5 things to know today: Only 40 percent of high school seniors are college ready

FILE - In this June 7, 2014, file photo, Odessa High School graduates pose for a group portrait prior to the start of the commencement ceremony in Odessa, Texas. It’s not a promising picture for the nation’s high school seniors, they are slipping in math, not making strides in reading and only about one-third are prepared for the academic challenges of entry-level college courses. Scores released April 27, 2016, from the so-called Nation’s Report Card show one-quarter of 12th graders taking the test performed proficiently or better in math. Only 37 percent of the students were proficient or above in reading. (Edyta Blaszczyk/Odessa American via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
FILE – In this June 7, 2014, file photo, Odessa High School graduates pose for a group portrait prior to the start of the commencement ceremony in Odessa, Texas. It’s not a promising picture for the nation’s high school seniors, they are slipping in math, not making strides in reading and only about one-third are prepared for the academic challenges of entry-level college courses. Scores released April 27, 2016, from the so-called Nation’s Report Card show one-quarter of 12th graders taking the test performed proficiently or better in math. Only 37 percent of the students were proficient or above in reading. (Edyta Blaszczyk/Odessa American via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

Here’s what you need to know to stay informed today:

1. Nation’s Report Card shows most seniors aren’t college or career ready.

Although the nationwide high school graduation rate in 2015 was 82 percent, the scores of just under 40 percent of students who took the National Assessment of Educational Progress in 2015 indicated that they were college or career ready, NPR reports. In both the math and reading sections, the average test scores were one point lower than they were in 2013, when the test was last given.

2. Police Chief Art Acevedo punished for misconduct.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo was penalized by City Manager Marc Ott for insubordination, specifically failing to stop discussing the police shooting of unarmed teen David Joseph, the American-Statesman’s Tony Plohetski reports. Acevedo was warned that his job may be in jeopardy and stripped of five days of pay.

3. Thousands without power after early morning storms.

If you woke up to a power outage you weren’t alone. About 22,000 Austin Energy customers experienced an outage after Wednesday morning’s severe storms, the American-Statesman’s Roberto Villalpando reports. 60 percent of those affected had their power restored by 5 a.m., and the rest should expect the same by this evening. Keep up with Austin weather developments here.

4. Tuesday’s primary results in numbers.

Looking for a quick breakdown of what wound up being a good night for both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump? Politico has last night’s mid-Atlantic primary results in five numbers, including the percentage of voters who said they would be “concerned/scared” if Ted Cruz was elected president.

5. How climate change affects indigenous communities.

Climate change does more than affect the environment. According to analysis by Eurasia Review, the increased stress placed on indigenous communities by the affect climate change has on existing problems, especially struggling to meet basic needs, results in higher conflict levels. In these communities climate change is a “threat multiplier” and leads to a more violent way of life.

Follow Live: Henry Kissinger speaks at LBJ Library’s Vietnam War Summit

Brig. Gen. Carlton Lee (right) welcomes President Nixon and Secretary of State Kissinger to Andrews Air Force Base after their historic 1972 mission to China. Credit: The Capital Flyer (Andrews AFB paper)
Brig. Gen. Carlton Lee (right) welcomes President Nixon and Secretary of State Kissinger to Andrews Air Force Base after their historic 1972 mission to China. Credit: The Capital Flyer (Andrews AFB paper)

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who also served as a national security adviser to President Richard Nixon and President Gerald Ford, speaks on Tuesday night at the Vietnam War Summit being hosted by the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin. Watch a livestream below.

Follow along with the American-Statesman’s Ralph K.M. Haurwitz as he covers the event live.

LBJ Library Vietnam War Summit opens with step back into history

Luci Baines Johnson thanks Vietnam veterans Rosendo Lopez, left, of Baytown, and Don Dorsey of Austin for their service at The Vietnam War Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library Tuesday April 26, 2016.   JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Luci Baines Johnson thanks Vietnam veterans Rosendo Lopez, left, of Baytown, and Don Dorsey of Austin for their service at The Vietnam War Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library Tuesday April 26, 2016. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The three-day Vietnam War Summit at the LBJ Library got underway Tuesday with Mark Updegrove, the LBJ Library’s director, recalling that when the library was dedicated in May 1971, protesters were held back by a phalanx of police, their chants of “‘No more wars’  carried by high winds and accompanied by the pounding of trash can lids that were clearly heard by former President Johnson” and other dignitaries, including Johnson’s successor, President Richard Nixon, who ultimately ended American involvement in the war.

The program began with a look at the historical and theoretical roots of American involvement, with University of Texas historian H.W. Brands, former Johnson aide Tom Johnson and former Nixon aide Alexander Butterfield.

Brands said the ideological groundwork for America’s role in Vietnam was laid by President Harry Truman and the Truman Doctrine, which essentially divided the world between those allied with the United States and democracy, against the communists and their allies.

Before then, Brands said, the United States had generally allied itself with anti-colonial nationalists. But with the Truman Doctrine, the anti-colonialist nationalism of Ho Chi Minh, the Vietnamese leader, was compromised and undone by his allegiance to communism, which led the United States to rebuff his entreaties for cooperation.

Vietnam veteran Garry Warrenchek of Richardson listens to a ceremony to thank Vietnam veterans at The Vietnam War Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library Tuesday April 26, 2016. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Vietnam veteran Garry Warrenchek of Richardson listens to a ceremony to thank Vietnam veterans at The Vietnam War Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library Tuesday April 26, 2016. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Brands said President Dwight Eisenhower, with his military background, had the knowledge and confidence to keep his distance from military involvement in Vietnam, but he was succeeded by John F. Kennedy, who was less experienced and sure-footed and more reliant on the advice of military advisers who counseled him to begin America’s serious military role in Vietnam.

Tom Johnson said LBJ fatefully escalated Kennedy’s tentative involvement in the service of the prevailing domino theory, which held that if Vietnam fell to the communists, the rest of Southeast Asia would follow.

“LBJ wanted peace as much as any of the protesters, and I mean this. This is not a man who was a hawk or a dove. He was man looking to do what was right,” Tom Johnson said.

He was caught between wanting to stop Communist expansion and at the same time avoid expanding the war in dangerous ways that might lead to a wider war with China or the Soviet Union.

He worried that an errant bomb might hit a Russian or Chinese ship in Hanoi or Haiphong harbor. He feared, Tom Johnson said, that “it will be a young pilot from Johnson City, Texas, who will start World War III.”

“LBJ so wanted to get Ho Chi Minh in a room and negotiate in the same way he negotiated with (Senate Minority Leader) Everett Dirksen,” Tom Johnson said.

“I know many veterans feel we should have gone to the mat,” Tom Johnson said. “It was far more complicated.”

“LBJ was a grudging cold warrior and reluctant commander-in-chief,” Brands said.

Brands said Nixon’s insight was that in the years since the Truman Doctrine, “the communist movement had fallen apart,” and fear that a communist victory anywhere meant a communist victory everywhere no longer applied. Nixon saw detente as a way of exploiting the fissures in the communist world.

Brands said in the new world order, it was not clear, for example, whether a communist victory in Vietnam was even welcome news for the Soviet Union, which was at much at odds with China as the United States.

“We were paranoid about communism,” Butterfield said. “Today, we don’t take it very seriously. I don’t.”

 

 

 

 

 

El Arroyo puts up Beyoncé reference on front sign

Photo via HBO
Photo via HBO

El Arroyo put up another witty sign today, according to a Do512 post.

After Beyoncé dropped her latest album “Lemonade” on Sunday, people have been speculating on who she talks about when she talks about infidelity. Is it Rachel Roy? Rita Ora? Either way, if the album is actually about Jay-Z, El Arroyo’s sign gets it right.

The Tex-Mex restaurant (which recently closed its Northwest Hills location) is known for their cheeky messages, such as their Star Wars themed sign when the newest movie came out.

Photo by Joe Taylor
Photo by Joe Taylor

And in honor of former UT Austin athletics director Steve Patterson when football ticket prices surged last year.

Props to El Arroyo’s sign master for always staying relevant.

5 things to know today: Take a look at Chernobyl 30 years later

Bumper cars in abandoned Pripyat, Ukraine — the largest city in the exclusion zone surrounding the Chernobyl reactor, April 9, 2016.Thirty years later, there are signs of commercial clear-cutting in supposedly off-limits forests around the site of the nuclear disaster in Ukraine. (Bryan Denton/The New York Times)
Bumper cars in abandoned Pripyat, Ukraine — the largest city in the exclusion zone surrounding the Chernobyl reactor, April 9, 2016.Thirty years later, there are signs of commercial clear-cutting in supposedly off-limits forests around the site of the nuclear disaster in Ukraine. (Bryan Denton/The New York Times)

Here’s what you need to know to stay informed today:

1. Chernobyl 30 years later.

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the explosion and fire at the Chernobyl nuclear plant that resulted in what is widely considered the worst nuclear disaster ever. While the majority of people who lived in the Ukrainian city where the accident took place have long since left, as the Washington Post reports, plant and animal life has flourished and reclaimed the area.

2. Mayor Adler comes out against Prop. 1.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler, who had previously taken no position on the upcoming Proposition 1 election, came out against the ballot measure Monday, the American-Statesman’s Ben Wear reports. If Prop. 1 passes it would block the city from requiring drivers be fingerprinted. Adler said that by opposing Prop. 1 he hopes to “sit down” with ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft.

3. Severe storms possible Tuesday.

Austinites can expect scattered and possibly severe thunderstorms to hit Central Texas starting this afternoon and lasting into the evening, the American-Statesman’s Robert Villalpando reports. With the storms comes the possibility of hail, tornado warnings and winds up to 60 mph. Many areas in the U.S. have similarly been promised severe weather throughout the day.

4. Officer suggest Tamir Rice’s family use settlement to educate kids.

The head of the Cleveland police union has been heavily criticized for comments he made suggesting the family of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was shot and killed when an officer mistook his toy gun for a weapon, use money from the $6 million settlement reached this week toward educating kids about look-alike firearms, Cleaveland.com reports.

5. What widening highways did for Texas traffic.

Although it sounds like an appropriate fix, widening highways to reduce traffic is notoriously a solution that doesn’t work and can even make the problem worse, Wired reports. However, Dallas has recently doubled the speed of rush hour traffic along one stretch of highway leading into Fort Worth by spending $4.25 million to widen the highway. Could something similar serve Austin well? Read more about the phenomenon here.

5 things to know today: Cruz, Kasich announce alliance

ANNAPOLIS, MD - APRIL 19: Republican presidential candidate John Kasich greets supporters at the conclusion of a campaign town hall meeting in the ballroom at a Crowne Plaza hotel April 19, 2016 in Annapolis, MD. Voters are going to the polls in the New York primary election today where Kasich and his fellow candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) are hoping to keep their rival for the nomination Donald Trump from winning all 95 of that state's delegates. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
ANNAPOLIS, MD – APRIL 19: Republican presidential candidate John Kasich greets supporters at the conclusion of a campaign town hall meeting in the ballroom at a Crowne Plaza hotel April 19, 2016 in Annapolis, MD. Voters are going to the polls in the New York primary election today where Kasich and his fellow candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) are hoping to keep their rival for the nomination Donald Trump from winning all 95 of that state’s delegates. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Here’s what you need to know to start your week off informed:

1. Ted Cruz and John Kasich announce alliance.

Ted Cruz and John Kasich, GOP front-runner Donald Trump’s opposition in the race for the presidential nomination, announced Sunday plans to team up to keep Trump from the needed number of delegates by “clearing a path” for Kasich in Oregon and New Mexico and Cruz in Indiana, Politico reports.

2. Obama to send additional special operations forces to fight Islamic States in Syria.

President Barack Obama announced another 250 U.S. soldiers will be sent to Syria to “keep up this momentum” in fighting the Islamic State, Reuters reports.

3. Issues with 911 calls from AT&T Monday.

Austin police said callers with AT&T are having difficulty getting through to emergency services when calling 911 early Monday, the American-Statesman’s Katie Urbaszewski reports. AT&T is currently aware of the technical issue and working to resolve it.

4. Beyoncé releases visual album “Lemonade.”

This weekend you either already were a Beyoncé fan or became one when the singer premiered her visual album “Lemonade” on HBO, Austin360’s Jackie Wang reports. The album, which “seems to be about pain and struggle” tells of a “woman betrayed by her lover, a woman finding and wielding her sexuality, and a black woman holding her place in America.” Read Wang’s full review here.

5. What you need to know about the upcoming Prop 1 election.

The time to vote in the May 7 Prop 1 election is growing closer. If you’re still not sure where you stand, or are confused about how to vote to best represent that stance, you can read through our Q&A here or watch our “Three things to know” video here.

5 things to know today: Fewer fear climate change because of nicer weather

Ladybird Lake teams with kayakers, canoers and stand-up paddle boarders on a sunny, hot day in Austin March 15. 03/15/16 Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Ladybird Lake teams with kayakers, canoers and stand-up paddle boarders on a sunny, hot day in Austin March 15. 03/15/16 Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Here’s what you need to know to stay informed this Thursday:

1. Nicer weather means fewer fear climate change.

A new study by Duke University shows that 80 percent of Americans live in areas where the winters are warming faster than the summers, making for milder weather that may affect residents’ willingness to believe in or fear climate change, NPR reports. Warmer winters, however, cause major issues for plants and wildlife. Additionally, places outside the U.S. are experiencing quick-rising summer temperatures that are more readily felt.

2. VW to pay U.S. customers for emissions scandal.

Settling the federal case spurred by Volkswagen’s emissions scandal, the company agreed to pay U.S. customers who were affected $5,000 each, Deutsche Welle reports. The company also offered to repair any of the affected vehicles.

3. Thursday brings rainy cold front.

Austin is back at it with the rain. A large system of storms moving from North Texas is expected to graze the Austin area later this morning, the American-Statesman’s Robert Villalpando reports. Tonight temperatures are expected to drop to around 60 degrees, but sunshine and higher temperatures will return Friday.

4. Whole Foods cake accuser faces lawsuit over student debt.

Adding a new layer to the Whole Foods cake scandal, the pastor who accused the store of writing a gay slur on his cake has been revealed to be in the middle of a lawsuit concerning a $28,000 student loan default, Villalpando reports.

5. What will the new Harriet Tubman bill look like?

Yesterday’s historic decision to replace Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, making her the first woman to be featured on U.S. paper currency, has many wondering just what the new bill will look like. Bustle has some speculations, but, as Wired reports, the bill won’t debut until 2020 and will take even longer to begin circulating.

Mark 4/20 with a lot of news about Willie Nelson

Ah, 4/20. The high holiday of every cannabis consumer. Many myths have been spread about how the day gained its notoriety— is it Bob Marley’s birthday? The police radio code for illegal smoking activity? The amount of chemical ingredients in marijuana? (Wrong, wrong and wrong, according to this insightful “L.A. Weekly” article. And FYI, smoking marijuana is still illegal in Texas.)

According to the same article, the day’s origins started in San Rafael, Calif., when the hour became the preferred cannabis consumption time for high school students.

One thing that isn’t a myth, however, is Texas’ fascination with its No. 1 pot-smoking singer, Willie Nelson.

(Jay Janner/American-Statesman file photo)
(Jay Janner/American-Statesman file photo)

The “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” singer famously introduced his own line of weed in 2015, and has been synonymous with smoking for much of his career.

What’s Willie been up to? For starters, he knows how to celebrate today with his fans:

https://twitter.com/willienelson/status/722575032061288450

He most recently gave a statement about his friend Merle Haggard’s death, calling the late country singer “a brother.” Nelson and Haggard were frequent collaborators and released a duet album, “Django and Jimmie,” last year.

Nelson’s been a busy man lately.

He took to the golf course with buddy Lance Armstrong in March, posing for a picture on the Livestrong founder’s Twitter feed.

If you miss seeing Nelson on TV, you can catch him in a PBS documentary this May about The Highawaymen, the Outlaw Country supergroup Nelson was a part of in the 80s and 90s.

His latest album, “Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin” debuted at No. 1 on both the traditional jazz album and and overall jazz album Billboard charts. Earlier that week, a mural of Nelson was finished on East Seventh at Neches Street in Austin.

As for pot-smoking news? He recently toked up with Chelsea Handler for her documentary series “Chelsea Does…”, where the comedienne called Nelson’s tour bus weed “very good, and potent.”

Also, he met the Muppets earlier this year, creating the perfect group photo.

Never change, Willie.

 

H-E-B: No. 7 in customer survey, No. 1 in our hearts

Texans got another reason to love H-E-B this week after the grocery chain placed seventh in a national “Favorite Grocery Store” survey.

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The Texas-based chain earned its high marks after being ranked along with the other 14 grocers on the list by over 10,000 consumers. Those consumers rated their satisfaction on attributes like cashier courtesy, store cleanliness, item availability, checkout speed, specialty department services and ease of finding items.

H-E-B’s highest honor was in the “cashier courtesy” department, scoring a 62 percent favorability ranking. (Because of all of our Southern Hospitality, probably.) Trader Joe’s, the highest-scoring in that category, earned a 79 percent favorability rating.

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Its lowest mark was in the “checkout speed” category, earning just 36 percent. But that just means more people want to come to H-E-B, because it’s awesome, and one of the many things we love about Texas. One person loves it so much he (satirically) attempted to get one put in on Guadalupe where the Church of Scientology of Texas currently sits.

Other grocery store chains in the Top 15 include Wegmans, Publix, Trader Joe’s, Hy-Vee and Aldi.

Follow live: Foster care hearing at Texas Senate

Follow live as the American-Statesman’s Julie Chang and Andrea Ball cover a Texas Senate Health and Human Services committee meeting regarding high-need children in foster care.