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Arts Eclectic
6:07 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

See 'Oklahoma!' Free in Zilker Park

 

  The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Oklahoma! debuted on Broadway 71 years ago, and has remained a popular classic ever since. It was a huge hit in its original Broadway run, spawned an Oscar-winning movie version in 1955, and has been performed countless times in theaters worldwide.

In addition to being crowd-pleasing, though, it was also a ground-breaking production, an important work in the development of the 'book musical,' in which the songs and musical numbers progress the story. That's more or less taken for granted in the modern musical, but it wasn't often the case before Oklahoma! took the stage. 

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Business
3:19 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

What's Next for Austin's Creative Economy?

Rooster Teeth Founders (pictured left to right) Matt Hullum and Bernie Burns
ChinLin Pan/KUT

According to Forbes.com, since 2001 tech firms like Apple, Google, and Facebook have expanded employment by 41 percent. This has lead to Austin resembling a smaller Silicon Valley – and Texas as a whole altering the face of its economy.

In keeping with Austin's renowned music scene, many of the region's exports are less about tangible services and more about entertainment and innovative ideas and applications. Economist and author Richard Florida christened such a move to a arts and knowledge-based economy as "The Rise of the Creative Class."

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Israel And Gaza
1:16 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

UT Students Stay in Israel Despite Ongoing Violence

UT-Austin hopes to allow students to finish their summer studies in Israel.
flickr.com/raondo

As the conflict between Israel and Palestine in Gaza continues, officials with the University of Texas International Office say they've been in close contact with graduate students and faculty conducting research in Israel.

“None of our students are anywhere near the Gaza Strip or the West Bank,” UT International Office risk analyst Erin Wolf says.

Wolf says six graduate students and a handful of faculty are doing research projects in Israel and that in addition to providing academic support, local universities are also giving them direction.

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Education
12:20 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

How Austin Turned a Dead Department Store Into a Community College

At ACC's new campus, workers cut a 170-foot-long skylight in what was once a J.C. Penney department store. Natural light formerly came through only two front doors.
Audrey McGlinchy/KUT

To Veronica Escobedo, it resembled a fancy hotel – not quite a college campus.

But the first-year radiology student said the stylish and comfortable furniture, much of it still wrapped in plastic, would encourage her to stay on Austin Community College’s new campus between classes.

“There are bigger areas to actually study with people,” Escobedo said. “Most of the time I found myself studying with people off campus. The design and architecture make it really feel like a home.”

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Austin
9:20 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Why Kids' Summer Activities Could End Up Saving Parents Money

Isabelle DiCarlo rides a horse at Switch Willow. The money her mother Julie spent on activities this summer is around $5,000, which she could write off as a deduction in next year's taxes.
Filipa Rodigues for KUT News

For busy parents, the dog days of summer are less about beating the heat, and more about finding a way to keep the kids preoccupied.

Activities can range from summer camps to soccer leagues or stints at daycare, but they all have one thing in common: they cost money. But, while there's no such thing as a free summertime preoccupation, the money parents spend on their kids' activities could return later in the form of a welcome tax deduction.

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Traffic
7:19 am
Thu July 24, 2014

How Much Do Bad Roads & Texas Traffic Cost Drivers Every Year?

Deteriorating roadways and traffic congestion costs Austin drivers $1,700 every year.
Callie Hernandez for KUT News

Believe it or not, the state of Texas needs to spend money every year just to maintain current and ever-growing levels of traffic.

The Texas Department of Transportation needs at least $4 to 5 billion in additional funds to maintain roads and keep traffic from getting worse. In November, Texans will take to the polls to decide the fate of the agency's request via a constitutional amendment for the roadway funding.

While the sticker shock of that may not sit well with some, a new study says shaky infrastructure has an annual statewide cost of over $25 billion and Austin drivers an average of $1,700 a year.

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Politics
4:58 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

The Pollsters Are Coming! What That Means for Texas Voters in November

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

In the Texas Tribune today, Aman Batheja reports on a significant change that has researchers and politicos drooling: Exit polls are returning to Texas.

Batheja writes:

This year, with a high-profile gubernatorial race on the November ballot, the National Election Pool confirmed on Tuesday that it plans to conduct more robust exit polling in Texas this year, giving researchers and political analysts the means to better examine the outcome. 

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Education
3:32 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Texas Wants to Push New Teacher Evaluation Rolllout Back Another Year

Commissioner Michael Williams on a tour of Eastside Memorial High School in 2013. He sent a letter to federal education leaders Wednesday asking for another year to monitor a new teacher evaluation system and a No Child Left Behind waiver.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams wants an additional year to study a new state teacher evaluation system. The additional period would delay the official roll out for two years.

Commissioner Williams wrote a letter to federal education officials Wednesday, where he also requested the federal government extend a waiver from No Child Left Behind requirements.

In a statement, Williams said:

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Abortion and Women's Health
2:38 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Report: New Law Led to Statewide Drop in Abortions

A hallway at the Whole Woman's Health clinic in Austin. The clinic, one of 22 remaining abortion providers in the state, does not currently meet requirements that will take effect on Sept. 1.
Callie Richmond/Texas Tribune

The number of abortions in Texas decreased by about 13 percent statewide and 21 percent in the Lower Rio Grande Valley following the passage of strict abortion regulations that went into effect last November, according to a report that academic researchers released Wednesday. 

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Science
1:12 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

You Can Thank This Fly for Advances in Hearing Aid Technology

The 2-millimeter wide device, created by Professor Neal Hall and his group of graduate students, mimicks the Ormia ochracea fly's hearing ability. The diagram shows the seesaw-like mechanism in the fly.
University of Texas at Austin

Imagine being in a room full of people – a cacophony of conversations and noise. Despite standing right next to someone, you strain to hear her voice.

People who use hearing aids often struggle to focus on one voice – especially in noisy environments. They could crank up the volume on their hearing aids – but that would also crank up the volume of everything else in the background.

Professor Neal Hall and his group of graduate students from the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas offers a solution: a device that mimics the hearing powers of a fly.

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AISD
11:01 am
Wed July 23, 2014

Photos: Inside AISD's New Performing Art Center & Jaime Padron Elementary

A look at a corridor in the new Jaime D. Padron Elementary School in North Austin.
Mengwen Cao/KUT News

Construction continues on two Austin school district buildings that are set to open this academic school year. The two sites – a performing arts center in the Mueller development and Jaime D. Padron Elementary School near Rundberg Lane and U.S. Highway 183 – will meet the needs of Austin's expanding population.

The new performance arts center isn’t expected to be complete until November, with grand opening events in January of next year. But the shell of the 1,200-seat auditorium is already visible. The center will house everything from performance and rehearsal rooms, to a recording studio and a kiln for visual art.

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Austin
7:34 am
Wed July 23, 2014

Police Officer Deaths Are on the Rise Across the Country

Police officer deaths are higher than in previous years, according to a survey from the National Law Enforement Officers Memorial Fund.
KUT News

The number of law officer deaths across the nation has risen dramatically so far this year, according to a report from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

During the first half of this year, 67 law enforcement officers in the U.S. were killed while on duty – a 31 percent increase over the same period last year.

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Texas
8:01 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Fort Hood Memorial Moves Forward But Still Needs Money

An artist's rendering of the pavilion at a memorial remembering the shootings at Fort Hood in 2009.
November 5, 2009 Ft. Hood Memorial

People trying to build a memorial for victims of the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood hope a ground breaking ceremony they held Tuesday will help raise the last amount of cash they need to complete the project. 

It's been almost five years since Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan opened fire at the Army post, killing 13 people and wounding more than 30. Hasan, 43, was sentenced to death last year by a military jury.

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Life & Arts
4:31 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Tomlinson Hill: Book Explores a Family History of Slaves and Slaveholders

Chris Tomlinson in the KUT studios.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Chris Tomlinson spent most of his life comfortable that he knew who he was and where he came from. After all, a small part of Texas was named after his ancestors. Tomlinson Hill is a small town community in Falls County. It's a place where generations of his family carved out a comfortable living from the land.

Before the Civil War, they also owned slaves. But Chris grew up believing what he'd been told: that the slaves his family owned were happy – so happy they took the family name and settled the land after they were free.

It was not until after he returned from 11 years in Africa as the Nairobi Bureau Chief for the Associated Press that Tomlinson decided to delve into his family history. What he learned not only changed his sense of family, it changed his sense of history as well. The result of his search is the book, "Tomlinson Hill."

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Affordable Care Act
4:26 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Could Medicaid Expansion Boost the Texas Economy?

A new study from Families USA suggests taxi drivers are among the 1.5 million Texans who would get health insurance if Texas expanded Medicaid eligibility.
flickr.com/bionicteaching

If Texas accepted federal funding to expand Medicaid, roughly 1.5 million more people would have health insurance. Now a new study suggests more than half of them are people who work in service industries that help fuel the state’s economy.

The report by Families USA says the people in Texas who’d benefit most from closing the coverage gap are cashiers, drivers, cooks and servers, hotel clerks and construction workers, for example.

Many of them don’t earn enough to qualify for a tax subsidy under the Affordable Care Act, Dee Mahon with Families USA says.

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Border & Immigration
10:44 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Texas Sends National Guard Troops to Border, Despite Opposing Voices

From left: Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw, Gov. Rick Perry, Texas National Guard Maj. Gen. John Nichols and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst spoke at a press conference on border security on July 21, 2014 at the Texas State Capitol.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Gov. Rick Perry is sending National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border. He says the troops are needed, as the Border Patrol has been focusing on migrant children crossing the border illegally, and not criminal activity from drug and human traffickers.

Gov. Perry’s announcement comes a month after he directed the Legislature to spend millions of dollars increasing the number of Department of Public Safety officers near the border – a move Perry says it's working.

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Austin
10:13 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Running for Austin City Council? The Time to File is Here

Earlier this month, crews began renovating the dais in City Hall in order to fit 11 council members. The filing period to run for council this fall opened this week.
Bryan Winter/KUT

Austin City Council hopefuls are trickling into City Hall to file for a place on the ballot.

The application period, opened yesterday, goes through August 18. While currently just a handful of people have filed, the election is generating excitement that's hard to come by in local politics

Jannette Goodall is Austin's City Clerk. But if you didn't know that, you'd think she's a wedding planner – for months, Goodall and her staff have been prepping for this moment. "You're kind of planning for the big ball, you know? It's kind of fun," she says.

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Business
7:51 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Meet Two African Women at UT With Ideas for Improving Access to Some Basic Needs

Faith Mangope wants to help young South Africans find employment and create jobs.
Sara Combs, courtesy the UT-Austin International Office

Some young people in Africa are struggling with problems that many Americans take for granted – including serious unemployment and access to basic needs.

A group of 25 young Africans from 18 different countries have been at UT-Austin this summer to bring to life their business plans for addressing some of the challenges in their countries.

It’s part of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative. The national program is in its fourth year but this is the first time participants have spent time at a university prior to a summit in Washington.

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In Black America Podcast
8:08 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

In Black America Podcast: Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement: Views from the Front Line – Part I

From left to right: Julian Bond, John Lewis and Andrew Young

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. presents highlights of the Civil Rights Summit marking the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Featured on today’s program are three civil rights legends that looked back at the movement they helped to forge, and how it continues to resonate in America today, while exploring the civil rights issues of the 21st century.

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Border & Immigration
1:55 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Watch: Gov. Perry's Border Announcement

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is ordering National Guard troops to the border with Mexico.

Gov. Perry says the U.S. Border Patrol is overwhelmed with the humanitarian needs of the tens of thousands of children coming in from Central America, and unable to devote enough of its resources to border security.

Perry is also calling on the federal government to pay for another 1,000 guard troops at the border until more Border Patrol officers can be brought in. The announcement follows last month’s deployment of Texas DPS resources to the Rio Grande.

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