Matt Largey

News Editor

Matt has been a reporter at KUT off and on since 2006.  He came to Austin from Boston, then went back for a while--but couldn't stand to be away--so he came back to Austin.  Matt grew up in Maine (but hates lobster), and while it might sound hard to believe, he thinks Maine and Texas are remarkably similar.

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National Weather Service

Update 6:45 a.m.: The City of Austin has now opened all of the low water crossings on Spicewood Springs Road around Loop 360. Low water crossings at Terry-o Lane near Ben White Boulevard.

The Lower Colorado River Authority says some rain did fall in the watershed, which will help with low lake levels. Right now, Lakes Travis and Buchanan are still sitting at about 36 percent full.

Austin Firefighters are blaming lightning on at least three overnight fires – including one at an apartment building in southeast Austin. No one was injured in the fires.

About 1,500 Austin Energy customers are without power this morning.

Ivan Ramirez/Tim Jones/McDonald Observatory

When Ivan Ramirez started his search about a year ago, he really didn’t think he’d find much.

"We expected it to be either one or zero," says Ramirez, an astronomer at UT-Austin.

Ramirez and his crew were looking through thousands and thousands of stars – all in order to find just the right one. 

“We're looking for the stars that were born with the sun," he says. "Because our sun, like most other stars, was born in a cluster – probably a thousand to ten thousand other stars. We know that there are a few that we can detect that are nearby, but it’s been a really tough job to do."

What's the one thing that would make life on your block better?

As Austin prepares for its first elections with 10 new geographic districts, KUT is diving deeply into District One, which covers large parts of East Austin. But we want to hear from you, regardless of where you live. Tell us: What would make life better on your block? 

State Senator and GOP Lt. Governor candidate Dan Patrick faced off against San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro in a televised debate over immigration tonight at 6pm.

The debate was moderated by the Texas Tribune's Evan Smith.

National Weather Service

The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for Bastrop, Burnet, Blanco, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis and Williamson counties until 7 p.m. 

The watch means conditions are right for strong winds and large hail, if storms develop.

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Austin ISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen has been named as the sole finalist for the superintendent job in Atlanta, Georgia.

She was chosen from a list of four candidates for the position.

Carstarphen came to Austin ISD in 2009. The district has faced significant challenges during her tenure, including $60 million in funding cuts after the 2011 Legislative session.

In a statement today, Carstarphen said Austin had risen to meet those challenges.

Eric Schlegel, Texas Tribune

An appeals court has upheld Texas' controversial new rules tightening rules for  abortion providers.  

The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on two elements of House Bill 2. One requires abortion doctors to receive admitting privileges at a hospital 30 miles from the clinic. The other requires doctors to follow an FDA label for medically-induced abortions, which requires more face-to-face visits with a physician.

The court found both constitutional, overturning a lower court decision. You can read the whole ruling here.

Andrew Huygen for KUT News

A fourth person has died from injuries sustained in an early morning crash on Red River Street during South by Southwest, allegedly caused by a drunk driver. 

DeAndre Tatum, 18, was put in a medically induced coma after the crash. He died today, according to Austin Police.

27 year-old Austinite Jamie Ranae West and 35 year-old Dutch visitor Steven Craenmehr were pronounced dead at the crash scene on March 13th.

Sandy Thuy Le, 26, of Austin died the following week.

flickr.com/tessawatson

Update: Listen to this story on WBUR's Here and Now.

Original story (Feb. 28): You know how on cop shows, suspects get interrogated in a cramped room with a mirror on one wall? And on the other side, there's a prosecutor or other cops watching through the glass.

Those mirrors are kind of an illusion done with lighting. But the effect also illustrates perfectly how difficult it can be to break a pretty fundamental law of nature.

A group of engineers at UT has figured out how to bend – if not break – that law when it comes to sound.

Listen:

flickr.com/sonicpenguin

The 86th annual Zilker Kite Festival has been canceled, after last night's storm drenched Zilker Park. More rain is in the forecast today.

In a statement, festival organizers said they had planned to go forward, until the weather turned even worse last night.

"We want to be especially respectful of our home – Zilker Park – and with this type of weather, we risk doing too much damage to the park under these wet conditions," said a statement on the festival's website.

Rosemary Lehmberg will be allowed to continue in her role as Travis County District Attorney.

San Antonio-based Judge David Peeples made that decision this afternoon after three days of testimony recounting the April night when she was arrested for drunk driving and her subsequent treatment for alcohol abuse at a facility in Arizona.

Lehmberg pled guilty and served her time in jail for the DWI charge earlier this year, but a complaint was filed under an obscure state law allowing District Attorneys to be dismissed if they are found to be intoxicated.

A Travis County grand jury has indicted Jerald Cobbs, a former executive with the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), in connection with an $11 million grant the agency approved without putting it through required reviews.

The charge of securing execution of a document by deception carries a potential jail sentence of five to 99 years or life, and a fine of up to $10,000.

Jason Shear/UT

Editor's note: This story was originally published Nov. 19, prior to being rebroadcast on WBUR's Here and Now.

When you think of bacteria, you might think about a bunch of mindless, single-celled bugs blindly roaming the world in complete ignorance. But over the past few decades, scientists have found bacteria are much more complicated than that.

Now, a group of scientists at the University of Texas at Austin has come up with a new way of studying how bacteria interact with the world – and each other.

You see, scientists have a couple of problems when it comes to studying bacteria.

Judi Radice Hays

A version of this story first ran Nov. 16, 2012.

Formula One events begin today at the Circuit of the Americas track.

F1 doesn’t have a huge following in the U.S. – it’s only in its second year in Austin – and a lot of people may not know the first thing about the sport. Here's what we learned about the basics.

First things first: what is the “formula”?

V. Tilvi, S.L. Finkelstein, C. Papovich, and the Hubble Heritage Team

A team led by a UT Austin astronomer has identified and measured the distance to the most distant galaxy found so far.

The galaxy — designated z8_GND_5296 — is so far away from Earth that the light we are now able to see from it was emitted more than 13 billion years ago. So we're seeing it as it was in the distant past.

"We're seeing it very close to the Big Bang. About 700 million years after the Big Bang," says UT astronomer Steve Finkelstein, who led the project. He says ultimately, far, far away galaxies like this one may help us understand things closer to home. “We want to study very distant galaxies to learn how galaxies change with time, which helps us understand how the Milky Way came to be.” 

National Weather Service

Update: The Red Cross is keeping an eye on weather conditions in Central Texas over the next few days. So far, they’ve responded by distributing supplies like clean-up kits.

“We are working closely with local emergency management to respond and assist families who have been affected by flooding in their homes,” Red Cross Central Texas Region CEO Marty McKellips says in a statement.

The Red Cross shares four tips for making it through extreme weather:

Lower Colorado River Authority

Parts of Central Texas saw as much as 12 inches of rain over the weekend. Water levels in the Highland Lakes  rose slightly, but the storm was far from a drought-buster.

Lakes Travis and Buchanan remain only about one-third full. 

Wikimedia Commons

Update: Scientists Peter Higgs and Francois Englert have been awarded the Nobel Prize for physics for their quest for the Higgs boson – the so-called “God particle.”

The European Organization for Nuclear Research proved its existence last year with a massive particle accelerator. But as KUT reported shortly after the particle’s  discovery, some Texas physicists say the discovery could have been made here years ago.

Original story (July 4, 2012): Scientists in Switzerland announced overnight the discovery of what appears to be a particle that’s long been hypothesized, but never proven. It’s a bittersweet moment for some Texas physicists.

Photo by Matt Largey for KUT News.

A state appeals court in Austin has overturned the money laundering conviction of former Texas Congressman and House Majority Leader Tom Delay. 

Three years ago, DeLay was convicted for conspiring to illegally funnel $190,000 in corporate campaign contributions to Republican candidates for the Texas Legislature in 2002.

Delay has been free since his conviction while the case was appealed.

KUT News

Virtually all firefighters rely on a simple device designed to alert their fellow firefighters when they need help.

It’s called a Personal Alert Safety System, or PASS.  It’s basically a sensor that measures whether the person wearing it is moving. If they're incapacitated or immobilized, the PASS sets off a 95 decibel alarm to draw the attention -- and assistance -- of other firefighters.

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