Politics
9:43 am
Thu January 29, 2015

Perry All But Confirms Run for President on Fox News

Former Gov. Rick Perry appeared on Fox News' Hannity yesterday to speak about the ongoing case against him.

From the Texas Tribune:

During an appearance on Fox News Wednesday, former Gov. Rick Perry told host Sean Hannity that he realized how unprepared he was to run for president in 2012.

He started an "intensive program" in late 2012, he said, with domestic policy, foreign policy and monetary policy, "So when I stand on the stage and debate this next time, you're going to see a person who is very, very well prepared and able to talk across the board about the issues that the President of the United States is going to have to deal with as we go into 2017."

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Transportation
7:27 am
Thu January 29, 2015

Austin's Growing Fast, But Why Isn't Its Public Transit?

Ridership is down system-wide on the Capital Metro system, even though Austin is growing rapidly.
Spencer Selvidge for KUT News

Austin is one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the country, but there’s one part of the city that isn’t growing: transit ridership. Let's take a look at what's behind that trend, in the first of a two-part series on transit use in Austin. 

In Perspective
3:07 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

Homelessness and the Concept of Home

Credit kefiproject.org

This month’s episode of In Perspective explores what it means to be displaced or without a home. Our new roundtable participants ask: How do we define “home”? Is it a house? Is it family, a sense of community? Is it a place or a feeling?

The discussants share their perspectives, from the practical concerns of living on the streets of Austin, to the role of creative production in dealing with homelessness, to challenging notions of displacement and transience as unnatural. Ultimately, the discussion turns toward the ways in which our perceptions of home and homelessness influence our views on immigration, the need for refuge, and national identity.

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Wayback Wednesday
1:51 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

Meet Hyde Park's First Eccentric Artist

Elisabet Ney in her studio at Formosa in 1892, shortly after moving to Austin.
Austin History Center

Today's Wayback Wednesday marks the 182nd birthday of Elisabet Ney. The renowned sculptor was born in Munster, Germany on January 26, 1833, and was the first female sculpting student at the Munich Academy of Art and became a celebrated sculptor throughout Europe in the 1850s and 1860s, crafting busts of philosopher Arthur Schoepenhaur, Germany's first chancellor Otto von Bismarck and even Jacob Grimm, one of the two eponymous fairy tale-writing brothers.

In 1872, Ney and her husband Dr. Edmund Montgomery moved to Texas, buying land near in Waller County outside of Houston and later moving to Hyde Park in 1892. Her home and studio, originally called "Formosa," now houses a museum commemorating her art. Her sculptures adorn the Texas State Capitol, the United States Capitol and, perhaps most famously, the Smithsonian National Museum of American Art.

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Politics
10:50 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Watch: Day After Judge's Ruling, Perry Vows to Keep Fighting Indictment

Perry speaking today in response to yesterday's judge's decision.
Credit Ben Philpott/KUT News

From the Texas Tribune:

Former Gov. Rick Perry decried a criminal case against him as an attack on his right to free speech and amounted to "the criminalization of politics," one day after a judge ruled that the case could move forward.

"I know my actions were right when faced with a public official's illegal, unethical, and embarrassing public behavior," Perry said, referring to Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg's drunk driving arrest in 2013.  

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Arts Eclectic
10:34 am
Wed January 28, 2015

A'Lante Presents Flamenco 'Prophecies'

This weekend, A’Lante Flamenco will present Prophecies, a music and dance production inspired by Kahlil Gibran’s 1923 book The Prophet.   

The book, a collection of poetic essays, addressed many of the issues of the day, as the residents of a village asked a foreign prophet for his insights on the human condtion. While many of those issues remain just as relevant 90 years after the book's publication, and are addressed in the show, the creative minds of A'Lante (husband and wife artistic partners Olivia and Isai Chacon) decided to tackle some more modern questions as well, such as negotiating friendship in the age of social media.

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2015 Legislature
8:58 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Opponents of Texas Religious Freedom Bills Say They Lead to Discrimination

Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, discusses her concerns with a proposed constitutional amendment at the Texas State Capitol on Jan. 27, 2015.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Texas lawmakers have filed bills that would protect people who claim that city ordinances, state or federal laws interfere with their religious beliefs.

The measures come as the right to same sex marriage gains more traction at the federal level and Texas cities pass measures that protect people based on their sexual preference.

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StoryCorps
5:30 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Josh Ribakove & Margaret Koppelman on What Marriage Means

Josh Ribakove and Margaret Koppelman at the StoryCorps mobile booth

Josh Ribacove has only been married to his wife Margaret Koppelman for a few years, but they met nearly four decades ago. When they sat down in the StoryCorps mobile booth recently, Josh and Margaret talked about the day they met.

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In Black America Podcast
9:30 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

'Only By Grace' Author Dr. Edward D. Irons [Part II]

Dr. Edward D. Irons

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. Edward D. Irons, noted educator, financial and business executive, and author of “Only By Grace.”

Irons spent more than sixty years as a university educator; a business, government, and educational executive; a management and financial consultant to business, banks, and to the U.S. and foreign governments including the United Nations Economic Commission on Africa. He served on a number of corporate boards and numerous nonprofit organizations. Four Atlanta mayors, three Georgia governors, and one Oklahoma governor appointed him to boards and commissions.

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Health Care
5:09 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

Dell Family Foundation Makes Major Donation to UT Hospital

A rendering of the Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas, slated to open in 2017.
Seton Healthcare Family

The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation is donating $25 million in a challenge grant to pay for Seton Healthcare Family’s new teaching hospital in Austin.

Susan Dell, who announced the decision today, says they want the community to get involved in donating the remaining $25 million. The $50 million combined will go toward the Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas.

"We will have state-of-the-art treatments for our patients, we’ll be able to attract the best talent in the country to our team here in Central Texas," Dell said. "One of Michael and my biggest goals is always about elevating the level of care for the entire community here in Central Texas, and this project helps us do that."

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Politics
4:10 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

Judge Denies Perry's Second Request to Dismiss Charges Against Him

Credit KUT News

A judge struck down former Texas Gov. Rick Perry's second request for dismissal of the indictment against him today. This means the case will likely extend for several months more in court, even as Perry continues to mount his presumed presidential campaign.

In August 2014, a Travis County grand jury indicted Perry on two felony charges related to his 2013 veto of funding for the county's Public Integrity Unit.

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Texas Legislature
3:36 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

Lt. Gov. Patrick on Open Carry: The Votes Aren't There

New Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick emphasizes school choice as one of his top legislative priorities at a Texas Tribune event on Jan. 27, 2015.
Credit Bob Daemmrich

From the Texas Tribune:

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick cast doubt Tuesday on the possibility that a bill legalizing the open carry of handguns could pass during the current legislative session. 

“Second Amendment rights are very important, but open carry does not reach to the level of prioritizing at this point,” he said. “I don’t think the votes are there.” 

Patrick, whose comments came during an interview with with Texas Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith, also left open the fate of another red-meat measure: repealing in-state tuition at Texas community colleges and universities for children of undocumented immigrants. 

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Transportation
2:27 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

Texas Airports Led in 2014 Firearm Confiscations

A TSA photo collage of some of the firearms confiscated in 2014.
Credit TSA/tsa.gov

Three Texas airports made the Transportation Security Administration's 2014 top ten list for firearm confiscation at security checkpoints.

Dallas-Fort Worth was at the top of the list; 120 guns were discovered in travelers' carry-on luggage at DFW airport in 2014. Over in Houston, George Bush Intercontinental came in at No. 4 with 77 confiscations, and William P. Hobby airport was at No. 6 with 50 confiscations for the year.

Overall the TSA discovered a record number of guns in carry-ons at U.S. airports last year: 2,212 firearms were confiscated, roughly an average of six per day. Eighty-three percent of those were loaded at the time.

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Education
11:34 am
Tue January 27, 2015

Paul Cruz Officially Approved as Austin ISD Superintendent

AISD Superintendent Dr. Paul Cruz greets members of the public at a meeting of the AISD Board of Trustees on January 26, 2015.
Credit Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Dr. Paul Cruz finally dropped the "interim" from his superintendent title last night when the Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees officially approved his contract through 2017.

Cruz stepped in as interim superintendent last April when Dr. Meria Castarphen left for Atlanta Public Schools.

Cruz's three-year contract with the district will have him earning $286,000 a year as superintendent, leading the district's 85,000 students and 12,000 staff members.

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Music
9:53 am
Tue January 27, 2015

Here's a Look at the Austin Bands Battling for a Seat at NPR's Tiny Desk

NPR won't announce the winner of its Tiny Desk Concert Contest until Feb. 12, but the submissions are all in. Unsurprisingly, there are a good number of entrants from the Live Music Capital of the World, and they're all collected below.

The first-ever Tiny Desk contest received more than 7,000 submissions involving about 40,000 musicians total.

The contest winner will fly to NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., and perform a concert at the media outlet's famous Tiny Desk recording corner, a space formerly visited by the likes of T-Pain, Miguel, Adele and John Legend.

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Austin
9:32 am
Tue January 27, 2015

How You Can Help Rewrite Austin's Confusing, Outdated Campaign Finance Rules

Some Austin City Council candidates before the city's ballot selection in August of 2014.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

The city's Ethics Review Commission (ERC) is looking for ways to update Austin’s campaign finance rules for two simple reasons.

One, the language is very complicated. And two, the limits that are in place haven't been updated in a long time. The ERC is meeting tonight to hear from Austinites about how to spruce up the rules.

Anyone with ideas as to how the ERC can make the language on campaign finance rules more understandable, can post those ideas at SpeakUpAustin.org or can attend the public meeting at City Hall at 7 p.m.

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Austin City Council
8:52 am
Tue January 27, 2015

What Happens If Steve Adler Forgoes His Salary?

Mayor Steve Adler.
Credit Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

It's no secret that Austin Mayor Steve Adler is independently wealthy and that he doesn't need the $82,000 and change his position pays every year.

Adler has said he instead wants to use the money to boost the salaries of some of his staff, but the move may have some tricky implications for his successor.

Steve Adler is not the only Austin politician to forgo his salary. Recently, former Austin Mayor Bruce Todd got paid one dollar to complete Sarah Eckhart's term as Travis County Commissioner for Precinct 2.

Why did he do that?

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Science
2:36 pm
Mon January 26, 2015

Will Your Self-Driving Car Turn on You? and Other Important Questions

A Google self-driving car that will hopefully one day share our human values.
Credit Stanford Center for Internet and Society/flickr

Researchers, scientists, professors and engineers from around the U.S. and the world are in Austin for the 29th annual Conference on Artificial Intelligence. They're here to talk about the latest developments in the field of artificial intelligence and how those developments are affecting human lives.

Some of the field’s prominent names are speaking about AI’s potential impact on the human race. Will robots steal everyone’s jobs? Will machines render humans irrelevant? Or will they rise up and dominate the human species with their superior intelligence?

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Energy & Environment
1:28 pm
Mon January 26, 2015

Quiz: Beer, Coffee, or Crude Oil? Sometimes It's Hard to Tell

Credit Amanda/flickr

Anyone who spends time looking at how oil is drilled for and refined around the world comes to notice something strange. The names people give to different types of crude oil can sound surprisingly delicious.

In reporting on the role that benchmark oil prices play in moving the price of gasoline,  I was introduced to one person who had made a game out of it. Rice University student Aruni Ranaweera created the quiz "Beer, Coffee, Crude" to test her classmates' ability to distinguish between types of crude, types of beer, and blends of coffee.  It's harder than is sounds. Go ahead, crack open a can of Tia Juana Light and give it a shot.

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Austin City Council
7:12 am
Mon January 26, 2015

As 10-1 Council Steps Forward, Meet the New Committees

Austin's City Council holds a rare work session today before tomorrow's scheduled council meeting.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

The new 10-1 Austin City Council will gavel in for its first regular meeting this week, and one of their ambitions is to be a more open, efficient council. To that end, they've indicated they want to move much of the nuts and bolts of policy-making to council committees, much in the way the state legislature works. The number of committees proposed is a big jump, from eight to at least 14 so far.

Here's what we know so far about the different committees:

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