Health
10:00 am
Mon April 14, 2014

How Central Texas Cities Regulate (or Don't Regulate) E-Cigarettes

The State of Texas leaves regulation of e-cigarettes up to cities.
Shutterstock, KERANews.org

There are no state laws that address e-cigarettes in Texas, so regulation is largely left up to individual cities. Cities in the Austin area vary widely in their regulation e-cigarettes.

The City of Georgetown banned the use of electronic cigarettes in public places and work places last week. The ordinance also prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes to persons under 18 and their sale in vending machines.

One of the reasons the city passed the ordinance was because of the unknown health effects of e-cigarettes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not fully studied the devices.  

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American Youthworks
9:01 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Austin Dropout Recovery School Faces Closure After 30 Years

Parc Smith is American Youthworks' CEO. He stands by a tree that highlights the achievements of his students. Students follow a self-paced program until they finally graduate high school.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News.

The fate of an Austin charter school that has run a dropout recovery program for more than 30 years will be decided later this month.

American Youthworks faces closure under a new law that allows the Texas Education Agency to revoke licenses from underperforming charter schools, thus opening those licenses to other organizations.

TEA spokesperson Debbie Ratcliffe says Senate Bill 2 is pretty clear. That’s the law passed last year that, among other things, gave TEA teeth to revoke the licenses of failing charter schools. “If a school has received the state’s lowest, either academic or financial, rating for three straight years, it automatically is closed,” Ratcliffe says.

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In Black America Podcast
5:42 pm
Sun April 13, 2014

Black Stats: How African-Americans Measure Up in the 21st Century

Dr. Monique W. Morris, Ed.D

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. Monique W. Morris, Ed.D. Co-Founder/President of The National Black Women’s Justice Institute, and author of "Black Stats: African Americans by the Numbers in the Twenty-first Century."

"Black Stats" is a comprehensive guide filled with contemporary facts and figures on African Americans.

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Halloween Floods
4:33 pm
Sun April 13, 2014

Report Lists Over 100 Lessons From Austin's Deadly Halloween Floods

An unidentified man walks past an abandoned car along Pleasant Valley Road on Oct. 31, 2013.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

It’s taken the City of Austin and Travis County almost six months to finalize a report detailing emergency response to the 2013 Halloween floods: what worked, what needs improvement and what – flat out – did not work.

See the full report here [PDF].

The report repeatedly highlights communication problems: between agencies, then between first responders, then with the general public. There was no clear channel of communication. There was no awareness about the kind of people who lived in the affected area either: a majority-minority community that does not primarily communicate using English.

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Transportation
1:58 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

Get Ready for This Red River Street Closure That Lasts Into 2015

The Frank Erwin Center sits in the center of the stretch of Red River Street that will remain closed until 2015.
Larry D. Moore, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Nv8200p

You may want to take a drive along Red River Street this weekend: it’s your last chance before the street is realigned to make way for UT-Austin's new Dell Medical School.

Starting Monday, Red River Street will be closed from Martin Luther King Boulevard to 15th Street – and it’s not scheduled to re-open until January.

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Affordable Care Act
11:49 am
Fri April 11, 2014

'I Knew It Wouldn't Be Easy,' Outgoing Health Secretary Sebelius Says

Vice President Biden (from left), Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, President Obama and Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell at the White House Friday. Sebelius is stepping down. Burwell is being nominated to replace her.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Fri April 11, 2014 12:53 pm

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who has borne the brunt of criticism for the troubled rollout of the HealthCare.gov website, said Friday that as she prepares to leave that agency she is thankful to have had the chance to work on "the cause of my life."

Her agency, Sebelius said, has been "in the front lines of a long overdue national change — fixing a broken health system."

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University of Texas
9:59 am
Fri April 11, 2014

UT-Austin Faculty Objects to Shared Services Plan

UT-Austin students stretch out between classes in this undated 2010 photo. Over 100 UT faculty members signed a letter this week opposing the university's proposed "shared services" model.
KUT News

More than 100 faculty members at the University of Texas at Austin signed a letter this week expressing concern and dismay over a proposal to centralize and consolidate services such as human resources and information technology.

That shared services model would combine administrative services now located and staffed in individual departments of the university in an attempt to save millions of dollars annually.

In the letter to UT-Austin President Bill Powers, faculty members posited that such a move would harm the university's sense of community. "People choose to work at the University of Texas at Austin because they believe in its educational and social mission," the letter said. "Adoption of a shared services model will weaken departments’ commitment to those missions by devaluing bonds between faculty and staff that develop from working toward common goals."

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Turning the Corner
8:50 am
Fri April 11, 2014

'I Gotta Keep Going:' Boxing Has Dove Springs Students Pushing Ahead

Benjamin Munoz practices on a speed bag at Mendez Middle School in Dove Springs.

For the past seven months KUT has focused on the Dove Springs neighborhood in southeast Austin. We’ve been looking at issues facing this largely poor, immigrant community: access to healthcare, educational issues, affordable housing – and how organizations and individuals are trying to bring change.

In October, we went to a boxing ring at Mendez Middle School. An after-school program there is teaching the kids boxing as a way to provide some structure after classes let out.

We went back to the ring recently – and found quite a few things had changed. 

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Two Guys on Your Head
7:58 am
Fri April 11, 2014

How to Deal With Road Rage

Flickr user Matt Boyd, flic.kr/ps/iEtmA

Austin is now ranked as the fourth worst city in the nation for traffic. According to an annual traffic scorecard, Austinites waste an average of 41 hours in traffic annually. 

It’s no wonder then that we're encountering more vehicular aggression on overcrowded Austin roads. So what’s happening in our brains when we encounter that familiar feeling of intense frustration we call road rage? The Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke, break it down in this week’s episode.

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Life & Arts
7:01 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Movies Unplugged: Fest Brings Live Music to Silent Film for One Night in Austin

A screening/performance in New York of Alexander Payne's film "Carmen."
Kim Schlechter

Seth Boustead started the Sound of Silent Film Festival in Chicago almost 10 years ago. It features newly composed music performed live to modern silent films.

Think about that: newly composed music to modern silent films.

Boustead is in Austin for a one-day event featuring this concept. He sat down with KUT to explain what it's all about.

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Health
4:07 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Is Resigning

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is resigning from her post after serving for five years.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Thu April 10, 2014 6:35 pm

Health Secrerary Kathleen Sebelius is resigning after a five-year term that will no doubt be remembered for the calamitous implementation of President Obama's signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act.

If you remember, when the federal government unveiled HealthCare.gov, where Americans could buy health insurance mandated by Obamacare, the site was essentially useless for weeks after it launched in October.

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Civil Rights Summit
5:37 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Watch President Bush Address the Civil Rights Summit

Former President George W. Bush  is speaking this afternoon at the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum on UT campus.

The summit, which gathers four U.S Presidents and dozens of other speakers, marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Civil Rights Act.

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Immigration
4:41 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Immigration Activists Chain Themselves to MLK Statue to Protest Obama Policies

Patrick Fierro(left) and Juan Belman are two of four immigrant rights activists who chained themselves to the statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. on the U.T. campus Wednesday afternoon.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Protesters gathered on the UT campus to protest President Obama’s immigration policies during his speech today at the Civil Rights Summit. Some chained themselves to the statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. on campus and many brandished signs deriding the president for strict deportation strategies in light of the event which highlights equal rights. 

“We want them to recognize that the fight for civil rights is not over,” said student organizer Maria Reza. “Enough talk – we need action.”

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Austin
3:29 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Obama Celebrates 50 Years of the Civil Rights Act

President Obama spoke before the Civil Rights Summit on Apr. 10, 2014.
LBJ Presidential Library and Museum

President  Obama delivered a speech today at the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum at the Civil Rights Summit celebrating 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act. 

Obama paid tribute to Johnson's tenacity and vision in fostering the passage of the Civil Rights Act —  as well as other landmark legislation including the Voting Rights Act, the Immigration and Nationality Act and the Fair Housing Act. He characterized the Texan president as strong-willed -- but flawed, despite his successes -- and said that the fight for equality isn't  over. 

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Austin
3:08 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Artists Restore Iconic Guadalupe St. Murals, Despite Limited Funds

A view of the "Austintatious Mural," known to many for its depiction of Texas forefather Stephen F. Austin.
Andrew Huygen for KUT

The original artists behind two iconic murals in West Campus are restoring their work after the murals were defaced with graffiti. But the costly repairs to the University Co-op mural could be delayed, due to a steep price tag.  

While the Co-op pitched some money towards repainting the murals, they couldn't provide enough for the entire $30,000 overhaul. So the murals' artists have taken to the Web, starting an online campaign to fund the restoration – although a fast-approaching deadline could sideline the effort.

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