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KUT Weekend
7:40 pm
Fri June 26, 2015

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Austin
10:16 am
Fri June 26, 2015

Same-Sex Marriage is Now Legal in Texas

Bryna Wortham (left) and Diane Jones were married today at the Travis County Courthouse.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

This post will be updated. 

This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right, and within hours, the Travis County Clerk and other county clerks in Texas began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The ruling means big changes for Texas, since to date the state had banned same-sex marriages, defining marriage strictly as between a man and a woman. Today, hundreds of marriage licenses were issued across the state to couples, some of whom had been waiting years for this opportunity. By 5:30 p.m., the Travis County Clerk's office had issued 181 marriage licenses to different- and same-gender couples. (Compared to yesterday, when they issued 17 licenses overall.)

But, there are still those who aren't so sure it's a good idea for the federal government to make this declaration about marriage. Mose Buchele talked to folks at the Texas Capitol today to see how they feel about the decision.

Update, 3:15 PM:

Hundreds of people went to the Travis County Clerk’s Office today to get their marriage licenses. For many, the next step was to head to the Courthouse for a three-day waiver from a judge. Texas law requires couples to wait three days before a wedding ceremony, but some same-sex couples don't want to wait any longer.

One of those couples seeking a waiver was Amy and Di Williams, who have been waiting years to marry legally. Their wedding ceremony is tomorrow, and they shared their story with KUT News. Take a listen: 

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Austin
5:00 am
Thu June 25, 2015

National Debate Has Austin Stores Asking: Should We Stop Selling Confederate Flags?

The owner of Banana Bay Tactical says they will continue to sell Confederate flag merchandise for now.
Terrence Henry/KUT

After a tragic shooting at a historical black church in Charleston, South Carolina this month, there’s been a growing national conversation on whether or not to display or sell symbols of the Confederacy.

National retailers Walmart, Amazon and eBay have all announced they will stop selling Confederate battle flag merchandise. Here in Austin, while some stores are also ending sales of Confederate flags and merchandise, others say they will continue to sell the products. 

"Took mine down, and they're out of here," says Ed Hall, owner of The Quonset Hut, a military surplus store just north of the University of Texas at Austin campus. 

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Wayback Wednesday
2:52 pm
Wed June 24, 2015

The Once and (Possibly Future) 'Dillo

The Armadillo Express, known affectionately as the 'Dillo, ran from the 1970s until 2009.
Austin City Council

This week’s Wayback Wednesday looks simultaneously back at and forward to a one-time staple of Austin life: the ‘Dillo. The once-beloved bus line transported folks around town from its inception in the 1970s until the lines hit their last stops in 2009.

The bus was, as Richard Linklater might say, a “spiritual sequel” to the streetcar lines that traversed the Downtown corridor as early as the 1870s, but, like the city’s first gamble with mass transit, the ‘Dillo could soon see a resurgence with the help of private sector backing.

The lines started initially as a downtown-circulating park-and-ride program in the 1970s. The city officially backed the program known as the “Armadillo Express” in 1983, allocating $88,650 from the budget for five buses. Backed by downtown businesses and the Downtown Austin Alliance, the Armadillo Express was officially dedicated in May of 1984.

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Austin
1:13 pm
Wed June 24, 2015

Task Force Will Examine Future of Jefferson Davis Statue Amid Call For Its Removal

Courtesy of students' petition at change.org

Update: UT Austin President Greg Fenves announced this morning the members of a 12-person task force that will discuss the future of the Jefferson Davis statue on campus. 

UT Austin's Student Government and Graduate Student Assembly want the statue of Davis removed and placed in a museum. Earlier this week, Fenves met with students to discuss their concerns.

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Austin
10:38 am
Wed June 24, 2015

New Council Introduces Era of More Meetings

In the first few months of 2014, Council members spent about 34.3 hours in committee meetings, and this Council has spent 108.15 hours so far.
Callie Hernandez/KUT News.

From the Austin Monitor: In January, there was a shake-up at City Hall, with Austin ushering in its first geographically based City Council. Now, six months later, what has it meant? Most obviously, a lot more meetings.

Videos available on the city’s website show that the amount of time the new Council had spent in meetings from February through June 23, 2015, increased approximately 121 percent over the previous Council during the same span in 2014 — from 152.6 hours to 337.9 hours.

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Austin
11:49 am
Tue June 23, 2015

Fun Fun Fun Fest Fights for Space

Parks Department staff says festival use of Auditorium Shores' off-leash dog area is something they specifically set out to prohibit during redesign.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From the Austin Monitor: The battle rages bloodless over a 3-acre tract of dog park.

The Parks and Recreation Department and the organizer of Fun Fun Fun Fest, Transmission Events, are ensnarled in a dispute over festival planning. At the center of that dispute is the new off-leash area at the renovated Vic Mathias Shores, formerly Auditorium Shores. If there isn’t a resolution by this Thursday, City Council may intervene.

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Higher Ed
2:00 pm
Sun June 21, 2015

Higher Ed: Conquering Math 'Phobia'

Credit Dawn Endico/flickr

"I was told there would be no math!"

It's a line people sometimes say in mock frustration when faced with a situation involving arithmetic.  For some people, the thought of doing addition or subtraction causes their hearts to race and their palms to sweat.

Why is that? Why do so many of us fear numbers? In this week's episode of KUT's podcast Higher Ed, KUT's Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger confront the concept of math phobia and explore ways to conquer it.

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Austin
5:03 pm
Fri June 19, 2015

Austin Church Holds Prayer Vigil for Victims of Charleston Shooting

Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church holds a prayer vigil for the victims of the South Carolina church shooting.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Austin church and community members came together today to pray and grieve for the victims of the Charleston, South Carolina church massacre, in which nine people were killed Wednesday.

The Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Austin held a prayer service this afternoon to honor the victims. 

Minister Carolyn Turner Francis says she attended the ceremony to grieve with members of her community in a supportive, uplifting environment.

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Austin Police
11:06 am
Fri June 19, 2015

Austin Police Adding to DWI Enforcement Unit

Commander Art Fortune is adding officers to APD's DWI enforcement team.
Credit Miguel Gutierrez Jr for KUT News

Austin has seen a rise in traffic fatalities this year, with nearly double the number of deaths so far in 2015 as occurred during the same period last year. Many of the crashes have involved impaired driving, and the Austin Police Department is stepping up their enforcement in response.

For the last 17 years, the Austin Police Department has used a dedicated DWI enforcement team of a dozen police officers to go after drunk drivers. They help patrol officers respond to DWI arrests and do blood alcohol tests, but the department hasn’t staffed the unit seven days a week. 

Right now, the unit only works Tuesday through Saturday, even though DWI fatality crashes occur every night of the week, especially on Sundays. Of the nearly fifty traffic fatalities so far this year, 18 occurred on Sunday and Monday. 

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Austin
10:24 am
Fri June 19, 2015

Has Austin Really Reduced Its Plastic Bag Consumption By 75 Percent?

A report commissioned by the City of Austin says that a plastic bag ban reduced bag use by 75 percent. But no data was collected on bag use before the ban.
Miguel Gutierrez, Jr./KUT News

Last week, a report commissioned by the City of Austin was released which looked at the effect of the plastic bag ban in the city.

The report says that, in the two years since the Austin City Council banned single-use plastic bags, Austin reduced its annual consumption of plastic bags by nearly 75 percent. But some researchers say that’s not entirely true.

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Austin
8:06 am
Fri June 19, 2015

Austin's Juneteenth Memorial Installed In Time for the Holiday's 150th Anniversary

The set of statues commemorate the day in 1865 when African-American slaves in Texas learned of their freedom.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Today is the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth, the day when African-American slaves in Galveston, Texas were finally granted their freedom – two-and-a-half years after Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and just over two months after the Confederacy surrendered at Appomattox.

The day of celebration started as a Texas tradition but has since become a nationwide tradition, and in the late 1990s two Texas artists built statues to commemorate the holiday.

Those statues have now been installed in Austin’s George Washington Carver Museum, but the statues have had a long journey to what will likely be their permanent home. 

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Juneteenth
4:38 pm
Wed June 17, 2015

A Look Back at the 150-Year History of Juneteenth in Texas

A shot from the Juneteenth celebration in 1900 at Eastwoods Park.
Grace Murray Stephenson, Austin History Center, PICA 05476

Friday marks the 150th anniversary of the day that brought freedom to 250,000 African-Americans from slavery in Texas, commonly known as Juneteenth.

While President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 is recognized as the declaration that freed U.S. slaves, Confederate states didn’t recognize the Union decree. So, even after the war ended at Appomattox in April of 1865, Texan slaves weren’t freed until June 19, 1865, when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger read aloud a Union proclamation that officially ended slavery in Texas.

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Austin
2:26 pm
Wed June 17, 2015

Study Will Examine Affordability and 'Youthification' of Austin

A study is looking to examine the housing, earning, spending and transit habits of Austinites.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUTX

Affordability and Austin aren’t necessarily synonymous, especially when it comes to housing.

The city’s seen an unprecedented level of growth over recent years, much of that due to the oft-maligned cohort known as millennials, of which, according to a Fannie Mae survey, Austin has the largest concentration in the U.S. at 27 percent.

Austin’s not alone. More and more millennials are flocking to urban cores in cities across North America, and one researcher from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, chose to investigate housing, labor and lifestyle issues surrounding millennials in Austin, and other cities, with a survey called "Generationed City."

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Austin
4:30 am
Wed June 17, 2015

Flash Flooding Possible for Areas East of I-35 as Tropical Depression Bill Keeps Moving

Conditions Wednesday afternoon.
National Weather Service

Wednesday 4 p.m. Some heavy rainfall hit the Austin area this afternoon, and the National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning that will remain in place until 6:45 p.m.

Wednesday 4:30 a.m. The University of Texas at Austin has announced it will re-open at 7:00 a.m. Wednesday morning and will operate on a regular schedule. Travis County offices will operate on a normal schedule today. City of Austin offices will be back on a regular schedule today. Since the Austin area was not hard hit by Tropical Depression Bill, Capital Metro expects all routes to run on regular schedules today. Hays CISD and Leander ISD will operate on their normal summer schedules today.

All Austin Community College campuses and centers will open and operate on a regular schedule today.

1:15 a.m. The National Weather Service has canceled the flash flood warning that was in effect for Travis, Williamson and Bastrop counties.

12:30 a.m. Bill's strength continues to diminish as it moves inland, says the National Weather Service. Rain is coming down now at a rate of an inch per hour in some parts of Central Texas.

12:20 a.m. National Weather Service says that now Bill is centered over Bastrop County and is starting to move north. It's raining in Austin, but no reports yet of torrential downpours in the city.

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Austin
10:41 am
Mon June 15, 2015

Short-Term Rental Regulations Prove Difficult to Enforce

The City of Austin may crack down on short-term rentals brokered by companies like HomeAway and Airbnb.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

This week, Austin City Council will start discussions about increasing the enforcement of short-term rental property regulations. Currently, the city requires short-term rental operators to hold a license, and renters must agree to certain rules.

But those rules have proven difficult to enforce, and council will hear recommendations on the license program and enforcement of  illegal rentals this afternoon.

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Higher Ed
2:00 pm
Sun June 14, 2015

Higher Ed: Summer Break for the Brain

Credit Dawn Endico/flickr

Once school is over for the summer, many students are tempted to put it as far out of their minds as possible and take a break from the rigors of the academic year.  And they certainly aren't thinking about the school year ahead. In this week's episode of KUT's podcast Higher Ed, KUT's Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger talk about striking a healthy balance between letting your brain take a summer vacation and keeping it busy enough to be fresh for the fall.

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Austin
10:55 am
Fri June 12, 2015

How to Get Around Austin During the ROT Rally

A year ago, riders took over downtown Austin for the Republic of Texas Rally, and they are back again this weekend.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Tens of thousands of bikers and motorcycle enthusiasts have descended upon Austin for this year's Republic of Texas Biker Rally, and tonight they'll swarm downtown for a procession that will shut down 54 square blocks.

The bikers will ride along a nearly ten-mile parade route stretching from the Travis County Expo Center all the way to the intersection of Congress and Cesar Chavez. The bikers at the end of the procession won't leave the Expo Center until the first bikers have already arrived at the end of the route.

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Austin
11:15 am
Thu June 11, 2015

City Looks to Two-Way Streets, Enhanced Signal Timing to Slow Down Traffic Woes

The City of Austin has already converted parts of Brazos Street from a one-way street to a two-way.
mrlaugh/flickr

There are a couple of new trends in Austin transportation that will change the pace, and on some streets the direction, of traffic.

In an effort to make downtown streets safer and more attractive to Austinites on foot or on bike, the city has been converting certain one-way streets downtown into two-way streets. And the city is also working on some upgrades to traffic signal systems, with a goal of alleviating some of the red light frustrations drivers face downtown. 

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Austin
9:41 am
Thu June 11, 2015

East Cesar Chavez Hotel Fails at Planning Commission

Opponents objected to the size of the boutique hotel proposed for East Cesar Chavez. But if the hotel doesn't go up there, some argue, something else inevitably will.
Audrey McGlinchy/Austin Monitor

From the Austin Monitor:

Residents opposed to a proposed 65-room boutique hotel at 1207 East Cesar Chavez St. told the Planning Commission on Tuesday night that they do not want to see their neighborhood become “another Rainey Street.” At the meeting, several residents held signs that read, “Don’t Rain-ey on our Chavez … No East Side Hotel.”

Commissioners agreed that the hotel should not go up in East Austin, and a motion to approve a conditional use permit failed (Commissioner Richard Hatfield created the motion, but none of the other four commissioners present seconded it).

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