Marissa Barnett

Intern for KUT News

KUT News

Public subsidies could attract college football playoffs to Texas.

A public hearing will be held Thursday on a bill that would modify the language of the major event trust fund to include the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) football post-season playoff or championship game.

Marissa Barnett, KUT News

Advocates and lawmakers rallied at the Texas Capitol today to urge more state funding for mental health services.

Texas now ranks 49th in per capita spending for mental health care services. 

In the last session, the legislature made few changes to mental health funding. But as Texas’ population grows, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) policy coordinator Greg Hansch says mental health spending also has to increase.

Marissa Barnett, KUT News

Several hundred people marched to the Texas Capitol today with a message for state legislators and President Obama: “Listen, we are in the struggle.”

For those who rallied Friday, the struggle is for immigration reform.

flickr.com/tabor-roeder

We’re just one week away from across-the-board budget cuts known as “sequestration” and State Representative Mark Strama (D-Austin) is warning of the impact it could have on Texas.

“If we have to suffer the cuts of sequestration on top of the cuts we just made last biennium, it would be really harmful to the state economy,” he said after a Friday press conference at the Capitol.

Marissa Barnett, KUT News

Some Austin Police Department patrol cars are starting to use a new vehicle-locating system today called StarChase.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo says the units will only be used during suspect vehicle pursuits. The device, he says, will allow police officers to track suspects without engaging in high-speed chases and will hopefully avoid accidents and fatalities. 

flickr.com/tonguetyed and Ashley Siebel, KUT News

If you’re meeting an online sweetheart for a first-time Valentine’s dinner tonight, make sure catfish isn’t on the menu.

The Better Business Bureau is offering some love advice today: beware of scammers, heartbreakers and money-takers.

flickr.com/austincameraguy

Services were held for Chad Littleton today at the First Baptist Church in Midlothian, Texas. He, along with former Navy SEAL and best-selling “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle were killed Saturday at a gun range outside of Fort Worth. Kyle was reportedly killed by a fellow veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Kyle will be buried Tuesday at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, following a Monday service at the Dallas Cowboys stadium. Thousands are expected to attend the public ceremony Monday to remember the man widely recognized as “America’s deadliest sniper.”

flickr.com/aspensnowmass

Dallas-based sports insurance and promotion company SCA Promotions is suing former cyclist Lance Armstrong for more than $12 million.

The damages, the company says, are for prize money paid to Armstrong for his 2002, 2003 and 2004 Tour de France wins, and for legal costs accrued during a previous lawsuit.

KUT News

The deadline for naming two Austin school facilities is Feb. 8. And while “Southeast Bus Terminal” and “North Central Elementary School #1” aren’t without their charms, AISD hopes Austin can do better.

The AISD Board of Trustees began taking suggestions for the names of both a bus stop and a new elementary school in mid-January. The achool board will then decide on names during its March meeting and announce its selection March 19. 

robzombie.com

Alien spiders, endangered vampires and – perhaps most horrifically – family reunions. These are among the many terrors contained in South by Southwest Film’s “Midnighters” series.

SXSW starts four weeks from tomorrow, which means Friday is the last day to buy badges before prices jump. It also means the lineups for its provocative after-dark Midnighters series and short films are out.

KUT News

Governor Rick Perry called for more career and technical programs—in addition to expanding charter schools and implementing a tax-credit scholarship program—during his address to the State Board of Education and its eight newly elected members this morning.

flickr.com/leftymgp

Runners, cyclists and trail patrons welcomed the return of the water coolers at the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail this morning.

RunTex, a local sporting goods store, has provided the water to trail-users for twenty years. But last November, the city removed the coolers over sanitation concerns.

Marissa Barnett for KUT News

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said Friday that his office has raised more than $30,000 from anti-abortion “Choose Life” license plates since sales began in late 2011.

A “Choose Life” advisory committee – appointed by Abbott and responsible for distributing the funds – joined him at the press conference.

Tiffany Szerpicki, Texas Tribune

A new group promoting charter schools and other overhauls to public education has the backing of State Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston), the powerful chair of the Senate Education Committee. Patrick stood with leaders of the new organization -- Texans Deserve Great Schools (TDGS) -- as they outlined their goals, which included more stringent teacher and principal evaluations, more punitive policies for failing schools and a removal of the cap on Texas charter schools.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Lance Armstrong admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs in an interview with Oprah Winfrey last night. For many Austinites, the much-anticipated confession was worth a special viewing appointment. And for some, it even called for a watch party.

A few dozen watch party attendees crowded around picnic tables on the patio and at the u-shaped wood bar at Little Woodrow’s on Sixth Street as they waited for the tell-all from the Texas native on his decade-long doping cover up.

Wells Dunbar, KUT News

There’s still time to voice an opinion on the city’s switch to geographic representation.

The deadline for public input in City Auditor Kenneth Mory’s interpretation of voter-approved language calling for 10 single-member districts was initially last week. But the auditor has since extended the comment period through tomorrow, Jan. 16. 

flickr.com/photos/26481114@N07

Austin-based software company Bazaarvoice Inc. says it is confident it will win a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Thursday.

The Justice Department sued the company over its acquisition of San Francisco-based PowerReviews Inc. last year. The DOJ claims Bazaarvoice “eliminated its most significant rival and effectively insulated itself from meaningful competition.”

In a statement, Bazaarvoice responded that there is “still robust competition for ratings and reviews all over the social commerce landscape.”

courtesy Andrew Magill at flickr.com/amagill/

The University of Texas is warning students to be cautious of emails from private companies that advertise student loans from for-profit lenders.

Those emails may use misleading wording in the subject line that could suggest that they were sent by the university. But the Office of Student Financial Services at UT does not promote or endorse any private lenders, according to spokeswoman Jamie Brown.

She says that even with reputable companies, students should shop carefully.

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