Texas Politics
9:02 am
Thu June 19, 2014

Texas Court Of Criminal Appeals Weighing Tom DeLay's Overturned Conviction

Tom DeLay outside the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin.

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 4:33 pm

Former House Majority leader Tom DeLay and his attorneys argued the merits of whether Delay’s 2010 money laundering conviction should remain overturned or if the original punishment should stand.

DeLay was found guilty of taking money donated to his political action committee and feeding it into a number of Texas Republican's campaigns.

In 2013 his conviction was overturned because checks are not considered funds, therefore the prosecution lacked evidence. But earlier this year the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals agreed to hear an appeal of that overturned conviction.

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Life & Arts
5:04 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Author Cristina Henriquez Shares Her 'Book of Unknown Americans'

Author Cristina Henriquez appears at BookPeople tonight in support of her novel "The Book of Unknown Americans."
ChinLin Pan/KUT

People across the nation – especially here in Texas – have been riveted this past month by the crisis unfolding at the border as thousands of children arrive on their own. So desperate to flee their home countries in Latin America, children set off on a perilous journey, unsure of how they’ll be received once they get here.

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TDCJ Sued Over Heat
4:09 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Texas Department of Criminal Justice Sued Over Inhumane Prisoner Treatment

Three groups filed a class action lawsuit Wednesday against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and its executive director, Brad Livingston, alleging Texas prisons' lack of air conditioning is dangerous.

The lawsuit, filed in Houston federal court, alleges TDCJ is housing inmates in inhumane conditions that violate constitutional rights. Wallace Pack Unit in Navasota, Texas, lacks air-conditioning, and summer temperatures can send living conditions sweltering into the triple digits.

The groups bringing the suit include the Texas Civil Rights Project, and the University of Texas School of Law’s Civil Rights Clinic. The suit was filed on behalf of four prisoners at Wallace Pack Unit in Navasota. It also names Wallace Pack Unit senior warden Roberto Herrera as a defendant.

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Politics
2:40 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

District Profile: Texas's 23rd Congressional

Democratic Congressman Pete Gallego of Texas (left) will face Republican Will Hurd in November, in a race that's expected to be close. (U.S. Congress / hurdforcongress.com)

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 2:07 pm

In our weekly look at congressional races across the country, we turn now to Texas’s 23rd congressional district, where Democratic U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego, the incumbent, will face Republican Will Hurd in November.

Hurd, a San Antonio native and former CIA agent, is attempting to shake things up in the Democrat-held district on the border between Texas and Mexico. The race is expected to be very close, in a district that has switched back and forth between Republicans and Democrats in recent years.

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Affordable Care Act
10:53 am
Wed June 18, 2014

The Most Popular Obamacare Plans in Texas

Most consumers in Texas – and across the U.S. – are choosing health insurance plans within the silver tier through the federal marketplace.
healthcare.gov

We’re learning more about the type of health insurance plan most Texas consumers purchased through the federal marketplace and how much they’re paying ,through data released today by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Consumers can choose from four tiers of health plans – platinum to bronze. The most expensive ones contain the most benefits, while the lower cost plans with fewer benefits.

Most consumers in Texas chose the lowest or second lowest plans within the mid-level silver tier. Here's several examples of silver level plans from  Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas.

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Arts Eclectic
10:01 am
Wed June 18, 2014

Enjoy 'Silence!' at Salvage Vanguard Theater

The Silence of the Lambs won a ton of awards after its 1991 theatrical release, including five Oscars. But there will still some who felt the story would have been better served if it included a little more singing and dancing. And those people are finally in luck, because they can now enjoy a version of the crime drama that doesn't skimp when it comes to lavish musical numbers.

Silence! The Musical is an unauthorized parody of The Silence of the Lambs; it started life as an internet musical in 2003 and was so popular online that it was eventually expanded into a full length show that debuted Off Broadway in 2011. Like the original movie version of the story, Silence! was well-received by critics and won a handful of awards.

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Social Entrepreneurs: Taking On World Problems
9:17 am
Wed June 18, 2014

Benefit Corporations Look Beyond The Profit Motive

Stephen Maydwell adjusts tins of Badger Balm before a machine fills them at the W.S. Badger Co. Inc. factory in Gilsum, N.H.
Jack Rodolico

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 7:53 am

A corporation has one core obligation: to make money. But some companies are signing a deal, promising to create not only profit but also a tangible benefit to society and the environment. They're called benefit corporations, and their movement has caught the ear of lawmakers across the country.

In the tiny town of Gilsum, N.H., you'll find the headquarters of W.S. Badger Co. Inc. The company makes all-natural cosmetics marketed under the name Badger Balm. When CEO Bill Whyte founded the company two decades ago, the staff was lean.

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Iraq
6:32 am
Wed June 18, 2014

Militants Attack Iraq's Largest Oil Refinery As Sectarian Clashes Spread

An Iraqi boy and other civilians look at the aftermath of a car bomb in Baghdad's Sadr City on Wednesday. The violence in the Shiite district comes as Sunni militants advance in northern Iraq.
Karim Kadim AP

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 10:06 am

The Sunni militant group that has stormed across Iraq invaded the country's largest oil refinery today, hitting it with mortars. The government is using limited air attacks to strike back at ISIS, which now controls large areas of Iraq's north.

"The oil refinery in Beiji has been under siege since the militant fighters of ISIS seized the town of Beiji in their sweep through northern Iraq," NPR's Deborah Amos reports from Irbil, Iraq. "In an offensive at dawn, ISIS fighters attacked the refinery with machine-gun fire and mortars, according to Iraqi security forces."

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Urban Rail
4:36 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

Ahead of Key Vote, City Council and Capital Metro Meet to Hear Austin Rail Proposal

Project Connect

The Austin City Council and the Capital Metro Board met today to learn more about a proposed urban rail route that needs approval from the council – and ultimately, Austin voters. There are still concerns about how to pay for the project.

Project Connect is looking at adding rail, buses and other options to the transit system in Central Texas. But the project's proposed plan for downtown Austin is still contentious because it favors a route that would bring urban rail through East Riverside and up to Highland Mall at a cost of almost $1.4 billion.

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Hmm...
1:00 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

What Is That Webby Stuff on Austin Trees?

Fall webworms don't typically do permanent damage but they may further stress already drought-stressed trees.
flickr.com/seabamirum

It’s not yet autumn but fall webworms are showing up on trees across Central Texas.

The caterpillars form webbing on leaves – and spend much of their lives eating those leaves.

"Typically people notice they have fall webworms when they start to see the webbing actually starting to cover the tips of the branches and, if they look closely at those webs or they break open those webs, they'll actually see the caterpillars inside," Wizzie Brown says.

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Education
10:34 am
Tue June 17, 2014

AISD OKs Federal Prevailing Wages in Split Board Vote

Flickr user Michelllaurence https://flic.kr/ps/QL6HQ

An hour before the Austin school district’s board meeting began last night, more than fifty labor advocates were crowded in the courtyard outside, chanting, with handmade signs. By the time doors opened, the crowd had doubled.

After nearly four hours of deliberation, the crowd got its wish and erupted in cheers. In a 5-4 split vote, the board voted to adopt federal prevailing wages for workers on upcoming construction projects at Austin schools.

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Texas GOP
10:18 am
Tue June 17, 2014

Is the Texas Republican Platform Bad for Business?

RIck Perry gives GOP delegates at the state convention a thumbs up in June 2014.
Ben Philpott/KUT

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has made a career out of visiting, recruiting, and relocating businesses from California to Texas. But as the state's GOP continues to push further and further to the right of the political spectrum, could the state's ultra-conservative stance hurt recruitment from a progressive state?

First came the Texas Republican Party platform that said homosexuality is a choice and endorsed therapy aimed at "curing" people of being gay – a therapy banned in California.

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World Cup
8:58 am
Tue June 17, 2014

Sweet Revenge: U.S. Bests Ghana, 2-1, In Its World Cup Opener

Clint Dempsey scored Team USA's first goal during the FIFA World Cup 2014 Group G preliminary round match against Ghana at Estadio Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil, on Monday.
Kamil Kraczynski EPA/Landov

Originally published on Tue June 17, 2014 10:02 am

The U.S. Men's National Team beat Ghana in the group stage of the World Cup, payback for losing to the Black Stars in the previous two World Cups.

Team USA captain Clint Dempsey surged past Ghana's John Boye to score 29 seconds after the start of the game, marking one of the fastest goals in World Cup history.

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Author Interviews
7:45 am
Tue June 17, 2014

Joel Dicker Shares 'The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair'

Writers block, mentorship and murder are the subjects of Joel Dicker's breakout novel.
Photo Jeremy Spierer

Joel Dicker is the author of the international bestseller, "The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair." The 28-year-old author seems – on the surface – to have a lot in common with his protagonist. 

Dicker's novel is a blockbuster, first in Europe and now in the U.S. The same's true with the hero of his book, Marcus Goldman. But in the book, Goldman finds himself wrapped up in several layers of self-angst and mystery, at the center of which are 1) a murder and 2) his mentor.

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San Antonio
7:36 am
Tue June 17, 2014

Castro Has First HUD Secretary Confirmation Hearing Tuesday

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro delivered the keynote address at this year's commencement at the LBJ School of Business at UT-Austin.
Erika Rich/BDP

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will go before a Senate confirmation committee Tuesday, the first step in the process of becoming the new leader of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In May, President Barack Obama nominated the three-term San Antonio mayor for the job, replacing Shaun Donovan.

If confirmed, Castro said while he'll be focused on housing in his new role, he's always been a strong supporter of education and hopes that's how he'll be remembered.

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Texas
5:16 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Embattled Texas Sex Offender Agency Undergoing Big Changes

The Texas Office of Sex Offender Management that supervises violent sex offenders after they’re released from prison has a new director who’s making changes.
Sex offender map image from Texas Department of Public Safety website

A Texas agency that supervises violent sex offenders after they’re released from prison has a new director who’s making changes.

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East Austin
4:24 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

What's Next for Kenny Dorham's Backyard? City Weighs Fate of East Austin Club

"Trust Your Struggle Collective," a painting by Shaun Burner on display at Kenny Dorham's Backyard. A city panel is set to decide whether to renew the clubs lease.
facebook.com/diversearts

UPDATE: The Urban Renewal Board has granted DiverseArts a three-month license extension for Kenny Dorham's Backyard, contingent on compliance with the issues described below.

A mainstay of East Austin's African-American cultural scene may soon find itself homeless.

Kenny Dorham’s Backyard – a two-acre outdoor space named for the bebop trumpeter who once lived in Austin's East End – has hosted all-ages concerts, poetry events and film screenings on East 11th Street since March 2005.

But tonight, city staff will recommend to Austin's Urban Renewal Agency that the annual agreement granting the Backyard use of its land be denied. The Urban Renewal Board, made up of citizen volunteers, will then vote on whether or not to renew the license agreement.

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Austin
2:57 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Austin Lifeguard Shortage Leaves Many City Pools Closed

An unidentified lifeguard watches over Barton Springs Pool in this 2011 photo. Austin's aquatic office is hustling to fill several empty lifeguard posts.
KUT

Update: The City of Austin opened three more pools over the weekend. 24 city pools are now open, while 10 remain closed.

All pools were originally scheduled to open Friday, June 6.  The city is still hiring and training lifeguards to staff the remainder of the pools.

Original story (June 12): Outside Shipe Pool Wednesday afternoon, two-year-old Redding McArdle wore two blue, inflatable arm floats – one on each arm.

But instead of splashing in the pool, Redding ran around the playground in his swim trunks because the Hyde Park neighborhood pool he’d come to swim in was closed today.

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Texas
2:07 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Texas Politics To Be Lone Star Of New HBO Series

A large Texas flag is carried up Congress Avenue toward the Texas Capitol during the annual Boy Scouts Parade and Report to State in Austin in February 2013.
Eric Gay AP

Originally published on Mon June 16, 2014 2:54 pm

Between Rick Perry, Ted Cruz and Wendy Davis, Texas politicians in recent years have lived up to their state's reputation for producing larger-than-life characters.

That makes the Texas political scene a natural for the Hollywood treatment.

HBO has given God Save Texas, a drama about the state's often raucous political culture, the green light for development. It's set to unfold at the Texas statehouse, a perennial flashpoint for national debates about issues ranging from abortion to gun rights to the size and role of government.

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Go Spurs Go
11:17 am
Mon June 16, 2014

Spurs Fans Celebrate Fifth Championship, Flood Downtown Streets

Spurs fans congregate on Commerce Street between South Alamo and N. Presa following the end of game five. Fan Maury Vasquez holds a flag from a balcony window.
Joey Palacios TPR News

Originally published on Mon June 16, 2014 10:26 am

The San Antonio Spurs have brought a fifth NBA title to the Alamo City after beating the Miami Heat last night 104-87. Following the win, downtown filled with Spurs fans reveling in the continuation of a dynasty.

San Antonians crowded Alamo, Market, Commerce and Houston streets following last nights win so well that SAPD had to divert honking traffic down side streets. Spurs fans have been waiting seven years for another title and wanted a victory after last year’s loss to the Heat.

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