News

Jaimie Meldrum/Handout via Reuters

Late Friday, the state of Texas sued Intercontinental Terminals — the Houston-based company whose petrochemical storage facility in the suburb of Deer Park caught fire last weekend and burned for days, sending a dramatic plume of black smoke over the nation’s fourth-largest city.

Willy T. Ribbs is the first and one of only two black drivers in the history of Indy car racing. He lives in Driftwood and is now a professional skeet-shooter.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Outside of Austin, past the Hays County line in Driftwood, lives one of U.S. racing’s biggest pioneers. And he moved here for one of the more Texas-y of reasons.

KUT Weekend brings you some of our favorite stories from the KUT newsroom. Updated Fridays.

Toshiyuki IMAI/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

In 2016, a groundskeeper from California named Edwin Hardeman filed a lawsuit against Monsanto, an agribusiness company that's since been acquired by Bayer. Hardeman had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and he claimed that using the popular weed killer called Roundup for the past two decades partly led to him contracting cancer. Earlier this week, a jury agreed with his claim.

Value In The Moment

Mar 22, 2019

As tax day nears, it's not a bad idea to look at our spending habits. Typically when we experience a windfall, we spend more. When we come up short, we spend less. So although objectively we should maintain an average amount of spending, our financial habits continue to be influenced by how much we have at the moment.

In this episode of Two Guys on Your HeadDr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke discuss value in the moment.


Residents Fret About Chemical Plant Fire, Despite Assurances

Mar 22, 2019
The Deer Park Fire Department at the Intercontinental Terminals Company facility fire in Deer Park, Texas on Tuesday.
Deer Park Fire Department

Kristin Crump and her two kids put damp cloths over their mouths on Thursday for the short walk from their suburban Houston front door to their car, defying an order to remain inside because of dangerous fumes coming from burned-out petrochemical tanks a couple of miles away.

Renee Dominguez for KUT

A new study shows immigrants have an outsized impact on Austin’s economy.

Overall, 4.8 million immigrants in Texas paid $34.8 billion in taxes and had an economic footprint of $109.9 billion, according to an analysis of 2017 census data from the bipartisan immigrant advocacy group New American Economy.

Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has put a hefty $1 billion price tag on the proposed installation of air conditioning in all of its uncooled prisons. But some lawmakers eyed the cost with skepticism Thursday as the department has a history of greatly overestimating cooling costs.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

"The first thing we need to do is remember and give a prayer" for the victims of the serial bombings last year, Austin Mayor Steve Adler told community leaders and others gathered at City Hall on Thursday for a memorial service on the anniversary of the bombings.

Benzene Warning Lifted Near Houston-Area Petrochemical Plant

Mar 21, 2019
A plume of smoke above Intercontinental Terminal Company's Deer Park, Texas facility on Tuesday.
Florian Martin / Houston Public Media

Residents near a petrochemical storage terminal in the Houston suburb of Deer Park were warned to shelter in place for several hours on Thursday after elevated levels of benzene were detected in the air. The warning was lifted around noon after air-quality readings improved, but health officials said air monitoring will continue as firefighters and company officials work to stop any risk of a flare-up and to clean up the site.

Julia Reihs / KUT

Beto O’Rourke is running for the Democratic presidential nomination among a field of candidates that includes six women and five people of color, so far.

Salvage Vanguard Theater is currently presenting Antigonick, a modern translation of Sophocles’ Antigone.

“The translation’s by Anne Carson, and she is a well-known poet and experimental fiction writer, and a photographer, actually,” says director Diana Lynn Small. “It was published in 2012, and it was published as a hardbound book. The pages are handwritten by her and there’s beautiful illustrations by Bianca Stone. She didn’t necessarily write it to be performed, but it is starting to be performed around the country by experimental companies and dance theater companies.”

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. Shelia Brooks, founder and CEO of SRB Communications, an award-winning advertising and marketing agency based in Washington D.C. She is also the author of Lucile H. Bluford and The Kansas City Call: Activist Voice For Social Justice.

Brooks talks about becoming a journalist, her passion for the National Association of Black Journalists and women-owned businesses, writing a book about Lucile H. Bluford, and becoming an entrepreneur. 

Dozens Of Rattlesnakes Removed From Under Texas Home

Mar 20, 2019
Forty-five rattlesnakes were pulled from under a home near Albany, Texas last week.
Big Country Snake Removal / Facebook

A Texas homeowner who reported seeing "a few" snakes under his home actually had dozens of rattlesnakes living beneath his house.

A plume of smoke above Intercontinental Terminal Company's Deer Park, Texas facility on Tuesday.
Florian Martin / Houston Public Media

A fire that broke out at a petrochemical storage facility over the weekend in the industrial Houston suburb of Deer Park has been extinguished, the Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday morning.

Mose Buchele / KUT

The annual return of the monarch butterfly is underway. They started showing up in Austin about a week ago, according to the crowdsourced online tracker at Journey North.

And, if you catch a glimpse of their orange and black wings over the next few months, you could be witnessing part of the biggest migration of monarchs in recent memory. 

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A wide-ranging voting bill in the Texas Senate “would sharply escalate an ongoing campaign of voter suppression” in the state, voting rights advocates say.

Tony Hisgett/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Lemonade stands aren't legal in Texas, but House lawmakers gave a preliminary OK today to a bill that would undo that legislative oversight that's dragged on for 85 legislative sessions.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Note: This story includes raw data from the Austin Transportation Department. Official data would not have included trips of under a 10th of a mile or over 500 miles. 

Dockless scooters were the headliner in their first year at SXSW.

City data show the scooters outpaced rentable dockless bikes over the festival, accounting for nearly 434,000 rides over the 10 days of SXSW – 12.3 percent of the 3.5 million scooter rides since the scooters descended upon Austin last April.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

State senators are considering a bill that would raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products in Texas from 18 to 21. 

Photo courtesy of Andrew Yang campaign

From Texas Standard:

More than a dozen Democrats are running for president, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang is one of them. He's the first Asian-American Democrat to run for president, and highlights of his platform include giving every American $1,000 a month, and solving the "fake news" problem.

Martin do Nascimento/KUT

From Texas Standard:

As the 2019 legislative session continues, Texas Standard is talking with members about some of the bills they’ve filed, and what they hope their legislation will accomplish.

State Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, filed HB 311, which would exempt feminine hygiene products from state sales tax.

Fire At Petrochemical Facility Outside Houston Isn't Dangerous, Company And Texas Officials Say

Mar 18, 2019
Florian Martin / Houston Public Media

Chemicals detected from a fire at a Deep Park petrochemical storage facility do not represent a public health concern, according to the company that owns the facility.

Ben Brewer / Reuters

Beto O'Rourke raised $6.1 million for his presidential campaign in his first 24 hours as a candidate, beating every other 2020 Democrat who has disclosed first-day figures, according to his campaign.

The haul surpasses that of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who raised $5.9 million in the 24 hours following his campaign launch.

Julia Reihs / KUT

Beto O’Rourke has begun the long process of introducing himself to potential voters in Iowa.

The former congressman from El Paso, who officially announced his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday, made several stops throughout the state over the past few days. Candidates often give Iowa special attention because it's the first state in the nation to hold a presidential-nominating contest.

Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson

WASHINGTON, Iowa — Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke acknowledged his involvement with a hacking group during a campaign trip in Iowa on Friday.

It was something “that I was part of as a teenager, not anything that I’m proud of today,” O’Rourke, 46, told reporters in Iowa. “That’s the long and short of it.”

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Everyone knows traffic in Austin is bad, and it’s hard to find worse traffic than downtown during South by Southwest. So if you’re going downtown, what’s the best way to get around? KUT asked three people to find out in a race through the thick of the festival.

Photo Courtesy "J.R. 'Bob' Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius" film.

From Texas Standard:

It started as a joke. But when a couple of guys from Fort Worth started distributing literature for their new, fake religious group in the late 1970s, they were surprised when it caught on. Before long, there were factions of the group in New York, San Francisco, Arkansas and many other places.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Texas is lacking in low-income housing, according to a new study from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

The availability of affordable rental housing for extremely low-income renters in Texas – those making below the federal poverty level or 30 percent of an area's median income – was 29 homes available for every 100 renters. The national rate is 37 homes.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

South by Southwest will soon leave in its wake thousands of exhausted panel- and partygoers. It will also leave behind thousands of people who worried that no matter what events they attended, something better was happening down the street. The same thing will happen during spring break. Someone else is always headed to a more fun or satisfying destination.

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