Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

An increasing number of Americans believe the current gasoline prices, which range from $1.93 to $3.29 per gallon nationally, are relatively reasonable, according to the UT Energy Poll released Wednesday. 

In September 2014, 90 percent of Americans believed gasoline prices were too high, but now that number has dropped to 66 percent.

“There’s been such a deep decline in the price,” said Sheril Kirshenbaum, director of the UT Energy Poll. “ I’m paying as much now to fill up my own car as I did in the late 1990s. I think a lot of people are noticing a big difference in how much it costs to travel.”

The sharp decline in oil prices this past year can be attributed to a lack of demand from consumers across the world, according to Carey King, assistant director of the UT Energy Institute.

“Oil production in North America has increased relatively quickly,” King said. “It has increased faster than the demand for gasoline. There’s more oil than people are prepared to consume.”

But people shouldn’t get used to these low prices, King said. 

“[These prices] will be around for six months to a year, at most,” King said.

However, high gas prices have their own set of advantages. Kirshenbaum said that when the price increases, the public usually takes a greater interest in energy conservation.

“When gas prices were very high, we saw a lot more concerns over what people were paying — maybe some more interest in the adoption of renewable technologies or driving hybrid cars,” Kirshenbaum said.

When gas prices decline, number of large vehicles purchased goes up, said Michelle Foss, chief energy economist for the Jackson School of Geosciences.

“When gasoline prices are lower, people tend to use more,” Foss said. “In our country, people have started buying SUVs and trucks again. If the cars people buy are more fuel efficient, which they are, then less gasoline will get used than before.”

The findings in the poll don’t have much significance, according to Foss, because any small price fluctuation in the oil industry has a considerable effect on the U.S.

“We have not had big changes,” Foss said. “Oil prices stabilized a bit. In the U.S., any change in oil price, high or low, gets translated directly to the pump. This is especially true in Texas.”

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures

“Get Hard” takes a tried-and-true premise, one in which a satisfied, upper-class weakling is sentenced to a long stint in prison, and the film drives that premise mercilessly into the ground. Everything about this mediocre comedy is formulaic and predictable, offering no clever twists or any intrigue.

The characters are unlikeable caricatures that are unrelatable. The entire spectrum of humor in this film stretches to homophobic jokes, race puns and other “edgy” comedic bits that ceased being edgy long ago. Leading men Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart clearly deserve better than this unfunny buddy-comedy.

After millionaire stock broker James King (Ferrell) is wrongly nailed for fraud and sentenced to 10 years in maximum security prison, he is given a month to get his affairs in order. A pampered businessman and overall weakling, King knows that being thrown in prison is a death sentence. He runs in Darrell Lewis (Hart), a car-washer who is trying to raise funds to move his family to a better neighborhood.

Darrell (Hart), who falsely tells James that he’s been to prison, proposes a deal: He will toughen him up in exchange for the money he needs. Together, the two attempt to prepare King while also trying to figure out who framed him in the first place.

One fatally weak aspect of the film is the lackluster script, which offers little ingenuity. It never tries anything new and fails to stand out in any fashion. The plot’s focus is all over the place, as the characters develop new motivations every twenty minutes.

At first, Darrell is trying to toughen up King. Then, seeing it as a lost cause, he decides to tutor him on how to simply “submit” himself to other inmates. After that bit goes nowhere, they finally decide to find out who framed James to clear his name. It seems the screenwriters thought up every plot point that could emerge from the premise and jammed them all together.

Ferrell does his best with the material, and, for the most part, his delivery is pretty solid. His character is supposed to be unlikeable when he is introduced, but he’s so stuck-up and heinous that it becomes really difficult to sympathize with him and want him to succeed. Hart’s character is extremely more relatable, and he carries the comedic weight throughout the film. If handed a better script, Hart would have really shined. Here, he is just sadly wasted.

To its credit. The movie starts off funny, but then loses steam as it starts to recycle the same jokes. The material sticks to a slim variety of either sex or race comedy, which all feel played-out and half-heartedly written. These are the jokes that numerous R-rated comedies have already made, and “Get Hard” just leafs through the best of the bunch and dumbs them down.

“Get Hard” doesn’t try to put a new spin on the “survive prison” comedy. The script just packs the story with every scenario that can be extracted from the premise, leaving the plot aimless.

The talented cast is given nothing good to work with, forcing them to resort to low-brow, offensive gags that have already been done to death. Audiences may have been excited for the interesting opportunities that teaming Hart with Ferrell could have inspired, but they are in for a rude, unfunny awakening.

Director: Etan Cohen

Genre: Comedy

Runtime: 100 minutes

Rating: 3/10 Pimped-out Will Ferrells

Photo Credit: Albert Lee | Daily Texan Staff

Two UT alumnae are using video game technology to help students better understand math concepts.

Carmen Petrick Smith and Barbara King earned their Ph.D.s from UT in mathematics education. Together, they conducted a study using a Microsoft Kinect sensor, a type of technology used in video games that tracks movement, to examine how students use physical movement to learn math. For the study, Petrick Smith and King had students stand in front of the sensor and play a game that required them to analyze angle measurements. The sensor tracked students’ arm movements as they created different angles, and the screen turned different colors based on the student’ responses. The researchers found that students who participated in the game better understood the math concepts.

Petrick Smith said she thinks the hands-on nature of the game helps students better engage with math concepts.

“The classroom can be dominated by a lecture-based instruction model, and it’s hard for students to see that as relevant and for that to be engaging,” Petrick Smith said. “One way [to do that] is through games … to get students acting out math concepts with the Kinect.”

Piyush Khandelwal, computer science graduate student, said a Kinect sensor is useful for games involving precise movements because it captures the image of a room as well as objects in the room relative to that space.

“The sensor on the Kinect makes it easier to process information when compared to a regular camera,” Khandelwal said. 

Petrick Smith said the objective of the Kinect game is for the students to develop a better understanding of the classification of geometric angles. Each new level gives them additional information about different types of angles.

King said she thinks using movement will help students understand more abstract math concepts and make the subject more exciting for them. King said the researchers want to try to bring the Kinect game into classrooms.

“The students were really excited to be using something that they’re used to playing with at their house or with their friends,” King said. “Now, the biggest thing is thinking about how we could use this activity with a full class.”

Jon Reidel, a communications specialist at the University of Vermont, said Kinect could be a useful tool for teachers.

“The kids like it, and the teachers love it because it helps [students] understand,” Reidel said. “It’s just another tool in the teacher’s kit, and it’s going to be very impactful in how we teach students math.”

UT students, staff and other members of the Austin community gathered to celebrate the life of civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. through performances, speeches and a march throughout Austin.

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Thousands of students and community members gathered around the Martin Luther King Jr. statue in the East Mall on Monday morning to celebrate King’s legacy and call attention to a number of social justice issues, including police brutality against African-Americans.

Brenda Burt, a Diversity and Community Engagement officer, said at least 15,000 people walked in the annual MLK Day march from campus to Huston-Tillotson University. The event began with speeches from civil rights activists and concluded with a festival at Huston-Tillotson, a historically black university.

In his keynote speech before the march, Kevin Foster, associate professor in the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies, said police brutality is one of the most crucial issues facing African-Americans today.    

“Our police are the most heroic when they don’t shoot,” Foster said. “That might sound like an odd thing to say, but the reality is they have been trained to be scared. We need to be developing the policies and programs to help [the officers] live into that greatest possibility. And the reality is that sometimes it’s difficult for them to not shoot because they do get scared.”

Foster said all people should work to protect the right to use video cameras in the event of an altercation and also promote the use of police body cameras. Many people of color still face police violence today, Foster said.

“If you are black in this country, we have never yet fully realized the possibility of a state that exists to protect us and to serve us and to have us live into the pursuit of happiness,” Foster said. “In fact, the reality has been that the darker your skin, the more likely you are to be shot while unarmed.”

Biochemistry senior Tia Scott, who attended the march, said she thinks African-Americans often fear they will be racially profiled by police officers.

“I think many African-Americans have an unspoken fear,” Scott said. “Maybe they don’t say it outright, but they think it. When a cop drives by, it’s just nervousness because it’s like, ‘Am I going to be treated unfairly, or am I going to be pulled over because I’m black or because I’m a black woman?’ I think there’s a general unspoken fear, and we shouldn’t be afraid of people that are supposed to protect us.”

State Rep. Dawnna Dukes (D-Austin) said King’s work toward equality is not yet complete.   

“We cannot sit back on our laurels when we continue to see actions that discriminate and profile against a few,” Dukes said. “And if we truly believe that every single person — whether they are black, whether they are Hispanic, whether they are Anglo, whether they are Asian — that their lives matter, that we will stand up each and everyday — not just on the day that
we march.”

President William Powers Jr. also spoke before the march and characterized Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a day of renewing the fight for equality. In his speech, Powers referenced recent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, which broke out after 18-year-old African-American Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white police officer in August, and protests in New York City, where Eric Garner, also African-American, died after a white police officer put him in a choke hold.  

“If we look at Ferguson and New York, the poverty that still exists in our communities — the inequality — the dream has not yet been fulfilled,” Powers said. “So yes, today we celebrate a great man, a great legacy and a great dream, but, more important, is that we rededicate ourselves and our energy not just today, but every single day when we wake up — rededicate them anew to his dream.”

Students Henry Yoo and Philip Cho order food at the Korean Komfort food truck. On Thursday the Austin City Council voted to create an ordinance for on-site recycling. 

Photo Credit: Helen Fernandez | Daily Texan Staff

Customers at food trucks may soon be able to recycle on-site, after the Austin City Council voted Thursday to ask the city manager to create an ordinance enabling food trucks to provide recycling and composting receptacles.

The council’s vote, which was in keeping with the Austin Resource Recovery Department’s Zero Waste Master Plan, asked city manager Marc Ott to present a draft of the ordinance to the council on May 22.

The current health code hinders food trucks from providing adequate recycling options for customers, according to Jessica King, division manager for the Austin Resources Recovery department.

“Right now, the health code and the new building code do not allow [food trucks] to place additional containers separate from their trailers,” King said. “Everything has to be attached to their trailers … it’s not as convenient as they would like it to be.”

King said the city of Austin manages 25 percent of the waste generated by the community and the other 75 percent is managed by the private sector. Because of this, King said, the Zero Waste Advisory Commission — which doesn’t have the power to require food trucks to provide these bins — focuses on making recommendations based on infrastructure, outreach prospects and implementation plans.

In the Rancho Rio Eatery, a food trailer park in West Campus, vendors such as Korean Komfort can recycle because the park management provides recycling bins for the food trucks in that area. Korean Komfort owner Paul Cho said his employees do their best to recycle plastic bottles, cardboard boxes, glass and any other recyclable materials.

Cho said although he supports recycling efforts, he is more concerned about finding a way to dispose of the wastewater each truck creates.

“If there was a city ordinance in place or a service that provides for the collection of this wastewater it would benefit all truck and trailer operators,” Cho said.

Mechanical engineering senior Robin Zou said he visits the West Campus trucks every month. He said more recycling options would be good, especially in a city like Austin.

“Food trucks are very popular in this city since people come here for events like ACL and South By [Southwest], so it’s important for us to be environmentally conscious and show everyone how to recycle and that Austin recycles,” Zou said.

Starting May 1, the Austin Police Department will launch a program that will allow Austin Travis County Integral Care, an agency of medical professionals who provide on-site treatment and resources for people facing a psychiatric crisis, to serve as first responders alongside APD officers to assist in potential mental health crises. 

In certain areas of the city, Integral Care personnel will respond to calls as they happen when a patrol officer is still on the scene.

“The goal behind that is to try to offer officers an opportunity to divert somebody with a mental health crisis from arrest — to intervene when someone’s having a crisis and offer the officer different options that we didn’t always have available to us,” APD Sgt. Michael King said.

APD’s crisis intervention team receives more than 100 cases per month, many of which may involve people with mental illness. By partnering with Integral Care, the department can refer more serious cases to clinicians who make follow-up visits and referrals for mental health services.

“The police department is good at certain things, and our unit does follow-up on the original calls the patrol officers handle on a daily basis,” King said. “But our background is a not as medical professionals, and we’re not as well-trained as the employees of Integral Care. They’re better suited to provide quality care to these individuals, guide them to the right resources and get them proper long-term treatment.”

Although APD’s relationship with Integral Care dates back several years, the two organizations have increased their collaboration this year. In the first four months of 2014, APD has referred 680 cases to Integral Care.

“It was kind of on an as-needed basis,” King said. “This has been a great benefit to us because, in the past, with so many cases and only seven officers, a lot of times an officer would read a case for follow-up, look at it and be done with it. But now, we can say, ‘I think this person might benefit if we send this case over to
Integral Care.’”

According to King, UT’s Counseling and Mental Health Center is part of a large network of agencies that work together on mental health initiatives.

Jane Bost, the center’s associate director, said the center rarely works directly with APD.

“There are very unusual situations, like when we had the suicide shooting a couple of years ago, where they [clinicians] come to campus and work with victims’ assistance to provide intervention and support,” Bost said.

Bost said the center unveiled its newest mental health program April 16.

“We are piloting the Mobile MindBody Lab, and, so far, we’re getting some traction on that,” Bost said.

The lab, which will be set up in various locations around campus, is aimed at promoting stress management and psychiatric health.

“The student reaction we’ve had to the lab really is exciting, and that’s not the end,” Bost said. “We’ll be planning for new initiatives over the summer.”

Canadian indie rock musician Mac DeMarco released his third album, Salad Days, on April 1, 2014. Photo courtesy of Captured Tracks.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of press | Daily Texan Staff

Wearing a large, white T-shirt, red sneakers and navy slacks, Mac DeMarco looked more like a boarding school runaway than a rockstar on stage at The Mohawk. But that, along with a nondescript baseball hat, is what the newly crowned king of indie rock was wearing when he played to a soldout crowd Sunday night.

One of the last times DeMarco was in Austin, he was cursing the city and its festivals at one of his many South By Southwest shows in 2013. He still has some of his old reckless abandon but has since released his third album, Salad Days, and started to grow from a young, gap-toothed rock ’n roll bad boy into a confident, indie rock hero.

Standing in dirty red shoes before a crowd packed with fans who still aren’t allowed to drink beer, DeMarco played a set with songs taken mostly from Salad Days, along with a few older tracks and an almost mesmerizing cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.”

The crowd on the floor of the venue was rowdy. Crowd surfers flipped above the outstretched hands of a hundred teenagers and a steadily growing mosh pit made the ground level of The Mohawk feel more like a water park wave pool than a club. DeMarco’s music and stage presence isn’t necessarily hardcore — misbehavior just follows the Canadian musician wherever he goes. 

DeMarco’s entire performance was solid, entertaining and energetic, but there were two peak moments during his set. 

The first came when DeMarco leapt from the stage with a smug grin on his face, falling confidently into a crowd of people he knows would never let him fall. The crowd passed him all over the venue for over five minutes. In the spirit of fairness, DeMarco even climbed to the top levels of The Mohawk, where fans carried him around.

The second moment came during the band’s encore, which included a cover of “Wicked Game.” Bassist Pierce McGarry started the song off, but DeMarco took over to sing a verse in some sort of indiscernible gibberish. He then demanded that the entire crowd kneel down on the ground — which they did — and “calm the fuck down” while he sang another chorus. 

DeMarco has come a long way since last year’s round of SXSW shows. He’s selling out venues and receiving high praise for Salad Days. The question on his fans’ minds is whether the album title serves as a sentimental goodbye to younger, more reckless days, or a self-realization that these could be DeMarco’s salad days.

DeMarco stayed on stage for a while after the show ended, signing autographs, taking selfies on peoples’ phones and even receiving a kiss from one particularly enthusiastic fan. He spoke with the people who carried him through the venue he filled Sunday night, a newly crowned king receiving his loyal audience.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

Read recaps of Wednesday's events by scrolling down here. Click here for the liveblog of Thursday's events, which include addresses by President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush.

Updated (8:55 p.m.): For a full recap of Clinton's speech, click here.

Updated (7:22 p.m.): Former President Bill Clinton said voting in the U.S., because of voter ID laws and other restrictions, does not reflect the goals of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“Here in Texas, the concealed carry permit counts, but there’s one photo ID that doesn't count,” Clinton said.  “One from a Texas institution of higher education.”

Clinton also said the economy is a factor in preventing the country from fulfilling the goals of the Civil Rights Act.

“It’s all the more difficult today because of the economic conditions in which we find ourselves,” Clinton said. “The statistics show economic growth, but almost all of it is going to the top 10 percent.”

Check back soon for a full recap of the event.

—Julia Brouillette

Updated (6:10 p.m.): During the Clinton administration, there were students on campus calling for greater recognition of LGBTQ and black students' rights. Read that story here.

Updated (5:50 p.m.): Planning a Civil Rights Summit watch party? Click here for a guide on how to do that.

UT Law School hosted a watch party for former President Jimmy Carter's speech Tuesday evening. Photo by Pu Ying Huang / Daily Texan Staff

Updated (4:50 p.m.): As several civil rights leaders spoke about their contributions to the movement, they recognized that the movement was guilty of certain prejudices as well.

Julian Bond, former chairman of the NAACP, speaks at the "Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement: Views from the Front Line" on Wednesday. Photo by Shelby Tauber / Daily Texan Staff

Julian Bond, former chairman of the NAACP, said even within the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which had more gender equality than other civil rights organizations, there were still tensions between men and women.

“There were enormous tensions over the role each would play,” Bond said. “Had it not been for women, there would not have been a movement.”

Read the full story here.

—Alyssa Mahoney

Updated (3:35 p.m.): The University Leadership Initiative held a rally in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. statue on campus to show support for immigrants who have been deported.

Students involved in the rally held a number of signs, one of which said “we have a dream 2,” and chained themselves to the MLK statue, as representatives said the ideals of the Civil Rights Summit did not align with current U.S. policy towards undocumented immigrants.

Juan Belman, a second year engineering major who said his father is at risk of deportation, said that Austin needs to show support for families who have to deal with deportation.

“If we are a progressive community here in Austin, we need to show that,” Belmot said. “We need to show Texas how to move forward.”

— Adam Hamze

Updated (3:30 p.m.): For a full recap of "LBJ and MLK: Fulfilling a Promise, Realizing a Dream," click here.

Updated (3:02 p.m.): At a press conference at Fort Hood army base Wednesday afternoon, President Barack Obama spoke about the recent shooting that left four dead and more than a dozen injured, and called for increased support for Americans suffering from mental health issues.

"Part of what makes this so painful is we've been here before," Obama said. "We cannot ever eliminate every risk, but as a nation we can do more to counsel those with mental health issues, and to keep firearms out of the hands of those having such difficulties."

Obama also offered words of support for the soldiers' families.

"We hold each other up, we carry on, and with God's amazing grace we somehow bear the things unbearable," Obama said. "...This army and this nation stand with you for all these days to come."

— Julia Brouillette

Updated (2:50 p.m.): In their early 20’s, at the same age that many of today’s college students learn about the impact the two activists had, Bill Russell and Jim Brown were already utilizing their status as high profile athletes to strengthen the civil rights movement.

(From left): Former NFL running back Jim Brown, former NBA center and head coach Bill Russell and Harry Edwards, sociology professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley speak at the Sports: Leveling the Playing Field panel Wednesday. Photo by Shelby Tauber / Daily Texan Staff

At the Civil Rights Summit on Wednesday, Russell, Brown and Harry Edwards, a former sociology professor at the University of California, noted that their opportunity to contribute to the civil rights movement at such a young age came as a result of their strong upbringing.

“[Many of the people] around me at a young age were impeccable at stressing the importance of education,” Brown said. “Because I was helped at a young age, I knew my life’s work would be to help others.”

Read the full story of the Sports: Leveling the Playing Field panel by clicking here.

— Stefan Scrafield

Updated (2:12 p.m.): According to Andrew Young, former congressman and former mayor of Atlanta, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and former President Lyndon B. Johnson had a very amicable relationship, even as King and others pressured Johnson to introduce new civil rights legislation. Young spoke about the relationship between King and Johnson at "LBJ and MLK: Fulfilling a Promise, Realizing a Dream," the first summit panel on Wednesday.

“[Johnson originally] said, ‘I just don’t have the power,’” Young said. “I thought it was arrogant for him to say that… [but] we went to Selma on the second of January, and by the end of March the president had all the power he needed to get that civil rights act introduced.”

Andrew Young, former congressman and United Nations Ambassador, speaks at the "LBJ and MLK: Fulfilling a Promise, Realizing a Dream" panel at the Civil Rights Summit on Wednesday afternoon. Photo by Lauren Ussery / Daily Texan Staff

Young said Johnson and King were both adept politicians and said he overheard phone calls between the two men which suggested they had a close relationship.

“I heard them on the phone talking like brothers, like pastor and member,” Young said.

According to historian Taylor Branch, there was some disagreement about what Johnson’s views about race were—whether he changed his views over time, or if he consistently supported the enfranchisement of African Americans.

“I think Johnson had an empathy his whole lifetime,” Branch said. “I think those were his sincere views, and my guess is that they were formed long before it was popular to believe they were there.” 

Check back soon for a full recap of the event.

— Alyssa Mahoney

Updated (12:32 p.m.): UT President William Powers Jr. said that although the University has made great strides in advancing civil rights, historically, UT has been on the “wrong side” of the argument.

UT President William Powers Jr. speaks about the University's role in civil rights, and how sometimes it has been on the wrong side of the argument. Photo by Jonathan Garza / Daily Texan Staff

"The University of Texas has had a special role in the history of civil rights — first, of course, on the wrong side of those issues as a segregated school, and in Sweatt v. Painter on the wrong side of that case," Powers said in an address at the Civil Rights Summit Wednesday. 

To read more about Powers' remarks, click here.

— Madlin Mekelburg

Updated (12:03 p.m.): After students reported low attendance at several panels during the first day of the summit, event coordinators announced the creation of a stand-by line for admission to the remaining panels on Wednesday and Thursday. The line, which will begin on the east side of Sid Richardson Hall,  will be available to anyone with a UT identification card.

No stand-by lines have been announced for the remaining presidential addresses. To read more about yesterday's seating vacancies, click here

— Nicole Cobler

Updated (11:57 a.m.): The Google Cultural Institute, an online collection of historical archives, partnered with the National Archives and released various archives relating to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in light of the civil rights movement.

The “Historic Moments” exhibit features documents, images and videos of the development of the civil rights movement and the legislative process leading to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“Google creates platforms and tools like this, such as the National Archives, to tell the story of diverse cultural heritage and share these archives worldwide,” Gerardo Interiano, public affairs manager for Google, said.

Gerardo Interiano, public affairs manager for Google, talks about the Google Cultural Institute, an online collection of historical archives. Photo by Jonathan Garza / Daily Texan Staff

Google is a sponsor of the Civil Rights Summit and is hosting “G+ Hangouts” with various summit speakers. Today’s “hangout” will feature playwright Robert Schenkkan at 2 p.m. To watch the livestream of the hangout, click here. 

— Madlin Mekelburg

Updated (11:53 a.m.): UT Parking and Transportation Services announced additional road closures on the east side of campus during the ongoing Civil Rights Summit in an email sent to students on Wednesday morning.

Robert Dedman Drive between Dean Keeton and 23rd streets will be closed on Thursday from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. In addition, Trinity Street between Robert Dedman and 23rd streets will be closed sporadically between 8:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. President Barack Obama’s keynote address to the summit is scheduled for Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

As a result of the closures, the PTS email said UT shuttles that regularly stop on 23rd Street will now do so on Winship Circle next to the Winship Drama Building.

Last week, PTS announced Clyde Littlefield Drive would be closed during the summit.

— Jacob Kerr

Updated (11:42 a.m.): According to psychology graduate student Christa Vassillieri, the Forty Acres Bus, which circles campus and has a stop across from the LBJ Library, has been more crowded since the Civil Rights Summit began Tuesday.

Vassillieri said she had forgotten the summit was happening, but did notice that the bus had more patrons than usual. Although Vassillieri said she heard promotions for the summit over the radio, she did not believe four presidents would have reason to speak in Austin.

“That’s what I thought I heard, but I was like, this can’t be,” Vassillieri said.

— Nicole Cobler

Updated (11:23 a.m.): Although former President Bill Clinton was originally supposed to tour the “Cornerstones of Civil Rights” exhibit at the LBJ Library before his address this evening, he will be arriving too late to take the tour as scheduled, according to Elizabeth Christian, president of the LBJ Foundation.

The exhibit, which opened  on April 1 and will remain open until April 30, features a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by former President Abraham Lincoln and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, both signed by former President Lyndon B. Johnson.

— Madlin Mekelburg

Updated (10:40 a.m.): Ben Barnes, former Speaker of the Texas House and Lieutenant Governor, said President Lyndon B. Johnson would be concerned about the rising influence of the Tea Party in Texas and the increasing divide between political parties nationally.

Ben Barnes, former Texas lieutenant governor and former chairman of the LBJ Foundation, speaks to media Wednesday. Barnes said he thinks President Johnson would be concerned by the polarization of the country's two major political parties. Photo by Jonathan Garza / Daily Texan Staff

Barnes, a UT alumni, was the youngest Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives at 26, and served from 1965 to 1969, while Johnson was president. Following Barnes’ tenure as Speaker, he served as the Lieutenant Governor of Texas. In 1995, Barnes received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the Texas Exes, the University’s alumni organization.

“As happy as President Johnson would be about what these four days are going to mean, he’d still be very concerned about the bigotry and the prejudice that are two of the important components going into the very divisive government we have today,” Barnes said.

Barnes said he was especially concerned by the state-wide prominence of the Tea Party.

“I read a column by a Washington writer last week where he said Texas is in a situation where the Tea Party is going to be stronger in Texas than in any other state, as far as state elected officials — I’m not proud of that,” Barnes said. “I’m not proud of where they want to take Texas and I think it’s a very, very grave time in our state and I think President Johnson would share that disdain.”

According to Barnes, Johnson — who signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law and increased the United State’s involvement in the Vietnam War — will be remembered for his impact on the functions of today’s government.

“As time goes by and there’s more public forums like this and people really understand Johnson and what he accomplished, people are going to remember Lyndon Johnson for what his domestic policy was,” Barnes said. “He really passed the legislation that is the framework and foundation of our government today — you can’t erase that.”

— Madlin Mekelburg

Updated (7:45 a.m.): While all available tickets were distributed for the first day of the summit, attendees reported a lower turnout. Check out this story by Madlin Mekelburg to read more about it.

Updated (7:26 a.m.): The timing of the summit is meant to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in July of that year. This video by Dan Resler explains the history of the landmark legislation.

Updated (7:00 a.m.): The first day of the Civil Rights Summit featured a conversation with former President Jimmy Carter, who said civil rights as they relate to racial minorities and women still need to be addressed, ranging from modern-day slavery to sexual abuse at college campuses in the U.S. 

Tuesday's panels also included:

1) A discussion about whether gay marriage is a civil right featuring attorneys David Boies and Theodore Olson, who teamed up in 2010 to challenge Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment in California that banned same-sex marriages. 

2) San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour talked about immigration laws and border security.

3) Musicians Mavis Staples and Graham Nash performed Tuesday night and spoke about their experiences and what influences their music.

Other highlights from the day can be found on our Civil Rights Summit, Day 1 Liveblog.

The fourth season of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” confirms the argument for allowing the third book in George R.R. Martin’s massive series to be stretched out over two seasons. Beyond allowing show runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss twice the run time to adapt the longest — and best — book in the “Song of Ice and Fire” saga to the small screen, the fourth season avoids the pitfalls that the last two seasons saw in their premieres. After the first season saw the dozens of characters spread out in their own isolated story lines, the premiere episodes of the last two seasons have been more concerned with establishing who the characters are than propelling the plot. 

The fourth season ends that tradition, pushing full speed ahead toward what looks to be the darkest season in the series yet. 

In the aftermath of the infamous Red Wedding and the apparent end of the War of the Five Kings, new players step up to fill the vacancies left by those factions that are no longer with us. The Lannisters are reunited at King’s Landing just in time for the impending marriage of King Joffery (Jack Gleeson) to Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), leaving Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton), the new Warden of the North, to contend with the armies of the Greyjoys. 

Across the sea, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) sets her eyes on Meereen, the next on her list of cities to conquer. Jon Snow (Kit Harington) returns to the wall and must fend off accusations of treason while preparing for the impending wildling invasion.  

The new standout addition to the cast is the provocative Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal), younger brother to the prince of the Southern country of Dorne. Oberyn, a fan favorite from the books, arrives under the official pretense of acting as the Dornish emissary to the royal wedding but doesn’t hesitate to announce his plans to resolve a decade-long grudge he has held against the Lannisters. Oberyn’s playful sarcasm hides a barely contained rage, and the character looks to be one of the few that can actually match Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) for wits.  

The first three episodes of the fourth season manage to deliver their own shocking twists, while still developing the numerous story lines “Game of Thrones” juggles, setting up more explosive payoffs for later in the season. Though the war is technically over, Westeros somehow feels even more dangerous. Bandits roam the countryside, wildlings tear across the Northern settlements and, in King’s Landing, characters old and new plan each other’s downfalls. By now, Weiss and Benioff have proven themselves capable of departing from the books to deliver scenes and character moments that surprise fans of the novels as well as fans of the show. 

With the added time to flesh out all that occurs in the more than 1,200 pages of “A Storm of Swords,” the most recent season may deliver more shocking moments than any of the show’s seasons to date. 

Perhaps what is most noteworthy about this new season is how exciting everything seems. The war is over and entire factions have been killed off, yet the show is still finding ways to up the ante.

“Game of Thrones” has always been uncompromising in its brutal portrayal of Martin’s world. The fourth season wastes little time in dwelling on the past and pushes forward with a confident momentum that is unlikely to subside until the finale. 

British journalist Gary Younge discusses his newest book "The Speech; The Story Behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Dream" with Eric Tang, director of the University's Social Justice Institution, at the Joynes Reading Room on Wednesday evening. 

Photo Credit: Brianna Holt | Daily Texan Staff

When Martin Luther King Jr. first delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, it wasn’t immediately considered iconic, according to British journalist Gary Younge, who spoke about his research on the speech Wednesday.

Younge said King delivered his speech to a crowd that was passionate — but also overheated and tired. Younge said many audience members traveled all night to be at the March on Washington, D.C. on Aug. 28, 1963. 

“It was a hot day — 87 degrees by noon — and King was the 16th of 18 speakers,” Younge said. 

Younge said King had hoped civil rights could be achieved without holding a march. Activists and politicians were anxious in the days prior to the March on Washington.

“There was actually a kill switch planted inside King’s microphone,” Younge said. 

King had given similar speeches hundreds of times before — even the week before, during a march in Detroit — but the well-known “I Have a Dream” section was not in the final draft of his intended speech, Younge said. 

According to Younge, this speech in Washington, D.C., was neither the birth nor the peak of King’s popularity. After King’s speech, he began to speak on topics other than civil rights, and, by the time of his assassination, he was considered to be irrelevant in the view of the public.

“He spoke on the economy and the redistribution of wealth. … He had lost control; he [was] no longer relevant. That’s how he was viewed when he died,” Younge said.

Although the King speech was not remembered by that generation as iconic, a 1999 public opinion poll revealed that King was viewed as the second most influential historical person of the 20th century, only behind Mother Teresa, according to Younge.

Younge attributed the change in the public’s perception of the speech to the broad language King used.

“There was something for everyone in that speech,” Younge said.

Eric Tang, an assistant professor in the African and African diaspora studies department and director of the University’s Social Justice Institute, said he hopes Younge’s talk is just one of many civil-rights-themed events the University will host this year.

“This event is part of what I hope will be several campus activities that mark the 50th anniversary of a pivotal two years in the long civil rights movement — 1963 and 1964,” Tang said.

Sociology professor Ben Carrington said he hopes people don’t oversimplify the civil rights movement.

“We want students to leave knowing the civil rights movement wasn’t attributed to one man and one speech, but it was a much wider movement,” Carrington said. “It’s about changing the world.”