Chip Skambis

Intern

Intern for KUT News.

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AM Update: 8/14/12
8:35 am
Tue August 14, 2012

AM Update: DOJ Defends UT in Race Case, Win for Texas Over EPA, A&M Shooting Update

Admissions policies at UT regarding race are at the center of a case going before the U.S. Supreme Court
Flickr.com/brendel

Justice Department Supports UT’s Admissions Process

The Obama Administration says the University of Texas at Austin's consideration of race in admitting students is constitutional. 

The U.S. Justice Department revealed its support in a brief filed yesterday with the U.S. Supreme Court. The Department says UT does not use race as an absolute deciding factor and that it comes into play in relatively few admission decisions.

Supreme Court justices will hear arguments on the case, known as Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin in October. Abigail Fisher is challenging the university’s admission policy, claiming that she was denied admission to UT in 2008 because she is white.

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AM Update: 8/7/12
8:27 am
Tue August 7, 2012

AM Update: Can Ban Backlash, Record Cap Metro Ridership, UT Olympics Update

A judge is permitting New Braunfels-area businesses to challenge a ban on the use disposable beverage containers.
KUT News

Business Can Sue New Braunfels Over Can Ban

The Associated Press reports that a judge has ruled that tourism businesses and others can sue New Braunfels over the city's so-called "can ban." The city says it will appeal the decision and that the ban remains in effect.

Floating on area rivers is a longstanding tradition during hot Texas summers – one often enjoyed with a few adult beverages in tow. But turnout on local rivers has been down over the last several years, attributable to flooding, drought and, according to ban opponents, a recent prohibition on disposable containers.

The ban was approved last summer by the New Braunfels City Council over concerns about the cost of cleaning up after visitors. Voters affirmed the ban last November when it was brought to a ballot referendum by opponents.  The ban went into effect this summer.

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Sports
12:45 pm
Fri July 27, 2012

How the Blind Play Ball: Austin in Beep Baseball World Series

The Austin Blackhawks pose with the Taiwan Homerun.
National Beep Baseball Association

Imagine a baseball diamond.

Now imagine that first and second base are tall, buzzing, blue-foam pillars, and that third base is gone.

Now imagine six fielders and a couple "spotters," who direct fielders toward a beeping ball — because everyone except the spotters, the pitcher and catcher are blind and/or blindfolded.

That’s what a beep baseball game looks like. 

The 2012 National Beep Baseball Association World Series is underway in Ames, Iowa, where several teams of blind and visually impaired players will compete. Representing Austin, the Blackhawks added another win in their fight for the pennant Thursday.  

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Business
10:35 am
Tue July 24, 2012

Chuy’s Stock Offering Easy to Swallow

Stock in the Chuy's chain of restaurants begins trading on the NASDAQ today.
flickr.com/81924773@N00/3203555473

That’s a lot of Chimichangas: The parent company of Austin restaurant chain Chuy’s made its initial stock offering Monday, raising $75.8 million.

Chuy's Holdings Inc. will begin trading shares today on the NASDAQ exchange, under the trading symbol CHUY. It makes Chuy’s Austin's newest publicly-traded company.

The Austin-American Statesman reports that the company originally filed for an initial public offering in August of last year, amid a market downturn when few companies were making IPOs. But the market has since strengthened, and the IPO window has reopened. 

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AM Update 7/24/12
7:54 am
Tue July 24, 2012

AM Update: West Nile in Travis Co., Barton Springs Reopens, Oil Drilling Improvements

Local mosquitoes are carrying West Nile virus, which can cause serious illness and even death.
flickr.com/GammaMan

Local West Nile Virus Case Confirmed

The Texas Department of State Health Services confirms there have been 32 cases of West Nile neuroinvasive disease in Texas so far this year. One case has been confirmed in Travis County.  The individual has been hospitalized.

The neuroinvasive form of the disease can affect a person’s brain or spinal cord, and can be fatal. The first deadly case of the disease was confirmed in Texas earlier this month, but there are reports of as many as three deaths in the state. West Nile virus, carried by mosquitoes, causes the disease.

West Nile fever, also caused by the virus, is generally considered less serious because it does not invade the nervous system. The CDC reports that roughly half the cases that states have reported so far this year are of the the more serious form of the disease.

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University of Texas
2:08 pm
Thu July 19, 2012

Worker Rights Consortium to Monitor UT Apparel Factories

Activists demanded that the university ensure products were made in fair labor conditions.
Divya Darsi for KUT News

The University of Texas at Austin is joining the Worker Rights Consortium. The WRC will monitor working conditions of factories that make UT apparel.

The move comes after recent protests by student activists who denounced conditions in these factories and called for closer monitoring.

Tara Doolittle is a spokesperson for UT. She says joining the consortium can offer consumers peace of mind about where UT products come from.

"We are certainly concerned about the working conditions of the folks who make the apparel that bears our name — and we now have two agencies helping us make sure those conditions are what they should be," said Doolittle.

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Politics
2:01 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

Hungry? Four Feasts You Could Buy for the Cost of an Obama Ticket

President Obama has a snack in this 2009 photo.
Pete Souza

Tickets to President Barack Obama’s Austin fundraising events range from $250 to $25,000. And while his campaign expects to net millions in contributions, that’s only an appetizer compared to overall costs of the 2012 presidential campaign.

Money is the fuel that feeds political campaigns, making these fundraising stops a little like going out to eat – except with speeches and hordes of reporters following you, some of whom recently noted President Obama eats ice cream cones with a spoon.

But in the interest of keeping it weird, we looked at what Austin food this fundraising money could buy.

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Austin
10:13 am
Tue July 17, 2012

Obama in Austin: Road Closures and Detours Ahead

President Obama hooks 'em during his 2011 Austin visit.
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

President Barack Obama will campaign in San Antonio and Austin today, where he has four fundraisers planned to raise money big money.The visit is expected to cause traffic problems in Austin during this evening’s rush hour.

While Air Force One is scheduled to touch down in Austin around 4:25 p.m., the exact route of the president’s motorcade is classified for security reasons. Consequently, no one’s sure just how bad any resultant traffic tie-ups will be.

Capital Metro service will be detoured within the following perimeters: Fifth Street, Congress, Lamar and Riverside.

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AM Update 7/17/12
8:13 am
Tue July 17, 2012

AM Update: UT Kidnapping Scam, Texas West Nile Virus Death, Senate Education Committee Meets

UT Police are working with the FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force to investigate a kidnapping hoax.
Officer William Pieper courtesy of UTPD Facebook page

UT Students and Families Victims of Scam

The University of Texas at Austin is warning students and their families about a kidnapping scam.

Relatives of at least four students have received phone calls in the past six weeks claiming their child or grandchild had been kidnapped or is in need of medical care. The caller then asks for money.

UT Police say the perpetrator has an accent and demands that funds be placed into a foreign bank account.  

UT police is investigating the scam along with the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

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Transportation
4:16 pm
Tue July 10, 2012

Driving a Hard Bargain: Changes Coming for Valet Parking?

The fees valet companies pay to use public parking spaces are being reconsidered by the city.
flickr.com/bump

At a meeting tonight, the Urban Transportation Commission will hear a presentation on potential changes to Austin’s valet parking ordinance.

Currently, a valet business can lease the use of a public parking spot for $250 a year. And approximately 180 parking spots are used for valet parking downtown. But as the city grows and parking becomes more scarce, calls have emerged to reconsider the fee, which hasn’t been modified since 1999.

Talks between the city and valet operators have been going on since August of last year. Both the city and the valet operators favor a change to an hourly rate. 

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Business
11:50 am
Tue July 10, 2012

Austin DirecTV Customers May Lose Viacom Channels

DirecTV customers may lose some 17 Viacom channels tomorrow, unless the companies reach an agreement.
Photo courtesy of flickr.com/kevint via Creative Commons

Certain DirecTV channels may go off the air at midnight as the company’s contract with Viacom expires.

The current state of negotiations between the companies indicates those channels — which include Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and MTV — will go black for DirecTV subscribers at that time.

In a blog post, Viacom says that talks "have reached an impasse" and that it deserves higher fees, while DirecTV says the company is looking for an increase of more than 30 percent.

Viacom says that DirecTV is offering to pay less than “any other distributor in the industry.”

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AM Update 7/10/12
7:37 am
Tue July 10, 2012

AM Update: Deadly Overnight Fires, Fallen Soldier, Armstrong Lawsuit Dismissed

Corporal Juan Navarro was killed in an enemy attack on July 7 in Afghanistan.
U.S. Department of Defense

Overnight Fires Claim At Least 3 Lives

Austin firefighters responded to two deadly fires early this morning. Crews removed two children from a structure at 6226 Wagon Bend Trail in Southeast Austin. The two young boys, ages five and seven, were later pronounced dead at the scene.

Investigators believe the fire started in a car and spread to the home. But AFD Spokesperson Lt. Jim Baker says the scene is still under investigation. Baker says investigators have not yet been able to enter the building.

One person was killed in a second overnight fire at 5311 Chico Street in East Austin. Fire crews were able to rescue four other people. Three of the fire victims were transported to University Medical Center Brackenridge for treatment.  A firefighter also suffered minor burns.

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Health
2:15 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

Why Newest Teen Sexting Study May Be the Most Accurate

A sexting study author attributes surprising findings to more thorough sampling.
KUT News

Twenty-eight percent of high school students have sent naked pictures of themselves through email or text, according to a study led by the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

The researchers also found that teens who sexted were more likely to have had sex than those who did not send out nude photos of themselves.

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Crime
11:07 am
Tue July 3, 2012

Watch Your Car: Austin Police Offer Free VIN Etching, More

Don't let this happen to you: Austin police urge extra caution during "Watch Your Car" month.
City of Yuma, Arizona

The temperature isn’t the only thing rising this July: So is auto theft.

July is one of the more popular months for car thieves in Texas, according to the Austin Police Department.

This month, police are taking part in a “Watch Your Car” campaign, which aims to educate Austinites on ways they can prevent their cars from being stolen.

APD will be at the Barton Creek Mall today from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to offer community services designed to curb car thefts.

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AM Update 7/3/12
8:00 am
Tue July 3, 2012

AM Update: ‘No Sit, No Lie,’ Finishing Touches at Governor's Mansion, Free Pet Adoptions

The iconic painting 'Fall of the Alamo' returns to the Governor's Mansion.
Governor's Office

No Vote on ‘No Sit, No Lie’

Austin’s Public Safety Commission decided to push back until August a decision on expanding the city’s “No Sit, No Lie” ordinance to the 12th Street and Chicon Street area.

The ordinance bans anyone from sitting or sleeping on streets near businesses, banks, and ATMs. Right now, it’s in effect downtown.

The Blackshear and Prospect Hill Neighborhood Association has been trying to bring the ordinance east of Interstate 35 in hopes of combating drug and prostitution problems.

But the Public Safety Commission isn’t convinced “No Sit, No Lie” is the best option.

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