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Austin
2:03 pm
Mon July 27, 2015

Council Plans Improvements for Austin's 'Eastern Crescent'

A city council group plans to tackle development and economic issues in what they're calling the city's 'Eastern Crescent' region.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

The challenges of economic development and gentrification facing East Austin are nothing new. But they will get some new attention from a group of city council members convened by Mayor Steve Adler.  The group will be focusing on a part of the city some council members are calling the “eastern crescent.”

The exotic, almost alluring term “eastern crescent” was introduced recently into the city council lexicon. Council member Leslie Pool threw it out in a June audit and finance meeting. She was talking to city staff about a public improvement district in East Austin.

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Austin
12:26 pm
Mon July 27, 2015

Report Calls for Action on 'Repeat Offender' Properties

A report argues the city isn't doing enough to hold owners of properties frequently cited for code violations to task.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

There are thousands of rental properties in Austin – after all, most people who live in Austin rent – and of those thousands, there are more than two dozen that have racked up 300 code violations from the City of Austin. A new study provides suggestions on how to handle the so-called “repeat offenders.”

The study’s author argues that the city could be focusing more on these violations, rather than dedicating more Code Compliance resources towards the policing of short-term rentals.

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News
12:09 pm
Mon July 27, 2015

More Women Than Men Now Immigrating to U.S. From Mexico, Study Says

Google Maps

When you hear the words "Mexican immigrant," what image pops into your head? 

Maybe you're picturing a male day laborer. But Rogelio Saenz from the University of Texas at San Antonio says the latest data does not reflect that.

"Women are becoming​ much more a part of the Mexican immigrant population," Saenz says.

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Higher Ed
2:00 pm
Sun July 26, 2015

Best of Higher Ed: Teaching Happiness

This summer, KUT is revisiting episodes of the podcast "Higher Ed." This episode was originally posted on March 8, 2015.

Each week, KUT's Jennifer Stayton talks with Dr. Ed Burger, President of Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, about higher education, lifelong learning, and exercising the brain.  This week, Ed and Jennifer discuss the intriguing idea of teaching happiness in the classroom. Not as a separate subject, but as part of just about all subjects students already study.  Could that work? How would it work?

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Immigration
9:35 am
Sat July 25, 2015

Judge Says Detaining Immigrant Children Violates Agreement

A detention facility in Karnes City, Texas, designed to house mothers and children aprehended at the border
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

A federal judge ruled Friday in favor of immigrant rights lawyers who have said the current detention of immigrant children violates a court settlement from 1997 known as the Flores vs Meese Agreement. U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee issued her decision in California.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has yet to announce how it will proceed. DHS recently changed the rules of how it releases mothers and children currently in detention. 

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KUT Weekend
2:38 pm
Fri July 24, 2015

Listen to Our Weekly News Podcast!

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

Texas Standard
2:07 pm
Fri July 24, 2015

Could Better Mental Health Care Have Saved Sandra Bland's Life?

Screenshot via Facebook video/1168639983152111

From Texas Standard:

As officials further investigate Sandra Bland’s case, the Standard continues to ask questions. Tuesday we talked about the legalities of the arrest itself. Here we look at mental health procedures for Texas inmates. This interview discusses suicide and provides some details of Bland’s death.

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Energy & Environment
1:13 pm
Fri July 24, 2015

Oil Prices Don't Jibe With Texas Budget Forecasts

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

This week, oil prices dropped below $50 for the first time since February, a development that could upend the state's predictions of oil revenue for this year.

Estimates from the Comptroller of Public Accounts put oil prices at an average of just over $64 per barrel in 2015 and 2016. And, as of now, those predictions are rosier than the reality of the market, meaning the state's loss in oil and gas tax revenue could impact the Texas budget going forward.

In January, when Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar released his estimate of how much tax revenue the state would bring in for the Texas budget, he did so with a caveat.

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Politics
9:06 am
Fri July 24, 2015

Appeals Court Rejects One Count in Perry Indictment

Former Gov. Rick Perry during a press conference with his legal team on Jan. 28, 2015.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: A state appeals court on Friday ruled against one of two counts in the indictment against former Gov. Rick Perry

The 3rd Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin specifically found a problem with the second count, which alleges Perry coerced a public servant. The court upheld the first count, which accuses Perry of abusing his power.

Perry's legal team called the ruling a "clear step towards victory for the rule of law."

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Austin
8:57 am
Fri July 24, 2015

Photos: Sandra Bland March From East Austin Ends in Silent Vigil at the Capitol

Miguel Gutierrez, Jr./KUT

Demonstrators gathered last night for a vigil remembering Sandra Bland in a march that ran from Victory Grill in East Austin and ended in a silent vigil at the Texas State Capitol. Bland was found dead in a Waller County jail cell on July 13 after being arrested for an altercation with police that stemmed from a traffic violation.

Her case has drawn national attention after her family suggested her death wasn’t the result of a suicide, though an autopsy report has suggested there was no evidence Bland’s death was a homicide.

Above you can view a photo gallery of the march through East Austin and the vigil at the Capitol.

The Ticket
4:30 pm
Thu July 23, 2015

The Ticket: The Summer of Trump

Donald Trump has raced to the top of the GOP polls.
Courtesy the Donald Trump for President Campaign

This week on The Ticket: It's our ALL-TRUMP episode. KUT's Ben Philpott and The Texas Tribune's Jay Root will spend the entire show examining the Republican candidate that's taken over the 2016 race. We'll interview Des Moines Register Reporter Josh Hafner about his coverage of Trump in Iowa. And we'll speak with the chairman of the Federation of Hispanic Republicans, about how Trump's campaign has damaged the relationship between Hispanics and the GOP.

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Two Guys on Your Head
4:28 pm
Thu July 23, 2015

Virtual Or No, Therapy Can Be Beneficial

Credit Nejron Photo/Shutterstock

Therapy can be life-changing. However, anyone who’s ever seen a bad therapist likely agrees, on at least some level, that virtual therapy may be a step in the right direction. But is it actually effective?

Virtual therapy offers a true judgment-free zone. It also removes much of the shame and fear associated with telling even (or perhaps especially) the kindest of therapist one’s deepest and darkest secrets. It’s also much more convenient and, likely, inexpensive.

However, a good therapist can sense what’s going on beneath the surface. Due to the way the brain is structured, we can rationalize our emotional problems in a way that fits into the context of our current environment and feels safe, which can have little to do with accuracy. A good therapist also provides advice on how to face these issues, as we become ready to hear it.

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke discuss the purposes of therapy and provide some perspective on the roles virtual therapy can and can’t fill.

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Texas Standard
3:02 pm
Thu July 23, 2015

Meet the South Texas Man Who Found Out He Was Dead

DeFriend shares his story with The Victoria Advocate.
Image courtesy Frank Tilley/Victoria Advocate

From Texas Standard:

85-year-old Wharton County rancher Mark DeFriend was living his life as usual and was shocked to learn that he’d been declared dead. DeFriend first contacted The Victoria Advocate to talk about his life-after-death experience. Now, he joins the Standard to share his story.

On how the mix-up happened:

“The lady that waited on me was very helpful and considerate and I said, ‘I can’t understand how somebody can say…’ and she said, ‘Mr. DeFriend, there is a delete on the computer and a dismiss and a demised – and in a hurry sometimes they’ll hit that demise.’ So she said this happens all the time is what she told me.”

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Texas Standard
1:52 pm
Thu July 23, 2015

Kepler Space Telescope Discovers Most Earth-like Planet to Date

'This is probably one of the most interesting planet detections that came out of what we’re involved in,' a McDonald Observatory researcher says. (pictured: Kepler and K2)
NASA

From Texas Standard:

Big news this morning from NASA’s planet-hunting mission: The Kepler Space Telescope at the University of Texas' McDonald Observatory has revealed the most Earthlike planet found to date, researchers say. The planet, called Kepler-452b, lies in the constellation Cygnus, about 1,400 light years from Earth. It qualifies as super-Earth-sized, as it's about 1.6 times larger than Earth, and its orbital period is quite similar to ours, at 385 days.

The Kepler scope was launched in 2009 to detect Earth-size planets in or near the habitable zones of distant stars — planets that have the potential to sustain life like that on Earth.

“We are pushing toward Earth 2.0,” McDonald Observatory astronomer Michael Endl said in a press release. “This planet is probably the most similar to Earth yet found.”

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Austin
11:21 am
Thu July 23, 2015

Carp Helped Kill Lake Austin's Hydrilla, But What Are They Eating Now?

A lurking carp swims beneath ducks in Lake Austin. The city is asking anglers to catch at least 200 carp to determine their eating habits.
Mose Buchele/KUT

In the past, hydrilla carpeted whole swaths of Lake Austin. The invasive plant ruined recreation and damaged ecosystems on the lake. So to counteract that, the City of Austin occasionally introduced tens of thousands of sterilized grass carp to eat the hydrilla. But the city is now on the lookout for unintended consequences.

You’ve got to hand it to the grass carp: They did their job swimmingly. There’s no hydrilla problem in the lake right now, but there is concern the thousands of hungry fish have turned their attention to native plant species, and even other fish.

“Yeah, some of the anglers have talked about while they’re off fishing that they’re actually able to catch grass carp on crank baits. So, that’s what really got their hackles up,” says Dr. Brent Bellinger, an environmental scientist with the Watershed Protection Department. “Well, if they’re going after something that looks like shad on crank baits, they might be going after shad in general.”

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Texas
10:58 am
Thu July 23, 2015

State Seeks to Dismiss Lawsuit Over Birth Certificates

Local vital statistics offices, which are overseen by DSHS, have refused to accept what the families argue were once acceptable forms of IDs for non-citizens, including passports and Mexican matrícula cards issued by Mexican consulate offices.
Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Wednesday asked a federal district judge to dismiss a lawsuit that claims a state agency violated the U.S. Constitution by denying birth certificates to U.S.-citizen children of immigrant parents.

Attorneys with Paxton’s office said that the Texas Department of State Health Services, which is being sued by 17 families living in Cameron, Hidalgo and Starr counties, has sovereign immunity under the 11th Amendment and cannot be sued in federal court because it has not waived that right, according to court documents. 

The immunity extends to interim DSHS Commissioner Kirk Cole and State Registrar Geraldine Harris, who are also named as defendants in the suit, Paxton's office argues.

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In Black America Podcast
10:38 pm
Wed July 22, 2015

'Million Dollars Worth of Nerve' [Part II] with Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman.
Credit WWJ/Stephanie Davis

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. concludes his conversation with Ken Coleman, journalist and author of ‘Million Dollars Worth of Nerve: Twenty-One People Who Helped To Power Black Bottom, Paradise Valley and Detroit’s Lower East Side.’

The title 'Million Dollars Worth of Nerve' comes from Michigan Chronicle Editor Louis E. Martin, who quipped that he was sent to Detroit in 1936 with $135 and “a million dollars worth of nerve.”

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Texas Standard
4:30 pm
Wed July 22, 2015

10 Things About The Sandra Bland Traffic Stop That Every Texan Should Know

Jim Harrington with the Texas Civil Rights Project sits down with Texas Standard to go through the Sandra Bland dash cam video step-by-step.
Flickr/punchup (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

On July 10, 28-year-old Sandra Bland was arrested and charged with assaulting a public servant. She was taken to the Waller County Jail; three days later, she was found in her cell dead from what officials called suicide. Both the FBI and the Texas Rangers launched investigations trying to find out what happened.

Dashboard camera footage from Bland’s traffic stop was released on Tuesday.  (Note: The video was uploaded to YouTube Tuesday evening; it has since been taken down, after people pointed out errors and inconsistencies in the video, which led many to believe it had been edited. A DPS spokesman denied editing the video, and re-uploaded the footage without errors or omissions this afternoon.)

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Politics
2:41 pm
Wed July 22, 2015

Congress to Vote on Sanctuary Cities

Undocumented immigrants are brought back into Mexico.
Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: Republicans in Texas who grouse that the federal government doesn’t enforce immigration laws might soon have Congress to thank for beefing up enforcement at the state and local levels.

The U.S. House is on track to vote later this week on legislation that would cut off federal funding for cities that don't enforce immigration laws. 

Most members of Congress interviewed by The Texas Tribune on Tuesday had not yet read the legislation — dubbed the Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act — but said they were considering it ahead of the likely Thursday vote. 

“I think we need to obey the law, but I want to see what sort of language they have on it,” said U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Laredo Democrat.

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Wayback Wednesday
2:20 pm
Wed July 22, 2015

'Bloom County' Creator's Early Cartooning Days at UT

The Academia Waltz comic strip, published in the Daily Texan in the late 1970s, was the predecessor to Berkeley Breathed's Bloom County series.
Charlotte Carpenter/KUT

Last week marked the surprise return of one of the preeminent voices of 1980s newspaper comics: Berkeley Breathed, the artist and author behind Bloom County — and University of Texas alum. The strip, for which Breathed was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1987, was put to rest — supposedly for good — in 1989. Breathed followed that strip with others, featuring some of the same characters, like Outland in the ‘90s and Opus in the mid-aughts.

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