Border & Immigration
9:46 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Texas Officials Justify Cost of Enhanced Security Operations at the Border

The heads of the Texas National Guard and the Texas Department of Public Safety answered questions from Texas lawmakers about the cost of shoring up security measures at the border at a State Capitol hearing on July 29, 2014.
Lizzie Chen for KUT News

The heads of the Texas National Guard and the Texas Department of Public Safety say they never recommended deploying National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border – as Gov. Rick Perry ordered earlier this month.

It came as some state lawmakers grilled officials on what’s being accomplished with the millions of dollars in extra spending aimed at shoring up security along the Texas-Mexico border. Up to 1,000 Texas National Guard troops are being deployed to the border for up to a year. It will cost the state up to $12 million a month, which includes money for training, even learning Spanish.

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Energy & Environment
8:41 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Four Guys and a Boat Tackle a Texas-Sized Water Problem

Workers cut open bags of WaterSavr, an evaporation suppressant, to apply the powder to Lake Arrowhead. WaterSavr's manufacturers claim it will save 30 percent of water that would have otherwise evaporated from the reservoir.
Neena Satija

As the sun rose on Lake Arrowhead late last week, four guys on a motorboat armed with 5,739 pounds of white powder set out to tackle one of Texas' most vexing water problems — evaporation from surface reservoirs. Last year, evaporation cost the state 2 trillion gallons of water, and it has been eliminating as much as 40 million gallons of water a day from drought-stricken Wichita Falls' supply this summer.

The four men, who work for a company called Flexible Solutions, were applying WaterSavr to Lake Arrowhead. The company claims that its product will save the city hundreds of millions of gallons of water by preventing evaporation. At a cost of $400,000 for the product and labor, the city is hoping the experiment, the first of its size in the nation, will work. And the rest of parched Texas is watching. But there are plenty of skeptics.

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Education
7:26 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

McRaven Named Sole Finalist for UT System Chancellor

William H. McRaven
US Navy

On a conference call Tuesday evening, the University of Texas System Board of Regents unanimously named Admiral William H. McRaven the sole finalist to be the next chancellor of the system.

McRaven, a Navy Seal and current commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, is perhaps best known for designing and coordinating the successful operation to kill Osama bin Laden.

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Energy & Environment
3:26 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

4 Ways Texas Could Win Big Under New Climate Change Rules

Under the proposed regulations, coal power plants like this one will become a thing of the past.
Jonathan Warner/Flickr

Earlier this year, the earth hit a frightening milestone: carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached its highest level since humans have inhabited the earth. The last time there was this much carbon on the planet was nearly a million years ago.

As the heat-trapping gas proliferates, the world warms, and the climate effects domino: droughts intensify, floods increase, ice melts and seas rise. The question now isn't whether human activity is changing the global climate; the question is what to do about it.

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Same-Sex Marriage
1:41 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

AG Files Brief Supporting Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Texas Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott speaks to supporters at Lavazza Espression on Congress Avenue in Austin.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office filed a brief on Monday arguing that Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage is constitutionally sound and a matter for voters, not courts, to decide. 

The brief was filed with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where the state is appealing a state district court judge’s February ruling that the ban is unconstitutional. The case pits two same-sex couples against Gov. Rick Perry, state Health Commissioner David Lakey and Abbott, who is also the Republican nominee for governor.

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Health
11:59 am
Tue July 29, 2014

The Nearest Detox Facility for Austin's Uninsured & Indigent is Now in Waco

flickr.com/wstryder

One challenge many homeless people face is fighting addiction. And that battle could get tougher for some, as an Austin nonprofit that helps people recover from addiction has closed its detox facility – meaning new hurdles for the homeless and uninsured who need detox services.

This month, nonprofit Austin Recovery closed its detox facility. The detox process isn't pretty – in fact, it can be rather dangerous. Patients needed to be monitored around-the-clock by highly trained medical staff, just as if they were in a hospital setting.

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Arts Eclectic
11:10 am
Tue July 29, 2014

Summer Stock Austin Celebrates Ten Years

For the past decade, the folks at Summer Stock Austin have brought high school and college age theater students together with working professionals to stage multiple musicals in a short period of time.

Every summer, the kids and adults at Summer Stock rehearse, build sets, do publicity and technical work, and then put on a show in just a matter of weeks. And they do that for three shows at once. It's a bit of whirlwind, but the result is that the students learn a lot about the theater world and audiences get to see a few low-priced live musicals.

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SH-45
10:10 am
Tue July 29, 2014

Austin Calls on TxDOT to Expand Public Comment, Revise Study on SH-45

A rendering of the State Highway 45 extension. Some say the route of a proposed extension to SH 45 could negatively impact the Edwards Aquifer.
Credit Texas Department of Transportation

Austin City Manager Marc Ott has asked the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to reconsider its environmental impact study on State Highway 45 Southwest.

The proposed extension would connect South MoPac and FM-1626 in northern Hays County.

In a letter to TxDOT, Ott also asked the department to expand the public comment period ahead of tonight's final public input meeting at Bowie High School.

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Business
9:13 am
Tue July 29, 2014

FAA Seeks $12 Million Fine Against Southwest Airlines

A Boeing 737 jetliner operated by Southwest awaits loading at the Little Rock, Ark., airport.
Danny Johnston AP

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 1:25 pm

The Federal Aviation Administration announced Monday that it intends to fine Southwest Airlines $12 million for flying Boeing 737 airplanes without making proper repairs.

Beginning in 2006, Southwest began "extreme makeover" alterations to address cracking of aluminum skin on 44 jetliners, the FAA said in a news release.

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University of Texas
8:35 am
Tue July 29, 2014

Just What Does the University of Texas System Chancellor Do?

University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa's replacement is being finalized.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

University of Texas System regents plan to meet today and they could name a finalist in their search for a new University of Texas System chancellor. That's after UT's current chancellor announced in February that he would step down. But just what does a chancellor do?

The two candidates being considered for the University of Texas System are Richard Fisher – the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas – and Admiral William H. McRaven, a 36-year Navy Seal who led the task force that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.

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Austin
7:41 am
Tue July 29, 2014

Despite a Rate Cut, Travis County Could Still See a Property Tax Increase Next Year

The Travis County Commissioners Court will debate the proposed budget and hear public comments up until a final Sept. 23 vote.
Credit Jillian Schantz Patrick for KUT News

Travis County residents could see a property taxes increase in the $901 million proposed budget for 2015. The increase, however, isn’t because of rising property values, but because of the demand for countywide services.

The budget calls to build out integral services for the ever-expanding county, but may lower the tax rate. County officials will debate and hear public comment on the budget before the final Sept. 23 vote.

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Life & Arts
7:17 am
Tue July 29, 2014

'Two Step' Is An Intense Texas Thriller (Update)

James Landry Hébert plays a convincing con man in "Two Step."
Courtesy "Two Step"

Update: Austinites have another chance to see "Two Step" on the big screen. After showing at SXSW and the Little Rock Film Festival, the Austin Film Society is screening Austin-based writer/director Alex R. Johnson's dark feature.

KUT talked with Johnson about the film back in March.

Original Story (March 10, 2014): The Texas drama "Two Step" debuts at SXSW Film. It is Austin-based writer/director Alex R. Johnson's first feature-length film. It has a "No Country for Old Men" vibe – along with a memorable villain who you're better off not running into.

Johnson is pretty new to Austin. He talked with KUT about "Two Step" and how moving here inspired him to make it.

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Politics
6:38 am
Tue July 29, 2014

U.S. Accuses Russia Of Violating Nuclear Treaty

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 10:00 pm

The Obama administration says Russia has violated a 1987 nuclear pact by testing a ground-launched cruise missile.

An administration official called the matter "very serious" and says the U.S. is "prepared to discuss this in a senior-level bilateral dialogue immediately." The New York Times reports that President Obama notified Russian President Vladimir Putin of the finding in a letter Monday.

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In Black America Podcast
7:13 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

In Black America Podcast: Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement: Views from the Front Line – Part II

From left to right: Lonnie G. Bunch, III, moderator, Julian Bond, former Chairman, NAACP, John Lewis, U.S. Representative, Georgia, Andrew Young, former congressman and Ambassador to the United Nations.
Rodolfo Gonzalez / American-Statesman

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. presents highlights of the Civil Rights Summit marking the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Featured on today’s program are three civil rights legends that looked back at the movement they helped to forge, and how it continues to resonate in America today, while exploring the civil rights issues of the 21st century.

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Health
4:32 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

2 Americans Catch Ebola In Liberia, As Nigeria Reports First Case

Dr. Kent Brantly (right) of Samaritan's Purse gives orders to treat Ebola patients through the doorway of the isolation ward in Monrovia, Liberia.
Courtesy of Samaritan's Purse

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 8:09 pm

News about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa continues to go from bad to worse.

Last week a doctor leading the fight against the outbreak got sick in Sierra Leone. Now two American aid workers have tested positive for the virus in Liberia, and the outbreak has likely spread to a fourth country, Nigeria.

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Housing
3:36 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

Under 10% of Austin Landlords Accept Vouchers. This Rule Could Change That.

Austin's "source of income" discrimination rule could require landlords accept vouchers and other housing subsidies.
flickr.com/milestonemanagement

The rental market in Austin is hot. The Austin Board of Realtors says more units are being leased than last year and the prices are higher.

But the City of Austin says it can be hard for people who use housing vouchers to find a place to live. Now, some city commissions are considering adding “source of income” discrimination [PDF] to a list of banned landlord behavior.

A study found fewer than 10 percent of rental units in Austin currently accept vouchers – a move that critics say contributes to a concentration of poverty in the northern and eastern parts of the city.

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Science
2:33 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

Could Maker Culture Spark the Next Industrial Revolution?

A 3D As tools like 3D printers (pictured) drop in price, they increasingly fuel a maker culture, according to UT engineer Scott Allen.
flickr.com/creative_tools

Everyone has ideas. Machines, inventions, and improvements to everyday products: things that bounce around in everyone's mind. But unless that someone is an engineer, inventor, or tinkerer, those ideas stay just that … ideas.

Until now that is.  

A new, emerging "maker" culture encourages innovators to create as they wish with the help of 3D printers, laser cutters, and many other tools. The Obama Administration even recently hosted a nationwide "Day of Making" for these creators. 

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Border & Immigration
11:14 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Migrant Children Have State, Federal Foster Care Competing for Parents

On June 24, 2014, volunteers gather at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, where the Rio Grande Valley Catholic Charities have a makeshift shelter to help handle the surge of immigrants who have crossed into the U.S. in recent weeks.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

The influx of children from Central America arriving at the Texas-Mexico border has many people asking how they can help.

One way people can help is by becoming foster parents – but acting as a foster parent for the federal government is different than being a foster parent for the state.

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Border & Immigration
10:02 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Can National Guard Troops Make Arrests Along the Texas Border?

Texas Adjudant General John Nichols speaks at a press conference on the deployment of the Texas National Guard to the border on July 21, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Can the National Guard troops being deployed to the border arrest and detain people? Only if Gov. Rick Perry says they can. But experts do have some concerns about giving law enforcement powers to a reserve military force.

From a legal standpoint, the National Guard has no authority to enforce federal immigration law, because the troops will be operating under the governor’s authority. In this case, Gov. Perry has called them up, and not President Barack Obama.

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Israel and Gaza
7:36 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Conflict In Gaza: Here's What You Need To Know Today

Palestinian Saeb Afana, 12, stands on the edge of a large crater from an Israeli missile strike that destroyed several graves, as he carries flowers at a cemetery in Gaza City on Monday.
Lefteris Pitarakis AP

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 5:29 pm

(This post was last updated at 6:30 p.m. ET.)

In a resolution overnight, the United Nations Security Council called for an "immediate and unconditional" cease-fire in Gaza.

As USA Today reports, the Security Council called on both Israel and Hamas "to accept and fully implement the humanitarian cease-fire into the Eid period and beyond."

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