Carlos Morales

Intern

Intern for KUT News

KUT News

Racial issues are one again simmering the University of Texas at Austin.

Students marched on the UT campus earlier this week to protest what some are calling racially motivated attacks, where balloons allegedly filled with bleach were dropped from apartment balconies in the West Campus area near UT.

While the perpetrator or perpetrators of the attacks is unknown, and therefore their intentions are unclear, KVUE reports Austin police “have spoken to victims who were involved in four separate and similar incidents involving liquid-filled balloons dropped on people of color.” And the incidents have once again created a focus on racial climate for African-American students on campus.

“I won’t say that it’s easier being on campus, because people still look at you like you don’t belong here,” says Reva Davis, vice president of the Black Student Alliance. “And you can walk into a classroom and you’ll still feel uncomfortable — whether you’re a freshman or senior — being a person of color. It doesn’t get easier, you just find ways to deal with and cope with it.”

With one confirmed West Nile virus-related death in Travis County, and spraying for mosquitos in Dallas, many Central Texans are wondering what they can do to keep mosquitos away.

Some have turned to some quirky alternatives to make sure mosquitos keep away – including a bracelet makers say acts as a mosquito repellent.

According to one product’s website, these bracelets essentially work by producing an “aura” of plant-based oils that act like a protective shield – something they say mosquitos won’t like at all. But according to Dr. Phil Huang, the medical director for the Travis County Health and Human Services, such bracelets might not be that effective.

Robert Burns for Texas AgriLife Extension Service

While Texas has partially recovered from drought conditions thanks to heavy rain, the Midwest is going through one its worst drought years in decades. And conditions may impact some  – but not all  – Texas farmers’ pocketbooks.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the nation is going through the worst agricultural drought since 1988. For corn and soybean growers it’s been especially harmful, since more than three-quarters of those crops are considered to be in a drought area. But that could actually prove to be beneficial for Texas.

“With the Midwest suffering from drought, that’s driving prices up," says Bob Rose, chief meteorologist with the Lower Colorado River Authority. "So that means the market price for the corn, for many of the farmers in Texas and our area, is going to be very good."

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

In less than 48 hours, online retailer Amazon.com will start charging Texas sales tax on products you buy from its site.

Texas will become only the sixth state to charge sales tax on Amazon purchases. The switch comes after an agreement was made between the Texas Comptroller’s office and the online retailer. In 2010, the comptroller’s office claimed Amazon owed the state $269 million in uncollected sales tax. Under the new agreement, Amazon will create at least 2,500 jobs  in the state and will also bring at least $200 million in capital investment. 

For many brick-and-mortar operations the move will level the playing field. Jason Brewer is with the Retail Industry Leaders Association, a national trade group.

City of Austin

The Austin City Council approved a $21.7 million construction contract for the Lady Bird Lake boardwalk today.

The project, largely funded via a bond election back in 2010, will close a 1.1-mile gap in the hike and bike trail around Lady Bird Lake with a boardwalk that's both partially over land and over water.

To help allay costs, which were initially pegged at $17.4 million, the city will reallocate $5.8 million from the 2010 Bond Street Reconstruction Program. The city will also receive a $3 million donation from the Trail Foundation, a trail advocacy group.

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