Texas Standard

Crime & Justice
12:53 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Could Europe Put a Stop to the Death Penalty in Texas?

Execution room in the San Quentin State Prison in California.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

This week, Oklahoma's Supreme Court stopped the executions of two convicted murderers. At issue: where the state gets its execution drugs. The state does not want to reveal its source.  

Texas also has long kept its lethal drug suppliers secret, although Attorney General Greg Abbott recently issued an opinion stating it's time to go public.  But as death penalty opponents increase the pressure to expose suppliers and to disrupt the supply of the drug, some states are reviewing their options on capital punishment.

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What's Next For Ukraine
12:15 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

UT Professor Jeremi Suri: 'The Best Way to Think of Putin is Mussolini'

A 2006 photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin. "My prediction is that we'll see more Russian aggression, not less, in Eastern Ukraine," professor Jeremi Suri tells Texas Standard.

U.S. troops began joint military exercises in Poland this week, in response to Russia's continued incursion into Ukraine.  The Pentagon says troops will also be deployed to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Kiev on Monday as a show of support for the pro-Western Ukrainian government. As he met with the nation's leaders he called on Russia to "stop talking and start acting" to defuse the crisis.

So far, that doesn't seem to be happening. 

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Texas City Blast
3:35 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Before the West Explosion, There Was Texas City

Texas City as viewed from the air, April 16, 1947
Credit AP archival photo

April 17 marks exactly a year since one of the biggest industrial disasters in American history: the explosion at the fertilizer plant in West, Texas that left 15 people dead, more than 150 injured, and large parts of the town flattened and destroyed.

Shocking as it was, the West explosion is not the worst industrial disaster in American history. That anniversary is today, April 16 – marking 67 years since the Gulf Coast town of Texas City was razed.  

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Life & Arts
10:49 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Novelist Elizabeth Strout Talks About 'The Burgess Boys'

Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Elizabeth Strout visited KUT Austin to speak about her book "The Burgess Boys"
Credit Samantha Ortega for KUT News

The novel "The Burgess Boys" took the nation by storm last year. This month, the novel is available in paperback.

The follow-up to Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel "Olive Kitteridge" spent weeks atop the New York Times bestseller list and months making the rounds of book-circles.

Elizabeth Strout visited with the Texas Standard's Emily Donahue to talk about her book. Listen to their conversation in the audio player below.

Life & Arts
6:00 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Austin Author's New Thriller Links Love, Mystery and World War I

A young man about to go to war meets a young woman. They fall in love. A reckless, passionate affair follows. It lasts just a week, but it reverberates through six lifetimes.

That's just one layer of the narrative in a new novel by Austin author Justin Go. “The Steady Running of the Hour” includes a race against time and crosses two centuries and multiple continents – from the drawing rooms of London to the horror of World War I battlefields – through Europe, Asia and the U.S.

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LBJ Civil Rights Summit
4:07 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

LISTEN: Texans Share Their Experiences in the Civil Rights Movement

Rosie Castro (second from right), as a Raza Unida candidate for City Council in 1971.
UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures

This week, civil rights leaders and politicians including President Barack Obama and three former presidents – Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush –  gather at Austin's LBJ Library and Museum to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.

The occasion also has many Texans reflecting on their own experiences growing up in the Jim Crow-era south.

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Texas Standard
11:25 am
Wed April 9, 2014

Setting A New Standard, Texas Style

'No matter where you are, it's Texas Standard time...'
Credit Time Magazine

In the 21st century, as Texas goes, so goes the rest of the country?  Many think so.  And not just Texans.  As a recent Time magazine story proclaimed, "(i)t's not an accident that three of the five fastest growing cities are in Texas. It's more like destiny."

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LBJ Civil Rights Summit
4:19 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Interview: President Jimmy Carter on Why Women's Rights are Civil Rights

Timothy A. Hazel, U.S. Navy

President Jimmy Carter is one of four U.S. presidents attending the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Library and Museum in Austin this week.

President Carter, who served from 1977 to 1981, grew up in Southern Georgia during some of the worst days of Jim Crow. The 39th president of the U.S. is also promoting a new book, "Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power," in which he discusses what he calls discrimination and violence against women and girls worldwide – what he calls "the most serious and unmet worldwide challenge" of our time.

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Texas
3:21 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

You Can Buy Your Way Into Texas' Oil Boom. But Is It Worth It?

A jointly-owned oil rig atop the Eagle Ford shale south of San Antonio.
Credit Larissa Liska

In the history of Texas, few figures are as colorful as the wildcatters: oil prospectors who gambled big on the lure of black gold and striking it rich, or went broke trying. But what if you could be a wildcatter with a click of the mouse?

According to a company selling stakes in rigs right now, you too can own an oil well – or at least part of it – right here in the states. 

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Life & Arts
6:05 am
Mon March 17, 2014

What You Don't Know About Mavis Staples and Her Music

Mavis Staples at Austin City Limits fest in 2011.
Laura Fedele, via flickr.com/wfuv

For a slightly younger generation, the Staples Singers evoke memories of avocado colored refrigerators and polyester pants. Not a bad thing, necessarily, but certainly not the reason you should know the name Mavis Staples

In the new book, "I’ll Take You There," music journalist Greg Kot connects the dots between modern American culture and the great migration as African-Americans moved from the deep south to Chicago. 

Mavis Staples is part of the fabric of Chicago, Kot tells Texas Standard's David Brown.

"[She's] a cultural institution. Her family is a cultural institution," he says.

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Austin
12:16 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

The Smartphone App Connecting Austin to Protests in Venezuela

Protestors in Venezuela use smartphone app Zello to communicate
flickr.com/aandres

According to published reports, for the first time in four years Venezuela is set to send an ambassador to the US. This comes despite the fact that Venezuela's president is accusing Washington of fomenting violent anti-government protests – protests that have left more than a dozen people dead. 

Just last week, Venezuela expelled three US diplomats accused of conspiring with student protesters, a charge rejected by the Obama Administration. But that's not to say there's been no Texas role – albeit an unofficial one.  

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Attorney General Race
6:00 am
Thu February 27, 2014

Meet the Candidates: Dan Branch

State Representative Dan Branch is running for Texas Attorney General
Credit Michael Stravato for the Texas Tribune

If you follow Texas politics, you've heard the news: Republican Greg Abbott's running for Governor.  That leaves his former seat open, clearing the way for the first competitive primary race for Attorney General since … well, you have to go all the way back to 1998.

Three prominent Republicans have stepped up to the plate: State Sen. Ken Paxton of McKinney, Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman, and, in our studios today, State Rep. Dan Branch of Dallas.  

First elected to the Texas House in 2002, Branch has been practicing law for nearly three decades, launching his own highly successful firm. 

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Lt. Governor Race
6:00 am
Wed February 26, 2014

Meet the Candidates: Leticia Van De Putte

State Senator Leticia Van De Putte announces her bid for Texas Lt. Governor
Credit Janis Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Last spring, as Republican lawmakers tried to defuse Democratic State Sen. Wendy Davis’ 10 hour filibuster on abortion restrictions in Texas, a fellow Senator named Leticia Van de Putte attempted to get the attention of the presiding officer.  

"Mr. President," Van De Putte shouted, "at what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?"

The remark won Van De Putte some attention, all right.  

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Texas
5:56 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

How Did the Magna Carta End Up in Houston?

Hereford Cathedral archivist Rosalind Caird examines the Magna Carta in
Photo courtesy Hereford Cathedral

This Friday, a rare copy of the Magna Carta and an accompanying King's Writ will go on display in Houston at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Known as one of the most important documents in history, the Magna Carta was written and signed by King John and England's feudal barons in 1215. It directly inspired international constitutional law and the tenets upon which the U.S. Constitution is based.

So why has this rare copy — one of only four in existence — traveled from its home at Hereford Cathedral in England to Houston of all places?

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Sochi Olympics
5:30 am
Fri February 7, 2014

Are Russia's Anti-Gay Laws All That Different From Texas?

Eight states, including Texas, have so-called 'no-promo homo' laws echoing Russia's 'homosexual propaganda' provision
Credit flickr.com/mr_t_in_dc

As the Winter Olympics in Sochi get underway, Texas-based AT&T became the first major sponsor to join a chorus of opposition to Russia's ban on so-called "homosexual propaganda." In another sign of protest, the Obama administration has sent three openly gay athletes as representatives to Sochi.

But American critics of the policy may want to look at what's on the books closer to home, notes Yale Law School professor Ian Ayres. In a commentary for KUT's upcoming daily news magazine Texas Standard, Ayres highlights so-called "no promo homo" rules codified across the U.S. – including Texas. 

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