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2015 Legislature
8:52 am
Wed May 6, 2015

Abortion Coverage Would Get Dropped Under Texas Bill

The Texas Senate passed a bill on May 5, 2015, that would eliminate abortion coverage from health insurance plans in Texas.
msjacoby/flickr

On Tuesday, the Texas Senate tentatively passed a bill that would prohibit abortion coverage under many health insurance plans. It could get final approval today.

The bill would only allow coverage for abortions in cases where there’s a medical emergency. State Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) says his measure gives Texans who don’t support abortion the choice not to pay for others to get the procedure.

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Education
7:39 am
Wed May 6, 2015

Under Texas Law, Truancy Charges Can Turn Students into Criminals

Judge Yvonne Williams presides over truancy court cases in Travis County. She says some schools think she’s soft on students.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Fourteen-year-old Karyme* has missed 14 days of eighth grade this school year. Her school, part of the Manor Independent School District, has taken her and her mother to court.

Now she and her mother stand in an Austin courtroom facing the presiding judge, Hon. Yvonne Williams.

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Science
4:48 pm
Tue May 5, 2015

How GPS Technology Could Help Scientists Build a Holodeck

It's still a ways off, but UT researchers say that their improved GPS technology coupled with a virtual reality headset could create a holodeck-like experience.
intel.com

If you use your smartphone for directions, you know how annoying it can be when the tracking device gets your locations wrong. Now a team of researchers at the University of Texas’ Cockrell School of Engineering say they may have fixed that problem.

But there’s more: They also think they’ve brought a science fiction dream closer to reality.

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Texas
2:49 pm
Tue May 5, 2015

Could Cinco de Mayo Become an Official US Holiday?

This monument of General Ignacio Zaragoza is to the south of Goliad, one of the oldest towns in Texas. Zaragoza was the hero of the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.
mlhradio/flickr

As time goes by, the Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo seems to be turning more into a Texas celebration. Sure, Texas used to be Mexico — and that's in part why there's a shared tradition. But some wonder if the tradition could become exclusive to Texas.

Hernan Jaso likes to claim Texas should have some exclusivity to Cinco de Mayo because, "General Ignacio Zaragoza was born in what is now Goliad, Texas."

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Texas
11:08 am
Tue May 5, 2015

House Approves Bill That Will Break Down Vaccination Exemption Data by School

Cooper Neill/Texas Tribune

The Texas House gave final approval Monday to a bill that would change how schools report how much of their student body is vaccinated. The bill passed, 98 to 40, but only after a loud and long debate.

Right now school districts anonymously collect data on how many kids are vaccinated and then report that data district-wide. Austin Independent School District has an overall vaccination exemption rate of 1.6 percent, for instance. The bill that passed out of the House Monday would break down the data for individual schools.

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Texas Standard
2:31 pm
Mon May 4, 2015

What the Battle Over Music Streaming is Really About

johanl/flickr

From Texas Standard:

Last year, music streaming services like Pandora and Spotify generated more revenue than CD sales. Musicians say they aren’t happy with how much they’re getting in return, especially now that streaming companies like Amazon, Google, and even NPR, have formed a lobbying group to try to lower the amount they pay to musicians. 

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Texas Standard
2:05 pm
Mon May 4, 2015

Why Airports Are Getting Nicer While Planes Are Getting More Uncomfortable

skynoir/flickr

American Airlines recently unveiled its 787-8 Dreamliner. It carries 226 passengers, 198 of them in coach — and industry insiders have said if you’re not in first class, the airplane is uncomfortable for long trips. But the silver lining could be that when you get to the airport, you might almost mistake it for a shopping mall.

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Austin
12:53 pm
Mon May 4, 2015

As Austinites Move to City's Outskirts, Support Services Follow

As people move outside of Austin proper, some social services and non-profits are moving with them.
KUT News

Central Austin is experiencing what some have called an exodus of sorts: Higher housing prices and other factors have pushed entire communities out.

Over the last decade, some have migrated to northern suburbs like Round Rock and Pflugerville or south to Kyle, Buda and San Marcos. But up until now, the services many of those people rely on have stayed put in downtown Austin.

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Austin
11:59 am
Mon May 4, 2015

City Urged to 'Proceed Cautiously' When it Comes to Police Body Cameras

The city's Public Safety Commission, which advises the city council on police policies, is expected to tell the city to proceed with caution when it comes to police body cameras.
Nathan Bernier/KUT News

In the wake of high profile police shootings across the country, a lot of cities are considering equipping their police officers with body cameras

Today, Austin’s Public Safety Commission will vote on recommendations for Austin Police.

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Texas
7:41 am
Mon May 4, 2015

Abbott: State Officials Probing "Senseless" Attack

Gov. Abbott called the shooting in Garland during a contest to draw a picture of the Prophet Muhammed a "senseless attack."
Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott said late Sunday that Texas officials are investigating a "senseless attack" in Garland that left two gunmen dead outside a contest featuring cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. 

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Get Involved
5:00 am
Mon May 4, 2015

Get Involved Spotlight: Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Texas

From Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Texas, this month’s Get Involved spotlight non-profit:

Serving Central Texas for 30 years, the mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Central Texas (RMHC CTX) is to create, find and support programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children.

RMHC CTX began providing temporary lodging and support services to hospitalized children and their families in 1985 in Austin’s first Ronald McDonald House®. For three decades, we have cared for thousands of families by providing a “home-away-from-home” at our Ronald McDonald House® and four Ronald McDonald Family Rooms®. Since 1993, we have also supported families who have lost a child through our Healing Hearts program, which provides burial assistance and bereavement support.

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Higher Ed
2:00 pm
Sun May 3, 2015

Higher Ed: Where Do Ideas Come From?

Credit Dawn Endico/flickr

No doubt you've seen that iconic representation of the moment when a new idea is born. You know — the whole "lightbulb pops up over somebody's head" graphic. It's eye-catching for sure, but it turns out that's not actually how ideas come to us. In this week's episode of KUT's podcast Higher Ed, Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger discuss how ideas are formed and how they flow. Listen on to hear how it's more river than lightbulb.

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KUT Weekend
2:53 pm
Fri May 1, 2015

Listen to Our Weekly News Podcast!

KUT Weekend brings you our favorite stories from the KUT newsroom. Updated Fridays!

Texas
2:42 pm
Fri May 1, 2015

What the Heck is the Texas State Guard Anyway?

Maj. Gary Sherman, 3rd Battalion, 4th Regiment, Texas State Guard, uses a compass to determine his bearing during a Land Navigation joint training exercise in Henrietta, Texas, October 11, 2014.
CW2 Janet Schmelzer, PAO, 4th Regiment, TXSG

This week, a lesser-known unit of the Texas Military Forces got some attention when Governor Greg Abbott called on them to “monitor” U.S. military training exercises planned for this summer.

Abbott ordered the Texas State Guard to ensure that Texans’ rights were not being infringed and help facilitate communication with residents during the exercises designated “Operation Jade Helm 15.” The operation is set to take place in Bastrop and several other locations across Texas and in some neighboring states between July 15 and September 15.

Exactly how that monitoring will be carried out is still unclear. When asked for details, the Governor’s office told us to call the Texas State Guard. In an email response, the Guard said “we are always ready to answer the call of the Governor and currently leadership from our Texas State Guard are in the process of examining the best way to meet the Governor's intent.”

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Austin
2:15 pm
Fri May 1, 2015

City Seeks to Improve Demolition Permit System

Jumpolin Rentals store owner Monica Lejarazul (right) and neighbor Diane Ontiberos (left) look on as a fence is erected around the remains of the storefront in February.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

A City Council committee is directing staff to look at adding requirements to the demolition permit system that would ensure tenants are notified of planned tear-downs.

During a review of the city’s demolition permits, the Planning and Neighborhoods Committee heard from Sergio Lejarazu, the former owner of Jumpolin, the East Austin piñata store that was torn down in February with the merchandise still inside. 

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Texas Standard
12:08 pm
Fri May 1, 2015

Is the Texas Economy Headed Towards a Recession?

85552770/flickr

From Texas Standard:

When a leading economist warned Texas that it should brace for a recession, the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank wasn’t rattled. Then-President Richard Fisher said, if anything, the state might experience a downturn in economic growth. But here we are on the first day of May – after months of negative workforce and economic data. Dan Zehr with the Austin-American Statesman spoke with the Texas Standard to answer the question: Is the Texas economy in the middle of a recession?

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Two Guys on Your Head
10:31 am
Fri May 1, 2015

Debunking the Myths About Different Learning Styles

Credit crunchadeal.com

Are you an auditory learner or a visual learner?  If you answered, "yes," you'd be right. That's because we use all our senses to learn and process information.

In this edition of Two Guys On Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke dispel the myths behind learning styles preferences: In fact, they don’t really exist. 

Our reliance on the theories of learning styles to explain our success or failure of understanding certain information is actually more about serving our human need to put things into categories – combined with our need to explain things when they don’t work. 

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Austin
10:16 am
Fri May 1, 2015

Downtown Austin Trader Joe's Opens Its Doors

Trader Joe's opened its third store in the Austin area today, this one in the Seaholm development.
Bill Shaner/flickr

Trader Joe’s is opening a new location in downtown Austin today. The popular grocery chain is known for its quirky offerings and laid-back, tropical styling.

The supermarket is going to anchor the retail stores at the multi-million dollar Seaholm development, part of the city’s plan to transform downtown into a mixed residential-commercial district.

“Grocery has been one of the gaps for downtown living, and we see Trader Joe’s as helping fill that gap in addition to the Whole Foods and Royal Blue,” says Fred Evins, a Project Manager at the City of Austin Economic Development Department. “We’d like to see more,” he adds.

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Texas Standard
1:51 pm
Thu April 30, 2015

Why Can't My iPhone Speak Spanglish?

Siri's response to why she doesn't speak Spanglish? 'I've never really thought about it.'
mirandagranche/flickr

A lot of Texans switch back and forth between English and Spanish effortlessly, without even thinking about it. But if you’re typing on an iPhone, switching between the language keyboards mid-sentence is a big hassle. With more and more multilingual users, why isn’t one of the top smartphones up to the task?

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Texas
12:36 pm
Thu April 30, 2015

Unlike Other Coming-of-Age Celebrations, Quinceañeras Remain Mostly Offline

Jennifer Santillan was born in the year 2000, meaning that this year she celebrated her Quinceañera.
Joy Diaz/KUT News

A lot was going on in the year 2000: Computer experts were trying to fix Y2K, and it was the first time a Latino artist topped the charts: Ricky Martin with the song "Livin' La Vida Loca."

It was also a big year for births: Nearly 400,000 girls were born to Hispanic parents that year. This year those girls are turning 15, and they'll be celebrating their Quinceañeras.

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