U.S.
1:13 pm
Mon July 6, 2015

Corruption On The Border: Dismantling Misconduct In The Rio Grande Valley

Jonathan Treviño shows seized contraband. The former police narcotics squad leader is currently serving 17 years in prison for reselling narcotics back to drug dealers.
Courtesy of Jonathan Treviño

Originally published on Mon July 6, 2015 10:57 am

This week, NPR examines public corruption in South Texas. The FBI has launched a task force to clean up pervasive misconduct by public servants in the Rio Grande Valley. But as NPR's John Burnett and Marisa Penaloza report, the problems are entrenched.

The Rio Grande Valley of Texas is a world apart, isolated by empty ranch land to the north, the Gulf to the east, and Mexico to the south. A million-and-a-half people live there amid dazzling wealth and stark poverty.

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Texas
12:59 pm
Mon July 6, 2015

In So-Called 'Mix-Up,' Detained Immigrant Kids Get Adult Dose of Hepatitis A Vaccine

Children detained at immigration centers, like the ones in the towns of Dilley and Karnes (pictured) in Texas, are administered a series of immunizations after they arrive.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

About 250 children at a South Texas immigrant detention center were administered adult-size doses of a Hepatitis A vaccine, officials say. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is calling the mistake a "mix-up." ICE spokesperson Richard Rocha said this weekend health professionals are monitoring the children who received the wrong dosage of the vaccine.

The kids are detained at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, southwest of San Antonio. The facility is an immigrant detention center for mothers and their children, and it's run by a private prison company called Corrections Corporation of America.

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Education
11:25 am
Mon July 6, 2015

ACC Opens Center to Help Reduce 'Summer Melt'

A new center at ACC looks to help students navigate the process of college enrollment.
Austin Community College

Students heading to college have many steps to take before they can enroll. Some of those steps, like navigating the financial aid system, choosing which courses to take and finally scheduling classes, can be daunting for some students. 

Austin Community College is trying to make the process easier for students by establishing a new center to help shepherd struggling students through the process.

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Two Guys on Your Head
10:13 am
Mon July 6, 2015

Why Emotional Pain Feels Different from Physical Pain

With all types of pain, addressing it from both the physiological and affective ends may be the best solution until the actual root of the problem is uncovered.
Credit flickr/creative commons

Pain can range from barely noticeable to excruciating. Yet pain, in all its forms, is important. It is how the body communicates there is a problem.

Physical pain in the ankle may ask us to stop walking so fast or demand a pair of crutches immediately. Likewise, emotional pain may indicate that we need to talk about a problem with our partner or severe the relationship entirely.

In this episode of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke, add to the series on pain and the brain, with a discussion on emotional pain and memory.

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Health
7:42 am
Mon July 6, 2015

As More Parents Opt Out of Vaccinations, More Texas Doctors Require Them

Dr. Alison Ziari with the Austin Regional Clinic announces the company's new policy requiring pediatric patients to get immunized on June 30, 2015.
KUT News

Vaccines have been in the news yet again lately. On June 30, 2015, California’s Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that requires almost all school children to be fully vaccinated in order to go to school, allowing only some medical exemptions.

Meantime, a health care company in Central Texas says it will no longer treat children who don’t get fully immunized. The company cites a measles outbreak that started in Disneyland last year as a chief reason for the policy change. Texas does allow parents to opt out of vaccinations if they use religious or personal beliefs. 

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Get Involved
5:00 am
Mon July 6, 2015

Get Involved Spotlight: Urban Roots

From Urban Roots,  this month’s Get Involved spotlight non-profit:

Urban Roots uses food and farming to transform the lives of young people and inspire, engage, and nourish the community. Originally founded in 2007 as a program of YouthLaunch, in 2011 Urban Roots became its own thriving, independent non-profit agency.

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KUT Weekend
2:34 pm
Fri July 3, 2015

Listen to Our Weekly News Podcast!

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

Texas
1:20 pm
Fri July 3, 2015

Three Tips to Stay Safe In and Around Water

Just like responsible drinkers assign a 'designated driver,' responsible swimmers should also have someone assigned to 'watch duty' on a rotating basis
Joy Diaz/KUT News

Most drownings are among those "preventable" tragedies. And yet, not everyone knows which precautions to take to prevent such accidents. In Texas alone, 73 kids died last year in the water. And adults are just as vulnerable. So, here are 3 tips to make your water gatherings more enjoyable.

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Politics
11:21 am
Fri July 3, 2015

Lawyers Threaten to File Complaint Against Paxton For Same-Sex Marriage Response

Texas attorneys are threatening to file a complaint against state Attorney General Ken Paxton for his statement that county clerks who refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples could get pro bono legal representation.
Laura Buckman/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: Roughly 150 Texas attorneys have signed on to a letter threatening to file a complaint with the State Bar of Texas against Attorney General Ken Paxton for his response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage.

"It seems to us that your edict to encourage Texas clerks to violate a direct ruling of the United States Supreme Court violates" the State Bar's rules requiring attorneys to uphold the U.S. Constitution, the letter states. 

Paxton’s office did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment on Friday morning. After the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide, he issued an opinion telling Texas clerks they did not have to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples if it violated their religious beliefs — though he suggested that they could face litigation.

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Energy & Environment
10:23 am
Fri July 3, 2015

U.S. Sees a Net Gain of Oil Rigs for the First Time in 2015

The Baker Hughes oil fields services firm says the U.S. saw a net gain of three rigs last week.
Eddie Seal/Texas Tribune

For the first time this year, the number of oil rigs operating in the U.S. went up, according to oil field services company Baker Hughes. But what does that mean for the largest oil producing state in the country?

For Texas, and the U.S., the increase is more of a bellwether, but after months of declines it could signal a stabilizing of the U.S. oil markets. According to Baker Hughes, there was a net gain of only three rigs – a loss of nine gas rigs was offset by the addition of 12 oil rigs.

Star Spencer is a senior editor for Platts Energy Information Service. She says it looks like the industry is betting that U.S. crude has settled around $60 a barrel.

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Austin
8:15 am
Fri July 3, 2015

How to Enjoy the Fireworks (and Get Home Safely) This 4th of July

The city's fireworks celebration will begin as early as 5 p.m. on Saturday. It's the first time the event's been held at Auditorium Shores in two years.
Mengwen Cao for KUT

It’s nearly time for the Fourth of July celebration in Austin.

There’ll be warm weather and probably plenty of sun, all capped off by fireworks at Auditorium Shores for the first time in years. But there’s also going to be plenty of traffic, road closures and scarce parking. Here's a look at when and where to see the fireworks, closures and alternate ways of getting around. 

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Austin
4:25 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

How Could Austin Become More Welcoming to People From Other Countries?

An Austin commission is compiling a report trying to gauge how welcoming the city seems to new people.
Jessica Wright/flickr

What does it mean to be a "welcoming" city?

More specifically, what would Austin need to do to become more welcoming toward people from other countries? Perhaps it would need to implement signage in different languages, or perhaps, it'd need to do other things.

In order to find out what those other things are, a team of advisors recently surveyed Austinites and is compiling the answers into a report.

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Energy & Environment
3:24 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

Texas Will Use Some of BP Settlement Money to Prepare for Future Disasters

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in 2010, and today, state governments and BP announced they'd reached a settlement agreement.
Marc Morrison

Texas will receive more than $750 million of the $20 billion BP oil spill settlement announced this week. The state will use some of that money to prepare for future disasters in the Gulf of Mexico.

Five years ago, oil was still pouring into the Gulf after an offshore rig exploded, killing 11 people and causing the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. Florida State University oceanographer Ian McDonald, like a lot of researchers, felt frustrated at the time that civilian experts weren’t being included in the government’s emergency response.

“There’s a terrific brain trust of academics and professionals in the Gulf Coast region, and there are none of them that are not prepared at any time to go and try to fight this thing,” McDonald said.

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Texas Standard
1:54 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

Why You Can Expect More Fireworks This July 4

Photo via Flickr/plong (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

For the first time in a long time, the Fourth of July in Texas will be red, white, blue – and green. That's thanks to abundant rain so far this year.

The lower risk for wildfires means vendors across the state have the option to sell more types of fireworks. And they say they are also seeing more people interested in lighting up the night sky for this year's fourth.

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Politics
10:30 am
Thu July 2, 2015

Prosecutors Developing Criminal Case Against Paxton

Prosecutors plan to start presenting evidence next month to a grand jury in pursuit of a first-degree felony securities fraud indictment of state Attorney General Ken Paxton.
Callie Richmond/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: The potential criminal case against Attorney General Ken Paxton is apparently growing more serious, with the state's top lawyer hiring heavyweight legal counsel of his own as special prosecutors prepare to take felony charges before a Collin County grand jury.

Late Wednesday, special prosecutor Kent Schaffer said he and co-counsel Brian Wice plan to start presenting evidence to the grand jury in less than a month that Paxton violated the Texas Securities Act. 

"We'll be pursuing an indictment for first-degree felony securities fraud," Schaffer said, confirming a WFAA report.

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Music
9:03 am
Thu July 2, 2015

Petition Suggests Giving Priced-Out Venues Rent Control. But Is That Possible in Austin?

The crowd at an event protesting the Hyatt hotel development adjacent to Cheer Up Charlies.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Last week downtown Austin music venue Holy Mountain announced it will close its doors this fall because of rising rent prices. Advocates say more music venues will begin to fall as Austin rents increase — the club's neighbor Red 7 is also staring down a rent hike. So some Austinites and out of town music-boosters are floating a solution.

A 500-plus signature petition on change.org is proposing a simple solution to the Austin City Council: rent control. 

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Wayback Wednesday
4:33 pm
Wed July 1, 2015

Austin's Referendum That Would've Legalized Sexuality-Based Housing Discrimination

Jim Obergefell (second from left) celebrated the legalization of same-sex marriage last week. Still, he said, housing discrimination remains an issue for the LGBTQ community.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Last week’s Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges represents a monumental step in the movement for LGBTQ equal rights, but it wasn’t the final footfall in Texas. As the case's lead plaintiff Jim Obergefell put it last week in a rally at the State Capitol, issues surrounding employment and fair housing protections aren’t codified in Texas state law.

But, in Austin, the city council passed a sexual preference employment protection in August of 1975, and a “public accommodations ordinance” that banned discrimination based on sexual preference in 1976. So why, despite those progressive policies, did an Austin organization lead an initiative to allow discrimination on the basis of sexual preference? 

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Energy & Environment
2:12 pm
Wed July 1, 2015

Austin Remains in Stage Two Water Restrictions, Maybe Forever

Austin's Stage 2 water restrictions may become permanent, despite the recent rainfall.
Austin Monitor

Austin will remain in Stage 2 water restrictions despite above average rainfall for the year and the historic amount that fell in May. The city is also examining whether to adopt those restrictions permanently.

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Energy & Environment
12:48 pm
Wed July 1, 2015

What's Next for Local Drilling Bans in Texas?

A new state law bans local bans on hydraulic fracturing, aka fracking. Some towns, like Denton, find their local bans have become unenforceable.
Mose Buchele/KUT News

This year state lawmakers severely restricted the ability of Texas towns to regulate local oil and gas drilling.

A law known as House Bill 40 was a reaction to a fracking ban passed by voters in the North Texas city of Denton.

Denton has come to represent local fracking bans and clashes between local governments and the oil and gas industry. But while Denton was the first city in Texas to ban fracking, it wasn't the first city to ban drilling within city limits.

That practice goes back years, according to a survey by the Texas Municipal League.

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Texas Standard
11:01 am
Wed July 1, 2015

Why One Texas Legislator Wants a Special Session On Marriage Equality

Revelers rallied in downtown Austin Friday after SCOTUS legalized same-sex marriage. State Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) says we should 'divorce marriage from government if we want to protect it.'
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

Recent polls suggest the majority of Americans agree with the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, but opposition to same-sex marriage remains prevalent in southern states like Texas and Louisiana.

Just this week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said that county clerks don’t need to issue marriage licenses if doing so goes against their faith. Paxton and other opponents of same-sex marriage argue that the government shouldn’t be allowed to interfere with how someone practices their faith.

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