Reshma Kirpalani

Freelancer

Reshma Kirpalani works as a freelancer at KUT News.

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Texas
2:33 pm
Mon July 22, 2013

Texas Women Ask: What Does It Mean to Be Empowered?

Fawn Jackson takes notes during the introductory speeches at the Women’s Health, Motivation & Empowerment Conference. Jackson planned to attend the health workshops offered at the meeting.
Reshma Kirpalani for KUT News

The ink had barely dried on Gov. Rick Perry's signature on House Bill 2, a controversial law restricting abortions in Texas, when 200 women filed into the Austin Community College Eastview campus to attend the Women’s Health, Motivation & Empowerment Conference. 

A free, daylong event presented by the Positive Women’s Coalition and sponsored by Austin Community College, it featured workshops focused on women’s career development, relationships and health.

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Istanbul
8:37 am
Wed June 12, 2013

First Person Account of Turkish Protests in Istanbul (Update)

Protesters at Taksim Square climb over the Republic Statue, adorning it with flags. The flags represent organizations that stand against the current regime, including opposing political parties, universities and nonprofits.
Reshma Kirpalani for KUT News

Editor’s note: Reshma Kirpalani is a multimedia journalist who worked as a KUT News intern for several months, including the period of the Central Texas wildfires. She is currently in the Turkish city of Istanbul. Kirpalani visited Taksim Square earlier today – the center of widespread protest against the Turkish government – and filed this report. This post has since been updated.

Istanbul awoke to somber, gray skies on Wednesday morning after a night of increasing violence in Taksim Square. Deep into Tuesday night, protesters renewed their efforts against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Edroğan's regime, one many have come to view as increasingly authoritarian over the past decade. 

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Charter Election
12:54 am
Wed November 7, 2012

Watching the Returns With Austinites for Geographic Representation

Linda Curtis signs a thank you card to the people who helped put Prop 3 on the ballot
Reshma Kirpalani for KUT News

By 8 p.m. the mood at Opal Divine's was already celebratory, with Proposition 3 supporters pumping 10-1 signs in the air.

Members of Austinites for Geographic Representation (AGR), the backers of Prop 3 and sponsors of the watch party, were clad in 10-1 stickers. Drinks and laughter flowed freely.  An oversized projector at the back of the private room displayed local election coverage.

Former State Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos – chair of the city commission that narrowly recommended the 10-1 plan, and a staunch backer of Prop 3 – greeted fellow guests. "I've been around elections for a long time," Barrientos said. "It's a weird feeling in the beginning. I never like to jump too quickly upon hearing good news, and it's been good news up to this point. If I were a betting person, I would bet that proposition three would win." 

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2012 Election
8:31 pm
Tue November 6, 2012

Live Blog: It's Election Night in Austin

An Obama supporter at the Driskill Hotel
Filipa Rodrigues

1 a.m.: And That's a Wrap

Thanks for staying with KUT News this election night. For KUT News' complete election night coverage, click on the 2012 Election tag. 

11:30 p.m.: More Races From Around the State 

Here's more races from around the state KUT News has been watching, 

State Rep. Randy Weber, R-Pearland, defeated former U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Beaumont, in the race to replace U.S. Rep. Ron Paul in the 14th Congressional District.

Democratic incumbent Wendy Davis managed to eke out a victory over Republican Mark Shelton for the state senate seat in District 10.

10:30 p.m.: Rep. Donna Howard on Plans for Second Term

State Rep. Donna Howard is going to hold on to her District 48 seat. It’s a far cry from her 2010 election, where she narrowly won.

“It’s very different than it was last election,” Howard tells KUT News. “And redistricting certainly was a part of that. The fact is I have a 60 percent new district this time.”

So what are Howard’s plans for the 2013 Legislative Session?

“What I hear from my constituents they’re very concerned about the cuts to public education and the cuts to the women’s health program and family planning. I think we’re going to have to look at, how do we find sustainable revenue streams that can help provide those things that we expect government to provide. Quality public education is one of those, as well as making sure that women have the health care that they need.”

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Austin
5:10 pm
Mon November 5, 2012

Traffic Woes Mar Fun Run Around Austin's F1 Track

Along with the new Formula One racetrack, participants in Saturday’s Formula Run race also saw bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Circuit of the Americas

The first lap around the Formula One racetrack was done on foot: over 5,000 people participated in Saturday’s Formula Run, a 3.4-mile race coordinated by the Circuit of the Americas and RunTex. Austinite Wes Johnson was the first to cross the finish line.

The race was also the first chance for the public to view the newly minted, $400 million track.

But last minute registrars and a dense fog that morning, coupled with traffic jams at the intersection of SH 130 and FM 812, forced organizers to push back the start time of the race by forty minutes. Organizers said that Saturday’s event was not an indicator of the type of traffic congestion that will occur during the weekend of the race.

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Public Safety
3:54 pm
Mon November 5, 2012

Austin, F1 and the Black Market in Human Trafficking

U.S. Ambassador Luis CdeBaca says a comprehensive approach is needed to fight human trafficking.
flickr.com/americanprogress

As the City of Austin gears up to host some extra 90,000 out of state fans during the Formula 1 Grand Prix, the Austin Police Department is preparing for another increase – a potential increase in human trafficking cases.

Police say trafficking cases rise with every big influx of visitors into a city. “When there's an increased demand for a product, there's going to be an increase in supply,” says Sergeant Keith Suitt with the Austin Police Department's Human Trafficking Unit. “And we expect that for a lot of events so we try to address that."

The City of Austin’s Public Safety Commission is scheduled to receive an update on local human trafficking cases at its meeting this afternoon. It’s a subject that’s very important to Luis CdeBaca, the U.S. Ambassador appointed to combat modern day slavery around the world.

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Bond Election
2:46 pm
Tue October 16, 2012

Prop 18: Library, Museum and Cultural Arts Facilities

Austin Studios' expansion into a former National Guard armory is one of the projects funded by Prop 18.
flickr.com/carolee

KUT News is profiling the seven bond propositions that will appear on Austin voters’ ballots this November. The last one the list, Prop 18, allocates $13.4 million to library, museum and cultural arts facilities.

Part of the bond would fund interior and exterior renovations at several branches of the Austin Public Library. Facilities earmarked for funds include the Austin History Center and the University Hills, Cepeda and Will Hampton branches.

Another $5.4 million would go toward Austin Studios, operated by the Austin Film Society. The money would be used to remodel the National Guard Armory next to Austin Studios for use as an annex. If approved, the renovated facility would provide offices for small film-related businesses and artists.

“It’s an incredible opportunity to expand what we’re already doing in Austin Studios and create a hub of artists and small businesses and additional film making,” says Rebecca Campbell, executive director of the Austin Film Society. “But the building is over 50 years old and its in terrible condition.”

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Bond Election
2:12 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Prop 13: Watershed Protection and Open Space

The city says Prop 13 protects water quality by funding land purchases in the Barton Springs Watershed contributing and recharge zones.
KUT News

This November, Austin voters will be asked to decide on 18 propositions, including seven bond propositions totaling $385 million. KUT News is examining all seven of the spending propositions; today we take a look at Prop 13, which would spend $30 million purchasing land and conservation easements for open space and water quality protection. 

According to the city, the bond would help preserve Austin's water quality by funding land buys in the Barton Springs Watershed, where water filters into the Edwards Aquifer.

“It’s preserving the lands, keeping it from urbanization, which inevitably leads to some degradation of water quality,” says Michael Personett,  assistant director for the city’s Watershed Protection program.

The bond would also add to the city's undeveloped space by funding the purchase of land conservation easements in environmentally sensitive areas. Easements are essentially agreements between the city and landowners that keep land in the hands of its original owner while preventing outside development. The owner gets some extra cash, and the city gets assurances water quality won't deteriorate in that area.

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Bond Election
1:06 pm
Mon October 8, 2012

Prop 12: Transportation and Mobility

A typical rush hour on MoPac. According to the city, Prop 12 would fund the “improvement, construction and design” of sidewalks, bridges and roads to help ease traffic.
Jillian Schantz Patrick for KUT News

This election, Austin voters will be asked to decide on 18 propositions, including seven bond propositions totaling $385 million. KUT News is taking an in-depth look at all seven of the bond propositions, starting with the largest spending package: Prop 12, funding transportation and mobility projects.

According to the city, the $143.3 million proposal would fund the “improvement, construction and design” of sidewalks, bridges and roads to help ease traffic and congestion. That will likely include updates to Interstate 35, MoPac and North Lamar Boulevard.

The bond would also fund new traffic signals and pedestrian beacons backers says will improve safety, and help pay for a portion of the Violet Crown Trail, a 30-mile hiking and biking path from Zilker Park to Hays County. A full list of potential transportation projects can be found on the city’s website.

Love Austin is a campaign by bond supporters that hopes to educate voters about the city’s overall bond package. At a kick-off party at Nuevo Leon in East Austin, field director Ian Davis said he’s excited about the new trail. “You know I grew up hiking and biking in the greenbelt and now ... I have a young son and I’m just looking forward to taking him on this very new trail," Davis said.  "I think it’s going to be an environmental treasure."

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Austin
3:45 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

Photos: Austin Firefighters Commemorate 9/11 With Memorial Stair Climb

A firefighter makes his way down the Austin Fire Department's Pleasant Valley training tower.
Reshma Kirpalani for KUT News

On the 11th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, Austin firefighters took part in a memorial stair climb to honor the 343 firefighters who died on 9/11. During the service at the Austin Fire Department’s Pleasant Valley training tower, 45 firefighters scaled the training tower's stairs nine times, roughly equaling the height of the World Trade Center.

"You know every one of those guys that died that day, they were just going to work that morning,” said Eric Novaez, an AFD firefighter who participated in today's service. “They had no idea what they were getting into, and I think that's the same with any firefighter who goes to work. You never know what the day's got in store for you so it's definitely worth remembering."

The climb was completed in silence to remember those firefighters who did not make it back out of the twin towers. Participants wore full gear, including air packs, hose bundles, and several silver dog tags, one for each of the 343. “All of us knew folks who went up there,” said Battalion Chief Randell Nations. “9/11 changed our fire service forever.”

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Health
4:42 pm
Tue September 4, 2012

Is Buying Organic Worth It?

A study argues organic produce doesn't have higher vitamin content over non-organic foods. Detractors argue the study's missing the point.
KUT News

A Stanford University study published today doubting the health benefits of organic fruits, vegetables and meats has some Texas farmers raising questions.

The study, authored by Dena Bravata, MD, MS, was published in today’s issue of Annals of Internal Medicine. It found no consistent differences in the vitamin content of organic food versus the cost-cutting, conventionally grown alternative.

“That study doesn’t really look at a lot of very important factors,” says Judith McGeary, founder of the Texas-based Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance. “Vitamin content isn’t the only issue, even for adults. One issue is the exposure to pesticides, which are to be blunt, poison. And the study did show that there was significantly less exposure to pesticides from organic produce than from conventional."

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Politics
4:26 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

Texas Leaders Worry About Military Bases

Camp Mabry is a military installation in Austin, Texas. Some Texas leaders are worried about development projects encroaching on their bases. Photo by Reshma Kirpalani/KUT News
Reshma Kirpalani/KUT News

Some military leaders in Texas are worried about development projects encroaching on their bases. The Texas House Defense & Veterans Affairs committee met today to hear public testimony in favor of new legislation to prevent developers from building too close to military installations, which include bases, camps and stations. 

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MUSIC
3:57 pm
Tue August 21, 2012

Charlie's Not So Cheerful About New Sound Permit Rules

Tamara Hoover, owner of Cheer Up Charlie's, sits in her bar on Monday afternoon and sorts through paperwork from the city of Austin.
Reshma Kirpalani/KUT News

Tamara Hoover describes her East Austin establishment, Cheer Up Charlie's, as more than just a bar. 

"It's actually a community project," Hoover says. "People from the community coming in, bringing their acts, bringing their music, bringing their charities, and it's everybody's home." 

But recently, the bar has received complaints from another nearby community, the Guadalupe Association for Improved an Neighborhood. 

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Religion
4:51 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

Help a Sister Out: Protesters Call for Vatican to Support, Not Censure, U.S. Nuns

Supporters rallied in defense of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious this afternoon.
Photo by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

A small band of Austinites braved the rain this afternoon to rally in support of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, one of the largest organizations of Catholic nuns in the U.S.

Eight protesters assembled outside of St. Mary's Cathedral in downtown Austin, holding signs reading "In solidarity with Women Religious" and "I stand with LCWR." Similar protests were scheduled in other cities today, including Dallas and New York.

On April 18, the Vatican issued a report chastising the LCWR for an insufficiently hardline stance on homosexuality that places it “outside the Church’s teaching,” and “a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”

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Thanksgiving
5:13 pm
Wed November 23, 2011

Austin Students Donate Food and Coats

Hannah Katz helps to unload canned goods from O. Henry Middle School where her father Robert Katz is a Special Education teacher.
Photo by Reshma Kirpalani for KUT News

Three-hundred students gathered at the Capital Area of Food Bank today to drop off cans of food and warm coats as part of A Day of Service.  They spent the morning unloading nonperishable food items out of portable storage sheds that had been installed on their campuses last month.

The event was organized by A Legacy of Giving, a philanthropy organization on 33 campuses in Austin.

“I think it’s important that they see that it doesn’t matter what your socio economic is, what your faith based is, that kids as kids can make a huge difference when they gather together with a common goal," said the organization's executive director Linda Brucker.

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Austin
4:23 pm
Thu November 3, 2011

Council Members: When Can Occupy Austin Trespassers Return?

Members of the Austin Police Department arrest Occupied Austin protesters.
Photo by Ann Harkness http://www.flickr.com/photos/annharkness/)

After last Saturday's 45 arrests at the Occupy Austin protest at city hall, some council members are now asking questions about the notices of criminal trespassing that were issued.

At today's Austin city council meeting, Laura Morrison and Kathie Tovo voiced concern about whether those who had received the notices would be allowed to return and conduct city business and how long that might take.

Council member Tovo said that she had received a call from a subcontractor for a city project who was issued a criminal trespassing notice.  The subcontractor asked if and when he would be allowed to come back and conduct his business.

Tovo said that she had talked to City Manager Marc Ott about what constitutes "city business," and whether or not that includes citizen communication period. 

"I'm hopeful we'll get some answers," Tovo said.

A city memo released Wednesday said protestors could request an invididual review of their case, according to the Statesman, but it remained unclear how long those reviews could take.

Politics
4:35 pm
Thu October 6, 2011

Occupy Austin Demonstration Begins [VIDEO]

People from all around Central Texas gathered at Austin City Hall on October 6 as part of a growing nationwide demonstration that began as a demonstration in New York City called Occupy Wall Street. People who attended the mass demonstration are protesting against what they say is the corrupting influence of money on American politics. Protestors plan on staying indefinitely, with demonstrations continuing around the clock.

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wildfires
2:56 pm
Wed September 7, 2011

Evacuated Spicewood Residents Return Home

Larry Kirkpatrick's mobile home and car were destroyed in the Spicewood fire. Now, with no transportation, he says he must move back into Austin.
Photo by Reshma Kirpalani for KUT News and ReportingTexas.com

People forced from their houses by a wildfire in the Hill Country community of Spicewood were allowed to return home this morning. The blaze blackened more than 6,400 acres and is now 90 percent contained.

Between 65 and 75 buildings were at least partially burned in Fall Creek Estates and the Paleface Ranch Road area. Assessments are underway to measure the extent of the damage. Some people lost everything.

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Austin
8:51 pm
Mon September 5, 2011

Bastrop Residents Look for Hope Amid Flames

Austin Pastor Guillermo Alvarez leads a prayer on a sidewalk in Bastrop for family members whose Bastrop County home was in the crosshairs of the onrushing wildfire.
Photo by Reshma Kirpalani for KUT News

A lot of people in Bastrop County were looking for signs of hope Labor Day, in the face of a 25,000 acre wildfire that tore through brush, trees, homes and anything else in its way.

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9-11 Commemoration
11:54 am
Fri September 2, 2011

"9-11 and Beyond" Exhibit Comes to Camp Mabry

Texas Military Forces Museum Director Jeff Hunt showcases a piece of the upcoming "9-11 and Beyond" exhibit: a broken window from a Humvee that was hit by an improvised explosive device in Iraq, killing Texas National Guard member, Tomas Garces.
Reshma Kirpalani KUT/Reporting Texas

Camp Mabry will host an exhibit commemorating Texas Army and Air National Guard personnel who were among the first to be called into combat in the wake of the 2001 terror attacks. “9-11 and Beyond: The Texas National Guard and the War on Terror” opens next Saturday, the day before the 10-year anniversary of the attacks.

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