AM Update
8:51 am
Fri May 4, 2012

AM Update: H-E-B Recall, Crash Investigation Clears MetroRail, New Driver's License Requirements

H-E-B has recalled 19 products due to salmonella concerns.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/djwhitebread

H-E-B Recalls Meals

Central Texas-based grocery store H-E-B has announced a “voluntary and precautionary recall” for its Asian Ready-to-Eat meals. According to the grocer:  

The recall involves 19 Ready-to-Eat entrées and meals sold in 40 stores in Texas including one store in Houston. The product was available at the Grab 'N Go section in H-E-B Delis. The product(s) come in a 4 ounce, 8 ounce, 12 ounce, 24 ounce black plastic containers with a clear lid, single serve sizes and to-go containers … Any product sold prior to 5/3/12 is affected and should be returned to any H-E-B store for a full refund.

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2012 Presidential Election
8:09 am
Fri May 4, 2012

Do Campaign Ads Seem More Negative? It's Not Just You

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 9:43 am

If you thought the presidential primaries were extraordinarily negative, now there's statistical evidence that you were right.

A new analysis of TV ads finds that 70 percent of the messages were negative — a trend spearheaded by the heavily financed superPACs supporting the candidates. At this point in the 2008 election, 91 percent of TV ads were positive.

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Special Coverage
4:55 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

Bin Laden Papers Show Him Frustrated, Marginalized

Pakistanis walk past the rubble of bin Laden's demolished compound this week.
Sajjad Qayyum AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 1:50 pm

Documents found at Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan reveal an al-Qaida leader who had come to feel marginalized and frustrated with actions taken by affiliated terror groups he had helped inspire.

The man responsible for the 9/11 terror attacks is seen struggling to limit attacks that killed mostly Muslims, and to keep the international jihad movement focused on what he viewed as the main target: the United States.

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Austin
4:27 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

Anchors Aweigh: New Waller Boathouse Opens

Preparations being made before the Waller Boathouse's opening today.
Photo courtesy facebook.com/WallerCreekBoathouse

The city’s nascent plans for re-envisioning Waller Creek took another step forward today, in the form of a new, $3.4 million boathouse on the north side of Lady Bird Lake.

In March of this year, city officials authorized Austin Rowing Club to operate the facility. Boat storage and office areas of the new boathouse will be reserved for the ARC, but according to KXAN , “builders say it is designed to be accessible to the public, with a scenic observation deck, vending area, and public restroom.”

The 10,800 square foot, two-story boathouse was built new, in part, because previous facilities had to gain way for construction of the Waller Creek tunnel.

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Austin
4:07 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

Gas Leak at The Domain

The Westin Hotel, photographed in 2009.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/cote

Reports spread quickly this afternoon that construction damage to a natural gas pipe at The Domain had caused a gas leak.

Reports from news outlets stated that building evacuations occurred near the site of the leak, the under-construction Westin Hotel on Domain Drive, inside the sprawling mixed-use development in North Austin.

Texas Gas Service spokesperson Lori Moreno tells KUT News it wasn’t the gas company that called for evacuations.

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Arts and Culture
3:16 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

A 'Big Ass Canvas,' and a Cause

A project asked random Austinites to paint on a "Big Ass Canvas" today, with the results to be auctioned off for charity.
Photo by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Outside Tyler’s clothing store on The Drag, anyone could try their hand at painting on a “Big Ass Canvas.”

Big Ass Canvas offered its first community canvas painting today, outside the Guadalupe Street store. The project encourages passersby to pick up a paintbrush and help fill a large canvas (8.5 by 6 feet). It was launched a week and a half ago by Zach Horvath and Travis Chafin.

Aside from the action on The Drag, canvases will also be available at spots on South Congress and the pedestrian bridge over Lady Bird Lake, as well as at a final celebratory event. Then, the four canvases will be auctioned off to raise money for Explore Austin, a mentoring program with an emphasis on the outdoors.

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First Person
2:58 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

First Person: Young Organic Farmer

First Person is an ongoing series from KUT News where Central Texans tell their own stories, in their own words.

KUT News freelancer Jeff Heimsath filmed Marissa Lankes, an organic farmer at Austin’s Boggy Creek Farms. While passionate about her work, Lankes dispels the romanticism of farming, and argues that interest in artisan fields like organic farming may be a product of dimming career prospects for young citizens and recent college graduates. 

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Austin
12:53 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

Distinctive Honors for Hispanic Austin Women

From left: Ana Yáñez-Correa, Maria Luisa "Lulu" Flores and Lupe Morin are three Austinites honored by TAMACC
Photos courtesy tamacc.org

The Texas Association of Mexican-American Chambers of Commerce (TAMACC) is honoring female business and community leaders at its first annual Women of Distinction luncheon – and three honorees hail from Austin.

TAMACC has previously awarded a Woman of the Year award to women in the Hispanic community who show exceptional service in a leadership role. But this year the group will bestow multiple awards to “Hispanic women [who] have taken such a prominent role in business and in various leadership roles,” according to TAMACC Board Executive J.R. Gonzalez. Gonzalez remarked that it was so difficult to narrow the applicants down to the original 10 awardees that the board had to settle on 13.

 Three Austinites are among the 13 women being honored for their excellence and contribution to their community. 

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Technology
11:55 am
Thu May 3, 2012

Congressman Calls for Hearing on Google Street View Data

The camera mounted on a Google Street View car used to photograph whole streets obscures part of the U.S. Internet giant's logo.
Daniel Mihailescu AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 11:59 am

Google may be facing new investigations into its Street View program, which collected 600 gigabytes of personal data including e-mails, passwords, pictures and web searches while its vehicles roamed the streets.

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Health
11:43 am
Thu May 3, 2012

UT Pledges $25 Million Annually for Medical School

UT pledged funding for an Austin medical school today.
KUT News

This morning, the University of Texas Board of Regents proposed approximately $25 million in annual funding for an Austin medical school, plus an extra $5 million for the first eight years, dependent on matching operational funds.

The move is a sign of rising momentum for a local medical school. The announcement comes soon after Seton Hospital announced a $250 million investment in the project.  

Austin state Senator Kirk Watson has lead the governmental push for a medical school. “The estimates have been up to two billion dollars in economic activity by having a medical school and affiliated activity around that,” he told the regents today. “We will expand access and options for treating the uninsured, and we’ll provide new therapies that are designed to improve the health of everyone in this region.” 

City Council Elections
8:43 am
Thu May 3, 2012

Early Voting Totals, Day Three: We Are the One Percent

UT's Flawn Academic Center saw 65 votes yesterday.
Photo by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Congratulations, Austin. You’ve cracked one percent!

Yesterday’s early voting totals in the Austin city election were in line with what we’d seen all week, with 1,918 ballots cast. That covers both in-person voting and voting by mail. And it brings the total count to 6,117 – or 1.28% of registered voters.

The Northwest Austin Randalls, at Research and Breaker, led the day again, delivering 221 votes. Meanwhile, the Parque Zaragoza Recreation Center in East Austin served as low vote-getter, with a scant 19 ballots cast.

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AM Update
8:05 am
Thu May 3, 2012

AM Update: Texas State Joins Sun Belt Conference, Cyclists Ride for Safety, Lawmakers Talk Taxes

A “ghost bike” represents a cyclist killed while on a ride. In a demonstration tonight, cyclists hope to spur changes that will help prevent crashes involving cyclists.
Photo courtesy Jason Thompson via the Please BE KIND to Cyclists Facebook page

Texas State University Celebrates Move to the Sun Belt Conference

Texas State University is holding a reception for students today to mark the upcoming move to the Sun Belt Conference. The reception will give students an opportunity to meet and visit with head coaches and athletic administrators to discuss the move.

Texas State University President Denise Trauth announced yesterday that the university will join the Sun Belt Conference in 2013-2014 season.

Right now, eleven schools participate in the Sun Belt Conference. Georgia State will also join the conference in 2013. Texas State and Georgia State will join Arkansas State, Arkansas-Little Rock, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, UL-Lafayette, UL-Monroe, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, South Alabama, Troy and Western Kentucky.

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Downtown
4:00 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

Making the Pitch for Waller Creek

A portion of existing Waller Creek development, near Sixth Street.
Photo courtesy Larry Miller, flickr.com/drmillerlg

Could Waller Creek – currently a flood-prone, trash-strewn downtown creek – ultimately stand along New York’s High Line Park and Chicago’s Millennium Park as a premier urban space?

That was one of the rosy assessments the Real Estate Council of Austin shared at a lunchtime talk about the future of the Waller Creek, and its potential as a central riverwalk-style district.

Plans for redeveloping Waller Creek have lurched along with little success dating back to the 1970s. Things began falling into place in 2007, when the city and the county developed a financing agreement to pay for the tunnel that would create a steady flow, and preventing flooding.

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Sports
3:15 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

Former NFL Player Junior Seau is Dead; Possible Suicide

Junior Seau in 2009, when he played with the New England Patriots.
Elsa Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 3:36 pm

San Diego's Union Tribune reports that former NFL linebacker Junior Seau "has died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at his beachfront home."

It adds that:

"Chargers chaplain Shawn Mitchell said he was notified of the death and is on his way to be with family members."

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Austin
2:54 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

512, Meet 737: New Area Code Coming to Austin

While no new 512 numbers will be released, existing numbers will stay the same.
Photo by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The 512 area code, which has about 8 million phone numbers on record, will be exhausted by the end of the year. Soon, new phone numbers will come with a 737 area code. 

Terry Hadley is a spokesman for the  Public Utility Commission of Texas, a group that regulates state telecommunications. He says the need for another area code in and around Austin is due to “explosive” growth in cell phone lines.

“That is what is exhausting the available supply,” he says. “In regard to land lines, there’s been a reduction in residential land lines, but it’s been more than offset in the vast increase in cell phone numbers.”

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Austin
1:19 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

Is Austin's Texting Ban Making a Difference?

Austin drivers may not be paying much attention to the ban on texting while driving.
Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

In Austin, it’s illegal to use your cell phone for anything other than phone calls while driving. That includes texting and surfing the internet. The ban went into effect January 1, 2010.

But is the ban making a difference?

The Austin Police Department told KUT that officers have written just 26 citations for texting while driving since the city’s ban took effect.

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Austin
12:16 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

What’s in the City’s $650 Million Bond Proposal?

New fire engine bays are among the items suggested for funding in a November bond election.
Callie Hernandez for KUT News

A few million dollars here, a few million there, and pretty soon, you’re talking real money.

The Bond Election Advisory Task Force is currently soliciting input on a bond package to send to voters this November. In February, city departments presented lists of projects and programs they would like to see funded. Since then, the committee has narrowed down an initial $1.49 billion of funding requests to just $650 million. (You can view the recommendations here.)

Tonight, May 2nd, and tomorrow, May 3rd, the task force is holding public forums it will use to further narrow its $650 million list. Here’s a look at what’s made the cut so far. 

City Facilities: About $117 million

Big Ticket Items: Fire Department– Fire Maintenance & Breathing Air Shops ($14,852,000)

This nearly $15 million would go towards “relocation of fire department fleet maintenance and breathing air shops from their 2011 E. 51st Street location.”

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Business
11:36 am
Wed May 2, 2012

Today at UT: The 'Super Bowl' or 'Project Runway' of Business Pitches - Take Your Pick

The McCombs Business School is sponsoring a high stakes venture competition today.
Photo by Teresa Viera for KUT News

Rental maternity clothing? Malnutrition-fighting porridge? Dust compressors? Soon, one of these inventions could be part of your daily life.

Beginning today and running through Saturday, the Global Venture Labs Investment Competition will evaluate business concepts from 40 teams around the world. Hosted by McCombs School of Business' Texas Venture Labs, it's the longest-running competition for graduate student entrepreneurs – the "Super Bowl of business plan competitions," as the school describes it in a press release.

To qualify for the competition, teams had to win regional competitions first, with competitors culled from 13 countries including Thailand, Brazil, Germany and Norway. UT's team has invented a product called eyeQ, which according to McCombs School of Business spokesperson Renee Hopkins, uses video-based technology to monitor consumer purchasing behavior. In other words: Stores get information about how their customers shop, and customers will get an Amazon.com-like retail experience in a brick and mortar store.

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City Council Elections
10:37 am
Wed May 2, 2012

Early Voting Totals, Day Two: About What You’d Expect

Early voting figures for Tuesday looked much like Monday's numbers.
Photo by Jillian Schantz Patrick for KUT News

Second day tallies are in for early voting in the Austin city elections.

1,821 Austinites went to the polls yesterday – a hair's-breadth better than Monday's number of 1,779. Add in ballots received by mail, which exhibited a drop-off from day one, and a total of 2,026 ballots were cast yesterday. That brings Austin’s grand vote total to 4,200 – or .88% of registered voters. That’s almost one percent.

A Randalls in Northwest Austin, at Research and Breaker, lead day two, delivering 213 votes. By contrast, only 16 people voted at East Austin’s George Washington Carver Complex, the low vote-getter of the day.

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Special Coverage
9:52 am
Wed May 2, 2012

Obama: The 'Light of a New Day' is Visible in Afghanistan

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers an address to the American people on U.S. policy and the war in Afghanistan during his visit to Bagram Air Base on Tuesday.
Kevin Lamarque AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 8:14 am

In a speech delivered from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, President Obama said that after more than 10 years of war in the country, the U.S. is on a path toward peace.

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