Bobby Blanchard

Intern for KUT News

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Austin Energy
8:29 am
Fri February 15, 2013

At Council: Independent Austin Energy Board Gets First OK

Right now, Austin is the largest city in the U.S. where the city council governs a municipal energy utility.

Despite protests from some clean energy and consumer advocates, the Austin City Council voted unanimously last night to take to the first step towards creating a board of legal and energy experts to oversee Austin Energy. 

The resolution directs the city manager to develop the ordinance that will outline the dynamics of this board by March 21. While the board will oversee Austin Energy, city council will retain final approval of electric rates, transactions of more than $100 million and any board nominees.

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Education
6:15 am
Thu February 14, 2013

Powers: UT Ready to Begin Search for Medical School Dean

UT is ready to begin searching for a medical school dean, William Powers Jr. said Wednesday.
Justin Dehn, Texas Tribune

University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers told the UT Board of Regents on Wednesday that his school is ready to begin searching for a medical school dean.

A UT-Austin medical school, expected to open in either 2015 or 2016, is beginning to get off the ground. In May, the Board of Regents pledged $30 million per year for the next eight years. In November, Travis County voters approved Proposition 1, which will contribute about $25 million annually to the school. And more recently, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation pledged $50 million to the school.

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Austin Energy
3:49 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

Should an Independent Board Oversee Austin Energy?

Karen Hadden, director of the SEED Coalition, at a press confernece in front of City Hall.
Bobby Blanchard KUT News

Austin Energy’s power structure is up in the air.

Tomorrow, the Austin City Council will vote on a resolution that would relinquish much of its control of the city-owned utility to an appointed board of legal and energy experts. Currently, the city council oversees Austin Energy. But following the recommendation of the Electric Utility Commission – not to mention the council’s protracted and politically-fraught redesign of electric rates – Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole and City Council Member Bill Spelman are supporting a resolution that would change that.

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Education
2:54 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

How Do Texas Schools Rank on Obama's College Scorecard?

The University of Texas at Austin is one of the few Texas colleges to receive a "medium" score for its costs and a "high" score for its median borrowing on the new college scorecard released by the Obama administration last night.
Laing Shi KUT News

Texas schools rank low in costs but average in student debt on new college scorecards released by the Department of Education last night.

During his State of the Union address last night, President Barack Obama announced an online college scorecard that aims to provide information about college affordability for students.

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Austin
8:04 am
Tue February 12, 2013

Map: Navy SEAL's Funeral Procession Headed to Austin (Updated)

Chris Kyle, retired Navy SEAL and bestselling author of the book "American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History," in April 2012.
Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram / MCT /Landov

Update: The Navy sniper killed this month at a North Texas gun range will be buried at the Texas State Cemetery in East Austin today.

While the funeral for Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle will be closed to the public, people are invited to observe the funeral procession.

See a map of the procession route, below.

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Austin
1:56 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

APD Declares 'No-Refusal' DWI Action Tuesday for Mardi Gras

A "no-refusal" DWI enforcement is in place this Fat Tuesday.
flickr.com/kevharb

As people prepare to celebrate Mardi Gras, the Austin Police Department has declared a "no-refusal" for Fat Tuesday.

During no-refusal actions, officers can obtain blood search warrants on suspects who refuse to willingly provide a breath sample or cooperate with a blood test. Another Mardi Gras no-refusal action was in place over the weekend, and APD said 18 people were arrested under the initiative.

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Transportation
4:30 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

Map: Construction, Celebrations and Cupids Cause Road Closures

Runners in Washington D.C.'s 2012 Cupid's Undie Run. Three different events are closing closing roads around Austin this weekend.
flickr.com/gratapictures

A construction crane, half-nude cupids and thousands of beads are resulting in several full and partial road closures in Austin this weekend.

The placement of a construction crane will close part of Congress Avenue Friday evening. Northbound Congress Avenue will be closed between Cesar Chavez and Third Streets from 7 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Monday, Feb. 11. Southbound traffic on Congress Avenue in the area will be reduced to two lanes.

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Business
8:03 am
Fri February 8, 2013

Seeing Fewer Cars on the Road Today? Here's Why

The City of Austin is encouraging employees to work from home today.
flickr.com/_fabio

If you’re going into work today, you must not have gotten the memo.

Today, many City of Austin employees and employees from some local business are partaking in Austin’s first “Work from Home Day." It's a citywide initiative to reduce the environmental impact of thousands of people driving to work.

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Transportation
7:07 am
Fri February 8, 2013

East Coast Winter Storm 'Nemo' Cancels Austin Flights

Snow expected on the east coast is already causing flight cancelations at Austin-Bergstrom.
KUT News

This is the kind of Nemo you don’t want to find.

Winter Storm Nemo, which the Weather Channel is calling a possible “record setting blizzard”, is just getting started on the Northeast coast. But it is already contributing to flight cancelations at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

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Health
2:51 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

Report: Poor Well-Being of Texas Children Costs an Extra $20 Billion

Cuts to public services, such as education offerings, are hurting the well-being of children in Texas and costing tax-payers money, according to a new report.
flickr.com/hocolibrary

In a report released today, Texas Care for Children is recommending lawmakers restore funding in public services to improve children’s well-being and save money.

The report says Texas is spending up to $20 billion annually because the state does less to respond to the well-being of its children. The report points to the state’s rates of children living in poverty and teen pregnancies. The rate of children are living in poverty, 27 percent, is seven percent higher than the national average. And there are 52.2 teen births per 1000 teenagers — 20 births more than the national average.

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Science
5:35 pm
Mon February 4, 2013

Bill Gates to Speak at UT Computer Science Building Opening

Conceptual rendering of UT's new computer science building, which opens in March. Bill Gates will speak at the grand opening.
Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects

Tickets for Microsoft founder Bill Gates' talk at UT are now available online at eventbrite, but for UT computer science students only.

On March 6, Bill Gates will be speaking at UT-Austin to help break in the brand new, $140 million Bill & Melinda Gates Computer Science Complex and Dell Computer Science Hall.  The talk is part of the event ">goto_GDC", which is the grand opening event of the new building.

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Education
2:42 pm
Mon February 4, 2013

Lawmakers Take Steps Toward Medical School in Rio Grande Valley

UT System Chairmen Gene Powell addresses the media at a press conference at the capitol Monday morning. Powell is in support of new legislation that would merge UT-Pan American and UT-Brownsville and create a medical school for South Texas.
Bobby Blanchard KUT News

In a move state rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, equated to taking lemons and making lemonade, some members of the Texas House, Senate and UT System Board of Regents are hoping to combine UT-Pan American and UT-Brownsville into a single university that touches all major metropolitan areas of the Rio Grande Valley.

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Sports
6:50 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

UT Advertising Profs to Critique Superbowl Ads

Daniel X. O'Neill/Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/juggernautco/

Are you watching the Superbowl just for the ads? You're not the only one.

Four University of Texas advertising professors will live-tweet critiques of the advertisements during the Superbowl game featuring the Baltimore Ravens and the 49ers this Sunday. The will use the hash-tag “SBAdJudge”. UT advertising professor Neal Burns, one of the four professors critiquing this weekend, said he is looking forward to it.  

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Environment
5:10 am
Thu January 31, 2013

UT Students to Give Tree Seedlings to Bastrop

More than 40,000 lobolly tree seedlings are being extracted and sent to Bastrop.
UT's Campus Enviornmental Center

University of Texas at Austin students who are part of the Campus Environmental Center are helping to reforest the burnt lands of Bastrop by sending the city more than 40,000 loblolly pine tree seedlings.

Vlad Codrea, a graduate research assistant at UT, is overseeing the project at the tree nursery at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. From 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Thursday, the Campus Environmental Center will extract the tree seedlings from their containers and package them to be sent to Bastrop.

Codrea said the project actually began in March 2011, before the Bastrop fires, when he first asked for funding for a tree nursery from UT's Green Fee Committee. The Committee reviews environmental projects pitched by UT students and awards grant money so the students can complete these projects. Codrea was awarded a $54,198  grant over four years.

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Education
5:23 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

Is UT's New Conflict of Interest Policy Too Broad?

The University of Texas's conflict of interest policy is causing some unrest among a few UT professors.
KUT News

Some professors at the University of Texas are raising concerns over the university’s new conflict of interest policy.


UT put the the new policy into place in August 2012.  It requires faculty to disclose their financial information and the financial information of their spouse or dependent child whenever there is the possibility of a conflict of interest. The policy follows two controversial incidents last summer, when two UT professors were accused of conflicts of interest relating to studies they published.

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Texas
12:38 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Mapping Demographics in Central Texas' Congressional Districts

The U.S. Census Bureau is now releasing demographic breakdowns on individual congressional districts.
Google Maps

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows three of the seven congressional districts in Central Texas are less diverse and have higher white population percentages than the entire state, among other characteristics.

The Census Bureau is now releasing demographic breakdowns by individual congressional districts, a first for the department

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2013 Legislative Session
11:00 am
Fri January 25, 2013

Texas Lawmakers Hear From Universities About Funding Needs

UT is planning to replace the Engineering-Science Building with a $310 million building.
Bobby Blanchard for KUT News

Preliminary budgets in the Texas Legislature show cuts to higher education funding. Today and Monday, state lawmakers will hear from individual state universities and university systems about what funding they need.

The state’s higher education institutions will present their funding requests to the Texas Senate Finance Committee. The Texas State University System, the Texas Tech University System, the University of Houston System and the University of North Texas System will present today. The University of Texas and Texas A&M University systems will speak to the committee on Monday.

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Health
5:29 pm
Mon January 21, 2013

Cedar Fever: Why its Late and What to Do Now That its Here

Cedar fever season has finally arrived, much to everyone's disappointment.
flickr.com/23959586@N00/

The cedar fever season might have arrived a little late this year, but it is packing a punch now that it is here.

The Allergy and Asthma Center in Georgetown reported a pollen count of 6,646 grains per liter of air on Monday, a new high for the season. Caused by the pollen of mountain cedar (or ashe juniper) trees, cedar fever plagues Central Texas every winter, leaving its victims with a cough, sore throat, and a runny nose.

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Lance Armstrong
12:45 pm
Mon January 21, 2013

Moving Lance Armstrong's Books to 'Fiction' Section?

Mass reports that an Australian Library is moving Lance Armstrong's books from the nonfiction section to the fiction section has proven false.
twitter.com/Dane_Murray

Reports that an Australian library is moving books by and about Lance Armstrong from non-fiction to fiction have proven false, much to the disappointment of those leaving comments on Amazon.com.

USA Today, the UK’s Daily Mail and more recently tech-news site Mashable have all reported that Manly Library, a public library in Sydney, recatalogued Armstrong books following the cyclist’s confession to Oprah Winfrey last week. In an exclusive interview with the talk show host, Armstrong admitted to doping, lying and bullying.

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Economy
3:55 pm
Fri January 18, 2013

While Austin's Unemployment Rate Inches Up, Texas' Falls

Construction was the fastest growing industry in Texas in 2012.
flickr.com/devar/

Austin’s unemployment rose from 4.9 to 5 percent in December, while Texas’s overall unemployment dropped to 6.1 percent from 7.4 percent last year.

Mark Lavergne, spokesperson for the Texas Workforce Commission, said the change in unemployment in Austin is a slight change. What is more significant, he said, was the unemployment change in Austin and Texas in the past year. Austin’s unemployment has dropped to 5 percent from 6.1 a year ago, while Texas’s unemployment rate has fallen from 7.4 percent to 6.1 in the past year.

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