Hady Karl Mawajdeh


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.

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.

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. 

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.


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.


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.

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.


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.

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.
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.

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.

Social gaming company Zynga is laying off five percent of the company’s total workforce. That means about 100 layoffs in Austin and others in Boston.

The company says the move is an attempt to streamline operations and focus resources on their "most strategic opportunities.”

The move comes just weeks after the company’s stock plummeted 18 percent.


AMLI Residential, builder of several high profile apartment communities in Austin, has announced it is going to build a mid-rise project in Mueller town center.

AMLI says it plans to build a $30 million, 279-unit apartment complex on Simond Avenue, across from Lake Park and the new Austin Children’s Museum. The community will contain 20 percent efficiencies, 56 percent one-bedroom apartments and 24 percent two-bedroom apartments.

Prices for the apartments will be set during the pre-leasing process, but 15 percent of the units will be included in the Mueller Affordable Homes Program, which is for residents who earn 60 percent or less of Austin’s median family income.

KUT News

If you ask a Longhorn fan their thoughts about the Longhorn Network, you might hear complaints about its cable carrier agreements. Ask a rival team's fans, and you might hear grumblings about the cash cow the network represents for the Forty Acres. 

But if you ask University of Texas head football coach Mack Brown his thoughts about the Longhorn Network, you might just get a piece of his mind.

That's what happened yesterday at Brown’s weekly press conference, where he spoke rather frankly about the effect the network is having on the Horns this football season.

Brown argued that the Longhorns are a “little overexposed” this year. He cited a conversation he had with Baylor Head Coach Art Briles where he was told that “Baylor sees every practice.” He also thinks that opponents north of Waco are watching too.

Callie Hernandez, KUT News

The Austin City Council convenes this morning. It's tackling a 104-item agenda. Here’s a rundown of the hot topics:

The Return of Short-Term Rentals: After wreaking havoc and sowing division on the council dais mere months ago, short-term rental regulations returns to council today. As KUT News reported earlier this week, council is looking at whether more people would comply with recently-passed regulations if it were easier and less expensive to do so.

Council is looking at two rental-related items – one asking the city manager to look at revamping several areas, and another lowering the cost of neighborly rental notification to a flat $50 – but some council members have concerns. "Responding to the growing pains of getting these registered immediately is just really problematic to me," council member Laura Morrison said earlier this week. "Until we get some feel for how things are working under our belts, otherwise, I can assure you there will be another set that we need to be working on soon."


The City of Houston has been selected as one of two finalists to host Super Bowl LI in February 2017.

At the NFL’s Fall Meeting, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that San Francisco and South Florida will duke it out for the opportunity to host the NFL’s 50th Super Bowl, Super Bowl L, in 2016. Goodell says the losing city will compete with Houston for the chance to host Super Bowl LI.

NFL owners will vote on the two Super Bowl sites during league meetings in Boston next May.

Houston’s bid is being lead by the Texans, the Greater Houston Convention and Visitor Bureau, the Harris County – Sports Authority and Reliant Park.

Texans president Jamey Rootes says Houston should feel good about their chances to host the Super Bowl in 2017.

Federal Railroad Administration

The Texas Department of Transportation has moved one step closer towards the idea of using rail as an option to address highway congestion on Interstate 35. The news comes as the TxDOT kicks off a $14 million, two-year study to explore the possibility of passenger rail service from Oklahoma City to South Texas.

The study will examine the best possible options for the development of passenger trains that will connect metropolitan areas such as the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Austin, and San Antonio.  The analysis will compare different types of services, including both a new high-speed rail system and existing Amtrak routes.

John Barton, TxDOT deputy executive director and chief engineer, says “passenger rail [is] a strategic component for the future of Texas transportation.”

The rail study is partially funded by a $5.6 million grant from the Federal Railroad Administration’s High Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail program, and a 20 percent match by TxDOT.

Good morning. Austin can expect cloud coverage for most of the day, and the occasional shower. The National Weather Service says we can a 40 percent chance of rain today. Here's some of KUT’s top stories this morning:

Here's  more stories of interest from Central Texas: 

  • Cyber Warfare Here To Stay; Austin Could Play Key Role (KVUE)

"It's a spy versus spy kind of world," said Ken Phillips, business development manager at Overwatch Textron Systems. The Austin-based business is developing the latest line of defense against cyber threats, which focuses on security at the file level in order to overcome internal leaks or systems that have been compromised.


The 2012 Austin City Limits Festival is less than 24 hours away.

Thousands of ACL attendees are probably compiling lists of bands to see, foods to eat, and places to go. But it's going to be a challenge: There's over 100 different acts performing at the festival, close to 40 different vendors serving all types of food and drink, and tons of events and parties going on all over downtown Austin.

While we can’t put your list together for you, maybe we can help you get started.

Here's some picks compiled by KUT's Austin Music Matters team: 

From Susan Castle, KUT Music Host:

Lithium Technologies

It's no secret that social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have changed the way companies interact with their consumers.

Corporations and small businesses alike need to have a plan for handling customer interactions via the internet  – at least that's what one Austin startup believes. And a big technology company is buying into the idea.

Lithium Technologies, a California-based company, announced it acquired Austin startup Social Dynamx this week.

Social Dynamx was founded last year by a group of Austin software industry experts as the “industry’s first purpose-built social customer care platform.” That's a fancy way of saying Social Dynamx’s technology assists companies in monitoring conversations via social media sites in order to respond fittingly to customers' comments or complaints.