AMBER ALERT
5:25 am
Thu November 1, 2012

Amber Alert Canceled for 4 Year-Old Tyler Boy

4 year-old Lucas Calvert was allegedly abducted by his father.
Tyler Police

Update: Nov. 1, 5:25 a.m.:

An Amber Alert issued yesterday for a Tyler boy has been canceled. Four-year-old Lucas Calvert was found safe in West Monroe, La.

The suspect in the abduction was taken into custody.

Original Story: Oct. 31, 10:27 p.m.:

Police in Tyler have issued an Amber Alert for a four year old boy named Lucas Calvert.

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Farming
4:26 pm
Wed October 31, 2012

Exporting Texas Tastes to China

http://flic.kr/p/aUAH9z

This year’s timely rains are bringing Texas a fruitful recovery of its pecan industry. So much so, Texas is expecting a pecan yield two times bigger than last year’s. Agricultural officials expect Texas to produce 65 million pounds of nuts!

Under usual economic circumstances, a greater supply would mean a lower cost. But this will not be the case this holiday season. The nut indigenous to Texas land and pivotal to Thanksgiving Day feasts has a new market—China. In fact, last year the U.S. exported roughly 80 million pounds of pecans to China. The increase of international interest in the pecan is expected to keep demand high, and thus retail prices up for the American consumer.

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2012 Presidential Election
2:41 pm
Wed October 31, 2012

In Sandy's Wake, Romney Struggles to Regain Attention

Mitt Romney helps collect and pack donated goods for those affected by Hurricane Sandy, in Kettering, Ohio, on Tuesday.
Emmanuel Dunand AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 31, 2012 2:53 pm

It's not yet time to change the subject. That might pose a problem for Mitt Romney.

Media coverage of Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath has been intense in recent days, dominating regular news shows and prompting prime-time specials. With just a few days left before the election, the presidential contest has become an afterthought.

"It interrupted the news cycle at a time when there were favorable horse race stories for Mitt," says Tom Rath, a senior adviser to the Romney campaign. "In a campaign, you don't get to design the racetrack; you play the cards you're dealt."

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Health
12:47 pm
Wed October 31, 2012

Texas Women's Health Program Won't Launch As Planned

October 31st, 2012: TribLive event with Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Dr. Kyle Janek
Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

The Texas Women’s Health Program that excludes clinics like Planned Parenthood that are affiliated with abortion providers will not launch on Thursday as the state planned.

Despite comments Wednesday morning from Texas Health and Human Services Commission executive director Kyle Janek indicating the program would be ready to start on Nov. 1, an agency spokeswoman confirmed that the state-led program would not begin until ongoing court controversy over the issue is clarified.

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Health
12:09 pm
Wed October 31, 2012

Behind a Halloween Mask, Even 'Good' Kids Can Turn Into Candy Thieves

Is there an angel or a devil behind the mask? Scientists say it may not matter in terms of anonymous behavior.
Joel Saget AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 31, 2012 2:07 pm

Vampires and monsters will be out in force tonight, but some of the darkest creatures out there might be your little angels inside those Halloween costumes.

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2012 Presidential Election
10:48 am
Wed October 31, 2012

There's No Contingency Plan If Disaster Strikes On Election Day

A crowd listens at a rally with former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden in Youngstown, Ohio, on Monday. President Obama canceled his appearance to return to the White House to monitor Hurricane Sandy. Both campaigns have urged supporters whose states allow early voting to vote as soon as possible.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 31, 2012 12:36 pm

Suppose Sandy had struck a week later. With power out across multiple states, how would people be able to vote on Election Day?

"If this were happening next week, we have no provisions for dealing with this in law," says Thad Hall, a political scientist at the University of Utah.

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The Lead
9:39 am
Wed October 31, 2012

The Lead: UT Pushes for Prop 1, Domestic Partner Benefits, Video Chats in County Jails

Good Halloween morning. It’s going to warm up a bit today, with highs in the low 80s, but be prepared for a cool Halloween night, with a low of 57, according to the National Weather Service.

Here are some stories KUT has been working on:

Automatic Admission to UT Getting More Difficult:

UT President Bill Powers says that for the Summer/Fall of 2014 and Spring of 2015, UT will automatically admit Texas seniors who rank in the top 7 percent of their high school class. That’s down from the top 9 percent this Fall/Spring and the top 8 percent next Fall/Spring.

UT Makes Final Push for Prop 1:

The University of Texas is responding to criticism directed at Proposition 1, which would raise property taxes to help fund a UT medical school. Critics have said that UT has enough money to fund the project. However, UT President Bill Powers says, that a great deal of the money in the university’s coffers is already earmarked for other purposes.

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Austin
8:49 am
Wed October 31, 2012

Austin Taxi Drivers Say There Are Too Many Cabs on the Road

Cab drivers say that even business at the airport has declined with more drivers on the road.
Ihwa Cheng for KUT News

Austin taxi drivers are working more but seeing a decline in income and business. And, as you might imagine, many aren’t happy about that. The Taxi Drivers Association of Austin (TDAA) is even more upset that the trend may be exacerbated if the Austin City Council approves 30 new cab permits on Thursday.

The TDAA says the noticeable decline in business happened after a first round of new cab permits approved by the Austin City Council hit the streets in July. Because, while more taxis on the streets means more options for riders, it means more competition for drivers.

A new report released by the City of Austin’s Transportation Department finds the average cab driver made about one fewer trip in July 2012 than in July 2011. Cab drivers made an average of $461 less this July than last—equivalent to a drop of $2.40 an hour. That’s despite an increase in cab fares but doesn’t take tips into account.

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Education
7:47 am
Wed October 31, 2012

Automatic Admission to UT Getting More Difficult

Some future students will have to rank in the top 7 percent of their high school class for automatic admission.
KUT News

The class rank requirements for automatic admission into the University of Texas at Austin are getting more stringent.

UT President Bill Powers says that for the Summer/Fall of 2014 and Spring of 2015, UT will automatically admit Texas seniors who rank in the top 7 percent of their high school class.

That’s down from the top 9 percent this Fall/Spring and the top 8 percent next Fall/Spring.

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Austin
7:09 am
Wed October 31, 2012

A Few More Reasons Not to Drink and Drive This Halloween

Nathan Bernier

1. You're More Likely to Get Caught Tonight:

The Austin Police Department is enforcing a "No Refusal policy" beginning tonight at 9 and ending Thursday at 5 a.m.

That means police will conduct blood search warrants on drivers who are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving and refuse to voluntarily submit to a breathalyzer or blood test.

2. It'll Cost You:

Police say anyone found with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher will be charged with a Class B misdemeanor and could face 3 days to 6 months in jail, a one year suspension of their driver’s license and a fine of up to $2,000 for a first offense.

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Texas
5:36 am
Wed October 31, 2012

Little Piggies + 85 MPH = Wee Bit of a Problem

Feral Pigs are being blamed for crashes on the new stretch of SH 130.
flickr.com/agrilifetoday

Update: Oct. 31, 5:36 a.m.: The Central Texas toll road with the nation's highest speed limit will get signs warning drivers about wildlife. The move comes after at least three incidents of vehicles hitting animals in the first few days of the new 85 mph zone.

According to the San Antonio Express-News, the private company that runs the 41-mile portion of State Highway 130 says temporary electronic message boards will be used until permanent signs can be installed.

Original Story: Oct. 26, 1:57 p.m.: A new section of State Highway 130 opened Wednesday. It runs from Mustang Ridge to Seguin and allows drivers to go 85 mph. But the same night the highway opened, there were a handful of crashes involving local wildlife.

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Formula One
6:04 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

Capital Metro's F1 Costs: $122,000

Austin won't yet estimate how much the city will spend on next month's F1 weekend.
Circuit of the Americas

Austin’s public transit agency says it will cost an extra $122,000 to provide expanded services during the Formula One weekend next month. But CapMetro spokeswoman Erica Macioge says part of those costs will be offset by event sponsorships, sold by Cap Metro.

“The sponsorships total about $46,000,” Macioge said. “So Capital Metro is still on the hook for a good chunk of change, but we did get some sponsorships to help offset those additional costs.”

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Texas
2:37 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

Judge in Ken Anderson Inquiry: Testimony Will Be Public

Williamson County State District Judge and former prosecutor Ken Anderson at the first hearing in the court of inquiry investigating his role in the 1987 wrongful conviction of Michael Morton.
Callie Richmond via Texas Tribune

GEORGETOWN — Williamson County State District Judge Ken Anderson sat with his back to the audience in court Tuesday as lawyers discussed how the court of inquiry examining his role in the 1987 wrongful conviction ofMichael Morton ought to proceed.

"We are trying our darndest to get ready," said Eric Nichols, Anderson's lawyer and a former prosecutor with the Texas Attorney General's Office.

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Austin
2:05 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

Mapping the Future of AISD

KUT News

The Austin Independent School District is inviting community input at a public hearing tonight about the 2013–2014 Annual Academic and Facilities Recommendations (AAFR) tonight at the Carruth Administration Center on West Sixth Street.

There are a several important issues on the AAFR, the most polarizing being single-sex schools, improvements for athletic facilities and fine arts programs, and the expansion of the dual language program.

Here's a roundup:

  • The conversion of two middle schools to Single-Sex schools in northeast Austin were talked about back in August, but a School for Young Men was often left out of the headlines. The proposed School for Young Men would be college and career preparatory academy that develops a community of leadership and character centered young men. Enrollment could start as early as next school year.
  • The recommendation to improve athletic facilities has three potential proposals to throw out to community members with price ranges from $82 million to $179 million. Increased pay and flexible schedules for coaches are included within these proposals.

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Health
1:12 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

Could Romney Repeal The Health Law? It Wouldn't Be Easy

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks about the Supreme Court ruling on health care in Washington on June 28.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Tue October 30, 2012 12:41 pm

You can barely listen to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney make a speech or give an interview without hearing some variation of this vow:

"On Day 1 of my administration, I'll direct the secretary of Health and Human Services to grant a waiver from Obamacare to all 50 states. And then I'll go about getting it repealed," he told Newsmax TV in September 2011.

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Austin
12:26 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

Downtown Wastewater Tunnel Opens Up

Krieg Shaft
Parsons

You could call it one of the dirty details of being a rapidly-growing city: upgrading infrastructure to move wastewater to treatment plants.

Today marks the end of one of the largest and most complex wastewater infrastructure projects built in Austin over the last decade. City leaders are ceremonially cutting a ribbon for the completion of the Austin Downtown Wastewater Tunnel this afternoon.

The project was built in response to the rapid growth of the downtown area. The city says the two major sewer lines in downtown were installed more than 50 years ago, were near capacity and had limited ability to take additional sewer flows.

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Education
10:44 am
Tue October 30, 2012

Study: New Discipline Methods Could Benefit Schools

National Honor Students Zach Calkins and Aaron Gonzales, seniors at Brandeis High School, read to kindergarten students in a crowded classroom at Wanke Elementary School in San Antonio, Friday, March 9, 2012.
Jennifer Whitley via Texas Tribune

Ahead of a joint meeting Tuesday of the Senate education and criminal justice committees that will address school discipline, a new study suggests that adjusting disciplinary policy could improve results at Texas public schools while saving money at the same time.

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Texas A&M
4:40 pm
Mon October 29, 2012

Texas A&M Aims to Measure Student Success and Cost Effiency

Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), Chairman of Senate Higher Education Committee
Brandon Mulder

Today Texas A&M officials announced EmpowerU, a program aimed at monitoring the system’s efficiency at graduating its students.

Essentially, EmpowerU is A&M’s new public analytical website. It aggregates statistics of all student progress, and presents its data online. The idea is that individual institutions will set their own goals for improvement. EmpowerU’s website will publicly hold them accountable to quality of education and cost efficiency, benchmarking peer institutions against each other.

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Politics
2:03 pm
Mon October 29, 2012

UT/TT Poll: Romney, Cruz Comfortably Ahead in Texas

Todd Wiseman via Texas Tribune

Republican Mitt Romney has a commanding lead over Democrat Barack Obama in the presidential race in Texas, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. The survey of likely voters found that 55 percent support Romney while 39 percent support the incumbent. The remaining 6 percent said they support someone else.

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Health
12:53 pm
Mon October 29, 2012

Next Breakthrough in Alzheimer's Research Could Happen in Texas

MD Anderson Hospital in Houston.
flickr.com/8113246@N02

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is partnering with Baylor College of Medicine and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study Alzheimer’s and similar neurodegenerative diseases.

Together, the researchers are forming the Neurodegeneration Consortium (NDC). The researchers plan to take what they say is a new approach to studying Alzheimer’s. Most previous research has been based primarily on one theory, which posits that Alzheimer’s and the related degeneration are caused by the build-up of a specific chemical in the brain.

But NDC investigators believe recent medical research and advances indicate that many factors may contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s. They plan to study and identify these factors and hope the knowledge they gain can be used to create better diagnostics and treatments for Alzheimer’s and similar conditions.

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