on March 8, 2015.

Each week, KUT's Jennifer Stayton talks with Dr. Ed Burger, President of Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, about higher education, lifelong learning, and exercising the brain.  This week, Ed and Jennifer discuss the intriguing idea of teaching happiness in the classroom. Not as a separate subject, but as part of just about all subjects students already study.  Could that work? How would it work?

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The Two-Way
9:36 am
Sat July 25, 2015

Pentagon Asks 'Armed Citizens' Not To Stand Guard At Recruiting Centers

Zachary Gallegos, 23, stands guard outside the Armed Services Recruiting Center on Thursday in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The Pentagon has asked such self-appointed "armed citizens" to leave, citing security concerns.
Kevin Burbach AP

Originally published on Sat July 25, 2015 12:12 pm

Updated at 1:10 p.m. ET

The Defense Department, reacting to armed citizens appearing in front of military recruiting offices around the country since last week's fatal shootings of five U.S. servicemen in Chattanooga, Tenn., has asked that "individuals not stand guard" on federal property.

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