Jessica Mahoney

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Environment
1:33 pm
Wed October 12, 2011

Salvaging Timber in East Texas

Officials are considering timber salvage from some of the trees destroyed by fire in Bastrop State Park last month.
Photo by Mose Buchele for KUT News

More than one-third of timber damaged by wildfires in East Texas has been salvaged and resold by property owners. Separate wildfires across the eastern part of the state in June scorched over 30,000 acres. The salvaged timber will be repackaged and sold as building materials, paper, and fuel. The value of the resold goods is expected to exceed $100 million.

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News Brief
7:49 am
Tue October 11, 2011

Top Morning Stories October 11, 2011

Governor Perry in New Hampshire earlier this month.
Photo by Ben Philpott for KUT News

Perry to Debate in New Hampshire

Governor Rick Perry will face off with other Republican Presidential hopefuls at a debate tonight in New Hampshire. The debate will focus on jobs and the economy. Tonight's debate will be an important one for Perry, as his numbers in the polls have been slipping over the past few weeks. Here is more coverage of Perry's prospects for tonight.

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Water Rates
2:06 pm
Mon October 10, 2011

Pflugerville Water Users Facing Possible Rate Hike

The City of Pflugerville is holding a series of hearings on a proposed price hike in water rates.
JD Hancock/Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/jdhancock/

The Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ) held a public hearing regarding possible water utility bill increases.

Monarch proposed to raise water utility prices by 62.3% and wastewater rates by 33.6%. The changes would apply to Pflugerville residents who receive their water from Windermere Water Company. The company was recently purchased by Monarch. The Pflugerville City Council met in August and suspended the rate hikes for ninety days.

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News Brief
6:35 am
Mon October 10, 2011

Top Morning Stories October 10, 2011

The Harry Ransom Center at UT Austin just announced its acquisition of Nobel-prize winning author J.M. Coetzee's archives.
Photo by KUT News.

Ransom Center Acquires Coetzee Archive

The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin has acquired the archive of Nobel-prize winning author J. M. Coetzee. Coetzee was born in South Africa, but received a Ph.D. in English, linguistics and Germanic languages from UT in 1969. He taught at the university briefly in 1995 in the Michener Center for Writers. Coetzee came to UT to speak at the 100th anniversary of the Graduate School in May 2010. A video of his speech can be found here. The archive contains documents and materials spanning more than fifty years.

Bastrop Town Hall Meeting

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Health
12:19 pm
Fri October 7, 2011

Chagas Disease on the Rise in South Texas

A triatomine bug, also known as a kissing bug, the main vector for spreading Chagas disease.
Photo by Linda Tanner http://www.flickr.com/photos/goingslo/

A disease transmitted by blood sucking parasites may be more common in Texas than scientists previously thought. New research released by the College of Natural Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin suggests suggest South Texas in particular is an area of high risk for Chagas infection.

The tropical parasite triatomine is known commonly as the "kissing bug" because it loves biting faces. Here’s a of one of the bugs to give a sense of scale. 

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News Brief
7:40 am
Fri October 7, 2011

Top Morning Stories October 7, 2011

Protesters gathered outside of City Hall last night as part of the Occupy Austin event.
Photo by Lizzie Chen for KUT News

No Arrests at Occupy Austin

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News Brief
8:31 am
Thu October 6, 2011

Top Morning Stories October 6, 2011

Flames from the Old Potato Fire in Bastrop County on Tuesday.
Photo by Matt Largey for KUT News

Garrett Gilbert to Transfer

Garrett Gilbert has been released from his UT athletics scholarship. This leaves the former Longhorn starting quarter back free to transfer. Gilbert has not announced where he will go, but says he will finish this semester at UT while he makes his decision.

Some Bastrop Evacuees Return Home

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Texas
3:39 pm
Fri September 30, 2011

Texas History Symposium

The Save Texas History symposium will be held tomorrow from 8-5.
Photo by Erik Reyna for KUT News

The Texas General Land Office is holding a symposium tomorrow to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the state's independence from Mexico. Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson said the seven-year-old Save Texas History Program was created to educate Texans on the history of the state and to preserve historical documents in the General Land Office archives.

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Environment
2:53 pm
Fri September 30, 2011

White-Tailed Deer Bow Hunting Season Begins

White-Tailed deer bow hunting season begins tomorrow. The general season begins November 5th.
Photo courtesy of Flickr.com/Greg Westfall

Bow hunting season for White-tailed deer starts tomorrow in Texas. The ongoing extreme drought has culled deer population in many parts of the state. Nevertheless, Chris Mitchell with Texas Parks and Wildlife says the department wants hunters to take their full bag limit of deer this season. And that's less about sport and more about survival of the species.

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Sports
11:08 am
Fri September 30, 2011

Longhorns Still Looking for 3rd String QB

The Longhorns open Big 12 Conference play at Iowa State tomorrow night at 6.
Photo by KUT News

The Texas Longhorns football team returns from a week off to open Big-12 conference play against Iowa State tomorrow night. Since Garret Gilbert is out for the season following shoulder surgery, the Longhorns don’t have a third string quarterback.

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Politics
4:15 pm
Wed September 28, 2011

State Considers Taxing Jet Fuel and Bottled Water

Under current Texas law, jet fuel is exempt from the motor fuel tax.
Photo by I-Hwa Cheng for KUT News.

Texas raked in 9.4 percent more in sales tax this year than it did last year, but state officials don't expect that growth to continue in 2012. So they're looking at other ways to find more money.

One way is to tax things that are currently exempt from taxation. At a public hearing at the Capitol today, two items attracted the most attention: bottled water and jet fuel.

Under the current Texas law, bottled water is exempt from sales tax. A bill proposed by the House Committee last May had an amendment to change that, but the legislation was never adopted.

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border security
3:04 pm
Mon September 26, 2011

Generals' Report Calls for Tighter Border Security

Retired Major General Robert Scales speaks to reporters about a border security report he co-authored with retired General Barry McCaffrey (right). U.S. Rep Michael McCaul, R-Texas, and Ag Commissioner Todd Staples (left) also spoke at the news conference
Photo by Jessica Mahoney for KUT News.

A report released today by two retired generals highlights what they see as federal negligence toward drug cartel violence on American soil. The report was jointly commissioned by the Texas Department of Agriculture and the Texas Department of Public Safety. retired Army Major General Robert Scales, one of the co-authors, calls federal resources "anemic."

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News Brief
7:39 am
Mon September 26, 2011

Top Morning Stories September 26, 2011

Texas A&M has officially left the Big 12. On Sunday the SEC announced A&M would join the conference beginning in fall 2012.
Photo courtesy of AggieAthletics.com

Tar Sand Pipeline Hearings

The U.S. Department of State will hold the first two of nine public hearings today to discuss the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. This afternoon there will be a hearing in Port Arthur from 4:30 - 10:00 p.m.  More information on the pipeline can be found here.

Texas A&M Officially Joins SEC

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Environment
3:00 pm
Fri September 23, 2011

Fixing Leaky Toilets to Conserve Water

An Austin plumbing company wants to save the city 3-million gallons of water every month, one toilet flapper at a time.
Photo by KUT News.

An Austin-based plumbing company is taking on an ambitious job to battle the ongoing drought. Radiant Plumbing says it can save the city three million gallons of water per month. It plans on doing this by replacing one thousand leaky toilet flappers for free. Sarah Casebier is one of Radiant Plumbing's co-owners.

“If we wanted to do something that makes a difference, there’s not a lot of things that a plumber can do," she told KUT News. "But this is something we can do.”

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Austin
4:19 pm
Wed September 21, 2011

Austin Auditor Reports on WTP 4 Stoppage Cost

The Austin City Auditor reported on how it viewed projected costs to stop building Water Treatment Plant 4
Photo by Jessie Wang for KUT News

The city of Austin received an estimate of the costs of halting construction of Austin’s Water Treatment plant four last month. Today, the City Auditor's office presented its impression of those numbers.

Council Member Bill  Spelman questioned Russell Needler with the Auditor's office.

"And it’s my understanding that in all cases you found that the costs developed in the report were necessary all those things that they’re talking about having to happen would in fact have to happen. Is that accurate?" Spelman asked

Needler responded, "Yes.”

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Austin
8:16 am
Wed September 7, 2011

How Central Texans Can Donate

The wildfires in Central Texas, like this one in Bastrop County, have forced hundreds of people to evacuate their homes. Many organizations are accepting monetary and material donations to help the victims.
Reshma Kirpalani for KUT/Reporting Texas

Many spared from the worst of the wildfires are left wondering what can be done to help the victims. There are numerous aid organizations, churches, and community centers that are accepting both monetary and material donations. Here are a few places:

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Environment
3:39 pm
Wed August 31, 2011

Evacaution for Endangered Species Not Yet Necessary

Low water levels--like at McKinney Falls State Park earlier this summer--are causing problems for Central Texas endangered species. But any evacuation of the protected wildlife is still a ways off.
Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

The ongoing drought has been hurting Central Texas endangered species. Threatened salamanders, beetles, fish and other animals may be evacuated from the San Marcos River and Comal Springs. But that wouldn't happen until at least next year, if it happens at all.

Bill Seawell is a biologist with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Austin. He says the evacuations have happened before, in 1989 and again in 1996, and they're hoping they don't have to do it again.

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Human Rights Conference
2:42 pm
Mon August 29, 2011

International Human Rights Conference Held in Austin

Human Rights agencies from the U.S., Canada and Mexico are meeting in Austin through Wednesday.
Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

Human Rights agencies from across North America are in Austin this week. The International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies conference is focusing on workplace discrimination. John Schmelzer of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission spoke this morning. He says that the EEOC has more cases than ever, but the types of cases have changed over time. 

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