World Cup
5:43 am
Thu June 26, 2014

U.S. Vs. Germany In The World Cup: What To Look For

U.S. midfielder Jermaine Jones warms up during a training session at Recife's Pernambuco Arena Wednesday, one day before the Americans face Germany in a decisive Group G soccer match. The game begins at noon, ET.
Patrik Stollarz AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 7:28 am

Anticipation is building for the U.S. Men's National Team's showdown with Germany on Thursday. The Americans need a win or a tie to decide their own fate; a loss would mean they need help to advance to the round of 16.

The game will start at noon ET — when the other Group G match, between Portugal and Ghana, also starts. You can follow the game or just comment on the action here at The Two-Way. For now, we've rounded up analysis and predictions.

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Sunset Advisory Commission
4:20 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

Sunset Commission Hears Testimony on Closing Austin State Supported Living Center

Members of the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission are hearing testimony from the public on June 25, 2014 about reports recommending reforms of several state agencies.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Members of the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission are hearing from the public today about reports recommending large-scale changes to several state agencies – including shutting down six state-supported living centers. 

Most people at the Capitol are testifying in support of the Sunset staff’s report on the Department of Family and Protective Services and severe inadequacies that lead to child deaths and caseworker turnover. But others are there to testify against a Sunset staff report [click here for PDF] suggesting the Department of Aging and Disability Services should shutter the Austin State Supported Living Center, off of W. 35th Street near Camp Mabry, by 2017.

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Obesity and Weather
3:40 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

Study: The Hottest and Coldest U.S. Places are Also the Fattest

UT researchers singled out the shady trail around Lady Bird Lake as promoting healthy activity during summer.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

Rising summer temperatures could lead to expanded waistlines, according to a study announced today by University of Texas researchers.

Research from Paul von Hippel, an assistant professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, has shown that adults living in counties with the highest and lowest temperatures are the least active and by extension, the most obese. This especially holds true for areas with humid summers and dark winters.

Hippel and co-author Rebecca Benson, a UT doctoral student, studied each of the 3,000 counties in the United States, assessing different variables that could predict why some counties were more obese than others. Many of the counties in the Southeast account for areas with the highest rates of obesity. The mountain West, with cool, dry summers, represents the lowest proportion of obese adults.

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Author Interviews
2:57 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

Author Graeme Simsion on Asperger's, 'The Rosie Project' and Its Sequel

Graeme Simsion talks about his breakout hit, The Rosie Project, with the Texas Standard.
Credit ChinLin Pan/KUT

If you read fiction, and you don’t know about  "The Rosie Project," you’re missing something. The book was a breakout hit all over the world, raking in reviews ranging from merely exuberant to down right delirious. So what’s all the fuss about?

"The Rosie Project" is a flat-out fun read by an author who appears to have a lot of different interests dosed with a healthy sense of humor. But believe it or not, the book started out as high drama.

"This is the story of Don Tillman," author Graeme Simsion tells The Texas Standard's Emily Donahue. 

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StateImpact Texas
1:50 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

As Renewables Grow in Texas, Battles Over Fees and Subsidies Emerge

Wind turbines in West Texas help produce record amounts of electricity for the state.
Mose Buchele/StateImpact Texas

From StateImpact Texas

In the coming years, the federal government wants Texas to reduce its carbon emissions by about 40 percent. With a goal like that, you might expect to see more programs aimed at promoting renewable energy in Texas. But something like the opposite appears to be happening.

Donna Nelson, chair of Texas’ Public Utility Commission, asked last month if wind power generators, not Texas utility customers, should pay for upgrades to transmission lines. The Commission regulates the state’s electric grid, among other things.

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Anniversay of Davis Fillibuster
1:27 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

Listen: When Wendy Davis and a Deafening Roar Slowed Texas' New Abortion Law

Sen. Wendy Davis suring her 11-hour filibuster last June 25.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

June 25 marks the one-year anniversary of Sen. Wendy Davis' historic filibuster on the Texas Senate floor.

It was one year ago that Democratic Sen. Davis began an 11-hour filibuster intended to derail Senate Bill 5, a bill containing several new restrictions on abortion. While Davis' filibuster ended before the legislature adjourned, a supportive crowd in the Senate gallery erupted in cheers and screams minutes before the midnight deadline to pass SB 5 – squashing Republican efforts to pass it that night.

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Supreme Court
12:25 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

High Court Says Police Need A Warrant For Most Cellphone Searches

Originally published on Wed June 25, 2014 11:32 am

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that unless police have a warrant, they generally cannot search data on a cellphone seized from someone who has been arrested.

The decision is seen as a sweeping win for privacy advocates.

"Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote. "With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans 'the privacies of life.'

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Supreme Court
10:01 am
Wed June 25, 2014

Aereo's TV Streaming Service Is Illegal, Supreme Court Says

Aereo.com, a Web service that provides television shows online, is shown on an iPhone on April 22. The company lost a Supreme Court case Wednesday, as the justices ruled it violates copyright law.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Wed June 25, 2014 11:18 am

Aereo, the company that lets subscribers watch TV stations' video that it routes onto the Internet, violates U.S. copyright law, the Supreme Court has ruled. The court's 6-3 decision reverses a lower court ruling on what has been a hotly contested issue.

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Sunset Advisory Commission
9:15 am
Wed June 25, 2014

Commission Hears Input on Fixing Major Flaws of Texas Agencies

The Sunset Advisory Commission's first day of public meetings about recommendations to reform state agencies took place on June 24, 2014.
KUT News

The second day of the Sunset Advisory Commission’s public meetings at the Capitol is underway.

Today, the public can comment on recommendations made in recent commission staff reports on how to fix major flaws at state agencies, including the Department of Family Protective Services. A June report [click here for PDF] of the Sunset Advisory Commission had about 100 pages of recommendations for reforming the department.

Sunset staff member and project manager Amy Tripp, who worked on the report, told lawmakers Tuesday that caseworkers complain about the punitive work environment.

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Crime & Justice
8:51 am
Wed June 25, 2014

Report Points To 'Dangerous Militarization' Of U.S. Law Enforcement

During a drill, SWAT team members prepare to secure a ship in Bainbridge Island, Wash.
Elaine Thompson AP

Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 7:09 pm

U.S. law enforcement at all levels has undergone a dangerous militarization in recent years, with heavily armed SWAT teams being deployed to serve warrants and for drug searches, but rarely for the hostage situations they were designed for, the American Civil Liberties Union says in a new report.

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Sports
4:41 am
Wed June 25, 2014

Deford: NCAA Says Amateurism Is Alive And Well, But The Jig Is Up

Wisconsin's Traevon Jackson at practice for the 2014 NCAA men's college basketball tournament. Commentator Frank Deford says that, despite NCAA claims to the contrary, most college players are not typical students — "their job is to play a sport."
Jae C. Hong AP

Originally published on Wed June 25, 2014 11:48 am

Amateurism is dead, revealed so in the trial against the NCAA now in progress in Oakland, Calif., U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken presiding. Before her skeptical eyes, amateurism has been laid out naked on a courtroom slab for a jury of all fans to see that it has no beating heart.

Amateurism, Judge Wilken has been told in the case, commonly known as the O'Bannon trial, nobly protects college athletes from being exploited by evil outsiders — so the NCAA knighthood was created in order that colleges could tie up athletes all by themselves.

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Education
4:14 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Donation Brings Huston-Tillotson University Closer to Building Mental Health Clinic

A graduate of Huston-Tillotson University's class of 1941, Ada Anderson says her HT degree opened doors she would not have had access to otherwise.
Credit KUT's Joy Diaz

It's the largest gift Huston-Tillotson has ever received.

On Thursday, the historic black university announced that Ada Anderson, a 92-year-old graduate, had donated $3 million to pay for the initial construction phase of the school's mental health clinic. It will be called the Sandra Joy Anderson Community Health and Wellness Center in honor of the donor's daughter.

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World Cup
3:04 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

World Cup Ratings Spike: How Popular Is Soccer In The U.S.?

Fans gather in Chicago's Grant Park to watch the U.S. play Portugal Sunday — a game that set a new ratings record for soccer on ESPN.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 12:42 pm

Sunday's thrilling and frustrating World Cup match between the U.S. and Portugal drew an average of 24.7 million viewers, according to the Nielsen ratings company, a result that puts the game above the recent NBA finals.

The game's total U.S. viewership of 24.7 million includes ratings from both ESPN (18.2 million viewers) and the Spanish-language Univision (6.5 million); it doesn't include the 1.37 million people ESPN says streamed the game online.

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StateImpact Texas
11:35 am
Tue June 24, 2014

Feds Target Oil and Gas Industry for Underpaying Workers

Exhibit from lawsuit: A worker's time sheet showing 90 hours in eight consecutive days.
Credit Dave Fehling/StateImpact Texas

From StateImpact Texas:

In states with the most oil and gas drilling, including Texas, Oklahoma and North Dakota, the U.S. Department of Labor has won back pay for over 4,000 energy industry workers in just the past year.

It totaled $6.7 million dollars, accounting for a third of all such settlements by all types of industries nationwide.

“We were hearing that workers were being misclassified as independent contractors, that they were being paid straight-time for their hours over 40 in a workweek. And we were hearing this consistently throughout the Southwest Region,” said Cynthia Watson, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Regional Administrator in Dallas.

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Texas
11:01 am
Tue June 24, 2014

Listen: Texas Veterans on ISIS and the Future of Iraq

Members of the 1st Air Cavalry on patrol near Taji, Iraq.
U.S. Army, flickr.com/soldiersmediacenter

Last week, the Obama administration announced their response to the unraveling situation in Iraq. The U.S. is sending 300 military advisors to help government forces battling the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. The Al-Qaeda augmented militants have recently taken control of much of northern Iraq. 

The White House has not ruled out air strikes, and the possibility of further military action is the talk of Washington. But what about the men and women who served in Iraq? The Texas Standard's David Brown recently sat down with three veterans for a roundtable discussion of recent events.

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Visions for Plaza Saltillo
9:39 am
Tue June 24, 2014

Hotel or Grocery Store? Two Visions to Redevelop East Austin's Plaza Saltillo

The 11-acre Plaza Saltillo region as it is today. Two teams of developers are vying for the right to develop the area.
Credit Endeavor Real Estate/Columbus Realty Partners/Capital Metro

Update: Capital Metro has chosen a developer for its Plaza Saltillo project, spanning 11-acres that used to be a downtown rail yard.

The team led by Austin-based Endeavor Real Estate and Dallas’s Columbus Realty was awarded the project at the Capital Metro Board of Directors meeting yesterday. Capital Metro will have the final say on the design. Read below for more.

Original story (May 21): What does the future hold for East Austin's Plaza Saltillo? This week, the city came a few steps closer to finding out. 

For years, Austin's Capital Metro has held 11 acres of land in central east Austin. The Plaza Saltillo region – bound by Interstate 35 on the west, Comal Street on the east, and between E. Fourth and E. Fifth Streets – sits adjacent to Cap Metro's commuter MetroRail line.

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Transportation
8:21 am
Tue June 24, 2014

Cap Metro Mulls Airport Route for Phase Two of Urban Rail

Project Connect

Capital Metro voted Monday to move forward with recommendations from Project Connect. The next steps are deciding who will govern its potential urban  rail operations and where some of the funding will come from. The City of Austin and Capital Metro are both major players.

But while Project Connect moved a step forward, there was a push from the Cap Metro board to take a step back.

After dozens of public meetings and no shortage of criticism, Project Connect arrived at a proposed route for its urban rail that would go from Riverside to Highland Mall. On Monday, Capital Metro Board Chair Mike Martinez asked for analysis on a whole new route, from Austin-Bergstrom International to UT.

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Mexico
4:08 am
Tue June 24, 2014

Tequila Nation: Mexico Reckons With Its Complicated Spirit

Blue agaves grow in a plantation for the production of tequila in Arandas, Jalisco state, Mexico, in December 2010. In the past 20 years, tequila has become fashionable all over the world, demonstrating that producers' international sales strategy has been a great success.
Hector Guerrero AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 4:54 pm

The Mexican town of Tequila in the western state of Jalisco is the heart of a region that produces the legendary spirit. Any bottle of tequila must be made from the Weber Blue species of agave, grown and distilled in this region.

Field after field of agave gives this land a blue hue, defining an economy and its traditions.

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Sports
4:55 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Doing The Math: How The U.S. Can Advance In The World Cup

U.S. forward Clint Dempsey (8) celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during a match against Portugal at the Amazonia Arena in Manaus on Sunday.
Francisco Leong AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 4:45 pm

The "Group of Death" is living up to its name.

Going into the third and final match of group stage, all four teams — the U.S., Germany, Ghana and Portugal — still have a mathematical chance of moving on to the round of 16.

Of course, the U.S. had a prime chance at sealing the deal last night against Portugal. But, as we told you, a last-gasp goal by Portugal scuttled those plans.

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Border & Immigration
4:16 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Latest Surge at Texas Border: Politicians Cruz, Abbott, Davis & Perry

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (foreground, L, R) were joined by U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Flower Mound, (background, R) in touring Joint Base Lackland San Antonio today.
Ben Philpott/KUT

Texas politicians are getting a close-up look at how border authorities are handling an influx of Central American immigrants – many of them children who came here without family members.

Sen. Ted Cruz and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott got a tour Monday of one facility housing immigrant children after they’re processed near the border: Joint Base San Antonio, where children wait for judicial hearings or to be placed with relatives.

Both Abbott and Cruz blame the increase in immigrants on the Obama administration’s deferred action for childhood arrivals policy, which offered a delay of immigration proceedings for children brought to the U.S. before 2007.

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