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Arts Eclectic
4:27 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Hear Rising Stars Play With the Austin Civic Orchestra

This Saturday night at Bates Recital Hall on the University of Texas campus, the Austin Civic Orchestra is partnering with UT's Butler School of Music to present a free spring concert. Called the "Texas Risings Stars" concert, the event will feature four award-winning UT music students playing with Austin's own non-profit orchestra.

The first half of the concert will feature music students Benjamin Penzner, Grace Youn, Roman Yearian, and Eun-Mi Lee (no relation to the host of this program) leading the orchestra in selections of their choosing. For the second half of the presentation, the orchestra will branch out on its own, featuring two pieces chosen by orchestra director Lois Ferrari.

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Crime & Justice
12:53 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Could Europe Put a Stop to the Death Penalty in Texas?

Execution room in the San Quentin State Prison in California.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

This week, Oklahoma's Supreme Court stopped the executions of two convicted murderers. At issue: where the state gets its execution drugs. The state does not want to reveal its source.  

Texas also has long kept its lethal drug suppliers secret, although Attorney General Greg Abbott recently issued an opinion stating it's time to go public.  But as death penalty opponents increase the pressure to expose suppliers and to disrupt the supply of the drug, some states are reviewing their options on capital punishment.

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What's Next For Ukraine
12:15 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

UT Professor Jeremi Suri: 'The Best Way to Think of Putin is Mussolini'

A 2006 photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin. "My prediction is that we'll see more Russian aggression, not less, in Eastern Ukraine," professor Jeremi Suri tells Texas Standard.

U.S. troops began joint military exercises in Poland this week, in response to Russia's continued incursion into Ukraine.  The Pentagon says troops will also be deployed to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Kiev on Monday as a show of support for the pro-Western Ukrainian government. As he met with the nation's leaders he called on Russia to "stop talking and start acting" to defuse the crisis.

So far, that doesn't seem to be happening. 

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TEKS and Common Core
9:00 am
Thu April 24, 2014

Are Common Core and Texas Teaching Standards Really That Different?

Jon Shapley for KUT News

Elgin Middle School sixth grader Allison Graves sits at a computer in math class, using a program called Think Through Math to practice fractions.

“Your friend gave you a bag of candy," she reads. "There are 36 red candies and 27 green candies. What is the ratio of green candies to red candies?”

The online math program takes Graves through each lesson step by step. She collects points for correct answers and competes against classmates and other Texas students.

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Austin Police
8:47 am
Thu April 24, 2014

Audit Finds Problems With How APD Stores, Destroys Old Drug and Weapons Evidence

Austin Police display drugs and guns seized in an arrest. A report from Austin's City Auditor finds trouble with police storage procedure.
Divya Darsi for KUT News

This article is written by KUT's Austin City Hall reporting partner, the Austin Monitor.

A city audit found that drugs and firearms confiscated by the Austin Police Department are in some cases not adequately protected, with drugs sometimes stored in cardboard boxes outdoors.

In response, APD officials say they are re-evaluating the department’s evidence control policies.

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Constructions Starts at Shoal Creek
5:16 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Austin Restoring Banks, Paving Trails Along Shoal Creek

A rendering of a paved pathway along Shoal Creek, at Windsor and 24th Streets.
City of Austin Watershed Protection Department

After years of erosion, Austin is shoring up the downtown banks of the Shoal Creek trail starting Monday. Running from 15th Street to 28th Street, the project includes the eastern boundary of Pease Park.

According to Morgan Byars, supervising engineer for the project at the Watershed Protection Department, the erosion hasn’t only caused safety hazards, but an overall loss of greenspace.

“Severe bank erosion [is] affecting large heritage trees that potentially will fall into the creek,” Byars says. “We’ve got erosion very close to the trail system which presents a safety hazard for pedestrians and bikers, but also it’s just a general loss of parkland.”

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Why It's Not So Bad to Speak 'Bad English'
3:22 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

On the Bard's Birthday, Who Wrote It: Shakespeare or a Rapper?

Shakespeare or Big Daddy Kane? According to "Bad English" author Ammon Shea, slang and informal English is usually "much older than we think."

It's happened to all of us: just when you're ready to deliver the perfect rebuttal,  last word or final point, your tongue trips up and you slaughter your English.

Don't fret about it, says author Ammon Shea. The man who spent a year reading the Oxford English Dictionary is taking on grammarians and nitpickers alike.

Shea's new book "Bad English: A History of Linguistic Aggravation" (out this June) is an eye-opening look at how language mistakes have become accepted as correct usage.

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Austin City Limits Fest
1:43 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

ACL Fest Organizers on What's In Store for 2014

Day one of the 2013 Austin City Limits Music Festival. This week, ACL released its lineup for the 2014 fest.
Credit Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

In Austin, many see live music not just as an opportunity, but as a way of life.

Every day brings the possibility to see a variety of talents – both from music’s biggest and brightest, to up-and-coming acts in Austin’s live music scene.

For many outside Central Texas, Austin’s “Live Music Capital of the World” status is summed up by two of the city’s biggest music festivals: South by Southwest and the Austin City Limits Music Festival. The latter, now in its 13th year, carries the brand of the historic Austin City Limits television show, which has a rich and storied history all its own.

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Politics
9:48 am
Wed April 23, 2014

Governor Perry Facing Possible Grand Jury Indictment

Gov. Rick Perry's veto of funding for Travis County's Public Integrity Unit could lead to a grand jury indictment.
Ben Philpott, KUT News

A Travis County grand jury is considering whether or not to indict Gov. Rick Perry over his veto of funding for the county's Public Integrity Unit.

Gov. Perry could be charged with several offenses, including bribery, coercion of a public servant, and abuse of power after vetoing more than $3 million in state money for the unit that investigates political corruption.

Perry's veto came as the result of an ultimatum given by Perry to Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg. Last April, Lehmberg was arrested for drunk driving. She pleaded guilty and served jail time, but refused to step down.

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West Plant Explosion
8:12 am
Wed April 23, 2014

Investigation: Disaster at West Fertilizer Plant Was 'Preventable'

A chemical trailer sits among the remains of the burning fertilizer plant in April 2013.
Reuters /Mike Stone /Landov

From StateImpact Texas:

A year after a deadly explosion at a fertilizer plant in Texas, a federal agency is releasing a report saying the disaster was preventable.

The Chemical Safety Board, which investigates chemical accidents and issues recommendations to ensure public safety, is presenting its preliminary findings tonight in the town of West, Texas, where the fire and subsequent explosion last year took 15 lives, injured hundreds, and destroyed homes and schools.

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It's Taco Time
8:40 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Mayor Leffingwell Gets a Breakfast Taco Intervention

Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell tries a migas taco from Veracruz All Natural.
Ilana Panich-Linsman, KUT News

Mando Rayo on his "Taco Intervention" with Mayor Leffingwell

Last month Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell made a much-debated statement while answering questions on Reddit: He said Taco Cabana makes some of his favorite breakfast tacos.

Mando Rayo, a self-described “taco journalist” in a city that takes its breakfast tacos very seriously, decided to press the issue. On Tuesday, Rayo picked up breakfast tacos from one of his favorite Austin taco spots, Veracruz All Natural, and hand-delivered them to Mayor Leffingwell’s office. 

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Mental Health
4:22 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Mental Health Support for Texas Inmates on Lawmakers' Agenda

Texas lawmakers hosted a hearing on April 22, 2014, to look into what else should be done to provide mental health services for inmates at state facilities.
Liang Shi, KUT News

Texas lawmakers are looking into whether more should be done to provide mental health services for inmates at state prisons.

Prison officials say inmates already have access to medication and individual or group counseling for mental illness. Texas Department of Criminal Justice Executive Director Brad Livingston says the legislature has provided enough mental health funding in recent years for prisoners and parolees. And, he says, it shows.

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Eanes ISD
2:34 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

A Little League Sports Complex is Causing a Major Ruckus in Westlake

An image from the Westlake Neighborhood Alliance website opposing Western Hills Little League's proposed complex. The proposed center's also been fought in court, but the builders say they don’t understand the concern.
nottherightsite.com

After three years, Eanes school officials and residents are still deadlocked over a proposed sports complex.  

In 2011, Eanes ISD board members agreed to lease 50 acres of district land to the nonprofit Western Hills Little League. The league agreed to pay $10,000 annually for the first four years, and then $50,000 annually (adjusted for inflation), for the remainder of the 50-year lease.

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Arts Eclectic
11:23 am
Tue April 22, 2014

See 100 Comedians at the Moontower Festival

Now in its third year, the Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival is quickly becoming one of the largest comedy festivals in America. For this year's fest, around 100 comedians will come together from Austin and around the world to perform dozens of shows, including sketch, improv, and lots of standup comedey.

Headliners include The Kids in The Hall, Hannibal Buress, Mike Birbiglia, Maria Bamford and more. They'll perform at the Paramount Theatre, while several smaller venues host shows nearby.

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AISD
9:08 am
Tue April 22, 2014

Superintendent Meria Carstarphen Says Goodbye to Austin

Superintendent Meria Carstarphen photographed in 2009. Her final AISD board meeting was Monday evening.
KUT News

Wednesday will be Austin School Superintendent Meria Carstarphen’s last day with the district before she leaves for the same position in Atlanta.

Carstarphen attended her final school board meeting in Austin Monday night, where she was recognized for her contributions to the district over the past five years.

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