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From the Texas Tribune: Charles Smith, a longtime ally of Gov. Greg Abbott, will be the next executive commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, the governor announced Tuesday.

Smith, the chief deputy executive commissioner at the massive agency, will start his new position on June 1.

WOCinTech Chat/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Texas led the country in exonerations last year, with 54 statewide. in the state. New York placed a distant second with only 17, according to the National Registry of Exonerations’ latest report.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

The City of Austin’s Vision Zero plan continued its final parade through boards and commissions Monday with a visit to the Public Safety Commission. And while some commissioners were dissatisfied with the 94-page document, others had little to say.

“About the only thing I can say is the pictures are pretty,” said Commissioner Mike Levy to open the discussion. “It was as if it basically has nothing to do with what the task force did.”

Mose Buchele/KUT

We’ve had a pretty rainy April here in Central Texas, with more rain ahead for May.  During our weekly deluge, you might have noticed a lot of rain seems to fall in the middle of the night.  Well, KUT’s Mose Buchele has always wondered why. So, he took his questions to Time Warner Cable News meteorologist Burton Fitzsimmons.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Tunette Powell, motivational speaker, author, education consultant and co-founder of The Truth Heals.

Powell has made it her mission to be a voice of hope and healing for some of the world’s most despaired and underserved populations. She currently serves as the CEO of The Truth Heals and sits on a host of nonprofit boards.

vcucns / flickr

The University of Texas at Austin is working to get a drug that stops people from overdosing on opioids, such as heroin and prescription pills, into the hands of resident advisors and campus police. The student government recently approved a resolution, and advocates are working to get a standing order at the school’s pharmacy.


Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

This story is part of the NPR reporting project School Money, a nationwide collaboration between NPR’s Ed Team and 20 member station reporters exploring how states pay for their public schools and why many are failing to meet the needs of their most vulnerable students.

Last May, State Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock stood on the bustling floor of the Texas House of Representatives in Austin and smiled.

"If I only knew then what I know now...." Sure, hindsight is 20/20. But if you could talk to your younger self, what advice would you give? What decisions would you make differently? During this graduation season,  Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton give their younger selves some words of wisdom about life and learning. Think of it as "Higher Ed's" 2016 commencement address.


From Divine Canines, this month's Get Involved spotlight non-profit:

Divine Canines provides free therapy dog services to more than 60 sites around Austin and Central Texas. Our specially trained dog-and-handler volunteer teams visit children and adults facing various physical and cognitive challenges, including mental illness, physical limitations and dementia. Clients who interact with our wonderful dogs benefit emotionally and physically, showing signs of improved mood, confidence, communication and trust. Our dogs love the attention and affection they get from our clients!

Gage Skidmore via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

This week on The Ticket 2016: The Texas Tribune's Jay Root is out of town again, but there's still plenty to talk about. First, KUT's Ben Philpott will go over this week's Trump Sweep in the Northeast with Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak. Then, he'll dive into the waters of political candidate cybersquatting.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

The political action committee that put Proposition 1 on the ballot and is campaigning for it received about $6 million from ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft in the past month.

According to documents filed Friday with the Austin City Clerk’s office, Ridesharing Works for Austin raised that sum between March 29 and April 28. The campaign has spent the bulk of that money over the past month, in staff salaries, television advertising, direct mail and consulting work.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Zilker Tree turns 50 this coming winter, and it’s getting spruced up for the occasion. The Tree, which most of the year is actually one of Austin's moontowers, was taken down Friday morning and removed from Zilker Park to be sandblasted, repainted and touched up at a shop in New Braunfels.

The city still has 17 of its original 31 moonlight towers (the uninitiated might remember the towers from cameos in Dazed and Confused), and Austin Energy has contracted with tower restoration company Enertech Resources, LLC, to repair and restore all 17. They’ve fully restored one so far, but they have inspected all of them. None of the towers, more than a century old, have any major structural damage, said Carlos Cordova with Austin Energy.

Keith Allison/flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

In February, seven U.S. Marshals showed up at Paul Aker's home in Houston and arrested him. His crime? Failing to pay a nearly three-decades-old student loan debt. The story went viral, and caught the attention of Fusion reporter Rob Wile. He and his colleagues were curious: if this was happening in Houston – where there were 25 arrest warrants for outstanding student debt in 2015 – how prevalent was it elsewhere?


ErikaWittlieb/Pixabay (CC0 Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

Although the United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population, it has 25 percent of the world’s total prison population. That's not counting things like county lockups and city jails.

Federal prisons are overcrowded and in Texas, nearly 19,000 people are incarcerated in federal prisons alone. According to a report in USA Today the job of overseeing the prisoners is falling to nurses with little or no experience in security.


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

Todd Wiseman / Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: Even as a federal appeals court prepares to review the constitutionality of Texas’ controversial voter ID law, the law will remain in effect, the U.S. Supreme Court said in an order Friday.

However, noting the time-sensitive nature of the case as the November elections approach, the Supreme Court also hinted that if the full U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals hasn’t issued a definitive ruling by July 20, the justices may revisit the issue.

fwallpapers.com

When it comes to imagination and happiness, it turns out there’s a lot going on. If you think, as William Arthur Ward said, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it,” you might be in for a surprise when it comes to well-being.

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke talk about why it’s important to manage our exceptions and goals, and enjoy the moments in the process of becoming, in order live happier lives.


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

This year's heavy rains and severe thunderstorms have city officials asking Austin’s small business owners to set aside time to prepare for natural disasters and emergencies.

David Hook was working at his furniture store last year when floodwaters began seeping in from under the door. He was able to move a lot of the merchandise out of the water’s way.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

When she’s not driving for ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft, Sara Kaminsky works as a personal trainer. In fact, I exited her Toyota Corolla with a brochure for Shakeology, a weight loss program that helped Kaminsky shed more than 100 pounds over two years.

I confessed that I needed to get in shape. “I could help you with that,” said Kaminsky. But mostly she helped me with a free ride Thursday morning to my nearest polling station, at Maplewood Elementary School.


Photo via Flickr/carlos-pacheco (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Cowboys, longhorns, barbecue – all part of the state's identity. But before barbecue became part of the legend, there was the original. But where was the original, exactly?

Where there’s smoke there’s Daniel Vaughn, barbecue editor for Texas Monthly. His research revealed what could conceivably be the first barbecue joint in Texas was born not too far from Lockhart, the town largely considered to be a barbecue mecca in the state.


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