Weekend Digest
11:14 am
Sun November 14, 2010

Sunday Update

UT Head Coach Mack Brown has seen his football team drop its last four games at home.
Gretch Sanders for KUT News

Building Blocks for Learning

Lego bricks literally came to life at the Delco Events Center Saturday, as kids from across Central Texas took part in a First Lego League competition. News 8 Austin reports the Legos were married with electronics, to give budding engineers a chance to create task-oriented robots.

Report Highlights License Suspension Work Around

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politics
5:02 pm
Fri November 12, 2010

Study Finds Almost 3 out of 5 Texas Voters Cast Straight Ticket Ballots

People voted all Republican or all Democratic at the highest rate of any gubernatorial election in twelve years, according to a study by Austin Community College's Center for Public Policy and Political Studies (CPPPS).

Texas is one several states that allows people to check one box for a political party, which prompts the electronic voting machine to fill in the "X" automatically for every race on the ballot.  The CPPPS study showed almost 58 percent chose that option in the most recent election.

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education
4:25 pm
Fri November 12, 2010

Austin ISD to Dedicate New Southwest Elementary School

The Austin Independent School District will officially dedicate its newest elementary school on Sunday at 2 p.m. Ross F. Baldwin Elementary was constructed over the course of a year at 12200 Meridian Park Blvd.

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environment
3:05 pm
Fri November 12, 2010

Texas to Consider Accepting Low-Level Radioactive Waste From Across US

A Waste Control Specialists facility in Andrews, Texas
Image from Waste Control Specialists' Facebook page

A hearing in Midland, Texas tomorrow will move foward on adopting a process that could allow a low-level radioactive waste facility in West Texas to accept toxic waste from states other than just Texas and Vermont.

The hearing will be held by the Texas Low Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission, an organization with representatives from Texas and Vermont. There are about ten such compacts across the US involving two or more states cooperating on radioactive waste disposal.

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weather
2:14 pm
Fri November 12, 2010

Video: First Snow of the Season in Texas!

Snow fell overnight in parts of the Texas Panhandle.
Image courtesy Twitter user @severestudios

Old Man Winter paid a visit to the Texas panhandle today and dumped heavy, wet snow on the Amarillo area.

KFDA TV in Amarillo reports downed trees and "widespread" power outages.

Xcel Energy says around 5,000 customers are without power right now and it's not expected to come back on for at least the next few hours.

austin police
1:32 pm
Fri November 12, 2010

City Interviewing Police Monitor Candidates

Austin should have a new police monitor next month. It’s a civilian position responsible for promoting good relations between the police department and the public. The police monitor’s office, created in 2002, also takes complaints about officers.

Six semifinalists are interviewing for the position today.

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Music and Arts
1:21 pm
Fri November 12, 2010

East Austin Studio Tour Promotes Artists But Jeopardizes Cheap Rent

This year's East Austin Studio Tour offers a free look at more than 150 studios and 340 artists.

The ninth annual East Austin Studio Tour (also known as E.A.S.T.) kicks off tomorrow. It's a free, self-guided tour of more than 150 artist studios east of I-35. E.A.S.T. runs from Saturday, November 13 until Sunday, November 21.

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Austin
11:52 am
Fri November 12, 2010

Homeless Resource Fair Looking for Volunteers

Photo by Erik Reyna for KUT News

Austin City Manager Marc Ott made news this week when he revealed that he voluntarily went homeless for 24 hours a few months ago. Ott said he wanted to experience firsthand what it was like to live on the streets.

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Education
11:37 am
Fri November 12, 2010

UT Outsourcing Email to Google, Offering Address to Alumni

The University of Texas says it plans to offer UT-branded GMail services to students, faculty, staff and alumni in Spring 2010.

Ask someone with a University of Texas email account to speak honestly about the service, and they might struggle to contain their frustration. While major web-based email services like Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, and Hotmail have quickly advanced their features and storage capacity, the University of Texas and its Microsoft Exchange service has fallen behind.

Undergrads, for example, get only 150 MB of storage, which means they often have to delete old emails to send new ones. The features offered by UT's web-based email are also limited.

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News Brief
6:09 am
Fri November 12, 2010

Top Morning Stories November 12, 2010

Texas State has announced it is joining the Western Athletic Conference.
Photo courtesy of Texas State University-San Marcos

Austin Police Monitor Interviews Today

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Politics
4:59 pm
Thu November 11, 2010

Paxton Enters Speaker's Race

The race to occupy the Speaker's rostrum in the Texas House has expanded
Photo by KUT News

And then there were three.

State Rep. Ken Paxton (R-McKinney) has announced he's running to be the next Speaker of the Texas House.  The Associated Press reports that Rep. Paxton has thrown his hat into the ring because voters sent a message "that they favor leadership dedicated to protecting our freedoms and fighting government growth."

Conservative Republicans have been critical of current Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) for not being conservative enough.  Rep. Warren Chisum (R-Pampa) has already announced that he's challenging Rep. Straus for the Speaker's chair.

Politics
3:21 pm
Thu November 11, 2010

The 16-Vote Margin in District 48

State Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) discusses the returns on Election Night at the Driskill Hotel. Her 16-vote margin of victory is all that stands between the GOP and a two-thirds majority in the Texas House.
Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Republicans have 99 seats in the 2011 Texas House. They’re 16 votes away from having an even 100.

State Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) hung on to her House District 48 seat by 16 votes, after absentee ballots were added into the Election Night totals. Republican challenger Dan Neil hasn’t said publicly whether he’s going to call for a recount…yet.

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Veteran's Day
10:50 am
Thu November 11, 2010

Veteran Seeks to Help Others at Austin Parade

Thousands of people attended Austin's Veteran's Day parade downtown Thursday.
Photo by Matt Largey for KUT News.

Thousands of people marked Veteran’s Day with a parade this morning in downtown Austin.  Gabriel Galindo served two tours in Iraq.  He now supports other veterans through the Texas Veterans Commission.   Galindo says when veterans leave the service, they often don’t want to talk to someone who hasn’t been through what they’ve been through.

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Austin
5:30 am
Thu November 11, 2010

Top Morning Stories November 11, 2010

Central Texans will honor those who have served our country in a downtown Austin parade Thursday.
Simrat Sharma/KUT News

Veteran's Day Closures


City of Austin offices are closed today for Veteran's Day. But garbage, recycling and yard trimmings collection will be picked up as usual.  All recreation centers, cultural centers, and senior centers are closed. 


Veteran's Day Parade

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Austin
8:25 pm
Wed November 10, 2010

Meals on Wheels Delivers to Veterans

On Thursday, we'll take a minute to pause in appreciation for the men and women who put their lives on the line for the United States without asking any questions. 

Veterans are never immune to aging or poverty, and as we see in this video produced by KUT News intern Sobia Lodhi, local agencies like Meals on Wheels are there to lend a helping hand when others are not.

politics
5:56 pm
Wed November 10, 2010

Speaker Straus Rebuttal

Texas house Speaker Joe Straus has responded to Rep. Bryan Hughes's accusation that someone on his leadership team threatened to change the districts of lawmakers that don't back Straus. His statement in full is below. "These allegations are outrageous and I have a call into Rep. Hughes to insist that he name the individual with whom he had this alleged conversation.  I did not and would never authorize, allow, or condone linking redistricting in any way with the Speaker’s race, and anyone who knows me knows better than to give that assertion any credence.    When Rep.

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Austin
5:01 pm
Wed November 10, 2010

LifeWorks Breaks Ground On East Austin Location

Artist's rendering of LifeWorks East Austin Youth and Family Resource Center.
Image courtesy LifeWorks

The Austin non-profit LifeWorks broke ground today on a new East Austin family resource center. The social services organization says it will increase its ability to serve young people and families in crisis by 25 percent.

LifeWorks already helps about 10,000 families a year through housing programs, counseling and education. They have surpassed their capacity to serve more people, so this will allow them to expand in a community with increasing need.

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Music and Arts
4:26 pm
Wed November 10, 2010

Texas Monthly To Celebrate Gary Cartwright

Texas Monthly and the Witliff Collections at Texas State University-San Marcos will celebrate the career of Gary Cartwright on Thursday. The longtime contributor retired from the magazine over the summer.

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politics
12:02 pm
Wed November 10, 2010

Straus and Strain in the GOP

A battle is brewing in these Capitol hallways over who the House Speaker will be
Photo by KUT

UPDATE:

Today Rep. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) withdrew his pledge for Straus. In a statement he said he made his decission after receiving a phone call from an unnamed lawmaker he says is on Straus's leadership team.

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Transportation
11:48 am
Wed November 10, 2010

Cap Metro Board to Vote Today on Fare Hikes

Students disembark from a University of Texas shuttle operated by Cap Metro
Image courtesy Cap Metro

Many observers would be surprised if Austin's public transit agency did not adopt the third fare hike in three years today. Capital Metro has already calculated the fare increase into its FY2011 budget.

"The approved budget also increases our long-term sustainability by lowering costs [and] boosting revenue through a fare increase," Cap Metro president and CEO Linda Watson wrote in the budget document.

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