Hady Karl Mawajdeh

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Austin
1:56 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

Council Approves Ambitious Park Plan for Waller Creek

As reported earlier this month, the Austin City Council got a look at the final version of a plan to redevelop the land along Waller Creek into a chain of parks.

They liked what they saw: Today, the council unanimously voted to approve the design plan developed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates with little argument.

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Austin
6:56 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Should Austin Bury I-35? Proposal to Reconnect City Gets New Look (Update)

Here's a potential view of I-35 after proposed Cut & Cap plan.
Sinclair Black & Andrew Vernooy

Update (June 20): This morning Austin City Council members decided to go ahead and approve a resolution supporting a I-35 National Environmental Policy Act study for a plan to reconnect East & West Austin by submerging it from approximately River Street to Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.

Council also directed the City Manager to develop an economic impact study and look at associated financing options.

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Environment
5:05 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Austin Considers $400 Million, 25 Year Wind Energy Contract Today

Austin Energy is working on its goal of 35 percent renewable energy.
KUT News

Austin Energy is turning to the wind to power the city’s future.

Austin City Council members will look at a contract today that increases the amount of renewable energy purchased by Austin Energy to 35 percent from 25 percent.   

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Texas
7:34 am
Tue June 18, 2013

FEMA Deadline Today for West

Destruction in West after the April 17 explosion.
facebook.com/TexasAttorneyGeneral

Today is the deadline for people in West to apply for federal assistance.

It’s been nearly eight weeks since the April 17 fertilizer plant explosion that killed 15 people and destroyed around 150 homes. So far, FEMA has registered 789 survivors and allocated $7.6 million to assist in the recovery.

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Texas A&M Football
12:19 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

Will Johnny Manziel Be the First Freshman Heisman Winner?

Johnny Manziel may be Texas A&M's first Heisman winner in almost 50 years.
Texas A&M Athletics

The Heisman Memorial Trophy Award, a 13.5-inch tall bronze trophy weighing 25 pounds, has been awarded to the most outstanding player in college football since 1935.

The Heisman, probably the most recognized individual award in all of sports, has had many suitors this college football season – but few as electrifying as the finalists: Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o and Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein.

Of the three finalists Manziel – a.k.a. Johnny Football – is the favorite to win college football's most prestigious award on Saturday night in Manhattan. If Manziel does win he would be the first freshman to win the Heisman and the first Texas A&M player since halfback John David Crow won the school's only Heisman in 1957.

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Austin
11:50 am
Fri November 23, 2012

UT’s New Strategy for Helping Students Find the Door

UT's continues to encourage a speedier graduation rate for their students.

The University of Texas’ graduation rate is under scrutiny as the school attempts different ways to increase the number of students graduating in four years.

In February a task force assembled by UT President Bill Powers offered 60 suggestions to encourage students to earn their degree more quickly.

In late August and early September, UT began a sort of branding campaign. The number 2016 (signifying the graduation date for incoming freshmen) began to appear all around campus: on shirts, on tote bags, and even on Twitter (as #2016 became a popular hashtag).

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Round Rock ISD
5:04 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Beyond 'Abstinence Only:' Round Rock School Board Revisits Sex Ed (Update)

Round Rock ISD is dicussing bringing contraceptives talk into the classroom.
flickr.com/peachy92

Update: The proposal addressing sex education standards has been withdrawn from the Round Rock school board agenda, according to the Austin American-Statesman. It writes that the health advisory committee that recommended the change was improperly assembled. It's uncertain at this time when (or if) the proposal will return for consideration.

Original post (11:57 a.m.): The Round Rock Independent School District’s Board of Education will be meeting tonight and sex education is on the agenda.

The board will discuss an implementation plan to teach students about contraceptives, a break from current "abstinence only" standards.

The discussion started back in August when the board received the School Health Advisory Committee’s annual report that recommended contraceptives be introduced at the eighth-grade level.

The board met again in October. Health professionals provided the board with data that indicated the number of cases of sexually transmitted diseases is increasing in Round Rock, compared with surrounding communities.

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The Lead
9:04 am
Thu November 15, 2012

The Lead: F1 Rounds the Corner

Good Thursday morning to all. We’ve got a beautiful day ahead of us as we rev up for the festivities Formula 1 is bringing our way. There will be partly sunny skies, with a high near 65. As for tonight, the skies will be cloudy, with low near 50.

Here are some stories KUT News and our partners have been working on this week:

Some of the 100,000 people expected for Austin’s first Formula One race have already started streaming into town. The international sporting event has a reputation of attracting the super rich, and there may be some truth to that. “We’re flying in our own celebrity DJ,” said Nicholas Frankl, an event promoter who with his sister runs My Yacht Group. “We have Lamborghini sponsoring the event. We have the most expensive Champagne available in America today, called Comte de Mazeray. It’s 24-karat gold-infused Champagne.”

DNA testing that death row inmate Hank Skinner sought for more than a decade further implicates him in the New Year’s Eve 1993 triple murder for which he was sentenced to die, according to an advisory that the Texas Attorney General’s Office filed Wednesday in Gray County state district court. But a lawyer for Skinner, who was convicted in 1995 of the murders of his live-in girlfriend, Twila Busby, and her two adult sons in Pampa, said the DNA testing is incomplete and indicates that another person may have been at the scene of the crimes.

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Austin
7:54 am
Wed November 14, 2012

With Bag Ban Looming, the City's Taking Local Business to School

The Bag Ban will start in March of 2013, but some items are still up in the air.
www.flickr.com/photos/arselectronica

Confused about Austin’s coming bag ban? You’re not alone.

Austin Resource Recovery, tasked with reaching the city’s zero waste by 2040, is hosting carryout bag training sessions for local businesses at the Austin City Hall this morning.

The training is designed prepare businesses for the plastic bag ban that takes effect in March 2013.

Originally, the ban barred the use of most single use paper and plastic bags, but late last week the City Council approved adding some exemptions. Now, restaurants will largely be exempt.

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LGBT
11:59 am
Tue November 13, 2012

UPS Ends Boy Scouts Funding Over Scouts' Policy Toward Gays

A former scout leader at at protest in New York.
flickr.com/photos/paul_lowry

The charity arm of shipping company UPS says it will no longer offer grants to the Boy Scouts of America as long as BSA leadership continue to exclude gays and lesbians from being scouts or scout leaders.

UPS made the change after an online petition protesting the foundation's annual grants to the Boy Scouts attracted more than 80,000 signatures.

The UPS Foundation donated $150,000 to the Boy Scouts in 2010, but it’s isn’t clear how much they gave in 2011.

UPS and several other corporations have been subject to protest for their donations to the BSA. UPS’ about-face occurred after Iowa-resident Zach Wahls created a petition on Change.org urging the company to reverse course.

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Austin
7:00 am
Thu November 8, 2012

The Battle for Lake Austin: Hydrilla vs Asian Grass Carp

Grass carp are an invasive species themselves. That's why the fish released into Lake Austin are sterile.
Dan O'Keefe, Michigan Sea Grant

The battle for Lake Austin continues: 6,000 sterile Asian grass carp were released into the lake this week in an effort to combat the invasive water plant hydrilla. That brings the total number of Asian grass carp stocked in Lake Austin to 11,000 this summer and 40,000 overall.

Hydrilla is a non-native aquatic plant that has spread rapidly in Lake Austin since it was first discovered in 1999. It grows to be very thick and can clog up pipes that carry drinking water from the lake. It can also cause problems for those who use the lake for recreation.

Mary Gilroy, an environmental scientist with the City of Austin, told KUT News earlier this year that if the plants get thick enough, they pose a danger to swimmers.

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Politics
4:49 pm
Tue November 6, 2012

How Long Are Voting Lines in Austin?

People lined up to vote at the Flawn Academic Center on the UT campus
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

In the last presidential election, the iPhone 3G was the hottest phone on the market, and there were just a few million people on Twitter. Now almost half of American adults own smartphones and more than 500 million use Twitter. So let's check out what they're saying about voting lines! We'll be trawling the internet and adding new info here. 

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Texas
8:21 am
Tue November 6, 2012

The Lead: Election Day 2012 Edition

Good Morning, Austin. The National Weather Service says this Election Day should be a beautiful one with highs in the upper 70s and lows in the 50s tonight.

KUT will continue extended Election Day coverage today and tomorrow but, don't worry, John Aielli and Jay Trachtenberg will be back on the air as usual starting Thursday.

Here are some of the stories KUT News has been working on:

Election officials recommend that you vote early today. Get it done before you head into work if you can. If you can’t make it before getting to work; you can still go. By law, you’re entitled to paid time off for voting on Election Day, unless you’re off work for two consecutive hours during the times the polls are open. And remember you don’t have to drive all the way back home to vote in your local precinct this year.

Texans vote today on state representatives, some state senators, and Board of Education members. But do elected officials have the most power in Texas politics? Not always. Jennifer Stayton talks with Dave Mann of The Texas Observer about the seven biggest donors in Texas politics and what they’re getting for their money.

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Economy
3:49 pm
Thu November 1, 2012

'Boomerang Kids' Circle Back to Where They Started

Multi-generational families are sharing housing more often, according to a new report.
www.flickr.com/Jellaluna

There used to be a stigma attached to living at home into one’s twenties and thirties – but not so much these days.

Blame it on rising housing prices, or dwindling employment opportunities for grads – but nowadays, young adults between the ages of 25 to 34 are feeling more comfortable about moving back in with their parents.

According to a recent Pew Research Center report on the so-called “boomerang generation,” three out of 10 young adults have moved back home in recent years, thanks to a weak economy. 

The good news concerning multi-generational households is that it looks like all parties are benefiting from the trend. Of the 2,048 adults surveyed nationwide, 48 percent have reported paying rent to their parents and 89 percent say they help with household expenses, like utilities.

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Austin
9:07 am
Thu November 1, 2012

The Lead: Texas Women's Health, Transpo Brawl in Travis Co. Dist. 3, More Cities Prep for F1

RIP, Mark Murray.
Credit KVUE

Good morning and welcome to the month of November! Here's hoping you don’t look scarier this morning that you did last night. It’s going to be another warm day with temperatures in the mid-80s. 

Here’s some stories KUT has been working on:

Texas Women's Health Program Won't Launch As Planned

Despite comments Wednesday morning from Texas Health and Human Services Commission executive director Kyle Janek indicating the program would be ready to start on Nov. 1, an agency spokeswoman confirmed that the state-led program would not begin until ongoing court controversy over the issue is clarified.

Candidates Battle Over Transportation

The results of the Nov. 6 elections will determine the priorities for Austin and Travis County. One of the top concerns in the area is transportation infrastructure. The Texas Department of Transportation has no money to build new roads. It spends what it gets from tax money just doing repairs and maintenance. Different ideas on how to do just that are colliding in the race for Travis County Commissioner.

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Austin
2:05 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

Mapping the Future of AISD

KUT News

The Austin Independent School District is inviting community input at a public hearing tonight about the 2013–2014 Annual Academic and Facilities Recommendations (AAFR) tonight at the Carruth Administration Center on West Sixth Street.

There are a several important issues on the AAFR, the most polarizing being single-sex schools, improvements for athletic facilities and fine arts programs, and the expansion of the dual language program.

Here's a roundup:

  • The conversion of two middle schools to Single-Sex schools in northeast Austin were talked about back in August, but a School for Young Men was often left out of the headlines. The proposed School for Young Men would be college and career preparatory academy that develops a community of leadership and character centered young men. Enrollment could start as early as next school year.
  • The recommendation to improve athletic facilities has three potential proposals to throw out to community members with price ranges from $82 million to $179 million. Increased pay and flexible schedules for coaches are included within these proposals.

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Austin
12:26 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

Downtown Wastewater Tunnel Opens Up

Krieg Shaft
Parsons

You could call it one of the dirty details of being a rapidly-growing city: upgrading infrastructure to move wastewater to treatment plants.

Today marks the end of one of the largest and most complex wastewater infrastructure projects built in Austin over the last decade. City leaders are ceremonially cutting a ribbon for the completion of the Austin Downtown Wastewater Tunnel this afternoon.

The project was built in response to the rapid growth of the downtown area. The city says the two major sewer lines in downtown were installed more than 50 years ago, were near capacity and had limited ability to take additional sewer flows.

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Austin
7:39 am
Fri October 26, 2012

Map: Events Close Roads This Weekend

Several events are taking place around downtown Austin this weekend. That means road closures and detours for drivers.

Below is a list of events causing closures:

All Weekend

  • The Texas Book Festival is back! But, along with all the books come lane closures around the Texas State Capitol. There will be both full and partial lane closures stretching north and south from 9th to 13th streets, and east to west from Lavaca Street to San Jacinto Boulevard starting Thursday at 9 a.m. and ending Sunday at 11:59 p.m. (Map)
  • Happy Halloween Weekend! Expect some traffic delays as costumed revellers celebrate. Temporary road closures will begin on Saturday at 6 p.m. and last through 3 a.m. East 6th Street from Brazos Street to San Marcos Street will be shut down. IH-35 north and south bound exits for 6th Street and 8th Street will also be closed. For a complete list of road closures, click here.
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Texas
12:22 pm
Thu October 25, 2012

ICE Returns 4,000 Stolen Mexican Relics

Mexican relics are making their way back to their country of origin.
Charles Reed, Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System

The United States is returning to Mexico more than 4,000 architectural relics that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have seized across the nation.

ICE says many of the items date from before European explorers reached the North American continent. The items include pre-Columbian stones used to grind corn and other grains, statues, figurines, copper hatchets and other artifacts.

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Austin
8:33 am
Thu October 25, 2012

Austin Playing Catch Up in International Air Travel

A plane waits for passengers to load at ABIA.
Ihwa Cheng for KUT News

As metropolitan economies, like Austin, expand their global reach, international aviation plays a pivotal role—moving passengers from there to here.

But, for the most part, international travel coming into the United States, takes place in many of the same metropolitan gateways. Despite Austin's growing role in technology and other business industries, the city isn't playing a big role in international travel. One major challenge may be the competition provided by bigger Texas cities.

According to a report by The Brookings Institution, 17 areas account for almost three-quarters of all international travel either starting or ending in the U.S. Atop the list of gateway cities is Atlanta, which accounted for more than 6 million international travelers last year.

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