Texas Standard
12:07 pm
Wed April 29, 2015

Why Terlingua Doesn't Want Reality TV Cameras in Their Town

A National Geographic film crew has come to town.
jbparrott/flickr

Terlingua, a small town in Brewster County, West Texas, near the Rio Grande, used to be a mining town. Now it's mainly a tourist destination on the way to Big Bend — but pretty soon, Terlingua might attract a different kind of tourist.

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Texas
11:41 am
Wed April 29, 2015

Why SCOTUS' Hearing on Midazolam May Affect Texas Executions

The U.S. Supreme Court is considering today whether the lethal injection drug Midazolam, which is not currently used in Texas, constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. The drug has not been proven to deliver a pain-free execution experience.
Calif. Dep. of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on the three-drug combination used in Oklahoma executions.

At issue is whether the use of one of the drugs, Midazolam, constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, since it is not proven to prevent the person being executed from feeling pain.

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Energy & Environment
10:32 am
Wed April 29, 2015

Could Texas Be Doing More to Protect Against Manmade Earthquakes?

A dozen smaller earthquakes have struck Dallas in the last few weeks, following a SMU study that showed a connection between disposal well sites and earthquakes.

There have been earthquakes in almost every corner of Texas since the start of the state's most recent oil and gas boom. One swarm that really captured people’s attention started in the town of Azle in 2013.  When oil and gas regulators at the Railroad Commission of Texas visited the town, local people suggested ways to handle the waste water disposal wells thought to be causing the quakes. One idea came up over and over again.

“Why is it we can't shut the wells down around here for a period of time?” asked resident Gale Wood. "If nothing happens after a while, that would be one way to determine what’s going on."

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2015 Legislature
10:08 am
Wed April 29, 2015

Senate Approves Drug Testing for Political Candidates

A bill in the legislature would require those running for office in Texas to take a drug test when he or she files to run.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

Any candidate seeking elected office in Texas would be required to take a drug test when he or she files to run, under a proposal that the state Senate approved Tuesday. But the idea may never take effect, since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturned a similar law in the 1990s.

There wouldn’t be any consequences for failing the test under the rule, which was included as an amendment on far-reaching ethics legislation. But the results would be posted on the Texas Ethics Commission’s website.

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Austin
7:13 am
Wed April 29, 2015

Travis County Home Values Increase by 11 Percent in 2015

Jon Shapley/KUT News

If you’re a homeowner, start checking your mail. You should receive the most recent appraisal of your home value from Travis Central Appraisal District by the end of the week.

And expect those values to have gone up.

The average home value in the county increased by 11 percent in 2015, to $355,312 from $320,032 last year. Taxable values rose about nine percent.

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Texas Standard
3:13 pm
Tue April 28, 2015

What Austin's Police Chief Thinks We Can Learn from Baltimore

Protest at the Baltimore Police Department Western District building at N. Mount St. and Riggs Ave. on April 25, 2015.
veggies/wikimedia commons

From Texas Standard:

Television is supposed to draw people closer to the action and make them feel like they're there.

But it doesn't quite feel that way watching footage of the Baltimore riots. It's out there — distant — as we observe and decide for ourselves what went wrong from the comfort of our homes.

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Texas
1:58 pm
Tue April 28, 2015

Abbott Orders Texas Guard to 'Monitor' Planned Military Exercises

Soldiers in a First Army Division West NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan team conduct convoy lanes training on North Fort Hood, Texas, July 20, 2012.
soldiersmediacenter/flickr

Texas Governor Greg Abbott is ordering the Texas State Guard to monitor a two-month long U.S. military exercise scheduled to be held in Bastrop County this summer. The move comes amid suspicions from some residents (and the Internet) about the motivations behind the training.

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The Write Up
11:55 am
Tue April 28, 2015

Author Scott Blackwood on Appreciating The Beauty Between Life and Death

Credit scottblackwood.com

Questions that lead to no answers. Wounds that never quite heal. The unhinged time of tragedy and grief. The soft, relentless whispering of the abused, the murdered, the lost. This is the world of Scott Blackwood.

Scott Blackwood is one of the most lyrical of modern American writers. His prose rings with poetry. His work explores community, grief, and the secrets that run through our lives.

In this edition of The Write Up, Blackwood talks about his new novel See How Small and explains why he is drawn to this story and the harrowing task of researching it. With a careful balance of compassion and curiosity, Blackwood reached out to many of the people connected to the actual murders including family members and first responders. Blackwood’s goal in this novel, and in all his work, is to recover lost voices.

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Austin
8:18 am
Tue April 28, 2015

City to Close Some Swimming Pools, Reduce Hours

Austin Parks and Recreation Department head recently said in a memo to Mayor Steve Adler that the city's public pools will cost $41 million to repair.
via Flickr/smreilly

From the Austin Monitor: Citing budget shortfalls, water conservation issues and a lack of lifeguards, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department says it will close two pools and cut back pool operating hours this summer.

The department says it would cost the city $41 million to bring all of its public pools into good repair.

According to a memo written by Parks and Recreation Department Director Sara Hensley to the mayor and City Council, a shortage in lifeguards means that the city will not be able to open pools June 5, which is the first day of summer break.

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Same-Sex Marriage
7:52 am
Tue April 28, 2015

Legal Battle Over Gay Marriage Hits The Supreme Court Tuesday

Protesters hold a pro-gay-rights flag outside the US Supreme Court on Saturday, countering the demonstrators who attended the March For Marriage in Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court meets on Tuesday to hear arguments over whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to wed in the United States, with a final decision expected in June.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 28, 2015 4:50 pm

People have been lining up outside the U.S. Supreme Court for days hoping that they will be among the lucky ones to get a seat for Tuesday's historic arguments on gay marriage.

As of now, gay marriage is legal in 36 states. By the end of this Supreme Court term, either same-sex couples will be able to wed in all 50 states, or gay marriage bans may be reinstituted in many of the states where they've previously been struck down.

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The Two-Way
9:12 pm
Mon April 27, 2015

Amid Riots, Maryland Governor Will Deploy National Guard To Baltimore

Demonstrators climb on a destroyed Baltimore Police car Monday furing violent protests following the funeral of Freddie Gray. The 25-year-old was arrested for possessing a switchblade April 12 outside a west Baltimore housing project, and died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody, according to his attorney.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Mon April 27, 2015 11:04 pm

(This post was last updated at 11:40 p.m. ET.)

A day of mourning gave way to an evening of riots and looting in Baltimore on Monday, where Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and deployed the National Guard.

Just hours after Freddie Gray's funeral, hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets, burning police cars, looting stores and facing off with police. Television images showed those demonstrators throwing rocks, bricks and bottles at a line of police officers in riot gear.

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Austin
3:09 pm
Mon April 27, 2015

Why Some Downtown Austin Buildings Sit Vacant for Years

920 Congress is one of four buildings on Congress Avenue that's had little activity over several years.
Miguel Gutierrez, Jr./KUT

For the past 10 years, the Austin skyline’s been in a state of constant flux. In the past year alone, two towers have gone up in the downtown area: the Colorado Tower and the IBC Bank Plaza. Those two buildings, which combine for nearly 570,000 square feet in office and retail space, were all but leased by the time they opened their doors.

But, for some buildings, the wait is a little longer.

For some buildings – like the former headquarters of La Bare on Riverside Drive, the boxy little historic building at Congress and Riverside just down the road, and even some properties in the heart of Downtown Austin, just a few blocks from the Capitol – the wait is seemingly interminable, leaving daily passersby wondering why such high-value real estate lies vacant in the middle of a Austin’s development boom.

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Arts Eclectic
12:44 pm
Mon April 27, 2015

ColdTowne Presents 'Austin Translation'

Austin Translation is the new mainstage show at ColdTowne Theater. Produced and directed by Second City alum Dave Buckman, the show was created using the Second City method; over the past couple of months, Austin Translation cast members brought in ideas, worked on them together through improvisation, and then chose the best of the best to craft into scripted sketches.

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Austin
10:24 am
Mon April 27, 2015

Without a Permit System, Austin's Street Performers Busk with Uncertainty

James Anthony Johnson performs on South Congress. Johnson, originally from Tennessee, has been playing local venues and busking for over 20 years in Austin.
Miguel Gutierrez, Jr. for KUT Austin

Austin prides itself on being the live music capital of the world — anywhere you go, there's music, even just walking down the street. But the city’s buskers — not just the musicians, but also the magicians, bucket drummers, jugglers and others who perform for spare change on the city’s sidewalks — are operating in a legal gray area.

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Education
7:51 am
Mon April 27, 2015

In Texas, Questions About Prosecuting Truancy

Edgar Ramirez, 17, and his mother, Alma, appear before Judge Williams.
Elissa Nadworny/NPR

Originally published on Mon April 27, 2015 12:31 pm

As long as there have been schools and classes, there have been students who don't show up. And educators scratching their heads over what to do about it.

In most states, missing a lot of school means a trip to the principal's office. In Texas, parents and students are more likely to end up in front of a judge.

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Austin
7:28 am
Mon April 27, 2015

Austin Energy Working to Restore Power to Affected Areas

Energy outage map as of 7:15 this morning.
Credit Austin Energy

Storms that rolled through the area around 1 a.m. last night caused various power outages throughout Austin and surrounding areas. Austin Energy has a map of current outages here. Customers still experiencing loss of power should call 512-322-9100 to report it.  

Crews have been working to assess damage, some caused by fallen limbs, and some customers have had their power restored as of this morning.

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The Two-Way
7:14 am
Mon April 27, 2015

More Than 4,000 Dead In Nepal As Earthquake Toll Rises

A woman and child rest in the open outside a destroyed building Sunday, a day after a major earthquake leveled homes in Kumalpur village on the outskirts of Kathmandu, Nepal. Nine people reportedly died in the small village, including four children.
Narendrea Shrestha EPA/Landov

Originally published on Mon April 27, 2015 2:07 pm

Updated at noon ET.

Nepal's devastating earthquake that hit Saturday is now blamed for at least 4,000 deaths. Reconstruction is estimated to cost billions. International aid efforts are underway, but aftershocks are rattling survivors' nerves and making the recovery even more challenging.

Rescue crews and aid groups are working to reach survivors — but their efforts are being hampered by the stricken areas' remote locations. Roads that are drivable are clogged with traffic.

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Higher Ed
2:00 pm
Sun April 26, 2015

Higher Ed: Turning Learning Upside Down

Credit Dawn Endico/flickr

We all know the traditional classroom drill: Go to class, listen to a lecture, take notes, go home, do the homework, come back to class, repeat. What if that model were reversed, and students heard the lecture information outside the classroom and spent class time wrestling with questions and ideas? In this week's episode of KUT's podcast Higher Ed, Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger discuss inquiry-based learning. Sounds dry? Not at all - listen on!

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The Two-Way
11:46 pm
Sat April 25, 2015

1,400 Confirmed Dead In Nepal After Powerful Earthquake

Volunteers help with rescue work at the site of a building that collapsed after an earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Saturday. The temblor is the worst in Nepal in 80 years.
Niranjan Shrestha AP

Originally published on Mon April 27, 2015 12:34 pm

Updated at 11:10 p.m. ET

The desperate search for survivors continues Sunday in Nepal. Strong aftershocks woke thousands of Nepalese who were forced to spend the cold night outdoors.

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Texas Standard
5:15 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

APD Returns Rare, Stolen Guitar to Hill Country Musician

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo tweeted this picture of police posing with Wilkins and his newly-returned guitar.
@ArtAcevedo

From Texas Standard.

Austin Police returned a pretty special Gibson guitar this week. It was one of only three produced. Willie Nelson owns one, Dan Rather owns one, and now, Walt Wilkins has his back. Wilkins is a singer-songwriter based in the Texas Hill Country.

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