Kristen Cabrera

News intern

Kristen Cabrera is a news intern at KUT.  She recently graduated from the University of Texas-Pan American with a BA in Communications-Journalism.

Photo by Sean Murphy

Bastrop County Complex Fire Update

Bastrop county officials say the Bastrop County Complex fire was 95 percent contained as of Sunday. Officials released The Bastrop County Complex Fire Factsheet on the county's Office of Emergency Management Facebook page.

Austin City Limits Festival 2011

Yesterday rounded out  the last day of the ACL festival. If you were not part of the 75,000 people there each day, KUT's Texas Music Matters has reviews of the headlining acts. Here is just a handful:

Photo by

Spontaneous combustion is real, at least when it comes to compost heaps.

Large commercial compost heaps of over 12 feet tall can become dangerous if not properly maintained, says Lauren Hammond, spokesperson for Austin's solid waste services department.

She says, the conditions have to be "just right" for a pile to self-ignite.

The record triple digit heat we've been experiencing can raise the temperature of a compost pile above 160 degrees. Mix that with the various gasses that are released from decomposition and the abundance of dry organic material, and you could have a real fire hazard on your hands.

Though most residential compost piles are no where near 12 feet tall, Hammond says, they still need to be maintained and monitored weekly.

Photo by KUT News

Austin School board passes budget; Argues over historic property tax breaks

After passing a $700 million operating budget for the 2011-2012 school year, the Austin Independent School District focused on Historic Property tax breaks. Last year the program was suspended due to budget concerns, but this year the school board voted to reinstate the program--at an estimated cost of $382,000.  

Photo by Alanahmontreal at

Leaving out cat food for the neighborhood cat? You might be feeding the neighborhood bear instead, according to a statement by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

“We’re getting a few reports of people seeing bears during daylight hours, and that’s unusual,” says Mike Krueger of Texas Parks and Wildlife. “It’s the associated water around homes and the food. The pet food, the smell of cooking; all those things could attract bears. ”

Photo by CaliforniaDFG at

The Associated Press is reporting the investigation into an oil sheen that was spotted off the Gulf of Mexico last week. Various oil companies, including BP, are trying to figure out where the sheen came from.

An oil sheen (not the same as a spill) happens when a thin layer of oil settles on top of the water shimmering in different colors and can come from leaks or spills.

Photo courtesy of The Austin Film Society

Actors from the fourth installation of Robert Rodriguez' s "Spy Kids" films will meet with the children of Dell Children’s Medical Center on Saturday.

The new "Spy Kids" stars Rowan Blanchard, Mason Cook, along with old Spy Kids Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara and Rodriguez himself will be greeting the children and signing posters at 1 p.m., before their red carpet Austin premier at The Long Center for Performing Arts at  4 p.m.

Fresh off last week's National Day of Prayer in Houston, Perry's Saturday announcement speech, POLITICO reports, will features this two-minute YouTube video created by Michael Wilson. filmmaker and a declared atheist.

Image courtesy of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center will pay tribute to the woman who got the center started.

To commemorate the day former President Lyndon Johnson presented his wife with 50 pens he used to sign beautification laws she inspired, the center will offer free admission and several activities this Sunday.

Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

Texas is now the 12th Fattest state in and is ranked 7th in childhood obesity.

It is more likely that a child will be obese if the parent is, said Dr. Shreela Sharma, assistant professor at the Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living at UTHealth.

This has been on the mind of some Texas Legislators this past 82nd session. But not everyone was able to get their bills passed.

Photo by Foshydog

Texas is the 12th most obese state in the U.S., according to F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2011. The report is from the non-profit research group Trust for America’s Health.

Texas has been slowly creeping up the list for the past two years, ranking 14th in 2009, and 13th in 2010. The obesity rate in Texas for adults is 30 percent.  Fifteen years ago that number was 16 percent. 

Erika Aguilar for KUT News

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs paid Anthony Graves $1.45 million today, to compensate for his 18 years of wrongful imprisonment. Graves was originally convicted of the 1992 killing a 45-year-old grandmother and five children. He served 12 years of his sentence on death row.

Photo by Kristen Cabrera for KUT News

Refael Eizraelov spotted water spilling into the street on Adirondack Lane in North Austin this morning. He called the city's 3-1-1 to report it.  They informed him that Austin Water Utility had known about the leak yesterday.

"We don’t have a lot of water in Austin, at the Edwards Aquifer. Everyone knows it’s very low and very precious, and we cannot let water like that just spilling down the drain,” he said.

Photo by Broken Piggy Bank

San Antonio tourism officials are hoping to attract the international travelers who could flood Austin during Formula One events. Casandra Matej, executive director of the San Antonio Visitors and Convention Bureau, says the ideal international visitor would stay a few evenings in Austin and then head to San Antonio.

“There will be San Antonio opportunities to kind of create synergy for that," she said. "We can provided that extended stay for the people that are going to enjoy the race.”

View Ben White Closure in a larger map

Construction on Ben White Freeway interchange will begin at 8 p.m. tonight, and last till Sunday morning. TxDOT will divert west-bound traffic on to east-bound lanes configuring one lane in each direction for about two miles.

Photo by Liang Shi for KUT News

More people have jobs in Austin, but 6.7 percent of those actively looking for work are still unemployed. Lisa Givens from the Texas Workforce Commission says Austin added 3,900 jobs last month. Despite this, the unemployment rate rose slight slightly from 6.5 percent in April to 6.7 percent, a result of more people looking for work.