Life & Arts
4:03 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

On Story: Paul Thomas Anderson, Jonathan Demme, and Ron Howard

Jonathan Demme in conversation with Paul Thomas Anderson.
Austin Film Festival

In this episode of On Story, hosted by Brian Ramos, directors take center stage. In the first half of the show, filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson narrates a conversation with director Jonathan Demme, whose credits include Silence of the Lambs.

Then, film and TV icon Ron Howard talks about how all of his works are, at heart, suspense pieces.

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Texas
12:33 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

Immigration Attorneys Prepare to Represent Detained Women in Asylum Cases

Immigration attorneys take notes in a mock courtroom. The attorneys are undergoing training to represent women and children in asylum cases.
Joy Diaz/KUT News

For the mothers and children detained at an immigrant facility in Karnes County, about 100 miles south of Austin, their best chance for release is to find attorneys willing to represent them pro bono.

And in turn, the lawyers willing to take on these cases need specific training. So this week at the University of Texas School of Law, a group of immigration attorneys attended a training session to brush up on the type of asylum cases faced by the women and children housed at Karnes County Residential Center.

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Arts Eclectic
10:17 am
Tue April 21, 2015

Jody Denberg on 'See Hear Yoko'

Yoko Ono celebrated her 80th birthday on February 18, 2013. To mark the occasion, two of her friends (famed rock photographer Bob Gruen and KUTX's own Jody Denberg) put together a photo book of Yoko's life as a present for her. After receiving the gift, Jody says Yoko "kind of demanded, or at least requested, that we publish the book."

It started when Jody Denberg met up with Bob Gruen during 2012's SXSW. Though not close friends, the two had met on occasion through Yoko. For many years, Bob was the official photographer for Yoko and John Lennon, and has continued a friendship (and continued taking photographs) with Yoko in the years since John's death. Jody has also known Yoko for many years, and has conducted several interviews with her in that time. He hit upon the idea of putting together a book using Bob's photos and excerpts from his interviews with Yoko, and soon enough the gift was taking shape. "It's really a family scrapbook in some ways, this book" says Jody of the finished product.

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Transportation
8:17 am
Tue April 21, 2015

Why Lyft and Uber Are Fighting to Keep Their Data Secret

A Lyft driver in the company's home base of San Francisco. The City of Austin is asking the state Attorney General to block the release of Lyft and Uber's trip data.
Flickr User Raido Kalma/Creative Commons

It's been almost a year since new ride services like Lyft and Uber have been up and running in Austin. At first Lyft and Uber were operating illegally, but under a temporary ordinance approved by City Council in October, those companies are now legal in town. Hailing a Lyft or Uber as a passenger has never been easier in Austin. But some of the information these companies are providing to the city as part of their interim agreement is proving harder to flag down. 

Lyft and Uber collect information on where all riders are being picked up and dropped, how much trips cost, how long trips are, and when they're seeing peak demand. They provide that data (stripped of user identification) to the city on a quarterly basis, "in order to help the City evaluate the role of TNCs [Transportation Network Companies] to address transportation issues, such as drunk driving and underserved community needs," according to the interim ordinance.

But the city is fighting on Uber and Lyft's behalf after KUT submitted an open records request to obtain the quarterly reports.

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The Two-Way
7:39 am
Tue April 21, 2015

Blue Bell Widens Recall To All Of Its Products Over Listeria Worries

After initially recalling products made at its Oklahoma facility, Blue Bell is now asking retailers and customers to throw away or return all of its products currently on the market.
Blue Bell

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 9:04 am

Texas ice cream maker Blue Bell Creameries has widely expanded a voluntary recall over Listeria concerns, seeking the return of all of its products currently on the market. Blue Bell products are sold in 23 states.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.” 

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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.

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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 Tue April 21, 2015 6:04 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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