Arts and Culture
10:47 am
Thu April 7, 2011

Tibetan Monks Make Sand Art At Austin City Hall

Tibetan monks at work on their sand mandala in Austin City Hall.
Photo provided by the office of City Council Member Laura Morrison

A group of Tibetan monks is creating a work of religious art in Austin City Hall this week. They started on their sacred sand mandala on Monday and will continue through Friday.

On Friday at 5:30, the monks will dismantle the sand mandala and the public is invited to participate. Here's what that ceremony looked like when they did it in Omaha, Nebraska.

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Texas
8:24 am
Thu April 7, 2011

Top Morning Stories April 7, 2011

The Texas House will take a final vote today on a bill easing graduation requirements for high school students.
Photo by KUT News

House May Ease Graduation Requirements

The Texas House will take a final vote today on a bill that would ease graduation requirements for Texas students. Starting next year, high school students are required to take a total of 12 end-of-course exams called the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR), and they have to pass the exams in order to graduate.  In the bill the House will vote on today, high school students will have to pass fewer of the new state exams in order to graduate.

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economy
4:39 pm
Wed April 6, 2011

Austin Sales Tax Receipts Up 4 Percent Over Last Year

Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

People bought more stuff in Austin this year than they did in the first three months of 2010, according to sales tax figures released today by Texas Comptroller Susan Combs.  The comptroller reports that Austin is receiving 4.35 percent more in sales tax revenue compared to January-March 2010. However, if you compare March 2010 with March 2011, the increase was a nominal 0.05 percent.

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Arts and Culture
3:45 pm
Wed April 6, 2011

Free Movies In Republic Square Park For Next Four Wednesdays

People watching Napoleon Dynamite in Republic Square Park in 2005
Photo by Austin Parks and Recreation Department

If you like to watch movies al fresco, but don't have the coin for Austin's newest drive in theater, you can join families in Republic Square Park for free films over four weeks in the spring.

Films begin at dusk. Vendors will sell food. A temporary playground will be set up for kids. Your dog is welcome if it's on a leash.

Here are the dates and titles.

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Politics
2:04 pm
Wed April 6, 2011

Dueling Sides of the Texas Budget Debate Make Noise at the Capitol

American's for Prosperity-Texas leader Peggy Venable warns lawmakers to cut state spending.
Photo by KUT News

Political battles are often fought on the right or left of a topic.  But today ideology was divided by the North and South sides of the Capitol.  

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Austin
1:04 pm
Wed April 6, 2011

Austin Police Will Be Testing Wearable Cameras

Austin police officers will be testing four types of wearable cameras that will record video and audio during incidents.
Photo by mn_francis http://www.flickr.com/photos/mn_francis/

The Austin Police Department announced today that its officers will begin testing four different wearable video cameras that can be activated by the cop when he or she is encountering a suspect. The police force has been stepping up its video recording capabilities ever since an officer killed a teenager in 2009 and failed to capture the shooting on his VHS-based dashboard camera.

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Texas
12:58 pm
Wed April 6, 2011

Senate Bill Would Widen Access to DNA Evidence

DNA evidence would be more accessible to prisoners appealing their convictions under a bill passed by the Texas Senate.
Image by Apers0n http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Apers0n

A bill passed in Texas Senate today would give prison inmates more access to DNA evidence, as they appeal their convictions.

The Associated Press reports the bill sponsored by State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) would require DNA testing, if the biological evidence hadn't been tested before our would yield more accurate results with newly-developed testing techniques.

As many as 40 inmates have had convictions overturned in the past few years, based on retesting DNA evidence.

Business
11:20 am
Wed April 6, 2011

Freescale Semiconductor Closing Japan Plant Early Due to Quake

Austin-based microchip maker Freescale Semiconductor is closing a Japan plant ahead of schedule because of the disaster in March.
Photo by Freescale Semiconductor

One of the largest companies based in Central Texas, Freescale Semiconductor, says it is closing a manufacturing plant in earthquake ravaged Sendai, Japan.

The company made the announcement in a statement posted on its website:

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Austin
8:28 am
Wed April 6, 2011

Top Morning Stories April 5, 2011

The Texas A&M women's basketball team beat Notre Dame Tuesday night to win the NCAA Women's Basketball title.
Logo courtesy of Texas A&M.

Texas A&M Wins First NCAA National Title

The Aggies' women's basketball team beat Notre Dame last night 76-70 to win its first NCAA national championship. A&M's Danielle Adams scored 22 of her 30 points in a strong second half, leading the team to the title. Both A&M and Notre Dame beat the No. 1 seeds to get to the national championship game.

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Politics
4:55 pm
Tue April 5, 2011

Senate to Pass Bill Regulating Homeonwners' Associations

The Texas Senate has passed a bill to restrict HOA's potential abuse of foreclosing on homeowners.
Photo by KUT News

Homeowners’ associations might not be able to turn the heat anymore on homeowners.

The Texas Senate passed SB 142, which restricts associations from exercising their rights to foreclose homeowners who didn’t pay dues and fees.

The bill, filed by State Senator Royce West (D-Dallas), aims to protect homeowners from potential abuse of foreclosure, especially on the families of soldiers serving overseas.

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Austin
4:03 pm
Tue April 5, 2011

Austin Gears Up for Texas Relays

The 84th-annual Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays will be held on the UT Campus this weekend.
Photo by KUT News

City officials are working together on this year’s Texas Relays to improve how visitors are welcomed to Austin. The track and field event is held on the University of Texas campus and attracts high school and college athletes from throughout Texas and across the country.

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Politics
3:28 pm
Tue April 5, 2011

School Finance Pops Up in House Committee

Lawmakers will have to change the school funding system to mach the billions cut in public ed.
Photo by KUT News

So what does cutting the state's public education budget by about $7.8 billion dollars look like?

Based on a bill by Rep. Scott Hochberg (D-Houston), it looks pretty ugly. But he says with the amount of money lawmakers in the House just voted to give to schools during the state budget debate, there's not a pretty way to get money to schools.

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Politics
12:35 pm
Tue April 5, 2011

Football Helmet Bill Working Its Way Through the Texas House

The helmet bill hopes to keep unsafe equipment off the field.
Photo by KUT News

A bill in the Texas House that hopes to reduce head injuries in middle and high school athletics received initial approval today. The bill by Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D-San Benito) would prohibit the use of all football helmets in use 16 years.  It would also require any 10-year-old helmets to be reconditioned at least once every 10 years.

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Texas
12:23 pm
Tue April 5, 2011

Supreme Court Blocks Texas Execution

The Walls Unit at the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville, where the state conducts executions. A death row inmate's scheduled execution has been stayed by the US Supreme Court.
Image courtesy flickr.com/BizarreRecords

The US Supreme Court has blocked tonight's scheduled execution of Texas inmate Cleve Foster. 

The high court agreed this morning to consider a review the grounds for Foster's appeal of his death sentence.

Foster's execution would have been the first in Texas to use pentobarbital as part of its lethal three-drug mix. 

"This stay does not have to do with the litigation surrounding the lethal injection and the new protocol adopted by the TDCJ [Texas Department of Criminal Justice]," said Maurie Levin, one of Foster's attorney in the appeals process.

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News Brief
7:10 am
Tue April 5, 2011

Top Morning Stories April 5, 2011

Photo courtesy of Leanderisd.org

Leander ISD Raising Awareness of Teen Suicide

Leander High School will have more counselors on hand today for students coping with the loss of a fellow student who took her life yesterday.  School officials believe it was an isolated incident. The school was also evacuated because of a bomb threat yesterday; officials say that was unrelated and nothing was found. 

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