Texas City Blast
3:35 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Before the West Explosion, There Was Texas City

Texas City as viewed from the air, April 16, 1947
Credit AP archival photo

April 17 marks exactly a year since one of the biggest industrial disasters in American history: the explosion at the fertilizer plant in West, Texas that left 15 people dead, another 150 injured, and large parts of the town flattened and destroyed.

Shocking as it was, the West explosion is not the worst industrial disaster in American history. That anniversary is today, April 16 – marking 67 years since the Gulf Coast town of Texas City was razed.  

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Mental Health
1:13 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Fighting Stigma of Mental Illness Goal of New Texas Nonprofit

Despite money put towards mental health care in Texas last legislative session, Texas ranks near the bottom in spending per capita on mental health. A new mental health policy nonprofit in Texas will work to identify ways to improve access to services.
Liang Shi for KUT News

Improving mental health practices for Texas and reducing the stigma associated with mental illness is the goal of a new statewide institute. Its focus will be on children, veterans and criminal justice policies.

The Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute opened its doors today. Tom Luce, its chief executive officer, says the nonprofit will do research to improve access to mental health care in Texas – and not just after emergencies like the recent Fort Hood shooting.

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Life & Arts
10:49 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Novelist Elizabeth Strout Talks About 'The Burgess Boys'

Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Elizabeth Strout visited KUT Austin to speak about her book "The Burgess Boys"
Credit Samantha Ortega for KUT News

The novel "The Burgess Boys" took the nation by storm last year. This month, the novel is available in paperback.

The follow-up to Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel "Olive Kitteridge" spent weeks atop the New York Times bestseller list and months making the rounds of book-circles.

Elizabeth Strout visited with the Texas Standard's Emily Donahue to talk about her book. Listen to their conversation in the audio player below.

Politics
8:52 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Castro-Patrick Immigration Debate Offers Plenty of Attacks, Few Solutions

Mayor Julian Castro and Sen. Dan Patrick shake cordially after their San Antonio debate on April 15, 2014.
Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has been making headlines for taking what some consider a hard line on immigration in his campaign. Last night, he squared off against San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro over the topic.

The genesis of the debate was a squabble on Twitter between the two –started in large part because of State Sen. Dan Patrick's comments calling undocumented immigrants entry into Texas an "invasion." In the debate, Mayor Castro quickly revisited that topic.

“I want to break news to the Senator, that we’re about to celebrate San Jacinto Day, but Texas is not being invaded by Mexico. I can assure you of that," Castro joked.

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On My Block
6:00 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Austin: What's the One Thing That Would Make Life On Your Block Better?

What one thing would make life on your block better? KUT wants to hear from you.

What's the one thing that would make life on your block better?

As Austin prepares for its first elections with 10 new geographic districts, KUT is diving deeply into District One, which covers large parts of East Austin. But we want to hear from you, regardless of where you live. Tell us: What would make life better on your block? 

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AISD
8:08 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Austin School Board Names Paul Cruz Temporary Superintendent

Paul Cruz will run the largest school district in Central Texas while the school board searches for a long-term replacement for Meria Carstarphen.
AISD http://powerofusinaustinisd.blogspot.com/2010_08_26_archive.html

Austin school trustees unanimously appointed Paul Cruz as interim superintendent Tuesday night. They also accepted Superintendent Meria Carstarphen's resignation, as she heads to Atlanta to lead that city's public school system.

Carstarphen will remain superintendent until April 23, when her resignation goes into effect. The school district can have a superintendent and an interim superintendent at the same time, as Carstarphen helps Cruz assume his temporary position.

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Politics
7:20 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

REWATCH: Dan Patrick and Julian Castro Immigration Debate

State Senator and GOP Lt. Governor candidate Dan Patrick faced off against San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro in a televised debate over immigration tonight at 6pm.

The debate was moderated by the Texas Tribune's Evan Smith.

Education
4:49 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Calculator Directive for 8th-Graders Draws Concerns

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

As the state integrates a directive that requires eighth-graders in Texas public schools to have graphing calculators for STAAR testing, some poorer Texas school districts say that such mandates ignore the financial crunch that many districts are already facing.

In February, Texas Education Agency Commissioner Michael Williams wrote to Texas superintendents to instruct them that they must ensure that eighth-grade students have graphing calculators for STAAR assessments, starting in the 2014-15 school year. The directive comes after the State Board of Education increased the algebra content on the exam, said Debbie Ratcliffe, a TEA spokeswoman.

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Arts Eclectic
1:52 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Be a Part of the Latest Version of 'The Intergalactic Nemesis'

There have been many incarnations of The Intergalactic Nemesis over the years. The 1930s era science fiction story started life as a live radio serial staged in a coffee shop, then became an actual radio serial that ran right here on KUT many years ago. Then there was a revised version of the stage show, then a comic book series, and finally a live action graphic novel, which combines all the previous elements into a large-scale show that has toured the world.

But it’s never been captured for the screen until now. This Saturday at the old Austin City Limits Studio, The Intergalactic Nemesis will tape its newest incarnation before a live audience. The show will go back to its radio serial roots in a way, as it becomes a series of short web videos produced by KLRU and PBS. It'll also be available as a TV broadcast and a DVD.

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Affordable Care Act
1:12 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Details On Abortion Coverage Still Elusive In Some Health Plans

Abortion coverage was a key sticking point during the congressional debate on the new health law. Lawmakers eventually agreed to let states decide.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 15, 2014 3:29 pm

If you bought health coverage through one of the online insurance marketplaces, you might have a tough time determining whether your plan covers abortion services.

Though Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius got an earful from members of Congress about the problem at a hearing last November, little's been done yet to clear up the confusion in some states.

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Halloween Floods
12:40 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

After Report Faults Halloween Flood Response, Is More Accountability Needed?

Rescue teams in Southeast Austin assist people stranded in rising flood waters in the early hours of Oct. 31, 2013. A city report faults officials for late activation of an emergency response center, among other shortcomings.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

In Austin, it’s almost certain a flood will hit in the future. What we don’t know is when.

In preparation for the next flood, the City of Austin evaluated the last one – the deadly 2013 Halloween flood that hit the Onion Creek neighborhood the hardest. Travis County and the City of Austin emerged from that report with a list of over 100 items deserving greater scrutiny.

The report, available here, cites dozens of instances of miscommunication among flood responders. 

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University of Texas at Austin
11:08 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Bill Powers on Regents Drama, Civil Rights Summit & Those Mysterious Maroon Bluebonnets

UT-Austin President Bill Powers welcomes guests to a panel at the LBJ School & Museum's Civil Rights Summit, on Wednesday, April 9, 2014.
Rodolfo Gonzalez, American-Statesman

Reports over the past week suggest that the screws are tightening on one of the biggest critics of William Powers, Jr., President of the University of Texas at Austin.

University Regent Wallace Hall likely committed impeachable offenses, according to a 176-page report prepared for legislators looking into Hall's campaign to oust Powers. Among the charges: that Hall leaked confidential student information in apparent violation of state and federal law, that he attempted to coerce UT administrators to alter testimony to investigators, and that he abused his position as regent.

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Arts Eclectic
10:35 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Soubrette Productions Presents 'Assassins'

For only their second outing, young theater company Soubrette Productions is taking on a challenging show: Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s Assassins, a musical that examines the motivations behind the actions of attempted and successful assassins of American presidents. It's long been a controversial work, as it examines the history of and parallels between the men and women who were convinced that their violent actions were justified or even necessary.

The subject matter isn't the only difficult aspect of Assassins. It's also a pretty elaborate production, with a large principal cast and detailed costuming, sets, and props. All of this makes the production a challenge for the folks of Soubrette, but a challenge they were eager to undertake.

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Austin
9:55 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Austin Post Offices Won't Be Open Late for Tax Day 2014

Fewer people are mailing in tax returns.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Today is the IRS tax filing deadline.  

But, like last year, Austin area U.S. Post Offices will not stay open until midnight. Post offices across the country are cutting down on late hours for tax day.  That’s because most people now file online.

"According to the Internal Revenue Service, this year over 90 percent of tax returns nationwide have already been electronically filed online," USPS said in a press release. "Of the 148 million returns the IRS expects to be filed this year, only 23 million will be paper returns, down seven percent from last year."

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Science
9:05 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Did You See It? If Not, Here's The 'Blood Moon'

The "blood moon" as seen from Koreatown, west of Los Angeles, early Tuesday. The next total eclipse of the moon comes on Oct. 8.
Joe Klamar AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 15, 2014 8:34 am

There were "whistles, cheers and howls" early Tuesday on the grounds of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles as the moon turned red during a total lunar eclipse.

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