Health
11:09 am
Wed May 16, 2012

U.S. Funding of HIV/AIDS Fight Overseas Carries Other Benefits

A mother and child wait to receive treatment at the HIV clinic in Nyagasambu, Rwanda, in Feb. 2008. The clinic was built by the Washington-based Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation with a grant from the PEPFAR program.
Shashank Bengali MCT/Landov

Originally published on Tue May 15, 2012 5:10 pm

U.S. government spending to fight HIV/AIDS in developing countries is also preventing death from other diseases, a new study finds.

Some experts worry the billions of dollars the United States spends to treat people with HIV in poor countries may crowd out prevention and treatment of other illnesses.

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Animals
9:29 am
Wed May 16, 2012

'No Kill' Achieved, For Now: Animal Center Meets Adoption Goals

Dozens of dogs were adopted and fostered yesterday, preventing euthanasias at the Austin Animal Center.
Photo by KUT News

The Austin Animal Center exceeded their goal of adopting out 40 pets yesterday. And that means 23 animals did not have to be put down.

The Austin Animal Center announced on their Facebook page that 104 pets were adopted, reclaimed or transferred to other shelters yesterday.

The shelter was beyond capacity and needed to make room for new animals coming in.

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AM Update
8:29 am
Wed May 16, 2012

AM Update: More Energy Rate Talks, Perry on Powers, Preserving Bastrop History After the Wildfires

The City Council continues to discuss Austin Energy rates; Gov. Rick Perry comments on rumors about Bill Powers; and a grant will look at how wildfires affected historic structures in Bastrop State Park.
Electric lines photo by Natasha Lee for KUT News; Perry photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News; Bastrop photo by KUT News

Beginning of the End of Austin Energy Rate Hike Discussion?

The Austin City Council is meeting again today to talk about Austin Energy rates.

On Monday, three council members proposed a new plan for raising rates that they hope will bring a conclusion on the topic. Their plan would increase residential rates in five tiers based on how much energy is used. It would also adjust the proposed rate hikes for churches and schools.

The City Council has held 10 work sessions on Austin Energy rates since March 7. Members of the council have said they expect to have a final decision by late May or early June.

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Religion
4:51 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

Help a Sister Out: Protesters Call for Vatican to Support, Not Censure, U.S. Nuns

Supporters rallied in defense of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious this afternoon.
Photo by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

A small band of Austinites braved the rain this afternoon to rally in support of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, one of the largest organizations of Catholic nuns in the U.S.

Eight protesters assembled outside of St. Mary's Cathedral in downtown Austin, holding signs reading "In solidarity with Women Religious" and "I stand with LCWR." Similar protests were scheduled in other cities today, including Dallas and New York.

On April 18, the Vatican issued a report chastising the LCWR for an insufficiently hardline stance on homosexuality that places it “outside the Church’s teaching,” and “a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”

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Health
3:22 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

National Alzheimer's Plan Could Help With Texas' Large Burden

Because of sheer population size, Texas faces a big challenge when it comes to Alzheimer's disease.
Photo courtesy jamelah via Flickr

The Obama Administration has unveiled a plan to address Alzheimer’s disease.

It has five broad goals for addressing the disease and helping families facing challenges from it, with an end- goal to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s by 2025.

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Education
1:23 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

What’s the Value of Finishing High School? For Austin, It’s in the Millions

A report says communities can benefit greatly from increased high school graduation.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/nodivision

A high school diploma is touted as the bare minimum students need to achieve. And now a new study pegs the financial value of high school graduation to the Austin region’s economy.

The Alliance for Excellent Education, a Washington DC-based non-profit  focused on improving national graduation rates, has released a study detailing the effects on Austin’s regional economy if the amount of high school dropouts was cut in half – with benefits reaching into the millions.

It’s estimated that in the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), some 6,100 students dropped out of the class of 2010. Home to 45 schools, the Alliance says the region is one of the lowest performing in the nation, with 28 percent of high school students failing to graduate on time and with a regular diploma.

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Austin
1:12 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

Animal Center to Euthanize 23 Dogs - Unless You Adopt One

The Austin Animal Shelter has approximately 23 dogs on the euthanize list if at least 40 pets are not adopted today.
Photo by I-Hwa Chang for KUT News

The Austin Animal Center is seeking adopters for at least 40 pets today, May 15. The Animal Center will euthanize 23 dogs today if at least 40 pets do not find a home.

The Animal Center has taken in a large number of pets recently, but they haven’t seen an equal number of adoptions. Since last Friday, the shelter says it has taken in 36 animals, putting the total population at 1,046 pets with no more space. The Austin Animal Center’s population is at 58 (over capacity by 130), and the Town Lake Animal center is also at capacity.

Since February of 2011, the city-run shelter has maintained its "No Kill" policy by saving 90 percent or better of the animals taken in. But this year, if the adoptions don’t rapidly increase, the Animal Center could fail to meet this benchmark.

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2012 Presidential Election
12:02 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

Ron Paul Campaign: Still Open for Business

Ron Paul speaks at an Austin rally last month.
Photo by Ben Philpott for KUT News

The Ron Paul campaign spoke with reporters today to make sure everyone understood the campaign's memo released Monday. The bottom line: Ron Paul is still a presidential candidate – even though he no longer plans on spending money to win a state primary.

During the call this morning, National Campaign Chairman Jesse Benton told reporters that Paul will still make appearances at state GOP conventions. The campaign believes those efforts will allow Dr. Paul to collect additional delegates heading into the national convention in Tampa.

Benton said that includes speaking at the Texas convention in June.

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Downtown
11:17 am
Tue May 15, 2012

Meet the Teams Re-Envisioning Waller Creek Tonight

One of the spaces along Waller Creek today.
Image courtesy flickr.com/ginapina

A design competition is underway to determine the future of Waller Creek, which winds through the eastern half of Downtown. And tonight, the four teams competing to lead the development of the creek and its immediate surrounds are holding an open house.

A little background: Waller Creek has received sporadic attention over the years, but with the advent of the city’s Waller Creek tunnel project, the flood-prone waterway should finally have a steady flow.  

The project will also pull some 28 acres out of the 100-year floodplain downtown, creating a massive redevelopment opportunity the Waller Creek Conservancy hopes the four design teams will help steer.  

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Death Penalty
10:27 am
Tue May 15, 2012

Questions About Another Texas Execution: Was Wrong Man Condemned?

Originally published on Tue May 15, 2012 9:11 am

Already in the spotlight over whether it executed one innocent man — Cameron Todd Willingham — in 2004, the state of Texas now faces questions about whether another man may have been wrongly condemned to death.

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AM Update
8:49 am
Tue May 15, 2012

AM Update: Round Rock Soldier Death, Austin Musician Passes Away, Travis County Talks F1

Specialist Alex Hernandez III hailed from Round Rock.
Image courtesy U.S. Department of Defense

Round Rock Soldier Dies in Afghanistan

The U.S. Department of Defense has released the name of a Central Texas soldier who died in Afghanistan. Specialist Alex Hernandez III of Round Rock died Saturday in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan.

The 25th Combat Aviation Brigade says Hernandez was found unresponsive in his room.

Alex Hernandez was based in Hawaii . He was 21.

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War and Peace
8:21 am
Tue May 15, 2012

Military Looks to Redefine PTSD, Without Stigma

The U.S. military is trying to encourage service members and veterans to seek treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. The military is also seeking to remove any sense of stigma for receiving treatment. Here, military personnel attend a presentation on PTSD at Fort Hamilton Army Garrison in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 2009.
Chris Hondros Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 14, 2012 6:49 pm

The military and the Department of Veterans Affairs say they want more veterans and service members to get appropriate treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

That's why they're tweaking the way they define and treat PTSD. But if this approach works, it could add to the backlog of PTSD cases.

For years, the standard definition for post-traumatic stress disorder had a key feature that didn't fit for the military. It said that the standard victim responds to the trauma he or she has experienced with "helplessness and fear."

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Criminal Justice
4:50 pm
Mon May 14, 2012

Rare Reprieve Granted to Inmate Marked for Execution

A Texas court granted a reprieve to a prisoner due for execution on Wednesday
Image courtesy Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled today to stop the scheduled execution of a convicted killer because of his mental health issues.

The state's highest criminal court gave a reprieve to 49-year-old Steven Staley. Staley’s execution was set for Wednesday. He was convicted of the 1989 shooting death of a Fort Worth restaurant manager during a botched robbery.

Staley's attorney argued that the prisoner's IQ of 70 likely meant he was mentally impaired and therefore ineligible for execution. 

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Education
4:28 pm
Mon May 14, 2012

More Than a Movie: Crowd-Funded ‘Black Sun’ Seeks to Revitalize Interest in Science

A solar eclipse viewed from Bangalore, India in 2010.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/asifch

Merriam-Webster defines “eclipse” both as “the total or partial obscuring of one celestial body by another,” and “a falling into obscurity or decline.”

Dr. Jarita Holbrook hopes her new documentary about the former will prevent the latter from claiming young America’s interest in science.    

Dr. Holbrook is an astrophysicist, anthropologist and filmmaker. Her current project, “Black Sun,” is about two astrophysicists, Dr. Alphonse Sterling and Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi, and their journey around the world chasing solar eclipses. However, the film is about more than just two globetrotting scientists, it’s also about the revitalization of American youth’s interest in the STEM field –science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – and specifically, in minority communities.

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Austin
2:52 pm
Mon May 14, 2012

Gimme Shelter: 'No Kill' Has New Animal Center Straining

Like a rolling stone: A puppy at the Austin Animal Center shortly after its opening last year.

The Austin Animal Shelter, which opened last November, already has more animals than it can hold. The city says it’s taken in about 140 more pets than this time last year, and is adopting out fewer animals.

But why does the newly built Austin Animal Center have less space than the Town Lake Animal Center, the city’s former shelter?  

City spokeswoman Patricia Fraga says when the Austin Animal Center was designed three years ago, organizers didn’t take into account that Austin would be a “no kill” city. “So, what’s happening now is we’re keeping animals longer,” Fraga says. “We’re not euthanizing animals for space, so we have animals that are living at the shelter longer than they would have previously.”

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2012 Presidential Election
2:04 pm
Mon May 14, 2012

Ron Paul to Stay in Race, But Stop Campaigning

Candidate Paul greets supporters at an event last year.
Photo by KUT News

Texas congressman Ron Paul has announced that while he’s not dropping out of the Republican presidential primary, he will no longer be actively campaigning.

“Our campaign will continue to work in the state convention process,” Paul writes on his campaign blog. “We will continue to take leadership positions, win delegates, and carry a strong message to the Republican National Convention that Liberty is the way of the future.”

Indeed, Paul’s delegate strategy – and whether it might create a rift on the convention floor – has been the subject of much speculation.

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Weather
1:04 pm
Mon May 14, 2012

In Houston, Billboards Go Digital This Hurricane Season

Digital billboards like this one can display emergency alerts.
Photo courtesy Clear Channel Outdoor

The Texas Gulf Coast is preparing for the upcoming hurricane season.

Today emergency and traffic officials tested digital billboards that will provide emergency messages throughout the Houston area.

Drivers saw a message that said, “Emergency Alert: This is only a test.”

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Austin Energy
12:17 pm
Mon May 14, 2012

Council Members Pitch New Austin Energy Rate Plan

Council member Bill Spelman, with colleagues Sheryl Cole and Chris Riley to his right, presented Austin Energy rate proposals this morning.
Photo by Emery Reifsnyder for KUT News

Is the long-deliberated redesign of Austin Energy electric rates coming to a close?

Three members of the Austin City Council – Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole, Chris Riley and Bill Spelman – seemingly hope so. The three held a press conference this morning to propose a new rate structure for the city utility, which they would like to take effect this fall.

“I wish we could wait another year or two before proposing higher electric rates, but we can’t,” said Spelman. While he admitted no one wants an increase in rates, the five-tier rate structure the group proposed – with rates increasing in amount as customers use more electricity – could allow for rates to be lowered in the future. For residential customers, the average rate increase will be reduced from 20 percent in the originally proposed plan to eight percent. A monthly fixed charge, originally proposed at $22, has been lowered to $10.

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Health
10:58 am
Mon May 14, 2012

Pounding Away At America's Obesity Epidemic

In the United States, more than 78 million adults and 12 million children are obese.
Jessica Dimmock HBO

Originally published on Mon May 14, 2012 11:37 am

The numbers are staggering: One-third of Americans are obese; another third are overweight. Some 26 million Americans have Type 2 diabetes. An additional 79 million more are pre-diabetic. Thanks to these figures, the children of today have a good chance of becoming the first generation of Americans to die at younger ages than their parents.

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Texas Primaries
10:13 am
Mon May 14, 2012

Early Voting in Texas Primaries Starts Today

From one election to the next: Early voting in state and county primaries kicks off today.
Photo by KUT News

It's time to vote – again. On the heels of Austin's city election Saturday, early voting for the state and county primaries starts today, and runs through May 25.

The primary was originally scheduled for March but was pushed back because of disagreements over redistricting. Voters will get to choose the party nominees for President, the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, among others.

In Travis County, voters will cast primary ballots for offices including district attorney, sheriff, and more.

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