Energy & Environment
11:02 am
Thu December 18, 2014

How Denmark and Texas Became Wind Energy Kings

Three turbines sit just offshore at the Avedore Holm wind energy test site near Copenhagen, Denmark. The turbines are operated by DONG Energy.
Terrence Henry/StateImpact Texas

From StateImpact Texas:

Standing on the shore of the Baltic sea a few miles outside of Copenhagen, Denmark, the view’s about what you’d expect. Rocky shore, grey horizon, a boat here or there. But this shore is special. Look up, and you’ll see — and hear — three giant offshore wind turbines cutting through the air. Each stands 500 feet tall, with three blades (each close to 200 feet long), spinning non-stop.

“The blades look quite thin, but don’t be cheated,” says Rune Birk Nielsen, with DONG Energy, which runs the turbines. “They each weigh about twenty tons. They are massive.” Each turbine has a capacity of 3.6 megawatts, or enough to power 3,000 Danish homes.

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Austin
9:07 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Sexist Comment by Austin Police Officer: Isolated Incident or Part of Broader Culture?

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo says sexist comments from officers undermine a departmental goal of securing communities' trust.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Police Chief Art Acevedo suspended two officers in November for making jokes about rape victims. The Austin Police Association said at the time that the respective three-day and five-day suspensions were "fair and appropriate." The incident took place after a local attorney had released a video in which the two Austin police officers are laughing and one of the officers comments: "Go ahead and call the cops. They can't un-rape you."

Recently, offensive comments were made to KUT's reporter Joy Diaz, while she was covering a police-related story. A quick warning: This story contains offensive remarks made about women. 

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo is convinced APD's culture is changing for the better. And says comments like "[cops]can't un-rape you" are examples of behavior that he calls "[the] extreme minority."

Statistically, when you consider the couple of thousand police officers in Austin, he’s right. However, there are still regrettable police shootings and some minorities still feel targeted by police. But Austin is no longer the ticking bomb some say it was before Acevedo took over the department in 2007. Questions still linger, however, about whether or not APD is clearly letting its officers know that inappropriate comments will not be tolerated.

Take for instance the recent comments of Officer Andrew Petrowski.

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Texas
8:03 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Volunteers Caring for Texas Children Need Financial Support, Report Suggests

A new report from the Center for Public Policy Priorities says more than 250,000 children in Texas are living with volunteer caregivers who need financial support.
Filipa Rodriques/KUT News

In Texas, more than 250,000 children are living with grandparents or other volunteer caregivers, but a new report from the Center for Public Policy Priorities suggests that many of them are not up to the task financially and could use more support and guidance.

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2014 Elections
7:11 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Majority of Texas Voters Chose 2014 Candidates Based on Political Party

Straight ticket voting in Texas reached an all-time high in the 2014 elections, according to a new report.

Straight ticket voting in Texas reached an all-time high in last month’s elections, according to a new report released by the Austin Community College Center for Public Policy and Political Studies.

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Energy & Environment
12:06 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

What Spain Can Teach Texas About Solar Energy

A tower at Abengoa solar plant at "Solucar" solar park.
Marcelo del Pozo/REUTERS

From StateImpact Texas:

About an hour’s drive outside of Sevilla, Spain’s old city, past grazing black-footed pigs and olive orchards, sits the Abengoa Solucar complex, and it’s truly a sight: Imagine cresting a hill and then all of the sudden seeing several large towers, over 500 feet high, with hundreds of beams of light striking them — solar rays from an army of mirrors arrayed in a circle on the ground below. They’re called heliostats.

“These heliostats are reflecting solar radiation toward the receiver that we have at the top of the tower,” says Valerio Fernandez, manager of the complex. The rays from the heliostats strike the top of the towers, like hundreds of magnifying glasses focused on one point in mid-air. The top of the tower shines so bright, you can’t look at it without sunglasses.

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Austin City Council
11:35 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Get to Know Your Geographically-Elected Austin City Council

Austin finalized its new, geographically-elected city council last night.
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

The city's first council under the 10-1 plan was finalized last night. Austin voters elected the remaining seven council members and the Mayor of Austin. The new council is, for the first time, majority female, with seven female council members. The only incumbent in the bunch, Council Member Kathie Tovo – who's also a likely shoe-in for the position of Mayor Pro Tem.

The remaining nine council members, and Mayor-elect Steve Adler, may not be so familiar. Below, you can find detailed biographies of each of the newly-elected 10-1 council members and an interactive map with voting totals – including their previous experience in government, their employment history and (for some) their previous work with other council candidates.

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The Two-Way
11:13 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Obama Unveils 'New Approach' On Cuba As Former Foes Chart New Course

President Obama announced Wednesday that the U.S. will work with Cuba to normalize diplomatic ties.
Doug Mills UPI /Landov

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 1:41 pm

Updated at 2:39 p.m. ET

President Obama announced today the most significant change in U.S. policy toward Cuba in more than 50 years, paving the way for the normalization of relations and the opening of a U.S. Embassy in Havana.

Obama said "we will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries."

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In Black America Podcast
8:02 am
Wed December 17, 2014

In Black America Podcast: Remembering Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee

Rudy Dee and Ossie Davis

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with the late Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee.

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Austin
12:10 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Steve Adler's Goal: Turn Austin into Social Innovator for the World

Steve Adler is Austin's new Mayor. Up until now, he's been a political outsider. He is an attorney who believes in social causes.
Credit Joy Diaz, KUT News

  Steve Adler is Austin's new mayor. He easily defeated city councilman Mike Martinez in Tuesday's runoff election. But, even though Adler appeared to be the favorite in recent polls, he wasn't always expected to win this race.

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2014 City Council Runoff Elections
10:56 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Liveblog: The 2014 Austin City Council Runoff Elections

Mayor-elect Steve Adler shakes a young supporters hand at his Election Night party.
Joy Diaz/KUT

After years of build-up and build-out, tonight the Austin City Council will finally transfer from an at-large, seven-member council to a geographically elected council with 10 members. Two of the council seats were decided on Election Day in November – Delia Garza won the District 2 seat and Ann Kitchen won District 5. Council Member Kathie Tovo, after nearly beating fellow Council Member Chris Riley with 49 percent of the vote, won the District 9 seat after Riley’s November concession.

The remaining seven races, and the race for Mayor of Austin, will be decided by today’s runoff elections.

UPDATE: The final numbers are in. Here’s a look at the Austin City Council runoff winners according to the Travis County Clerk's unofficial voting totals:

District 1 – Ora Houston wins with 74.25 percent of the vote over opponent DeWayne Lofton

District 3 – Sabino “Pio” Renteria wins over Susana Almanza 59.76 percent over 40.24 percent

District 4 – Greg Casar wins the seat over opponent Laura Pressley with 64.62 percent of the vote. Pressley garnered 35.38 percent of the vote

District 6 – Don Zimmerman defeats Jimmy Flannigan with 51.21 percent in a close race. Flannigan carried Election Day, but his 48.79 percent in total runoffs wasn’t enough to win the seat.

District 7 – Leslie Pool wins with 66.23 percent over Jeb Boyt’s 33.77 percent.

District 8 – Ellen Troxclair wins the seat by less than 60 votes, earning 50.23 percent of the vote against opponent Ed Scruggs, who got 49.77 percent of the vote.

District 10 – Sheri Gallo defeats Mandy Dealey with 54.76 percent of the vote. Dealey got 45.24 percent of the vote.

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Austin ISD
10:39 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Here are the Austin School Board Election Runoff Results

There are three Austin School Board seats up for grabs in the run off election.
Photo by KUT News

Update (10:37): With 100 percent of the Austin ISD precincts reporting, Kendall Pace is officially the winner in the AISD School Board At-large District Nine race. Ted Gordon won in District One with 56 percent of the vote and Paul Saldana won in District Six with 53 percent of the vote.

Update(10:05 p.m.): With 92 percent of the Austin ISD precincts reporting, Kendall Pace continues to have a healthy lead over Hillary Procknow in the at-large District Nine race for Austin School Board. 

In District One, Ted Gordon continues to inch ahead of David Thompson. As of the last report, Gordon has 55 percent compared to Thompson's 44 percent. But voter turnout was very low in that district, with fewer than 6,000 people voting. 

In District Six, the race is even closer between Paul Saldana and Kate Mason-Murphy. However, Saldana continues to inch ahead of Mason-Murphy with 53 percent of the vote. That race saw low voter turnout, too. 

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Arts Eclectic
2:39 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

City Theatre Presents a 'Reckless' Holiday

This holiday season, the folks at City Theatre are presenting Reckless, a non-traditional holiday-based dark comedy that the New York Times called "a bittersweet Christmas fable for our time."

On Christmas Eve, Rachel Fitzsimmons learns that her idyllic life is not so idyllic after all when her husband takes out a contract on her life. As things continue to unravel, she encounters killers, game show hosts, insane therapists and more. City Theatre artistic director Andy Berkovsky calls it "the perfect little holiday play."

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Austin
1:25 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

University of Texas Launches Center for Sports Leadership

President Bill Powers and Founding Director Daron Roberts talking to Texas Standard’s David Brown about the new Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation.

The University of Texas at Austin has announced a new sports leadership initiative.

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Austin
12:34 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Here's What Austin Googled in 2014

Sports and celebrities were on the minds (and fingertips) of Austinites this year who couldn't resist taking to search giant Google to expand their knowledge of Ebola, figure out when to mark Easter 2014 on their calendars and relive the filmography of Robin Williams. 

The U.S. may not have won the 2014 World Cup, but the global phenomena dominated the list of the top trends in Google searches in Austin this year, according to the company's 2014 Zeitgeist report. Spikes in more than a trillion Google searches were analyzed, and the annual report is supposed to reflect the "topics and people that defined 2014," the company says.

Take a look below to see what captivated Austinites in 2014, and watch the video announcement of the search survey above.

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Affordable Care Act
9:37 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Finding Health Care for Uninsured Latinas to Reduce ER Visits

Seton Survivorship Nurse Navigator Veronica Serrano, right, helps a purposely unidentified former cancer patient on Nov. 19, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

We've all heard the stories about how a lack of health insurance can force someone to ignore small health issues, until they end up in the emergency room with a more traumatic, and sometimes untreatable, problem. This is happening frequently with the country's uninsured Latina population.

In Austin and across the U.S., nonprofits are helping connect them with health care resources in their communities.

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Life & Arts
8:31 am
Tue December 16, 2014

2015 Rock Hall Of Fame Class Includes Lou Reed, Joan Jett, Green Day

Billie Joe Armstrong (left) and Mike Dirnt of Green Day play the Reading Festival. Green Day and five other acts will join the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next year.
Yui Mok PA Photos/Landov

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 7:49 am

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Texas
7:50 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Update: Missing Denton Boy Believed in Danger

Suspect and missing boy.

Update: Denton Police have discontinued an AMBER Alert for a missing 4-year-old boy. But Ricardo Lara has not been found yet.

Police say the investigation no longer fits requirements to continue the Amber Alert – though they are still pursing all leads to find the child.

Police still believe Lara is with his father – 23-year-old Ricardo Martinez. The two were last seen in Denton on Friday afternoon. Martinez is also a suspect in the murder of Lara’s mother.

Original Story (Dec. 15, 2014, 6:04 a.m.): Law enforcement officers across the state are keeping an eye out for a missing 4-year-old boy.

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Austin ISD
10:42 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Paul Cruz Named Finalist for Austin ISD Superintendent

At a community forum this weekend, Cruz said improving relationships with neighborhoods and education groups is his first priority.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

Update: The Austin School Board has unanimously named interim Superintendent Paul Cruz as the sole finalist for the position, the last step before offering him a formal contract. The vote was more of a formality—Cruz was the only candidate after two others dropped out.

"I want to say loud and clear, it's not just that Dr. Cruz is the last man standing, but I believe he is absolutely the best person for the job," says School Board Vice President Gina Hinojosa.

Board members publicly said Cruz was the most qualified person for the job. Plus, the community voiced its support for Cruz, too. Everyone from the teacher’s union and minority groups to city lawmakers and the Chamber of Commerce said they supported the decision to consider Cruz for the job.

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Austin
5:51 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Group Unveils the First Nativity Scene On Display at the Capitol

The organizers will set up the nativity scene the ground level of the capitol just below the main rotunda.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

Several Austinites gathered today for the unveiling of the first nativity scene at Texas State Capitol. 

Trey Trainor of the privately-funded group Texas Nativity Scene Project says it's the first on display in the state's history.

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Onion Creek
10:45 am
Mon December 15, 2014

Over a Year After Floods, Onion Creek Properties Face Delayed Repairs, Liens

Floods on Halloween in 2013 inundated many homes in the Onion Creek neighborhood. Still, many properties in the area are still uninhabitable.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon for KUT

Some Southeast Austin neighbors fear they're in danger of losing their homes. Some Onion Creek homes have been uninhabitable since the 2013 Halloween floods hit the Onion Creek community.

Now, some contractors have placed liens on the once-inundated properties, claiming they need more money to finish the repairs.

“This is my flooded property that still isn't ready after over a year,” says Onion Creek resident Marilyn Barack on a cold morning.

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