Austin
8:47 am
Thu January 12, 2012

Austin Police Crime Lab Under the Spotlight, Again

Photo by KUT News

The Austin Police Department crime lab is getting another round of scrutiny.

The Travis County District Attorney’s office announced yesterday they referred allegations of sloppy work at APD’s crime lab to the Texas Department of Public Safety and local criminal defense attorneys for review.

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News Brief
5:32 am
Thu January 12, 2012

Top Morning Stories 01/12/12: Stratfor Chief on Hacking, State Parks Get Financial Boost

Photo by Caleb Bryant Miller/KUT News

Stratfor Chief Lays Out Hacking Ordeal

Austin-based intelligence analysis firm Stratfor's website is back up and running after hackers, who claimed to be with the group Anonymous, stole thousands of credit card numbers and other personal information belonging to Stratfor customers.

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Texas
4:09 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

Time Runs Out for the Texas Prison Rodeo

Detail from a 1964 Texas Prison Rodeo program.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/e06158

The home of the Texas Prison Rodeo is being demolished, according to the Associated Press.

While an event hasn’t been held on the Huntsville prison grounds since 1986, the rodeo has a rich history dating back decades.

The Handbook of Texas Online says once the rodeo was created in 1931, it was a near-instant success: “Within two years public attendance swelled from a handful of outsiders to almost 15,000, prompting prison officials to erect wooden stands and charge admission. The revenue raised covered costs and subsidized an education and recreation fund that provided perquisites from textbooks and dentures to Christmas turkeys.”

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Politics
2:51 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

Travis County Asks: Can You Help Us Build Our Courthouse?

Travis County Commissioners want to build a new courthouse to replace the 80-year-old Heman Sweatt Courthouse building at 10th and Guadalupe.
Photo by Eric Reyna/KUT News

Travis County wants assistance in planning their new civil and family courthouse. “We are currently analyzing how to finance and build the new courthouse and develop the site in the way that is most cost-effective and responsive to the community,” they write in a release promoting a community meeting next week. But it sounds like there’s also dissension on the Travis County Commissioner’s Court about how to proceed.

In December 2010, the county purchased land at 308 Guadalupe, a parking lot bounded by Third, Fourth, Guadalupe and San Antonio. The Austin American-Statesman reported the purchase price at $22 million.

The following spring, the county asked for pitches from developers on how to build – and more importantly, how to finance – the project.

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Texas
12:38 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

Van De Putte: Doctors, Nurses Can Help Prevent Human Trafficking

Texas Senator Leticia Van De Putte co-hosted a human trafficking health summit today.
KUT News

“Understand that human trafficking is very, very profitable. You can sell drugs or a gun only once. You can sell a human 12 times in one day.”

Today is Human Trafficking Awareness Day, and those words from Texas State Senator Leticia Van De Putte underscore the gravity of the problem. Van De Putte co-hosted a summit on Human Trafficking this morning, focused on how health providers can identify and assist victims. The affected can include anyone from young runaways coerced into sex work and prostitution, to American immigrants promised work but essentially bound into slavery.

Van De Putte spoke to KUT News, addressing the role health providers can play and dispelling some common assumptions about what trafficking actually is and who it affects.

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Politics
11:38 am
Wed January 11, 2012

If the Courts Take More Time, So Will Texas Primaries

Illustration by Todd Wiseman

It takes at least two months to put a primary election together once political maps are finally drawn, and if the federal courts don't spit out a final Texas map within the next three weeks, the state's primary elections probably can't be held on April 3.

During Monday's oral arguments in the Texas redistricting case, the justices on the high court asked about holding elections on time in April or as late as June. At one point, they were working backward from the general election date next November as they tried to sort out the complexities of reworking political maps in the face of election deadlines.

"Texas has a very early primary," Justice Samuel Alito Jr. said at one point during the hearing. "Some states have them for congressional races in — in the fall, and the latest presidential primary I think is at the end of June. So why can't this all be pushed back, and wouldn't that eliminate a lot of the problems that we are grappling with in this case?"

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2012 Presidential Election
8:23 am
Wed January 11, 2012

South Carolina: An Early Look Ahead

Originally published on Wed January 11, 2012 6:06 am

With last night's results part of history, the candidates and press turned very quickly to South Carolina, which the AP says "is shaping up to be a dogfight."

And the stakes are high: After winning New Hampshire, Mitt Romney became the first non-incumbent Republican to win the primary season's first two contests, so as Bloomberg puts it, South Carolina, which votes Jan. 21, may be the last chance opponents have to derail Romney.

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News Brief
5:55 am
Wed January 11, 2012

Top Morning Stories 01/11/12: Commission Taking Up Bags Ban, Recovery Work Resumes in Bastrop

Tonight a City of Austin commission will review the city's proposed single-use bags ban.
Photo by KUT News.

City Commission to Review Proposed Bags Ban

The City of Austin’s Solid Waste Advisory Commission is scheduled to take up a proposed plastic bags ban tonight. The draft ban would ban single-use plastic and paper bags starting in January 2013. And from this June to December businesses would have to charge ten cents a bag.

Tonight’s Solid Waste Advisory Commission meeting starts at six thirty at City Hall. The Austin City Council would still have to vote on the ban before it could take effect.

Recovery Work Resuming in Bastrop

Recovery work will resume in wildfire-damaged Bastrop County. Federal officials yesterday cleared Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative to get back to work clearing trees, picking up debris and putting up electric lines and meters in burned areas.

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2012 Presidential Election
10:00 pm
Tue January 10, 2012

Romney Wins New Hampshire, Paul Secures Second Place

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney grabbed first place in the New Hampshire primary Tuesday night, his second victory after narrowly securing Iowa by eight votes exactly a week earlier. (Full results)

“Tonight we celebrate,” Romney said in a victory speech you can watch above. “Tomorrow, we go to work.”

Romney is scheduled to hit the campaign trail in South Carolina Wednesday, where he’s expected to face a considerably more difficult contest ahead of that state’s primary on Saturday, January 21.

Texas Governor Rick Perry scarcely registered one-percent of the vote in New Hampshire. He skipped the Granite State to focus on South Carolina, hoping his socially conservative religious beliefs, his pro-military rhetoric, and the story of Texas economic success will trump Republican skepticism over his ability to win a general election.

“Tonight's results in New Hampshire show the race for 'conservative alternative' to Mitt Romney remains wide open,” Perry said in a campaign email Tuesday night. “I skipped New Hampshire and aimed my campaign right at conservative South Carolina, where we've been campaigning hard and receiving an enthusiastic welcome.”

The other Texan in the race, Congressman Ron Paul, met expectations with a solid second place finish in New Hampshire. The Texas Tribune’s Thanh Tan reports that Paul’s runner-up status will provide solid momentum as he pushes forward to South Carolina.

You can watch Paul’s victory speech here, and check all the other victory speeches at PBS Newshour’s YouTube page.

2012 Presidential Election
9:27 pm
Tue January 10, 2012

Paul Meets Expectations, Takes Second in New Hampshire

Photo by Texas Tribune

In the end, no one was really surprised.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul survived the New Hampshire primary Tuesday with his runner-up status intact. The candidate had been polling in second place for days, and voters proved the surveys right. 

Though the candidate could not overtake former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's commanding lead, the second-place finish will give his campaign another kick-start in fundraising and momentum as it moves to the first-in-the-South primary Jan. 21 in South Carolina.

"We've had a victory for the cause of liberty ... and there's no way they're going to stop the momentum," Paul said Tuesday night in a speech laced with underdog rhetoric and aimed at his fans across the country. "We are dangerous to the status quo!"

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2012 Presidential Election
9:11 pm
Tue January 10, 2012

Perry Reacts To New Hampshire Results in Campaign Email

Gov. Rick Perry on the campaign trail with Gavin Stanley, 4.
Photo by Jay Root, Texas Tribune

Governor Rick Perry's campaign sent this email tonight, after it became apparent that Mitt Romney was headed to victory in the New Hampshire Republican primary:

Tonight's results in New Hampshire show the race for 'conservative alternative' to Mitt Romney remains wide open. I skipped New Hampshire and aimed my campaign right at conservative South Carolina, where we've been campaigning hard and receiving an enthusiastic welcome. I believe being the only non-establishment outsider in the race, the proven fiscal and social conservative and proven job creator will win the day in South Carolina.

South Carolina is the next stop. I have a head start here, and it's friendly territory for a Texas governor and veteran with solid outsider credentials, the nation's best record of job creation, and solid fiscal, social and Tea Party conservatism.

2012 Presidential Election
8:32 pm
Tue January 10, 2012

Romney Wins N.H. Primary; Paul Captures Second

Mitt Romney speaks to supporters at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, N.H., after winning the state's primary on Tuesday.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 10:08 am

It's just the first Republican primary. But a convincing win in New Hampshire should give former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney considerable momentum in his quest toward the GOP nomination.

With 95 percent of precincts reporting, Romney had more than 39 percent of the vote. Texas Rep. Ron Paul was solidly in second, with about 23 percent, while former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman had secured third place, with nearly 17 percent of the vote.

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2012 Presidential Election
8:29 pm
Tue January 10, 2012

TV News Shows Saw Romney Victory Coming, But Couldn't Quite Say It

Originally published on Tue January 10, 2012 8:22 pm

An event like tonight's New Hampshire primary provides a nearly perfect opportunity to capture the dance of the seven veils.

That is, at 7 p.m. ET, on TV, there was a veil ever so slightly sheathing the results in New Hampshire.

The political press felt confident — dead certain, actually — that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney would win the primary in the neighboring state by a comfortable margin. Most polls closed state-wide by 7 p.m. — but as a scattering would not close until 8 p.m, no one reported the final verdicts, despite having a strong sense from exit polls.

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2012 Presidential Election
7:49 pm
Tue January 10, 2012

Perry Hoping South Carolina is No Iowa

Rick Perry greets Griffin Mann at the Point of Grace Church Iowa caucus in Waukee, Iowa on January 3, 2012.
Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

There’s no sugar-coating Gov. Rick Perry’s chances right now. He has 11 days to convince South Carolina voters to forget his early stumbles, his fifth-place finish in Iowa and his meager chances in New Hampshire tonight.

Perry brought U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney on his bus today to stir up crowds at campaign stops. Mulvaney implored a large crowd in Fort Mill to forget about the Perry they saw in debates.

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Education
5:31 pm
Tue January 10, 2012

Did Austin ISD Arrest and Ticket Too Many Students?

Photo by KUT News

A year-old report on “Texas’ School-to-Prison” pipeline is spreading across the Web, due to a report in The Guardian looking critically at police arrests and citations in Texas (and Austin) schools, and follows recent efforts within AISD to change the way it disciplines students. 

The Guardian describes the story of Sarah Bustamante, a 12-year old student at Austin’s Fulmore Middle School. She was issued a criminal misdemeanor citation by a campus police officer for what she describes as spraying herself with two bursts of perfume during class.

This phenomenon – issuing criminal citations for student behavior that, in the past, wouldn’t earn offenders much more than a trip to the principal’s office – is examined at length in a report from Texas Appleseed.

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