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Wayback Wednesday
1:51 pm
Wed April 29, 2015

William Sydney Porter and Austin's Original 'Rolling Stone'

The cover of The Rolling Stone's final issue from April 25, 1895.
Austin History Center

Today's Wayback Wednesday looks back at Austin's onetime Victorian-era literary magazine, The Rolling Stone. The DIY-minded rag published short stories, cartoons and other Onion-esque items, but it is largely known as the first creative sandbox for its publisher, William Sydney Porter.

Porter, a North Carolina transplant who moved to Austin in the late 1880s, worked as a druggist and as a clerk at the General Land Office before he took a job at the First National Bank as a teller. It was during his time as a teller that he started The Rolling Stone in 1895. A year later, in April of 1896, Porter printed the last issue after being fired from the bank for embezzling money. Turns out he was using the money to support his enterprise, a crime that would land him time in federal prison, where he would continue writing under his now-famous pseudonym: O. Henry.

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Texas
1:10 pm
Wed April 29, 2015

International Group Aims to Help Children of Incarcerated Parents

Texas has one of the highest incarceration rates in the nation.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

More than half of U.S. prison inmates are parents of children under 18 years old, according to U.S. Department of Justice statistics from 2007. A new international group is looking to help the children of those incarcerated parents in the U.S. and abroad.

No matter the crime, children of those sent to jail are affected in big ways — often sharing the attitudes and behaviors of their imprisoned parents.

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Texas Standard
12:07 pm
Wed April 29, 2015

Why Terlingua Doesn't Want Reality TV Cameras in Their Town

A National Geographic film crew has come to town.
jbparrott/flickr

Terlingua, a small town in Brewster County, West Texas, near the Rio Grande, used to be a mining town. Now it's mainly a tourist destination on the way to Big Bend — but pretty soon, Terlingua might attract a different kind of tourist.

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Texas
11:41 am
Wed April 29, 2015

Why SCOTUS' Hearing on Midazolam May Affect Texas Executions

The U.S. Supreme Court is considering today whether the lethal injection drug Midazolam, which is not currently used in Texas, constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. The drug has not been proven to deliver a pain-free execution experience.
Calif. Dep. of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on the three-drug combination used in Oklahoma executions.

At issue is whether the use of one of the drugs, Midazolam, constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, since it is not proven to prevent the person being executed from feeling pain.

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Energy & Environment
10:32 am
Wed April 29, 2015

Could Texas Be Doing More to Protect Against Manmade Earthquakes?

A dozen smaller earthquakes have struck Dallas in the last few weeks, following a SMU study that showed a connection between disposal well sites and earthquakes.

There have been earthquakes in almost every corner of Texas since the start of the state's most recent oil and gas boom. One swarm that really captured people’s attention started in the town of Azle in 2013.  When oil and gas regulators at the Railroad Commission of Texas visited the town, local people suggested ways to handle the waste water disposal wells thought to be causing the quakes. One idea came up over and over again.

“Why is it we can't shut the wells down around here for a period of time?” asked resident Gale Wood. "If nothing happens after a while, that would be one way to determine what’s going on."

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2015 Legislature
10:08 am
Wed April 29, 2015

Senate Approves Drug Testing for Political Candidates

A bill in the legislature would require those running for office in Texas to take a drug test when he or she files to run.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

Any candidate seeking elected office in Texas would be required to take a drug test when he or she files to run, under a proposal that the state Senate approved Tuesday. But the idea may never take effect, since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturned a similar law in the 1990s.

There wouldn’t be any consequences for failing the test under the rule, which was included as an amendment on far-reaching ethics legislation. But the results would be posted on the Texas Ethics Commission’s website.

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Austin
7:13 am
Wed April 29, 2015

Travis County Home Values Increase by 11 Percent in 2015

Jon Shapley/KUT News

If you’re a homeowner, start checking your mail. You should receive the most recent appraisal of your home value from Travis Central Appraisal District by the end of the week.

And expect those values to have gone up.

The average home value in the county increased by 11 percent in 2015, to $355,312 from $320,032 last year. Taxable values rose about nine percent.

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Texas Standard
3:13 pm
Tue April 28, 2015

What Austin's Police Chief Thinks We Can Learn from Baltimore

Protest at the Baltimore Police Department Western District building at N. Mount St. and Riggs Ave. on April 25, 2015.
veggies/wikimedia commons

From Texas Standard:

Television is supposed to draw people closer to the action and make them feel like they're there.

But it doesn't quite feel that way watching footage of the Baltimore riots. It's out there — distant — as we observe and decide for ourselves what went wrong from the comfort of our homes.

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Texas
1:58 pm
Tue April 28, 2015

Abbott Orders Texas Guard to 'Monitor' Planned Military Exercises

Soldiers in a First Army Division West NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan team conduct convoy lanes training on North Fort Hood, Texas, July 20, 2012.
soldiersmediacenter/flickr

Texas Governor Greg Abbott is ordering the Texas State Guard to monitor a two-month long U.S. military exercise scheduled to be held in Bastrop County this summer. The move comes amid suspicions from some residents (and the Internet) about the motivations behind the training.

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The Write Up
11:55 am
Tue April 28, 2015

Author Scott Blackwood on Appreciating The Beauty Between Life and Death

Credit scottblackwood.com

Questions that lead to no answers. Wounds that never quite heal. The unhinged time of tragedy and grief. The soft, relentless whispering of the abused, the murdered, the lost. This is the world of Scott Blackwood.

Scott Blackwood is one of the most lyrical of modern American writers. His prose rings with poetry. His work explores community, grief, and the secrets that run through our lives.

In this edition of The Write Up, Blackwood talks about his new novel See How Small and explains why he is drawn to this story and the harrowing task of researching it. With a careful balance of compassion and curiosity, Blackwood reached out to many of the people connected to the actual murders including family members and first responders. Blackwood’s goal in this novel, and in all his work, is to recover lost voices.

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Austin
8:18 am
Tue April 28, 2015

City to Close Some Swimming Pools, Reduce Hours

Austin Parks and Recreation Department head recently said in a memo to Mayor Steve Adler that the city's public pools will cost $41 million to repair.
via Flickr/smreilly

From the Austin Monitor: Citing budget shortfalls, water conservation issues and a lack of lifeguards, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department says it will close two pools and cut back pool operating hours this summer.

The department says it would cost the city $41 million to bring all of its public pools into good repair.

According to a memo written by Parks and Recreation Department Director Sara Hensley to the mayor and City Council, a shortage in lifeguards means that the city will not be able to open pools June 5, which is the first day of summer break.

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Austin
3:09 pm
Mon April 27, 2015

Why Some Downtown Austin Buildings Sit Vacant for Years

920 Congress is one of four buildings on Congress Avenue that's had little activity over several years.
Miguel Gutierrez, Jr./KUT

For the past 10 years, the Austin skyline’s been in a state of constant flux. In the past year alone, two towers have gone up in the downtown area: the Colorado Tower and the IBC Bank Plaza. Those two buildings, which combine for nearly 570,000 square feet in office and retail space, were all but leased by the time they opened their doors.

But, for some buildings, the wait is a little longer.

For some buildings – like the former headquarters of La Bare on Riverside Drive, the boxy little historic building at Congress and Riverside just down the road, and even some properties in the heart of Downtown Austin, just a few blocks from the Capitol – the wait is seemingly interminable, leaving daily passersby wondering why such high-value real estate lies vacant in the middle of a Austin’s development boom.

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Arts Eclectic
12:44 pm
Mon April 27, 2015

ColdTowne Presents 'Austin Translation'

Austin Translation is the new mainstage show at ColdTowne Theater. Produced and directed by Second City alum Dave Buckman, the show was created using the Second City method; over the past couple of months, Austin Translation cast members brought in ideas, worked on them together through improvisation, and then chose the best of the best to craft into scripted sketches.

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Austin
10:24 am
Mon April 27, 2015

Without a Permit System, Austin's Street Performers Busk with Uncertainty

James Anthony Johnson performs on South Congress. Johnson, originally from Tennessee, has been playing local venues and busking for over 20 years in Austin.
Miguel Gutierrez, Jr. for KUT Austin

Austin prides itself on being the live music capital of the world — anywhere you go, there's music, even just walking down the street. But the city’s buskers — not just the musicians, but also the magicians, bucket drummers, jugglers and others who perform for spare change on the city’s sidewalks — are operating in a legal gray area.

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Austin
7:28 am
Mon April 27, 2015

Austin Energy Working to Restore Power to Affected Areas

Energy outage map as of 7:15 this morning.
Credit Austin Energy

Storms that rolled through the area around 1 a.m. last night caused various power outages throughout Austin and surrounding areas. Austin Energy has a map of current outages here. Customers still experiencing loss of power should call 512-322-9100 to report it.  

Crews have been working to assess damage, some caused by fallen limbs, and some customers have had their power restored as of this morning.

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Higher Ed
2:00 pm
Sun April 26, 2015

Higher Ed: Turning Learning Upside Down

Credit Dawn Endico/flickr

We all know the traditional classroom drill: Go to class, listen to a lecture, take notes, go home, do the homework, come back to class, repeat. What if that model were reversed, and students heard the lecture information outside the classroom and spent class time wrestling with questions and ideas? In this week's episode of KUT's podcast Higher Ed, Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger discuss inquiry-based learning. Sounds dry? Not at all - listen on!

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Texas Standard
5:15 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

APD Returns Rare, Stolen Guitar to Hill Country Musician

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo tweeted this picture of police posing with Wilkins and his newly-returned guitar.
@ArtAcevedo

From Texas Standard.

Austin Police returned a pretty special Gibson guitar this week. It was one of only three produced. Willie Nelson owns one, Dan Rather owns one, and now, Walt Wilkins has his back. Wilkins is a singer-songwriter based in the Texas Hill Country.

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Austin
4:59 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

Can City Officials Create a Level Playing Field for Cab, Uber and Lyft Drivers?

Raido Kalma/flickr

Many things have changed in the five years since the Austin City Council last approved a contract with taxi franchises.

For one, ride service companies like Uber and Lyft have become more of a norm than an anomaly. Still, cab companies say their drivers are not operating on a level playing field when it comes to regulations.

Now, the Austin City Council, for the first time, says it's going to do an analysis of exactly how level the field is.

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Texas Standard
3:32 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

How the BP Oil Spill is a Prototype for Future Disasters

Anchor-handling tugboats battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon in 2010.
Ideum/flickr

From Texas Standard

As we look back on the last five years since the Deepwater Horizon disaster, some big questions linger: What will the next disaster be, and can we prepare for it?

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Transportation
2:43 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

Austin's Transportation Future: A Conversation With Anthony Foxx

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.
Credit DOT

Austin suffers from plenty of traffic congestion, but the city is hardly alone there. Across the country, cities are having to confront the question of how to move more and more people around in a limited amount of space. On Friday, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx came to Austin to discuss transportation issues and what the city can learn from others. 

His visit brought him to the University of Texas at Austin's Center for Transportation Research, where he got to see research in traffic modeling and connected vehicle technology. The U.S. Department of Transportation recently released 'Beyond Traffic,' a 30-year plan on the future of transportation in the country. "It looks at long-term trends and begins to shape the types of choices we have ahead of us," Foxx says. "And I came here today to see what kind of work is being done on research and innovation in transportation that's consistent with our plan." 

We spoke for a few minutes on Austin's traffic issues, transportation innovation, and difficulties consistently funding infrastructure and maintenance of the roads we already have. 

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