12:32 pm
Wed June 10, 2015

Hospitals Send K2 Patients Home With Their Technically Legal Stashes

K2, sometimes branded as Spice, isn't quite illegal yet in Texas.

Since May 29, the number of patients hospitalized with bad reactions to "K2," the catch-all term used to refer to synthetic marijuana-like substances, has spiked dramatically. Austin-Travis County EMS reports that they've responded to 156 K2 calls since then. Yesterday, more than 12 patients were treated for K2 symptoms at University Medical Center Brackenridge. ATCEMS only responded to one call Tuesday night, which may indicate a waning surge.

Texas lawmakers passed a bill during the most recent session that has updated language sufficient to outlaw the substance, which is essentially plant matter — dried herbs, dried leaves — sprayed with unknown chemical compounds. The bill was signed by Gov. Abbott, but the law doesn't kick in until September 1, and right now hospitals are having to deal with a dramatic influx of bad K2 reactions. 

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Affordable Care Act
12:01 pm
Wed June 10, 2015

How Obamacare's Doing in Texas, by the Numbers

President Barack Obama is touting the effects of the Affordable Care Act this week.
Jeff Heimsath/KUT News

On Tuesday, the White House released numbers illustrating the effect of the Affordable Care Act here in Texas — numbers that came out on the same day that President Obama delivered a speech in which he described his signature health care law as a success.

President Obama spoke Tuesday at the Catholic Hospital Association conference in Washington, D.C. He told the audience the Affordable Care Act has turned out better than even its supporters expected.

"Nearly one in three Americans have already been covered," he said, receiving applause. "More than 16 million people driving our uninsured rate to its lowest level, ever. Ever."

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Energy & Environment
11:23 am
Wed June 10, 2015

Why Advocates Who Helped Pass Denton's Fracking Ban Now Want to See It Repealed

After a hard-fought campaign to ban hydraulic fracturing wells in Denton, some advocates want the city to repeal its ban.
Mose Buchele/KUT

When voters in Denton banned the oil drilling technique called fracking there last year, the North Texas city took center stage in a national debate over oil and gas, property rights and the environment. But now some of the same people who pushed for the ban are calling to repeal it.

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In Black America Podcast
11:14 am
Wed June 10, 2015

The Multicultural Edge: Rising Super Consumers

Cheryl Pearson-McNeil is the Senior Vice President of U.S. Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement for Nielsen. She is responsible for increasing the company’s brand awareness among African American, Asian American and Hispanic non-profit organizations, leaders and consumers.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Cheryl Pearson-McNeil, Senior Vice President of U.S. Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement for Nielsen. Nielsen is a leading global provider of information and insights that measure what consumers watch and buy in more than 100 countries around the world.

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The Two-Way
9:50 am
Wed June 10, 2015

McKinney Police Officer Seen Pinning Black Girl To The Ground Resigns

A still from a video showing Cpl. Eric Casebolt forcing a teenager to the ground in McKinney, Texas. Casebolt has resigned as an investigation continues.

Originally published on Tue June 9, 2015 7:09 pm

Cpl. Eric Casebolt, the McKinney, Texas, police officer seen on a video forcing a teenage girl to the ground and briefly drawing his gun while attempting to break up a disturbance at a community pool, has resigned. Police Chief Greg Conley made the announcement at a press conference Tuesday evening.

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Austin Police
2:24 pm
Tue June 9, 2015

When Can Austin Police Officers Use Pepper Spray?

A screenshot of a video showing an Austin Police officer spraying pepper spray at a bystander went viral over the weekend.
Credit YouTube

The YouTube video that surfaced last weekend of an Austin Police officer pepper-spraying a suspect on Sixth Street has many questioning use of force by APD. In 2014, the department documented 147 incidents of the use of pepper spray, but when can they use it, how is it justified and how exactly does the review process work?

Let's take a look at APD's guidelines.

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12:52 pm
Tue June 9, 2015

Appeals Court Upholds Most of Texas HB2 Abortion Law

Credit Alexa Ura/Texas Tribune

A federal appeals court is allowing several disputed elements of Texas’ HB2 abortion law to go into effect.

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2016 Election
9:44 am
Tue June 9, 2015

How Will Perry's Indictment Play Among GOP Primary Voters?

Perry speaking before a crowd yesterday at the South Carolina Military Museum in Columbia.
Ben Philpott/KUT

Former Gov. Rick Perry wrapped up his first 2016 presidential campaign swing yesterday with a couple of stops in South Carolina.

The crowds he drew throughout the trip were eager to hear his ideas for border security and the economy, but one looming issue remained undiscussed: his felony indictment in his home state.

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Austin City Council
8:05 am
Tue June 9, 2015

Many Boards and Commissions Seats Still Vacant

The Austin City Council still has 300 spots to fill in its commissions and boards before July 1.
Credit City of Austin

From the Austin Monitor

While City Council members have almost 300 spots to fill on commissions and boards before current membership expires on July 1, some groups have adjourned their June meetings still uncertain about who will be seated next month.

With Commissioner Reynaldo Moreno absent, the Public Safety Commission last week voted unanimously to cancel its July meeting because members were not assured they would have a majority, or quorum, present.

“I’ve been putting the pressure on the mayor and Council to continue making appointments,” said Boards and Commissions Coordinator Deena Estrada. “There’s a lot of guilty emails going out, or my stomping of feet in front of the mayor’s office. I’ll send an email saying we now have only five boards that are able to meet quorum. … I can handle the guilt trip pretty well.”

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Around the Nation
7:26 am
Tue June 9, 2015

Texas Cattle Ranchers Whipsawed Between Drought And Deluge

Cattle stand in floodwaters at 44 Farms in Cameron, Texas. The water demolished fences and ruined crops planted as feed.
Katlin Mazzocco 44 Farms

Originally published on Tue June 9, 2015 7:08 am

The drought finally broke for Texas ranchers late last year. The range and pasturelands on which cattle graze began to recover. Then came the spring. In Cameron, about 140 miles northwest of Houston, the rain began falling at the start of May — and didn't stop all month.

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The Two-Way
8:45 pm
Mon June 8, 2015

Texas Pool Party Update: Teens And Residents Speak Out

A video of a police officer forcing a teenager to the ground and also drawing his weapon has brought criticism about police response to a pool party in McKinney, Texas.

Originally published on Mon June 8, 2015 2:44 pm

Days after a dramatic video surfaced of a Texas police officer pulling a gun and screaming at young people at a community pool, the teenage girl he forced to the ground has spoken out. So have local residents who back the police.

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2:54 pm
Mon June 8, 2015

Tough Sell or Vital Investment? A Look at Travis County's $300 Million Courthouse

A rendering of the concept for a new 14-story Travis County Family and Civil Courthouse.
Travis County Commissioner's Court

This November’s election will be here before we know it, and while there aren’t many high-profile races or hot-button issues in the off-year election, there is one big-ticket item on the ballot: a nearly $300 million bond to build a new Travis County Civil and Family courthouse.

While nearly everyone seems to agree that Travis County needs a new courthouse – the existing Civil and Family Courthouse on Guadalupe Street was built in 1931, when Travis County had just 77,000 residents – some are concerned about the price tag for building a new one.

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2:53 pm
Mon June 8, 2015

Starting Today, Four Cap Metro Bus Routes Will Run More Frequently

Some changes are coming to a few of the city’s bus routes this week. In an attempt to increase ridership, four Capital Metro bus routes will be running more often.

“We’re going to be upgrading five of the busiest routes in our whole system. And four of those will run every 15 minutes or better across the weekday,” says Todd Hemingson of Cap Metro.

Of the four routes that will run more often, the longest is Number 7, which runs from Heritage Hills to Dove Springs. Hemingson says the goal of the added frequency is to begin creating a network of buses in town that run regularly enough that you can conveniently get around town without having to wait for a bus or transfer for more than seven minutes.

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Texas Standard
12:12 pm
Mon June 8, 2015

Could Texas Ever Pass Canada's No Tampon Sales Tax Law?


No taxation with menstruation — that’s what 75,000 Canadians said in a petition to lobby the federal government to remove sales tax from feminine hygiene products. 

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2016 Election
11:53 am
Mon June 8, 2015

How Perry's Targeting the 'Three Essential Elements' of the Iowa Republican Party

Rick Perry speaks to Iowans at the Roast and Ride event in Boone, IA.
Ben Philpott/KUT

Today, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry will hit his third state in three days with a couple of meet-and-greets in South Carolina – he was in Iowa and New Hampshire over the weekend – three states in which he performed poorly during his first presidential run in 2012.

This time, Perry’s hoping to piece together a coalition of voters in order to win the Iowa primary, but first he must appeal to the state's GOP base.

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11:00 am
Mon June 8, 2015

Updated: K2 Emergency Calls Continue to Rise

In the past week, Austin has seen a dramatic uptick in hospitalizations from K2 use.
Texas Tribune

Update Tuesday, June 9: More K2 cases were called in Monday night, bringing the total for this past week and a half to 147 calls.

Update Monday, June 8, 12 p.m. ATCEMS reports that K2-related emergency calls continued to come in frequently over this weekend.

Original story from Thursday, June 4: Since Friday, Austin/Travis County EMS has responded to 56 incidents involving 64 people who’d taken K2, the synthetic cannabinoid that comes up in the news periodically when there’s a sudden dramatic uptick in emergency calls, like this one.

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Arts Eclectic
10:38 am
Mon June 8, 2015

'Fragile Rock' Celebrates Sadness in a Hilarious Way

The puppet cast of 'Fragile Rock'

For a show that was born out of very real pain, 'Fragile Rock' is a lot of fun. While dealing with a divorce and the depression that comes along with such a life-changing event, Brently Heilbron found himself wanting to give in to the urge to write depressing, self-pitying songs. And since he's a comedian at heart, he saw the humor in that urge. The image of an all-puppet emo rock band singing sad songs stuck in his head, and before he knew it, 'Fragile Rock' was born.

Since he had no background in puppetry, Heilbron sought the help of puppet maker Shaun Branigan and the felt cast of 'Fragile Rock' began to come to life. More songs were written, a story began to take shape, and the show came to life. 

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10:02 am
Mon June 8, 2015

Thousands Of High School Students Getting Lost In Texas

After eighth grade, Jaye McCurtain told her mom she wanted to be homeschooled.
LA Johnson/NPR

Originally published on Sun June 7, 2015 8:34 pm

The US high school graduation rate is at an all-time high. But why? NPR Ed partnered with 14 member stations around the country to bring you the stories behind that number. Check out the whole story here. And find out what's happening in your state. And find out what's happening in your state.

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Life & Arts
6:01 am
Mon June 8, 2015

ATX Television Fest Brings Small-Screen Stars to Austin

The Gilmore Girls reunion was a highly anticipated event at this year's ATX Fest.

From Texas Standard:

There are at least three things every Texan knows about Austin. 1) It's the state capitol. 2) It calls itself the live music capitol of the world. And 3) It seems like there's a festival nearly every weekend.

One of those festivals is all about television – a segment of the entertainment industry that used to have a Rodney Dangerfield complex – it "never gets no respect."

But as the Texas Standard's Laura Rice found out at this year's ATX Fest, the real story here is how much that's changed.

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The Two-Way
10:08 pm
Sun June 7, 2015

Video Shows Texas Police Officer Pulling Gun On Teens At Pool Party

An officer from the McKinney, Police Department draws his weapon on teens at the pool.

Originally published on Mon June 8, 2015 8:35 am

ADVISORY: This video contains profanity and violence.

Police responding to reported disturbance at a community pool in McKinney, Texas, are seen in a video posted to YouTube aggressively subduing black teenagers and, at one point, pulling a gun on them.

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