News Brief
5:35 am
Wed February 2, 2011

Top Morning Stories February 2, 2011

Folks on the UT campus this morning are bundled up for the cold weather.
Photo by KUT News.

Statewide Power "Emergency" Means Rolling Power Outages in Austin

You may be wondering why your lights are out this morning.  Austin Energy is doing rotating cut offs.  The state’s power grid operator ERCOT is requiring this.  The state’s power grid couldn’t keep up with demand early this morning because some power plants went offline.  Austin Energy says the lights are expected to be out for about 45 minutes at a time in certain neighborhoods.

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Education
11:31 pm
Tue February 1, 2011

AISD Task Force Won't Name Specific Campuses On Its List Of Closure Options

Image by KUT

No more naming schools names for possible closure. That's the decision of an Austin ISD task force responsible for coming up with options for the district's facilities.

This Facility Master Plan task force began meeting last Spring. It was supposed to develop a list of options for the district to manage its facilities: its schools, its offices, its warehouses, that kind of thing. But the process was quickly interrupted by parents last month who were traumatized when a draft list of options began naming specific schools as facilities that could be closed.

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Austin
5:23 pm
Tue February 1, 2011

Austin Film Festival and Texas Book Festival Come Together in 2011

People listen to Laura Bush speak at the Texas Book Fest in 2010. The Book Festival and the Austin Film Festival will join forces for some events this year.
Photo by KUT News

Aficionados of books and film will have a golden opportunity to meet authors and screenwriters at the same time throughout the year and culminating in a joint festival this fall. The Austin Film Festival (AFF) will run October 20-27 in conjunction with the Texas Book Festival (TBF) October 22-23. Barbara Morgan, Executive Director of the Austin Film Festival, says both nonprofit organizations will benefit writers in the Austin community.

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Education
4:42 pm
Tue February 1, 2011

Education Commissioner Urges Districts To Begin Making Hard Decisions About Cuts

Education Commissioner Robert Scott addressing school administrators at a conference in Austin said they need to start reducing their budgets now to show lawmakers they are willing to cooperate in helping to close the budget gap.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

With the state budget leaders proposing to cut as much as $10 billion from public education to help close a state budget gap of between $15 and $27 billion, Education Commissioner Robert Scott warned hundreds of school administrators gathered in Austin this afternoon that Texas is facing the most difficult legislative session for public education in his lifetime.

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Texas
3:02 pm
Tue February 1, 2011

CASA Day at the Capitol

Display at the State Capitol of Texas children who died last year of neglect and abuse.
Photo by Kenn Zuniga for KUT News

Today was CASA Day at the Capitol.  A memorial was also displayed at the Capitol today, showing the names and ages of the Texas children that died of abuse and neglect in 2010.  Funding for CPS workers and services for children in foster care was the most pressing issue at today’s event for the CASA volunteers.

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Texas
2:33 pm
Tue February 1, 2011

Poll: 70 Percent of Texans Favor Smoke-Free Workplace

A survey shows 70 percent of Texans approve of a smoke-free workplace
Image by Audrey Morton for KUT News

A poll released this morning claims 70 percent of Texans in favor of smoke-free bars, restaurants and workplace.  The survey, conducted for the Smoke-Free Coalition of Texas, also showed a majority would support political candidates who reflected their views.

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Texas
2:15 pm
Tue February 1, 2011

Feb. 1 Marks the 150th Anniversary of Texas Secession

Texas is expected to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Texas Secession Feb. 1, 2011.
Image courtesy Tom Gill, http://www.flickr.com/photos/lapstrake/2843067726/sizes/m/in/photostream/

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the resolution that allowed Texas to leave the United States and join the Confederacy in the weeks before the outbreak of the Civil War.

While there are no commemorations today of that decision that led to a sixth national flag flying over Texas, groups across the state will stage various events to mark the Civil War's 150th anniversary over the next four years.

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Austin
12:44 pm
Tue February 1, 2011

Homeless Feel the Chill

A homeless man huddles for warmth in downtown Austin.
Image by Erik Reyna for KUT News

The City of Austin has activated its emergency cold weather plan for the homeless.  City officials say the program will remain up and running for the duration of the frosty weather, which could last into Friday morning. 

The city's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management says those needing shelter should report to the ARCH or the Salvation Army downtown.  Busses will then transport shelter seekers to other warm places to bed down for the night.

Politics
11:15 am
Tue February 1, 2011

Howard-Neil House Hearing Underway

The first day of hearings in the election dispute between Donna Howard (left) and Dan Neil is underway at the Capitol.
Image courtesy of the Texas Tribune

Testimony is underway before a Special Master of Discovery and members of a House select committee to determine a winner in last November's House District 48 election.

Democratic incumbent Donna Howard won the election by 12 votes, following a recount.  But Republican challenger Dan Neil claims that a handful of votes were cast by people not eligible to vote in the Travis County house district.

News Brief
5:36 am
Tue February 1, 2011

Top Morning Stories February 1, 2011

Thousands of people were left without power early this morning.
Logo courtesy of Austin Energy.

Austin Power Outages

It's a windy, rainy morning as a cold front moves through Central Texas.  A wind advisory is in effect until 6 p.m.  Highs will only reach the mid 30s today.  Over 2,000 Austin Energy customers were without power as of about 8 a.m.  That's according to Austin Energy's Storm Map.  The outages are spread out across the city.  Crews are working to restore power.

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Sports
4:52 pm
Mon January 31, 2011

'Horns Men's Basketball Team Rises to #3 in Coaches Poll

The Longhorns Begin Big 12 Play at 6-0 For First Time In School History
Dave Wilson Photography http://davewilsonphotography.com/

After consecutive Saturdays with victories over highly touted opponents (#2 Kansas on January 22nd and #13 Missouri this past weekend), the Texas Longhorns Men’s Basketball team has surged to #3 in the Top 25 Coaches Poll.  The victory over Kansas in Lawrence snapped the Jayhawks’ 69-game home winning streak and gave Texas

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Austin
4:24 pm
Mon January 31, 2011

Egyptian ACC Professor Watching Unrest With Concern And Hope

Protestors on the streets of Cairo
Image courtesy Al Jazeera English http://www.flickr.com/photos/aljazeeraenglish/

Egyptian cities are bracing for major protests Tuesday as revolutionaries demand the ouster of that country's longstanding military dictatorship.  KUT News has been speaking with Egyptians in Austin since the turmoil began. Today, we spoke by telephone with Austin Community College professor Roy Casagranda. He grew up in Egypt and still has family in Cairo.

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Business
2:33 pm
Mon January 31, 2011

Austin's 1000-Plus Food Trucks Brace For Chill In Business

Food trucks like this one, Bits and Druthers, expect to take severe cuts to their sales when the artic chill moves in this week.
Image courtesy Speedye http://www.flickr.com/photos/speedye/

Temperatures are expected to dip into the upper teens this week as an arctic blast bares down on Central Texas. The deep freeze will make life tough for homeless people and their pets, and Austin's food truck entrepreneurs have also been suffering from winter weather.

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Texas
2:22 pm
Mon January 31, 2011

Judge Rules in Healthcare Lawsuit brought by Texas and 25 Other States

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott helped spearhead a lawsuit over the Healthcare Law adopted last year. A Florida federal judge ruled in favor Texas and 25 other states this afternoon
Image by Christopher Kosho for KUT News

A federal judge in Pensacola, Florida ruled today that a key element of the health care law passed by Congress last year is unconstitutional.

Austin
11:38 am
Mon January 31, 2011

59 Percent Of Austin's Inner City Residents Don't Live Near Park

People sit around a stage at Wooldridge Park in the summer of 2009. Almost two-thirds of inner city residents don't live near such amenities, according to a study.
Image by KUT News

Austin is a long way from achieving a goal set in 2009 of having a park within walking distance of everyone in the city. Fifty-nine percent of inner city residents do not live near those kind of open space amenities, according to the city's Urban Parks Stakeholders Group (UPSG).

The UPSG made this presentation to the City of Austin's Planning Commission last week, and it included some stark comparisons.

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