News, events, and entertainment happening in and around Austin and the Central Texas counties of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Williamson

Alfie and Oreo put aside their differences in an effort to get adopted
picture courtesy the Austin Humane Society

Workers and volunteers at the Austin Humane Society will spend the night at the shelter to honor all of the animals that will be homeless during the holidays.  The 5th annual sleep over starts tonight at 7 with a visit from Santa.  After the jolly fat guy poses for pictures with the shelter pets, the dogs will be allowed to run around an indoor dog park.  While all cats will be allowed to roam around the shelter as well.  Shelter staff and volunteers will spend the night all around the shelter, including dog kennels, cat rooms and play areas

Jennifer Gale resting under a tree in Austin TX
Photo courtesy Dentler

The Austin city council opened today's council meeting with a tribute to Jennifer Gale.  Gale was ever-present at council meetings and ran for Mayor and several other elected positions over the years.  She was also homeless.  Gale was found dead two years ago tomorrow in front of a church near the UT-Austin campus.

Photo courtesy of

City May Support Payday Lending Legislation

The City of Austin will consider a resolution today to endorse state legislation to regulate payday and auto title loan lenders.  These lenders often have high interest and fees that consumer advocates say can trap people in a spiral of debt.  Right now there is a loophole that allows these stores to run without oversight.  If the resolution is passed, the city would officially endorse Rep. Eddie Rodriguez's House Bill 212. 

On Santa's lap
Image courtesy Joe Shlabotnik

If you want a picture of your kid with Santa but can't brave the mall before catching a flight out of town, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport has got you covered.

ABIA is hosting Santa at the airport at various times throughout the day from December 17th until the 20th. He'll be behind security, so you'll have to be a ticketed passenger. There is no cost to having your picture taken, but you'll probably have to look at Southwest Airline's logo, as they're sponsoring the event.

The New York Times has produced this map that plots data from the US Census Bureau's American Community Survey on a map. It lets you see the results of your neighborhood down to the census tract, providing a fascinatingly high level of granularity.

Mino the parrot
Image courtesy Will Zhang

This missing pet notice was too unusual to ignore.

Downtown resident Will Zhang is trying to find his beloved African Grey Parrot, Mino. Zhang bottle fed Mino since he was a baby in 1995. Cutest of all, the parrot speaks both English and Mandarin.

"He just gets freaked out by moving objects and sudden sounds," Zhang told KUT News. "We had some guests over and he wasn't familiar with them, and opening the door, he just took off out the glass window."

Zhang says it's been emotionally difficult for him.

Kuempel's Son Wins HD 44

Image courtesy

Some of the audio news we've produced in the last 24 hours.

So How 'Bout That Weather?

You know that old saying “If you don’t like the weather in Texas,then just wait a few minutes?” As KUT's Mose Buchele reports, this fall, it’s truer than ever.

Healthcare Law Takes A Tumble In Virginia

Logo courtesy of the Austin Independent School District.

AISD Changes Class Rank Calculation

Last night the Austin School Board approved changes to the way class rank is determined.  Class rank will now be calculated using a student's highest grades in 16 core classes such as math and science, plus two foreign languages.  That means electives such as home economics will no longer count for class rank. The

Damaged police cruiser
Image by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Austin police chief Art Acevedo is sending a message to members of the department's SWAT team: Don't get drunk and wreck a police cruiser like your colleague Michael Hamilton is alleged to have done.

Sunday News Roundup

Dec 12, 2010
Image courtesy Rhodes

If you’re a Longhorns fan, you probably already heard the stunning news that defensive coordinator Will Muschamp is leaving to coach the Gators.

Moontower at night
Image courtesy Matthew Rutledge

Two historically significant moonlight towers, or moontowers, were removed to make way for the development of two downtown high-rise buildings, but both structures were completed months and neither moontower has been returned to its original location.

The annual Coats For Kids Program reports a record breaking number of donations this year. More than 35,000 coats will be distributed to low income children tomorrow at the Palmer Events Center.

All the coats are new or gently used.

Some of the audio news we've produced over the last 24 hours.

As Austin Lures Business, Some Fear For Blue Collar Workers

Facebook, Hangar Orthopedics, and solar power giant SunPower are a few of the big fish Austin has recently reeled in, but as KUT's Mose Buchele reports, for all that success, the long-term unemployment trends for large swaths of Austin's workforce look dire.

Economists Predict Solid Growth For 2011

What might the future hold for Austin’s economy? A panel of economists, hosted by the Austin Chamber of Commerce Thursday, tried to answer that question. KUT's Matt Largey was there.

Photo courtesy of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.

Teacher Retirement System Earns 12.6% Return Rate

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas Trust Fund earned 12.6 percent this year.  TRS says it ranks first among its pension fund peers across the nation.  The fund's total value is more than $100 billion, up about $9 billion from September 2009.  The return meant a big pay out for the TRS' investment team.  They were awarded $9.7 million in performance bonuses.

Prison System Bracing for Cuts

Callie Hernandez, KUT News

Austin City Council members are voting on some big items today.

Image courtesy Kevin Trotman

Some of the stories we've produced in the last 24 hours.

Neighborhoods Worry Over "Imagine Austin"

Friday is the last day to take the survey on the City of Austin’s effort to draft a new comprehensive plan, which will focus future growth in Austin. Early next year, the city council will adopt the map that will guide that plan. But as KUT's Matt Largey reports, some neighborhood groups are saying, “Not so fast.”

Tribcast: Congressional Redistricting

Texas lawmakers will have to redraw the state’s election maps during the 2011 legislative session.The redistricting includes drawing a map with three or four new congressional seats. On this week’s KUT News-Texas Tribune Tribcast, Evan Smith, Ross Ramsey, Elise Hu and Ben Philpott go over what those maps could look like and what Congressmen could be affected.

Photo by KUT News

Machete Film Incentives Denied

Dollar bill
Image courtesy peasap

The latest sales tax collection numbers show the state collected $10.56 million in Austin last month. That's an increase of about 0.11 percent from the $10.54 collected in the same month last year. But it's substantially less than the $11.56 million in sales tax collected in Austin in November 2008.

The numbers suggest the Austin economy is more active than it was 12 months ago, but still has yet to recover from the pain inflicted by the national recession.

Children splash in Liz Carpenter Fountain
Image by Nasha Lee for KUT News

The Liz Carpenter Fountain in Butler Park is a victim of its own success. Austin Parks and Recreation assistant director Kelly Snook says when the splash fountain was first installed three years ago, they never expected that 400 to 1,000 people a day would use it.

"We've had many, many more bathers than we anticipated. The existing filtration system, pump and all the equipment is simply not large enough to accommodate the capacity," Snook told KUT News.