Tyler Pratt

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Texas
8:18 am
Mon October 1, 2012

Lotto Ticket Aiding Vets Pulls in Pennies on the Dollar

The Texas Lotto scratch-off, which helps out veterans, is losing sales.
Texas Lottery

Veterans Cash is a $2 scratch-off Texas Lottery ticket that adds revenue to the Fund for Veterans' Assistance. But sales of the ticket, which made $8.1 million in 2011, have plummeted by 42 percent this year, to $4.7 million.

According to the San Antonio Express-News, since Veterans' Cash was launched in 2009, it has raised $20.8 million for the fund. The state's Fund for Veterans' Assistance awards funds through general assistance grants and the Housing4TexasHeroes program. Those programs provide veterans with services including financial assistance, transportation, counseling, housing assistance, and family services.

The Express-News writes declining lotto sales "means the Texas Veterans Commission is likely to turn down a bigger percentage of applications than it already does. The commission in 2011 had 190 applications and funded 37."

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Arts and Culture
9:05 am
Fri September 28, 2012

It's Mediterranean Festival This Weekend

Mediterranean food and drink will be offered at this year's MedFest.
flickr.com/winemegup

Rain or shine, the annual St. Elias Mediterranean Festival is kicking off this weekend.

The festival, now in its 80th year, promises Mediterranean delights from Lebanon, Palestine, Greece, Eritrea and Romania. According to the festival, “Gyros, Kibbee, Baklava, Spanakopita and Mici are only the beginning as you feast outdoors on delicacies from the Orthodox world.”

Along with a feast of foods, the festival will offer shopping in a festival marketplace, dance demonstrations and children’s activities at the Kid’s Oasis. Music and live dancing will be provided by Laand Greek Ensemble.

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Texas
8:36 am
Fri September 28, 2012

What Gave Gov. Perry Sleepless Nights on the Campaign Trail

Gov. Perry says he's sleeping better now than he was during his presidential campaign, pictured above.
KUT News

According to the Texas Tribune, Governor Rick Perry is downplaying the effects of his previously publicly unknown sleep apnea

Perry’s office released a statement to CNN on Sunday, confirming that the governor indeed had the sleep disorder, but had been diagnosed and treated during the campaign.

But on Thursday, Perry blamed pain resulting from back surgery in 2011 as keeping him awake.

“My issue was one of a hyper-fusion of that nerve in my foot that kept me awake,” Perry told The Houston Chronicle.

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Higher Education
9:17 am
Mon September 24, 2012

Gov. Rick Perry Calls for College Tuition Freeze

Gov. Perry speaking at the second annual Texas Tribune Festival. Gov. Perry called for a four-year college tuition freeze.
Spencer Selvidge, Texas Tribune

Texas Governor Rick Perry says he'll call for a four-year college tuition freeze. The comment was made at a Q&A session with Texas Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith at the Texas Tribune Festival this weekend.

In the interview, Perry proposed that students who enter college as freshmen could lock in a four-year tuition rate, says Texas Tribune Reporter Jay Root, who live-blogged the event. However, if a student takes longer than four years to graduate, he or she could face tuition increases.

Perry also said he is open to an “open and vigorous debate” about in-state tuition costs and supported providing in-state tuition for some children of undocumented immigrants.

Perry's announcement came just a day before The Dallas Morning News announced that Texas students are paying 55 percent more for tuition and fees at state universities than they were a decade ago. According to the analysis, tuition has increased three percent this year alone.

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Austin
11:31 am
Sat September 22, 2012

Austin PRIDE Weekend Outlook

Austin PRIDE celebrants in 2008. The Austin celebration is in its second decade.
flickr.alexander_shenka

“YOUnify and Celebrate” is the tagline for this year’s Austin PRIDE day—an opportunity to support and connect the area’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community.

Events include a parade and a festival that features what organizers call an unparalleled lineup of live music acts.

The Austin PRIDE celebration is in its 21st year. Austin PRIDE President Paul Huddleston says the festival keeps getting bigger and that they’ve sold tickets to people from 28 states and 8 countries.

“The festival is for everyone. We’ve got activities and attractions for kids all the way up to the adults," Huddleston says.

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Austin
1:37 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

Austin Unemployment Rate Drops

Austin added nearly 6,000 jobs in August.
flickr.com/stuseeger

The Austin area experienced the greatest jobs gain in Texas last month, as unemployment dropped half a percentage point.  

In August, the Austin area added 5,900 jobs, according to the Workforce Solutions Capital Area Workforce Board.  This brings the Austin unemployment rate down from 6.4 percent in July to 5.9 percent in August. This is third time this year that the unemployment rate has dropped below six percent. Prior to April 2012, Austin had not seen an unemployment rate below six percent since 2009.

Tiffany Daniels, of Workforce Solutions Capital Area explains where Austin saw its biggest gains:

In professional and business services, we saw gains of 2,300 hires in August.  That is one of our strongest segments [in Austin], and again, expect to see continued growth in those areas. Local government, retail trade and financial activities also saw significant increases of 1300 and 900, respectively.

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Sports
9:58 am
Fri September 21, 2012

Vince Young Tweets His Defense

Vince Young posing with a Rolls-Royce Phantom in May. Young has taken to Twitter to dispute reports he's in financial trouble.
twitter.com/VinceYoung

Vince Young has taken to Twitter to defend himself against media scrutiny, including reports the former Longhorn has hit hard times. Yesterday, Young tweeted

"It’s a shame to see people revel in and rally around negativity in the media but I guess it’s to be expected. Yes, I need a job, who doesn’t.”

Young has taken to Twitter ever since the Associated Press released a story describing his financial and occupational difficulties.

The AP wrote on Wednesday that “Vince Young finds himself without a team and with only a fraction of the money he received from a contract that guaranteed him $26 million.” A quote from his attorney was also included, stating: "I would just say that Vince needs a job."

In his defense, Young tweeted the following:

We are working to rectify some unfortunate finical (sic) losses, which stemmed from betrayal by those I trusted most.

But these rumors are disheartening & just untrue . I’ll keep pushing through regardless. God Bless. Trill

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Am Update: 9/21/12
8:44 am
Fri September 21, 2012

AM Update: New Hispanic Population Stats, Dead Voter Purge Delay, Cost-Effective School Spending

It's probably no surprise that Texas is home to some of the nation's largest Hispanic populations.
Pew Research Center/2010 ACS

The Clean Air Force of Central Texas is forecasting another ozone day. The group is predicting an "unhealthy" or Orange Level day. Here is a roundup of some stories making news this morning:

Austin Home to Country's 20th Largest Metropolitan Hispanic Population

A new report by the Pew Research Center shows the nation's Hispanic population is fairly concentrated. The report analyzed census data from the 2010 American Community Survey. It found "nearly half (45 percent) of the nation’s Hispanic population lives in just 10 metropolitan areas."

Four Texas metropolitans are home to some of the nation's largest Hispanic populations. Houston ranks #2, Dallas-Fort Worth is #6, San Antonio ranks #9 and Austin comes in at #20.

According to the ACS data, Austin has a Hispanic population of 502,000, which makes up 31 percent of the city's total population. Hispanics make up an even larger portion of Austin's younger population. Among Austinites under 18 years old, 42.3 percent are Hispanic. More than a quarter (28.9 percent) of Austin's Hispanic population were born outside of the United States.

Of the 60 metropolitan areas with the largest Hispanic populations, two areas have Hispanic populations that make up more than 90 percent of residents: Laredo (#36 on the list) is 96 percent Hispanic, McAllen (#13) is 91 percent Hispanic.

Delay in Dead Voter Purge

State District Judge Tom Sulak has temporarily prevented Texas from ordering counties to purge possibly dead voters from their registration rolls.

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Environment
5:16 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Ozone Watch Sees Central Texas Nearing Non-Compliance

Haze seen from the air in Central Texas
flickr.com/chimchim

Central Texas is under an Ozone Watch today and tomorrow.

Watches are usually issued during the summer months when the temperatures are higher and humidity is lower.  And so far this year the area is already dangerously close to exceeding EPA standards. Austin sits at a 74 parts-per-billion average for ozone. If that average jumps to 75 PPB, the area will be in non-compliance. 

“If we get one day at one site in particular, like our Northwest Austin site which has a 79 parts-per-billion eight-hour average … one more at that level will throw us into non-compliance," says Bryan Lambeth, senior meteorologist at Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Deana Altenhoff, Executive Director of the CLEAN AIR Force of Central Texas, agrees. "Ozone season ends October 31st," Altenhoff says. "This is our most critical time of the year because historically this is when we see our highest levels of ozone." 

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Business
4:52 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Are American Airlines Pilots Staging a 'Sickout?'

American jets at Chicago O'Hare International Airport. The Dallas=based company has canceled hundreds of flights this week.
flickr.com/matt_hintsa

American Airlines has one canceled arrival at Austin Bergstrom International Airport this evening. While that may not sound like much – at least not to anyone booked on that flight – it may be symptomatic of a broader problem for Dallas-based American Airlines.

Against the backdrop of a labor struggle, American has seen some 300 flights canceled this week, as according to reports, pilots are calling in sick.

According to CBS News,

American has seen an increase in flight cancelations since early this month, when a federal bankruptcy judge allowed the company to impose new pay and work rules on pilots. The pilots had rejected the company's last contract offer in August.

Those new work rules increase the amount of flying hours on pilots, and allow American to operate more flights through partner airlines instead of American flight crews, according to CNNMoney.

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Business
2:08 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Austin's Seoul Connection: Javelin Lands Samsung Contract

Samsung selected a small Austin semiconductor company to manufacture a power amplifier for its new Galaxy S Duos.
Samsung

A small Austin-based technology company, Javelin Semiconductor, has landed its largest contract to date – thanks to a burgeoning relationship between Central Texas and South Korea.

Javelin Semiconductor was picked to produce a power amplifier for Samsung’s new Galaxy S Duos. Robert Wagner, a spokesperson for Javelin, partially credits the company’s continued partnership with Samsung to Austin’s connection to Seoul, South Korea.

“There’s a good relationship in general between Austin companies and Samsung in Korea. So we get some good recognition from the Korean side of Samsung, that we’re this Austin company and they’ve had good success with other local Austin companies like Silicon Labs.”

The Austin Chamber of Commerce’s Susan Davenport agrees. Davenport says that in addition to the success of local companies, the University of Texas has been influential in building Austin’s cluster of technology and talent – which companies like Samsung are now enjoying.  

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AM Update: 9/17/12
8:50 am
Mon September 17, 2012

AM Update: Occupy AISD, Cap Metro Budget, Foster Care Redesign

Austin education advocates plan to show solidarity with Chicago teachers today. There, classrooms remain empty as the teachers strike continues.
flickr.com/evmaiden

After a weekend of rain, your Monday should be mostly dry. On Sunday, most parts of Central Texas saw an inch to two inches of rain. Here's a roundup of some of today's happenings:

Education Activists Occupy Austin

Austin education activists plan to gather at Austin City Hall this evening to rally for the Chicago teachers strike.

Occupy AISD will rally from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in an event that organizers say will connect the disputes in Chicago to issues facing Austin schools.

The education rally will be part of a day-long celebration of Occupy Austin by protesters to mark the one-year anniversary of the start of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

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