environment

Meet Emma, the AI assistant answering the phones at Amarillo City Hall

Just in time for high summer, a surge in COVID cases? What officials are saying about a new subvariant.
It could be a very wet 72 hours of so for much of Southeast Texas and beyond as meteorologists focus on what could be the first big storm of hurricane season coming together in the Gulf of Mexico.
In Amarillo, phones at City Hall are answered by Emma – a first-of-its-kind virtual assistant powered by AI, built specifically for the city.
Why some analysts are pumping the brakes on predictions of a looming oil glut thanks to electric vehicles.
And: why some Texas Democrats say schools could be key to their success in November.

Supreme Court rejects a Trump-era ban on bump stocks

The Supreme Court has struck down a Trump-era ban on bump stocks – devices that can be attached to a semiautomatic gun to make it fire more quickly – in a case brought by Michael Cargill, a U.S. Army veteran and owner of a gun store in Austin.
The State of Texas wants to replace the judge overseeing the lawsuit over its foster care system, Judge Janis Jack, saying she can’t be impartial.
There’s been a rash of near-misses between planes at busy airports. A new piece of equipment in Austin could help prevent that.
Plus: A new investigation finds that thousands of Texans live near oil and gas wells that could be leaking excess amounts of hydrogen sulfide, putting their health at risk.

The Future of Work in Texas – A Texas Standard special

Texas is changing, and so is the world. If we squint to try to look at the future job landscape, what do we see? There are more than 15 million working Texans right now, but while the state boasts steady growth and “record high levels” for jobs and the labor force, there are always unknowns on the horizon.
Among them: tech advancements and the impacts of climate change. So how will the jobs of tomorrow look different? We’re exploring all that and more today in The Future of Work in Texas.

The buzz around the Bumble ad controversy

The border buoys case in court: Why the arguments surrounding Texas’ river barrier were not about immigration.
El Paso County residents are concerned a proposed highway expansion project could imperil the Rio Bosque – a marshy area along the Rio Grande that has been “re-wilded” to support native plants and wildlife.
What will soon be one of Texas’ biggest gas pipelines is raising both environmental and safety concerns from the residents along the path.
The new book “They Came for the Schools” takes us further into the story of the Carroll Independent School District’s battle over what’s on library shelves and in classrooms.
And: Austin-based dating app Bumble apologized this week for an ad campaign that some believed mocked the choice not to date, or to remain celibate. Tech expert Omar Gallaga shares more.

What does Azerbaijan want with Texas politicians?

After weeks of rains in East Texas, hope for a shift into recovery mode is on hold with more rain tap for today and much of this week.
Strong winds, hail damage, what next? Sangita Menon of KUT News looks at the next steps of navigating insurance.
What does Azerbaijan want from Texas? Christopher Hooks of Texas Monthly shares how the indictment of U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar may be just the tip of the iceberg.
For decades, the Tower Life building defined San Antonio’s skyline. Changes are on the horizon after the building’s recent sale – but tours are being offered first.
Also: A new report on the pace of global renewable energy shows how Texas and the U.S. stack up.

Voters in Texas have elected their first slate of property appraisal board members

A former Texas oil exec is being punished for allegedly raising the price of oil. Is it the tip of the iceberg or water under the bridge?
In spring elections across larger Texas counties, voters got a more direct say in who runs the obscure agencies that oversee the property appraisal process – agencies that determine how much you pay in property taxes.
The promise of solar panels seems bright, but some companies are getting some heat for misrepresentation. What you need to know.
New Mexico has a booming recreational marijuana industry thanks in part to some Texans making the trip. Will laws change on this side of the border?
Plus the most beautiful spot in Texas? Some point to a place out west that’s a bit off the beaten path.

Celebrating Willie Nelson’s birthday and his concert tradition

Some of Texas’ biggest counties say their lockups are getting more overcrowded and many sheriffs say the state is to blame.
Destructive weather across the Midwest over much of the weekend turned to Texas late Sunday.
A school district that’s increasingly been in the spotlight over culture war issues heads toward what could be a turning point with local elections.
Payday loans? Yes, there’s an app for that, and experts are concerned.
Plus, on the birthday of a certain Red Headed Stranger, a look at how his picnic became an iconic event for many Texans.

The Future of Work in Texas – A Texas Standard special

Texas is changing, and so is the world. If we squint to try to look at the future job landscape, what do we see? There are more than 15 million working Texans right now, but while the state boasts steady growth and “record high levels” for jobs and the labor force, there are always unknowns on the horizon.
Among them: tech advancements and the impacts of climate change. So how will the jobs of tomorrow look different? We’re exploring all that and more today in The Future of Work in Texas.

Introducing Rhizome, Laredo’s unique art project and community collaboration

The Texas Medical Board has offered a wide definition of emergency medical exemptions to the state’s strict ban on abortion.
Health care is also at the center of a massive cyberattack that’s been crippling insurance payments, but consumer information is very likely involved.
Police high-speed chases can be extremely dangerous for the general public, not just the vehicles involved. What we’ve learned in a deep dive into the data for North Texas chases.
The price at the pump has been going up again and global uncertainties could affect that further.
And we’ll take a trip to Laredo to explore Rhizome, a community art project, and hear from artist Crystal Wagner.

The Rio Grande is getting saltier. What’s that mean for agriculture?

The U.S. Supreme Court will weigh in on SB4, the controversial Texas law that allows state and local police to arrest and prosecute migrants who enter the state, after delaying implementation of the law last week.
A lack of medical insurance and access to treatment is making life in rural Texas tougher than many might imagine.
Energy insider Matt Smith has the latest on rising gas prices as many Texans hit the road for Spring Break.
The Rio Grande, the body of water that outlines the border between Texas and Mexico, is becoming saltier – affecting people, farmland and livestock on both sides of the border.
And: Amid a statewide teacher shortage, one Central Texas school district is trying to turn things around by creating its own pipeline of new recruits.

Why Austinites should embrace a ‘summer blonde’ lawn during a drought

A mild February, especially the last couple of weeks, may have you dreaming of Spring. But that means, if you have a yard, it’s time to start work on flower beds and other landscaping. But with increasingly unpredictable rainfall and extended droughts, you may be thinking about what to plant to survive our new weather reality. Over the last few days the KUT newsroom has been focusing on water and all it means to our area. Today a story from the Texas Standard’s Alexandra Hart about ways you can cut water use without simply letting your lawn die.

What is an aquifer?

Over the last few days, the KUT Newsroom has been focusing on water. We’ve talked about droughts, strained water infrastructure, and even our history of using water to generate electricity. Today…we’re going to explain one of the key components of our water system – the aquifer. You’ve probably heard the word used a lot…but may not know exactly what one is, or how it works. KUT’s Maya Fawaz explains:

A younger generation is taking over the Texas oil fields

For the first time in centuries, an American-built – and more specifically, Texas-built – spacecraft has touched down on the moon.
Multiple law enforcement officers who responded to the 2022 Uvalde school shooting have been ordered to appear before a grand jury investigating the failed police response.
The folks calling the shots in the Texas oil industry seem to be getting younger. What does this change mean for the industry?
A giant among advocates for people with disabilities in Texas steps down after a quarter century. We’ll talk with Dennis Borel of the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities about the challenges ahead.
Plus, the week in politics with The Texas Tribune.

What new data says about the future of Texas agriculture

It’s the first day of early voting in the Texas primary. What you need to know before casting a ballot and why turning out matters.

What exactly does “residency” mean when running for office? The answer might surprise you.

Every five years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture conducts a census – tallying things like livestock, tractors, combines and crops – for a dense report packed with clues on where American farming is heading.

And: Remembering Sandy Wood, who helped stargazers navigate the universe for nearly 24 years as the voice of the radio program Stardate.

Is high school football on the decline in Texas?

A conversation with state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, a self-described progressive Democrat who’s running to challenge Ted Cruz for his U.S. Senate seat.

Three years after the big freeze that plunged most of Texas into darkness, a new bill aims to connect the state to neighboring electric grids. Mose Buchele of KUT in Austin has more.

A big change for the Texas STAAR tests: student essays graded by computer. How does that work, and how fair is it?

And: Is football still king in Texas? A Washington Post analysis looks at the sport’s rise and fall across the country.

Is the industry ready for Beyoncé’s country music album?

As Texans prepare to cast their first ballots in 2024, a conversation with Colin Allred, one of the top Democratic challengers for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Ted Cruz.

Lubbock throws the switch to join Texas’ open electricity marketplace – for better, and some fear, for worse.

A new ‘queen’ of country music? Houston-born Beyoncé generates buzz with a stylistic shift.

Also: Commentator WF Strong on a notorious Texas partnership in crime, and a love story at the heart of it.

Which Texas cities take the lead in ending homelessness?

The U.S. Senate has passed a major aid bill for Ukraine and Israel – but its fate in the House is uncertain.

Despite its dominance in politics statewide, the Republican Party in Texas ain’t what it used to be. What’s changed, why, and what it means for the future.

As the numbers of people experiencing homelessness rise nationwide, some cities are making progress. A new report examines what’s working and what lessons can be learned.

In Texas oil country, two longtime rivals are expected to merge this year in a $26 billion deal. What it adds up to.

Plus, a conversation with celebrated author and poet Sandra Cisneros.

A report from Eagle Pass after a weekend of immigration protest

A bipartisan bill to address border security: one that mandates that President Biden shut down the border. David Martin Davies with more on the Senate bill on immigration and border security and an update on border protests over the weekend.

What appears to be the first human brain chip implant by Elon Musk’s Neuralink is raising concerns about safety, consent, and transparency. We’ll hear from a medical ethicist who’s been studying the implications.

In El Paso, a new exhibit that highlights a surprising relationship between humans and ducks.

And the thousandth PolitiFact check of Donald Trump – what the numbers say.

Texas frackers are going electric – but can the grid handle it?

With a push from Texas Republicans, the U.S. House moves a step closer toward a vote to impeach the head of Homeland Security.

Amid a shortage of teachers statewide, a move in Dallas to get more men of color in the classroom.

In the Texas oilfields, how a push for greener drilling has some worried about the effects on the power grid.

A browser update for the ages? Why new features in Google Chrome have one tech writer warning of the end of the human internet.

And Temu takeover? Why U.S. giants like Amazon and Walmart are rethinking their strategies as a China-based retailer turns up the heat.

A national lab didn’t detect disease in Texas deer, but the state had already euthanized them

Missing mail and massive delays in postal delivery in the Houston area are sparking action from U.S. Rep. Al Green. We’ll hear what he plans to do about it.

A controversial law allowing Texas police to arrest people suspected of crossing the border illegally takes effect soon – but some rural sheriffs in the Big Bend region say they’re not eager to enforce it.

And: An entire herd of white-tailed deer at the Kerr Wildlife Management Area was euthanized amid concerns about the spread of a contagious disease. But the affected deer may not have had the disease after all, according to new test results.