Austin
2:07 pm
Tue November 30, 2010

Zilker Tree Will Get Test Lighting Tomorrow Morning

People standing underneath the Zilker Tree in 2006. Austin Energy will test the tree's lights tomorrow morning, but the official lighting won't take place until Sunday.
Image courtesy Flickr user That Other Paper http://www.flickr.com/photos/austins_only_paper/

If you're excited about Sunday's lighting ceremony for the Zilker Tree, don't freak out if you're driving down MoPac tomorrow and you see the 155-foot tall structure already illuminated. It's just a test.

Austin Energy just sent us this email under the subject line, "In case you get calls…"

The Zilker Tree will be switched on tomorrow morning (Wednesday, December 1) beginning at 6 a.m. until about 8 a.m. to allow Austin Energy crews to replace any lights that may be burned out and for any other adjustments that may be needed.

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Politics
1:47 pm
Tue November 30, 2010

Texas State Rep. Still Doubts Obama Was Born in the USA

A copy of President Obama's birth certificate
Image courtesy FactCheck.org

Is there anything the national broadcast media loves more than a beatdown of a radically conservative politician? If so, State Rep. Leo Berman (R-Tyler) is making it way too easy for Anderson Cooper.

Despite what appears to be overwhelming evidence that President Obama was born in Hawaii, Berman took the bait last night on CNN.

You know I really don't know. If you look at my white hair, you can tell I've been around for awhile. And I've known everything about every president that I've come across for the last 70 some-odd years. I don't know anything about President Obama. I wish I did.

Check out the video.

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Transportation
12:40 pm
Tue November 30, 2010

TxDOT Targets Drunk Driving Hispanics With Telenovela Ads

TxDOT is using the popular telenovela format to sell its anti-DUI message to Texas' Spanish-speaking population.
Screen capture from TxDOT anti-DUI ad.

The Texas Department of Transportation announced today that it has been airing these two-minute 'mini' telenovelas on the Spanish-language TV networks Univision, Estrella, and Telefutura. TxDOT says it is one of the first US state agencies to create anti-DUI ads using the telenovela form, "which is very popular in the Spanish-speaking community."

Check out the videos for yourself.

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health
11:58 am
Tue November 30, 2010

How Do We Make Austin's Overweight Kids Healthy Again?

University of Texas grad students created this map to look at the prevelance of unhealthy food choices in the Dove Springs neighborhood, which has one of the highest rates of childhood obesity in the city.

Childhood obesity is one of those extremely complicated issues that is affected by many interrelated factors like family income, where you live, and your level of education.  An annual study that looks at obesity rates across America says Texas has the 7th highest rate of childhood obesity in the country. 

As we've reported in the past, the southeast Austin neighborhood of Dove Springs has one of the highest rates of childhood obesity in the city.

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austin
11:05 am
Tue November 30, 2010

KUT Audio News Roundup

Long before the internet, people used these cool looking devices to consume information. And they still do to this day! Tell you what, it's cheaper than broadband.
Image courtesy Brandon Christopher Warren http://www.flickr.com/photos/brandoncwarren/

Take a listen to some of the local audio news we've produced over the past 24 hours.

Wikileaks Fallout

KUT's Ben Philpott talks to the researchers at the LBJ Library at the University of Texas who decide whether to declassify White House documents from President Johnson's tenure. They have some interesting opinions about the mishandling of classified diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks.

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football
10:36 am
Tue November 30, 2010

Former Westlake High Student on the Cover of Sports Illustrated

After hometown football hero Drew Brees led the New Orleans Saints to their first Superbowl victory in franchise history, the Westlake native has now been named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year.

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Politics
8:36 am
Tue November 30, 2010

Sen. Hutchison Fires Shot at Health Care Law

U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas)
Photo by KUT

U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison renewed attacks on the federal heath care bill yesterday during a floor speech in the Senate.  Hutchison called some of the new law’s tax reporting requirements are an “overbearing government intrusion on free enterprise in our country” in her floor speech Monday.

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News Brief
6:08 am
Tue November 30, 2010

Top Morning Stories November 30, 2010

The City of Buda is holding a public workshop tonight to get input on its long range plan for growth and development.
Photo by KUT News.

Planning the Future of Buda

The City of Buda, just south of Austin in Hays County, is growing fast.  City officials are looking for input on Buda’s long range comprehensive plan.    Think of it as a “blue print” for the future of the city.  People can give their input at a public workshop tonight at Buda Elementary starting at six thirty. 

Domestic Violence Shelter Full

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Transportation
5:20 pm
Mon November 29, 2010

See What Austin's Urban Rail Vehicle Could Look Like

Oregon Ironworks is building this urban rail vehicle for Portland and Tuscon. The City of Austin is considering building an urban rail system of its own.
Photo by Caleb Bryant Miller for KUT News

The City of Austin showed off an urban rail car at the Palmer Events Center today. The vehicle is already being manufactured for the cities of Portland and Tuscon.

It’s part of the ongoing campaign to get Austinites on board for an urban rail line that would run from the Mueller neighborhood through downtown to the airport. 

Building the line would cost $1.3 billion, and city council is considering asking taxpayers to approve a bond package in 2012.

Politics
3:44 pm
Mon November 29, 2010

Austin Koreans Worried About Tensions Back Home

Tensions between North and South Korea are troubling some Austinites with roots in the region.
Image courtesy Google Map Imagery, TerraMetrics, Mapabc, SK M&C, Zenrin

Relations between North and South Korea aren't exactly okey dokey these days. In March, North Korea sank a South Korean naval warship, killing 46 sailors.  Last week, the North shelled a South Korean island. Four people were killed then. We've also learned about the North's large uranium enrichment facility.

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Austin
2:50 pm
Mon November 29, 2010

Economist Says Budget Cuts Will "Hurt" But Not "Be Fatal" to Austin

University of Texas labor economist Daniel Hamermesh doesn't expect budget cuts will cause major harm to Austin's economy.
Image courtesy Daniel Hamermesh

Take a look at our reporting partners the Texas Tribune's story on what lawmakers are telling constituents about the carnage coming to state government. In a post entitled, "There Will Be Blood,"  Ross Ramsey writes about State Rep. Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie) speaking to a Tea Party group last week.

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real estate
1:39 pm
Mon November 29, 2010

Buy Your Own Water Park in Lubbock

The Lubbock Water Rampage will go on the auction block in early December.

A little over a year after the Lubbock Water Rampage was sold to new owners, the water park is now back on the market.  The Lubbock Water Rampage will be auctioned off on Wednesday, December 8.

The water park was closed in May 2008 because the owner at the time couldn't afford to renovate the facility, according to Lubbock NBC affiliate KCBD. Now it appears the new owners are getting out of the business.

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health
12:47 pm
Mon November 29, 2010

UT-Austin Researcher Says Some Sports Drinks Are Not Your Friend

A UT researcher says drinking sugary sports beverages like some versions of Gatorade might be hindering your weight loss goals.
Image courtesy Jeremy Brooks http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeremybrooks/

If you loaded up on Thanksgiving food over the long weekend, you might be thinking about how to work off those extra ounces before the next round of holiday binging begins in December.

University of Texas scientist Dr. Lisa Ferguson-Stegall just conducted a study as part of her dissertation work, and it revealed that guzzling sugar-rich sports drinks while working out might not be helping your waistline.

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Transportation
12:14 pm
Mon November 29, 2010

Visualize How Far Can You Go On A Bus In 15 Minutes

We can quibble about the accuracy of this tool, but it definitely an interesting way to visualize public transit data. French software developer Stefan Wehrmeyer invented a Google Maps mashup that shows how far you can travel by public transit or on foot from any given point on the map.

Go here and just drag the marker to any place, then use the time slider in the bottom right to adjust the size of the blotch.

Here's their video explaining the concept. 

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football
11:42 am
Mon November 29, 2010

Longhorns Fan Forums Bleeding Orange Over Season Loss

Longhorns fans are asking questions and pointing fingers in the wake of Thursday's season ending loss to Texas A&M.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Fans of the University of Texas football team got a punch in the gut on Thanksgiving Thursday when their hopes to compete in a bowl game were erased by a 24-17 loss to Texas A&M. Now some fans are getting riled up online over the Longhorns' first losing season since 1997.

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News Brief
6:03 am
Mon November 29, 2010

Top Morning Stories November 29, 2010

Online retailers are hoping to see sales go through the roof today for the industry created holiday Cyber Monday.
Photo by KUT News.

Houston Going Green?


When it comes to "green" cities, Houston may not be the first city to come to mind.  But as our political reporting partner, the Texas Tribune reports, the oil capital is embarking on several environmentally friendly initiatives.  Houston has opened a weekly farmers market, is the nation’s largest municipal buyer of green power, and has a competitive program to encourage businesses to save water and energy.

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Austin
7:58 am
Sun November 28, 2010

Holiday's Over, Crowds Continue

The Sunday after Thanksgiving is traditionally busy at ABIA.
Photo by Erika Aguilar for KUT News.

Heavy Travel Day

Today is another heavy travel day at the Austin Bergstrom International Airport. And travelers who didn't have to go through tough security screening on the way out of town, likely will have to go through a body scanner or enhanced pat down if they're flying home from a big city airport.

Urban Rail

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Austin
2:04 pm
Fri November 26, 2010

Chuy's Parade To Close Streets Downtown Saturday

The annual Chuy's parade takes place on Congress Avenue.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/atmtx/4164741015/

The annual Chuy's Children Giving to Children Parade will tie up traffic downtown Saturday morning. The parade kicks off at 11 a.m.

Streets will close as early as 6 a.m. and will reopen around 2 p.m

San Jacinto Blvd. will close at 6 a.m., as will East 15th through East 10th and the Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge.

Congress Avenue between 11th Street and the River will close at 9 a.m.

Shopping
1:51 pm
Fri November 26, 2010

Austinites Scoring Black Friday Deals

Photo by KUT News.

Lines varied from store to store but people were out in force getting a start to their Christmas shopping.  Shoppers told KUT the lines depended on what store you went to…and at what time.


La France Yarbrough said checkout was pretty fast at an Austin Walmart at about 3:30 a.m. He bought a new 42 inch TV before heading to Best Buy to look for a bluetooth.

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health
1:48 pm
Fri November 26, 2010

Anti-Tobacco Activists Say Austin-Branded Smokes Are Aimed at Kids

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids says this is the imagery Camel is using on its city branded cigarettes.
Image courtesy Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

The maker of Camel Cigarettes, RJ Reynolds, will start selling limited edition cigarette packs later this year that feature the symbols of America's hippest locales, Williamsburg, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and of course, Austin, Texas.

That’s according to Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which has posted imagery of the marketing campaign on its website.

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