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Life & Arts
1:54 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

Austin Author Meg Gardiner Thrills with 'Phantom Instinct'

Meg Gardiner's "Phantom Instinct" is one of a dozen thrillers by the Austin-based author.
Credit Photo by Stuart Boreham

Imagine there was a disaster. You were there. But you saw something no one else saw—something that would change everyone else's mind about what really happened. That is, if they believed you. Now, imagine there's another person who saw exactly what you saw. But no one believes him either. What would you do?

Austin author Meg Gardiner's new book, Phantom Instinct, pursues that question through 356 action-packed pages. She spoke to the Texas Standard's Emily Donahue.

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Food
1:21 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

H-E-B Cites the Presence of 'Foreign Materials' in Voluntary Beef Recall

H-E-B has issued a voluntary recall for some of its beef products.
Credit Photo courtesy of H-E-B

H-E-B has issued a voluntarily recall of 13 items due to the "possible presence of a foreign material." 

The San Antonio-based grocer said no customers have reported illnesses, but they recalled certain skirt steaks, beef fajitas and stew meats with packaging dates as early as June 9 as a precautionary measure. 

Below is a full list of  affected items.

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Fourth of July
12:38 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

Here's Where You Can Celebrate the 4th of July in Central Texas

Looking to see some fireworks this Fourth of July? Take a gander at our list to find a show near you.
flickr.com/photos/rampantgaffer/

The Fourth of July is upon us once again.

It's a time for fireworks, parades, barbecues and, of course, plenty of red, white and blue. So, in honor of America's birthday, KUT has compiled a list of Independence Day parades featuring the best fireworks, food and festivities near you in Central Texas.

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Food
9:44 am
Thu July 3, 2014

Ranchers Approve Added Charge for Cattle Sales in Texas

Before the beef even hits a butcher's slab, Texas' so-called "beef checkoff" sends $2 towards industry groups for every cow sold, but some say the funds undercut small-scale ranchers.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tarale/6688989961/

From StateImpact Texas: 

Every time a cow is sold in Texas, a dollar of that sale goes to industry groups that use it to promote and research beef. It’s part of a national program called the “beef checkoff,” and that charge will now rise to two dollars in Texas after a statewide vote by cattle owners.

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Transportation
8:01 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

What is a Diverging Diamond Interchange and How Might it Help Traffic in Round Rock?

North Carolina Department of Transportation

State transportation authorities announced this week that they received the green light to build a $6.7 million "diverging diamond interchange" at I-35 and University Blvd. in Round Rock. That's an area that gets a lot of traffic, partly because it's near the only IKEA in Central Texas and the Round Rock Premium Outlets, among many other retail businesses.

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Energy & Environment
12:30 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Proposals to Prevent Another Fertilizer Explosion Immediately Meet Resistance

A helmet is carried in remembrance of a firefighter from the Abbott Volunteer Fire Department killed in a fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas last year.
PHOTO BY JORGE SANHUEZA-LYON/KUT

From StateImpact Texas: 

The explosion at a fertilizer plant in the small town of West, Texas last year took much more than fifteen lives. At least 262 people were injured; twenty percent of those were brain injuries. Homes and schools were destroyed. But judging from the response of some state lawmakers charged with stopping it from happening again, disasters like the one in West are just something Texans are going to have to live with from time to time.

There’s been no new regulations for fertilizer plants since the disaster until this month, but there’s been a consensus for some time about how to prevent another tragedy like the one in West: require fertilizer plants to store ammonium nitrate in non-combustible facilities or to use sprinklers; conduct inspections of facilities; and train first responders so they know how to deal with fires that may break out at sites with ammonium nitrate. 

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Transportation
11:51 am
Wed July 2, 2014

Austin Could Take Hands-On Approach to Distracted Driving by Banning Hands-Free

Austin City Council could expand its definition of distracted driving to include hands-free devices.
via http://www.flickr.com/photos/indyplanets/

Austin already has a ban on texting behind the wheel, but phones these days are labeled "smart" for a reason — they can text, tweet,  Snapchat and steer drivers toward a plethora other distracting drive-time activities.

But now the city is asking for advice on possible changes to its distracted driving ordinance. And it could adopt an all-encompassing ban on mobile phone use behind the wheel, including a ban on hands-free devices.

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Civil Rights Act
11:06 am
Wed July 2, 2014

How Twitter and Time Have Helped Americans Reassess LBJ's Legacy

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civil Rights Act as Martin Luther King, Jr., others look on.
LBJ Library photo by Cecil Stoughton

This post has been updated to include portions of an interview with LBJ Library Director Mark Updegrove.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act fifty years ago today.

"It's hard to realize that 50 years ago, people of color in many parts of this country, particularly in the Deep South, would not be accommodated at restaurants or at hotels or at motels, there were separate educational facilities and separate water fountains – we essentially lived in an apartheid state," LBJ Library Director Mark Updegrove says.

Both the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum in Austin and the LBJ Ranch in Stonewall are celebrating the anniversary of the signing.

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Life & Arts
4:20 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

Texas Bats Help Deliver New Sweetener

Texas long-nosed bats help cultivate Maguey plants in the Mexican desert.
Lucy Nieto

A new organic sweetener has hit the Texas market. Well, certain Central Markets around Texas for now anyway.

Villa de Patos, a family-run business in Mexico, is hoping to push its sweetness into other stores this side of the border soon. Maguey Sweet Sap is made from the nectar of a Maguey plant – an agave plant that grows chiefly in the Mexican dessert without the use of pesticides or synthetic fertilizers.

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Texas
3:05 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

For Trailblazing Texan Oveta Culp Hobby, a Long Overdue Biography

Col Oveta Culp Hobby (right) talks with Auxiliary Margaret Peterson and Capt. Elizabeth Gilbert in this 1943 photo at New York's Mitchel Field.
Al Aumuller/ World Telegram & Sun/Library of Congress

From the small Texas town of Killeen, Oveta Culp Hobby grew up into a remarkable woman, serving her country and opening doors for women in the military.  

She helped establish the Women’s Army Corps and received a distinguished service medal – the first woman in the army ever to do so. She also served as Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare under President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

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Arts Eclectic
3:01 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

Get Inspired at The Tesla Project

By the time of his death in 1943, inventor and engineer Nikola Tesla had accumulated some 300 patents for his works. He's credited for work and ideas that resulted in countless innovations, most notably alternating current, or the electrical system that powers most of the devices in your home.

After his death, Tesla's legacy fell into relative obscurity for a time, but in recent years, he's been embraced by a new generation of scientists and engineers. At this point, he's become a bit of folk hero, seen by many as the epitome of the uncompromising genius.

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World Cup
12:49 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

Where Austin Fans Buy Their World Cup Flags

Soccer fans fill the Black Sheep Lodge in south Austin during the USA vs. Germany World Cup match on June 26.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

With World Cup fever peaking, flag stores in Austin have been selling out of the old red, white and blue. The oldest red, white and blue, in fact – the Dutch flag, in use since 1572.

Flag stores always stock up for the Fourth of July, says Michele Kronberg, the self-described “boss-queen” of Austin Flag and Flagpole on South First Street. “It’s our busiest time of the year,” she says. “We don’t really have a Christmas season.” But exploding demand for foreign flags, driven by the World Cup, caught her off guard.

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Austin Animal Center
11:00 am
Tue July 1, 2014

Could a Law Meant to Keep Animals Safe Actually Let More of Them Die?

A visitor to the Austin Animal Center in 2011. Animal advocates worry a law requiring a "veterinarian-client patient relationship" could slow rescue efforts, leading to more animal deaths.
KUT News

It's another busy day at the City of Austin's Animal Center.

This Monday there were 1,149 animals in inventory. About 600 were on site, the rest are in foster homes.

On her desk, Chief Animal Services Officer Abigail Smith has what looks like a police badge. It's there because she's a chief. But beyond that, Smith says it gets her access she couldn't get otherwise. "For example," Smith says, "it came in handy when we were responding to the Bastrop fires … Those were federally protected lines and you needed credentials to get through."

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Transportation
9:44 am
Tue July 1, 2014

The $400 Million in I-35 Fixes That Could Be Bundled With Urban Rail

Callie Hernandez/KUT

Much attention has been placed on Austin City Council’s unanimous vote to endorse an urban rail plan for Austin. But $400 million of a proposed transportation bond that could reach voters in November is for road improvements as well.

Here's a breakdown of spending proposals, culled from the 2014 Austin Strategic Mobility Plan:

The largest chunk of the approved road package is $120 million to improve downtown access from I-35, with new access ramps and separate lanes for local and pass-through traffic. This portion would also cover improvements to an interchange at Riverside  Drive.

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Texas
7:20 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Two Texans Weighing White House Bids Applaud Supreme Court Ruling

Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Ted Cruz at an April 2014 news conference at Fort Hood addressing a deadly gunfire incident
Sgt. Ken Scar Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System

The offices of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Governor Rick Perry were quick to release statements lauding Monday’s Supreme Court decision on contraception. The ruling said family-owned and other closely held companies can opt out of an Affordable Care Act provision requiring they provide insurance coverage of birth control.

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Must-Listen Audio
2:11 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Listen: This Austin Musician's Story of Falling In Love Will Make You Smile

Nakia.net

Where were you when you met the love of your life?

For Austin musician and "The Voice" contestant Nakia, it was at the corner of South Congress and Elizabeth Avenue, outside a South by Southwest day party.

Listen to his story: 

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StateImpact Texas
12:01 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Rising Oil and Gas Boom Does Little for Poor in Texas

From StateImpact Texas: 

When it comes to the oil and gas drilling boom in the country, Texas is king. Actually, make that crown a global one: over a quarter of all the active drilling rigs in the worldare right here in the Lone Star State.

The boom – taking place thanks to hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” and horizontal drilling – has brought jobs, money and more energy security to Texas and the country. It’s also damaged roads, increased traffic and accidents, strained local governments and caused housing prices to skyrocket in parts of the state. How the boom is leaving some communities behind is the subject of an in-depth report today in The New York Times.

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2014 Texas Democratic Convention
11:47 am
Mon June 30, 2014

After Rallying Party Faithful, Texas Democrats Get Back on Campaign Trail

State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, and State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, wave at Democrats at the Texas Democratic Convention on June 27, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

At their statewide convention in Dallas over the weekend, the top Democratic nominees took the stage and the party set its priorities for the upcoming year. Texas Democratic Party leaders urged the party faithful to knock on doors and make phone calls to change the political color of the state. State Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, chair of the convention, was among them.

"I’m crazy enough to believe, and I hope you are too, that we can do big things better if we turn Texas blue," Sen. West said.

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In Black America Podcast
11:20 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Remembering William F. 'Bill' Williams

William F. "Bill" Williams

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with the late William F. “Bill” Williams, former president and co-founder of Glory Foods, Inc.

In 1992, Glory Foods officially launched its line of pre-seasoned canned vegetables with Columbus, Ohio as its test market. Their initial product line of 17 items focused on greens, peas and beans. During the past twenty-two years, Glory has been able to expand its line to offer 85 products, including seasoned canned greens, bagged fresh greens and other vegetables, low sodium products, hot sauces, seasoned cooking bases, and corn bread and muffins. Glory Foods is now available at grocery stores nationwide.

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Immigration Reform
11:06 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Why Children in Texas Illegally Could Stay in the U.S. for Years

Many of the thousands of children from Central America crossing the Texas-Mexico border are eventually subject to deportation, but it could take years before their cases goes to immigration court.
flickr.com/cbpphotos

Many of the thousands of children from Central America crossing the Texas-Mexico border are eventually subject to deportation, but it could take years before their cases goes to court.

Texas has the second highest number of pending immigration cases after California. The problem is simple, immigration lawyers say: The courts just don’t have enough judges.

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