business
5:31 pm
Thu November 18, 2010

Gowalla On Disney Partnership: "We're not about coupons"

These are some of the pins that Gowalla users will be able to collect when they check in at Disney locations.
Image courtesy Gowalla

Austin-based Gowalla announced this morning that it's teaming up with Disney Parks to create a bunch of unique Disney themed locations for the social networking service.

Gowalla is an app that runs on smartphones and allows people to "check in" when they visit any location, from a restaurant, to a park, to a long line at a movie theater. Anyone can create locations, but some are custom made by Gowalla and have their own unique symbol. Checking in earns you a stamp on your virtual Gowalla passport.  Users can also earn pins and various other digital rewards.

KUT News called Gowalla today to talk about the new deal. We spoke with Andy Ellwood, their director of business development.

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education
4:57 pm
Thu November 18, 2010

Austin ISD Superintendent Delivers "State of the District" Address

Austin ISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen delivered an annual speech to address the challenges facing the school district.
Photo by KUT News

The Austin Independent School District is making great strides academically but must better equip students to cope with future technology.  That's the assessment Superintendent Meria Carstarphen gave in her "State of the District" speech on the University of Texas campus this morning.  While noting that AISD schools have improved in meeting TAKS standards, the superintendent also said the problems are mounting for students and teachers.

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austin
4:09 pm
Thu November 18, 2010

University of Texas Students React to Four Loko Ban [VIDEO]

With Four Loko effectively banned by the FDA, how are college students reacting? KUT News hit the UT campus to find out.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning yesterday to the makers of potent caffeinated alcoholic drinks like Four Loko. The New York Times says the FDA warned them to remove the caffeine in 15 days or stop selling the products.

These popular bevearges are marketed heavily at college students. KUT News took a stroll outside our studios and talked to some undergrads about their impressions regarding the ban. Check out the video below.

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public safety
3:46 pm
Thu November 18, 2010

Round Rock Bomb Threat Came from Saudi Arabia

The Round Rock Independent School District says a bomb threat that led to the evacuation of two schools earlier this week originated in the Saudi Kingdom.

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austin
3:33 pm
Thu November 18, 2010

How Domestic Violence Can Lead to Homelessness

A homeless woman sits on a street corner. Advocates say many women find themselves homeless because they're trying to flee domestic violence.
Image courtesy Arty Smokes http://www.flickr.com/photos/artysmokes/

How Domestic Violence Often Leads to Homelessness

It's National Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week, and the local non-profit SafePlace is hosting a discussion this afternoon about the relationship between domestic violence and homelessness. 

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development
3:23 pm
Thu November 18, 2010

City Council Gives Final Green Light to New Water Treatment Plant

City Council voted to dedicate $300 million to Austin's newest water treatment plant. WTP 4 will be located near the intersection of RR 2222 and RR 620.
Image courtesy City of Austin

Not a drop of rain in the sky, but it was a wet day at City hall, with the debate over Water Treatment Plant 4 flooding out other items set for the morning’s agenda. 

With a series of close votes, City Council dedicated $300 million dollars to the completion of Water Treatment Plant 4. It effectively gives the project a final green light.  The votes came after hours of sometimes emotional public comment and council discussion. Water Utility Director Greg Mazaros said it made sense for council to approve the remaining funds all in one go.

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Environment
12:52 pm
Thu November 18, 2010

WTP4 Heats Up Austin City Council Meeting

City Council is taking some key votes Thursday to move Water Treatment Plant 4 forward.
Graphic courtesy of the City of Austin.

Speaker after speaker spoke out for and against Water Treatment Plant 4 during this morning's Austin City Council meeting.  Council members are voting on about $300 million remaining in construction contracts for the plant.  (Take a closer look at the contracts on the council agenda here)

Bill Bunch, executive director of the Save Our Springs Alliance, repeated his plea to council members to vote against the project.  He thinks it’s a waste of money:

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kut news
10:52 am
Thu November 18, 2010

KUT News Audio Roundup

The internet is cool and all, but not as cool as a classic vintage radio! (Trust me on this one.) If you don't have a radio, here's the local news you're missing.
Photo courtesy bricolage.108 http://www.flickr.com/photos/bricolage108/

Stories you may have heard on 90.5 FM over the past 24 hours.

KUT's Matt Largey reports on how people fleeing drug violence from the Mexican border town of Ciudad Mier are asking for help from Texas.

Meanwhile, KUT's Crystal Chavez spoke with Julian Aguilar with our reporting partner the Texas Tribune about his recent visit to a shelter housing people who fled drug violence in Ciudad Mier.

KUT's Mose Buchele tells us how shabby roads in Texas are damaging our cars to the tune of more than $20 billion a year.

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development
10:28 am
Thu November 18, 2010

What Are Those Dinosaur Bone Things on I-35?

These giant beams are light fixtures that will illuminate the parking lot underneath.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Thousands of people drive over the I-35 bridge in downtown Austin everyday, and many are probably wondering about the large metal beams poking from underneath. Some people have compared them to dinosaur bones or whale bones.

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News Brief
6:09 am
Thu November 18, 2010

Top Morning Stories November 18, 2010

Defense testimony continues today in Tom DeLay's trial. The defense is focusing on when the former U.S. House majority leader learned about the money swap at the center of the money laundering case.
Photo by Erik Reyna for KUT News.

TCEQ Sunset to be Released

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Wildfire
4:41 pm
Wed November 17, 2010

Wildfire Burning At Fort Hood Training Range

Fort Hood firefighters are working to put out an approximately 700-acre fire burning in a training range at the army post. It started around 2 p.m. today.  The fire is burning at the Dalton Mountain Training Range, in the north end of the post, and is currently moving south to the Lone Star Range. 

Read the press release from the Fort Hood Public Affairs Office, here.

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Culture
4:36 pm
Wed November 17, 2010

U.S. Government Not Cool With Alcohol-Caffeine Combo

The FDA has banned the combination of alcohol and caffeine in the aftermath of several incidents.
Photo Courtesy of Jon Raedle

Four Loko-lovers may need to start looking for the next alcoholic fad as "blackout in a can" is changing its formula.  The move comes in response to the considerable heat brought by the U.S. government following several incidents across the country involving the alcohol and caffeine-infused drink.

The federal government warned four companies that manufacture caffeine-spiked booze products to stop selling the drinks or deal with the threat of litigation and seizure of assets. The companies have 15 days to comply with the Food and Drug Administration-penned (FDA) letter.

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Business
3:03 pm
Wed November 17, 2010

Austin-based Freebirds Burrito to Expand

Freebird's Super Monster Burrito in Action
Photo Courtesy of Jeff Kramer

Traveling Austinites with a taste for “Monster” burritos can rejoice as Freebirds World Burritos will be opening twenty more locations in Texas by the end of next year. The expansion of the Austin-based (although it was founded in Santa Barbara, CA) Mexican food chain will add in between 1,000 to 1,500 jobs to the state, the company stated in a press release.

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Texas Speaker's Race
2:25 pm
Wed November 17, 2010

Speaker's Race Hits Below the Bible Belt

The Speaker's Race Gets Personal
KUT News

Over the last few days there have been reports of campaign phone calls being made to voters in Dallas and San Antonio telling Republicans the "Christian" thing to do would be to elect a new speaker.  Supporters of current Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) say the calls are anti-Semitic...since the speaker is Jewish.

This afternoon speaker  candidates Ken Paxton (R-McKenny) and Warren Chisum (R-Pampa) released a statements rejecting the idea that faith has anything to do with the race.  You can read Chisum's statement below.

 

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Traffic
12:21 pm
Wed November 17, 2010

Meetings Over MoPac Traffic Set

As Austin faces a substantial population boom, MoPac traffic issues could get far worse.
Photo courtesy of Google Maps

Many Austin motorists have found themselves stopped on MoPac Expressway, the North-South road that is intended to alleviate traffic on its cross-town alternative, Interstate 35.

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News Brief
5:28 am
Wed November 17, 2010

Top Morning Stories November 17, 2010

The makers of Four Loko have announced plans to pull the caffeine out of their caffeinated alcoholic drinks.
Photo courtesy of Kyle James, http://www.flickr.com/photos/jameskm03/5162509741/

Back to Class in RRISD Following Bomb Threat

Students at Deerpark Middle School and Live Oak Elementary School in the Round Rock Independent School District are having classes as usual today.  The schools were evacuated yesterday after a bomb threat was made on the Internet. Superintendent Dr. Jesus H. Chavez posted this update online last night:

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education
5:03 pm
Tue November 16, 2010

Astronaut Sally Ride Urges Austin Girls To Pursue Science & Math

America's first female astronaut Sally Ride was in Austin today to inspire young girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.
Image courtesy Sally Ride Science

The first American woman to travel in space was in Austin today. Dr. Sally Ride gave the keynote address at an annual luncheon for GirlStart, a local non-profit devoted to getting girls interested in science, technology, engineering and math.

Ride spoke by cellphone with KUT before catching a trip home to San Diego.

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public safety
3:26 pm
Tue November 16, 2010

Transcript of News Conference On Round Rock School Evacuations

Here is a partial transcript of a news conference held with reporters this afternoon concerning the evacuation of Deerpark Middle School and Live Oak Elementary School in the Round Rock ISD

Sgt. John Foster with the Williamson County Sheriff's Office and Round Rock ISD spokesperson JoyLynne Occhiuzzi addressed reporters.  First, John Foster's comments. (You can download audio of his remarks here.)

John Foster: Throughout the day we found this internet connection has gone to more than just one student. We have other information that we don't feel comfortable sharing right now because obviously what we want to do, what I want to do, and what everybody wants done, is somebody needs to go to jail for making this threat. If it's legitimate or if it's not legitimate, somebody needs to go to jail.

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Public Safety
2:42 pm
Tue November 16, 2010

Two Round Rock ISD Schools Evacuated

Updated at 4:45pm: Round Rock school officials say the school is still being searched.  The WilCo Sheriff's Office is giving them a tentative re-opening time of 7 pm.  As of now, the search has not yielded anything out of the ordinary.   RRISD officials say, as far as they can tell, school is still on at Deerpark and Live Oak as usual on Wednesday.

Updated at 2:45 pm: Bomb sniffing dogs are searching Deerpark Middle School and Live Oak Elementary School in Round Rock. Both schools were evacuated around noon due because of a bomb threat.

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