Energy
7:59 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Forget Fracking: 2012 Was A Powerful Year For Renewables

Wind turbines stand alongside an electrical tower at the National Wind Technology Center, run by the U.S. Department of Energy, outside Boulder, Colo.
Brennan Linsley AP

Originally published on Mon January 7, 2013 10:44 am

Natural gas may have reshaped the domestic energy market in 2012, lowering energy prices and marginalizing the coal industry, but America's shale boom hasn't undermined renewables.

In fact, while analysts were paying attention to fracking this year, a record number of solar panels were being slapped on roofs — enough to produce 3.2 gigawatts of electricity.

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Top Stories 2012
2:44 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Top Stories of 2012: Lance Armstrong's Crash and Burn

Just layin' around: A tweet from Armstrong featuring his Tour de France jerseys drew the ire of the blogosphere.
twitter.com/lancearmstrong

Here’s one Austinite that’s probably ready for 2012 to end: Lance Armstrong.

Cyclist, cancer survivor and seven-time Tour de France winner Armstrong found himself enveloped by controversy this year that ultimately lead to the erasure of his wins.

In February, federal prosecutors announced they had dropped a two-year investigation into whether Armstrong participated in doping. But later that summer, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), a non-governmental watchdog of doping in sports, announced it was bringing its own charges of doping against Armstrong.

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Gun Violence
11:42 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Only 'A Good Guy With A Gun' Can Stop School Shootings, NRA Says

National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre at this morning's news conference in Washington, D.C.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 1:08 pm

(We retopped this post at 11:35 a.m. ET.)

Saying that last week's mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., could have been prevented or stopped if there had been armed, trained security personnel on site, officials of the National Rifle Association on Friday called for Congress to appropriate funds to put police officers in every American school.

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2013 Legislative Sesssion
10:24 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Texas Lawmakers Call for Blitz Play Against Alzheimer’s Disease

A state committee says funds for Alzheimer's research could be put to good use in Texas.
Lizzie Chen for KUT News

A state committee on Alzheimer’s disease that heard from former Texas football coach Darrell Royal and his wife has recommended the Legislature increase Alzheimer’s research funding, if possible.

It stressed that consistent funding can help make inroads in combating the disease and suggested tapping outside money to supplement what state government provides.

“There are significant opportunities for external funding sources,” concluded a report of the Joint Interim Committee to Study Alzheimer’s Disease. “These opportunities should be fully explored.”

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Politics
9:56 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Obama Taps Sen. Kerry For Secretary Of State

President Obama and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., at the White House this afternoon.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 3:02 pm

  • President Obama nominates Sen. Kerry

President Obama announced this afternoon that he will nominate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to be his next secretary of state.

Kerry's long experience in the Senate (he was first elected in 1984) and especially in foreign affairs (he chairs the Foreign Relations Committee) mean the senator's "not going to need a lot of on-the-job training," Obama said.

We followed the short appearance at the White House by the president and Kerry and posted some highlights.

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Transportation
9:09 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Headed to the Airport? Get There Early

Passenger traffic is up this year at ABIA, and this year's holiday traffic is no exception.
Credit Photo by Mose Buchele/KUT News

If you're headed on a flight out of Austin today, you may want to heed official advice and get there 90 minutes early. Or maybe even a little earlier than that.

KUT's own Mose Buchele, a reporter for StateImpact Texas, sent us the photo above from the airport early this morning, well before the day's flight schedule had peaked. And it's only expected to get busier throughout the day. 

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Transportation Security Administration
3:35 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

TSA to Commission Independent Study of X-Ray Body Scanners

YouTube

Following months of congressional pressure, the Transportation Security Administration has agreed to contract with the National Academy of Sciences to study the health effects of the agency's X-ray body scanners. But it is unclear if the academy will conduct its own tests of the scanners or merely review previous studies.

The machines, known as backscatters, were installed in airports nationwide after the failed underwear bombing on Christmas Day 2009 to screen passengers for explosives and other nonmetallic weapons. But they have been criticized by some prominent scientists because they expose the public to a small amount of ionizing radiation, a form of energy that can cause cancer.

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Top Stories 2012
3:16 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Austin’s Top Stories of 2012: Remembering Esme Barrera

A memorial was set up for Barrera at the Mexic-Arte Museum for Dia de los Muertos.
facebook.com/mexicarte

Tragedy can strike at any time.

Austin’s music community was painfully reminded of that lesson when a mainstay of the local music scene, Esme Barrera, was murdered at her home in the West Campus during the first hours of the New Year.

Nearly a whole year later, the District Attorney's office says sufficient cause exists to arrest her alleged murderer, if he hadn't killed himself soon after Barrera's murder. APD is now declaring the case closed. 

In the early morning of Jan. 1, Barrera was returning to her home on West 31st Street, near Guadalupe Street, from a celebratory evening of live music. Shortly after entering her house, she was killed.

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real estate
2:39 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Central Texas Home Sales Hit 5 Year High

An Austin home listed for sale in November 2011
Flickr user fabfemme http://www.flickr.com/photos/fabfemme/6312897308/

It’s probably the last measure of the Austin housing market we’ll get this year. And the Austin Board of Realtors' newest report suggests home sales are ending 2012 on a high note.

Austin-area home sales hit a five year high in November, according to the report, the 18th straight month of increased sales. Last month, 1,671 single-family homes were sold. That’s  23 percent more than in November of 2011.  Condominium sales increased slightly more, by 26 percent.  

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Austin
1:06 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Cold Enough to Freeze: Some Tips from AWU

It could be cold enough for pipes to freeze tonight. The Austin Water Utility is warning homeowners to take precautions.

The weather forecast says temperatures around Austin will dip into the 20's tonight. Austin Water Utility is reminding homeowners about the importance of protecting water pipes in such conditions. In a release today, the utility wrote:
 

Before Freezing Weather

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Gun Laws
8:50 am
Thu December 20, 2012

Where Texas Gun Laws Stand Now

flickr.com/thomashawk

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, state governments across the nation are re-examaning their gun laws.

No license is required for purchasing and owning a firearm there is no licensing requirement. All that is required is a state-issued ID that says you are at least 18 years to purchase a rifle, or at least 21 years to purchase a handgun. 

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Austin
7:38 am
Thu December 20, 2012

High Winds Complicate Firefighting in Austin

High winds are making for tough firefighting at several blazes around Austin.

High winds quickly escalated three fires in the area overnight. They have kept firefighters in Austin and Williamson County busy. Williamson County firefighters are taking the lead on a fire at the International Apartments near Copper Creek Drive and Pond Wood Road that has destroyed two buildings and forced evacuations of dozens of families. Lieutenant Josh Portie of the Austin Fire Department says the challenge has been the wind.

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Dec. 12, 2012
5:36 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

It’s the End of the World as We Know It (Supposedly) And This UT Maya Expert Feels (Mostly) Fine

Artist's rendering of the 2012 Maya apocalypse.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

David Stewart Explains the Maya Calendar

Turn on the History Channel, and you’ll find plenty of speculation about the Mayan calendar. The “long count” calendar comes to an end on Dec. 21, 2012 – and chances are you’ve heard what that’s supposed to mean.

David Stuart, a professor of art history at the University of Texas at Austin recently deciphered a hieroglyph that included a second reference to the end-date. “This is an important date,” Stuart tells KUT News.  But “the Maya never said anything about the end of the world … they never predicted or prophesied anything about what would happen.”

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Transportation
4:15 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

ABIA and AAA Hope These Travel Tips Make for Happy Holidays

Holiday travelers are told to arrive early for flights at ABIA.
KUT News

If you’re flying out of Austin for the holidays, be ready to arrive at the airport early and expect long lines.  Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is advising travelers to arrive 90 minutes before their departure time from today through Dec. 21.

Checkpoints open at 4 a.m. to give passengers on the earliest flights ample time to get check their bags and get through security. ABIA has also temporarily opened a fourth security checkpoint to handle the high volume of holiday travelers and reduce security wait times.  

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Austin City Council
3:48 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

The Top 10 Austin City Council Stories of 2012

Changes to Austin's form of government, a mayoral race, transportation issues and more dominated the dais in 2012.
Filipa Rodrigues, Andy Uhler for KUT News

One mayor. Six council members. 10 stories.

While the Austin City Council lacked for an overarching theme in 2012 – nothing like the months-long roil of 2011’s open meetings act or Formula 1 controversies – it faced a decidedly full agenda.

But ironically, 2012 may be remembered more for the change it initiated to future councils that the actions of this one.  With the council safely on hiatus until Jan. 17, 2013, KUT News is taking a look back at the year that was.  

1. Switch to Single-Member Districts

Austin has rarely, if ever, had such an important local election.

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