Texas Standard
2:32 pm
Fri April 3, 2015

The New Battle Over the Alamo

A new museum and visitors center is in the works for the Alamo, but will the collection in the library curated by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas be a part of it?
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons user Jonathanmallard

This story comes from Texas Standard.

For about a century, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT) were caretakers of the Alamo. The group rescued parts of it from being demolished and made efforts to carefully preserve its history.

But new Texas General Land Commissioner George P. Bush ended an arrangement with the DRT last month. Bush cited multiple issues – including the DRT’s failure to keep the Alamo operating without placing significant financial demands on his office.

That’s ignited a new battle over the Alamo.

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Texas Standard
1:55 pm
Fri April 3, 2015

Are the Zellner Filmmakers Texas’ Answer to the Coen Brothers?

David, left, and Nathan Zellner.
Via kumikothetreasurehunter.com

This story comes from Texas Standard.

When someone says filmmaker brothers, who comes to mind? Likely, it's the Coen brothers. But it’s another set of filmmaker brothers that have really gotten the attention of critics and film festival attendees lately, and these guys have Texas ties.

David and Nathan Zellner were born in Colorado but now live in Austin. They’ve probably spent at least half of their careers fielding comments about the Coen brothers, but their latest film “Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter” sort of pays homage to them.

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2016 Presidential Election
11:42 am
Fri April 3, 2015

3 Surprising Things About Ted Cruz's Campaign

Ted Cruz meets voters in Des Moines.
Ben Philpott/KUT News

Texas Senator Ted Cruz heads to South Carolina today on the next leg of his presidential campaign. KUT’s Ben Philpott has been following his first week on the campaign trail. While much of the week was predictably standard fare for Cruz – and presidential candidates in general – there were a couple things that stood out.

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Austin
10:56 am
Fri April 3, 2015

Goose Who Served as Homeless Advocate in Austin to be Memorialized, Stuffed

Homer on his 26th birthday last year.
Courtesy of Valerie Romness

Long-time Austinites might remember Homer the Homeless Goose, who rose to local and even national fame in the late 1980s as a champion for the rights of the homeless community. Homer served as the mascot for Austin’s unhoused population. He passed away last month at the age of 27 (a pretty long life for a goose – over 100 in goose years, according to Austin Zoo officials).

“Austin’s homeless mascot for 27 years took a forever flight…Folks that hear about him for the first time will wish that they could have met Ole Homer,” Fred Pettit wrote in The Challenger, a newspaper written and distributed by Austin's homeless.

A memorial will be held for Homer this weekend.

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Austin City Council
10:00 am
Fri April 3, 2015

Council Votes for Extra Staff Through September

Mayor Steve Adler's proposal to expand council staff last night passed last night on a vote of 9-2.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

From the Austin Monitor:

Following weeks of deliberation, the mayor and City Council offices are receiving a boost in staffing — at least for the next few months.

Council voted 9-2 Thursday to approve a resolution that will effectively add three full-time staff members to Mayor Steve Adler’s office and one full-time staff member to each Council office for the remainder of the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 1. This will raise the number of staff members in Adler’s office from five to eight, and in each Council office from three to four.

Council Members Delia Garza and Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo cast the dissenting votes.

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Texas
5:17 pm
Thu April 2, 2015

Group Reports Hunger Strike at Immigrant Detention Center

Karnes Detention Center after it was renovated in 2014.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

More than 40 mothers held in the Karnes Detention Center started a hunger strike Tuesday to protest for their release, according to the San Antonio legal aid organization RAICES. The center detains immigrant families who cross the border illegally.

RAICES says it recorded a phone call with a detainee, which it posted to YouTube. In it, a woman speaking in Spanish confirms the strike and reports that more women are joining up.

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Austin
4:19 pm
Thu April 2, 2015

Council Approves Further Study, Input Process for Proposed Barbeque Smoke Regulations

Brisket at Franklin's. Owner Aaron Franklin visited city council Monday to explain the potential effects of proposed regulations on his, and others', barbecue businesses.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

Update Thursday April 2, 2015, 4:20 p.m. At today’s meeting, the Austin City Council voted to start a stakeholder input process on possibly regulating barbecue smoke from restaurants.

Recommendations will be made by the city manager to the Health and Human Services Committee and the Economic Opportunity Committee. After July 31, there will be another chance for public comment.

ORIGINAL STORY from the Austin Monitor: In response to owners of barbecue restaurants worried about their future in Austin, City Council Member Pio Renteria is making some changes to his resolution directing city staff to create rules to regulate smoke from commercial barbecue smokestacks.

Originally, the resolution was written to require restaurants and mobile food vendors who use a wood or charcoal burning stove or grill within 150 feet of properties zoned residential to install exhaust systems called smoke scrubbers or similar devices.

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Texas
3:00 pm
Thu April 2, 2015

State Audit: 'Operational Defects' Led to 21CT Deal

Texas Health and Human Services Commission Kyle Janek and former HHSC chief counsel, Jack Stick.
Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: A scathing state audit of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission's $20 million deal for fraud tracking software has revealed "operational defects" within the agency's procurement process. 

According to the report, which was released on Thursday, no one took ownership of the deal or ever questioned why it should not be competitively awarded. 

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In Perspective
1:25 pm
Thu April 2, 2015

What Is A Woman? and Other Questions We Don't Know The Answers To

Credit healthmeup.com

This episode recognizes the complexity of women, gender, and sexuality with a discussion from contemporary and historical perspectives. Our discussants share what they’ve learned from their respective research projects while exploring how privilege and power function when it comes to constructions of gender and sexuality.

Ultimately, they agree that listening with empathy to each other’s needs and desires demonstrates mutual respect and can allow us to have greater faith in our individuality.

**The following contains a frank discussion about gender and sexuality.**

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Transportation
11:59 am
Thu April 2, 2015

Austin's Award-Winning Rapid Bus Signal System Only Works 15-20% of the Time

A signal system is supposed to extend green lights for Capital Metro's "rapid" buses, but it's only working 15-20% of the time.
Spencer Selvidge/KUT News

Austin's bus system got two new lines last year, called MetroRapid. They're generally larger, run more frequently, have fewer stops (to run faster) and offer some amenities not found on the city's local buses, like WiFi. More than a million trips have been taken on the new rapid bus lines. They also have a higher price: A ride on one of Capital Metro's MetroRapid buses costs $1.75, as opposed to $1.25 for a ride on their local alternatives. 

But these rapid buses supposedly justify that higher price by getting you around faster. Capital Metro labels it a "premium" service, and one advantage they're supposed to have is they can hold green lights longer at intersections outside of downtown, extending the time before a light turns red and allowing the rapid bus to get through in time. "Special technology allows all MetroRapid vehicles to catch more green lights to stay on schedule," Capital Metro says on its website.

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Texas Standard
11:01 am
Thu April 2, 2015

Maker Movement Takes Off in Texas

Denny Hammil created a toy that lets your dog fetch without you.
Photo via worldofnovelty.com

Storytelling and authenticity are changing the way consumers choose products.

After a long career in technology, Denny Hamill was ready to retire and take it easy. Then his grandson came to him with a problem: a dog named Prancer.

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2015 Legislature
10:30 am
Thu April 2, 2015

Bill Proposing Constitutional Protection of Hunting Passes Texas Senate

Sen. Brandon Creighton's bill would prevent any future ban on hunting.
Greg Westfall/flickr

The Texas Senate has approved a proposed amendment to the Texas Constitution that would guarantee Texans’ rights to hunt and fish, and it is now headed to the House for a vote.

The amendment would not affect any current laws but would add a constitutional provision that would legally prohibit any future limitation of hunting or fishing.

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2015 Legislature
10:00 am
Thu April 2, 2015

Rally Draws Attention to Wage of Home Caregivers in Texas

At the Capitol on April 1, 2015, advocates for people with disabilities showed up in force to draw attention to how much home care attendants earn at minimum an hour in Texas.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT News

At the Capitol Wednesday, advocates for people with disabilities showed up in force to draw attention to how much home care attendants earn, which isn't much more than minimum wage.

The chants were hard to ignore at the rotunda. Home care attendants came to ask Texas lawmakers to raise their minimum wage, since in the state, caregivers get a minimum of $7.86 an hour.

At the rotunda, Sarah Watkins, who is in a wheelchair, said she has a tough time keeping a caregiver for long.

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Election 2016
9:01 am
Thu April 2, 2015

Ted Cruz, Still the Sole Official Presidential Candidate, Courts Young Voters in Iowa

Sen. and 2016 Presidential candidate Ted Cruz campaigns in Iowa. He and other Republicans are expected to focus on winning the youth vote this election.
Ben Philpott/KUT News

Seventy percent of young adults who voted in 2012 voted for President Barack Obama. Some post-election analysis said Republican nominee Mitt Romney could have won if he had split that vote in a handful of key states.

So expect to see a heavy push towards the youth vote from Republicans this election. That includes Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who's campaigning in Iowa this week. How's his message being received by young voters on the campaign trail?

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Parallels
6:25 am
Thu April 2, 2015

Matamoros Becomes Ground Zero As Drug War Shifts On Mexican Border

State police officers patrol a highway between Ciudad Victoria and Matamoros, in northeast Mexico, in 2011. Mexico's drug and turf wars have descended on the once tourist friendly border town of Matamoros.
Alexandre Meneghini AP

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 7:00 pm

Matamoros, which sits across the bridge from Brownsville, Texas, used to be a laid-back border town famed for margaritas and manufacturing.

But for at least the past five years, it's grown more and more violent: first, when the Zetas broke away from the Gulf Cartel, and more recently as a new feud has broken out between two factions within the Gulf.

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In Black America Podcast
9:31 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

A Talk With Major League Baseball Legend and Hall-of-Famer Hank Aaron

LBJ Presidential Library Director Mark Updegrove talks with Hank Aaron
LBJ Library photo by Lauren Gerson

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. presents highlights of a conversation with Hank Aaron, Civil Rights Activist, Major League Baseball legend, Hall of Famer, and senior vice president of the Atlanta National League Baseball Club, Inc., at the 2015 Tom Johnson Lecture series.

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Texas Standard
2:32 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

November Madness: The 2016 Republican Presidential Bracket

Texas Senator Ted Cruz was is the first politician to declare candidacy for the Republican nomination for president. John Schnur, director of USC's Center for Politics, places Cruz in his 'Western Rebellion' bracket.
Gage Skidmore/flickr

From Texas Standard: 

Who will make it to the Final Four – and who will get bounced out?

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is down to the final four. It kicked off two weeks ago when 64 teams began competing to represent their region in the finals. And just like that tournament, the announcement by Texas Senator Ted Cruz tipped off the race for the GOP nomination for president.

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Education
2:12 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

Debate Over Eanes ISD Bond Package Gets Heated

Former Eanes School Board Presidents, Al Cowan and Clint Sayers, pictured here at a 2014 vote.
KUT News

A press conference criticizing the $52 million bond package proposed by the Eanes Independent School District grew heated Tuesday after some Eanes school board members showed up, challenged the critics to a debate and accused them of spreading false information. 

Two former Eanes School Board Presidents, Al Cowan and Clint Sayers, organized the press conference. They run a group called Citizens for Academic Excellence in Eanes (CAEE). They say the bond package is borrowing money for unnecessary and "luxury" items and will only increase Eanes' budget problems. The school district is expecting a $5.4 million dollar budget gap next year. 

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Wayback Wednesday
1:50 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

A Look Back at Texas' Unfunniest April Fools' Jokes

The Texas House recognized Albert DeSalvo's work in "applied psychology" and "population control" in 1971.
Credit Wikipedia

It’s April Fools' Day, the holiday that not only celebrates but encourages folks to play jokes and pranks on their loved ones and coworkers.

Sometimes, those jokes and pranks don’t turn out so well. So in honor of April Fools' Day, this Wayback Wednesday looks back on the jokes and pranks in Texas’ history that, even if they landed at the time, would likely fall flat today.

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It's All Politics
11:47 am
Wed April 1, 2015

Indiana Law: Sorting Fact From Fiction From Politics

Opponents of Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act rallied against the legislation at the Indiana State House on Saturday.
Doug McSchooler AP

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 3:05 pm

The culture wars are always percolating beneath the surface in presidential politics — until something or someone pushes them to the surface.

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