The Lead
8:51 am
Mon October 15, 2012

The Lead: ACL’s a Wrap (But F1’s Around the Corner)

Good morning. You can expect cloud cover and a high in the low 80s this post-Austin City Limits Monday. Here’s some of KUT’s weekend and morning stories:

And here’s a look at more news from around the web:

  • F1 Filling Rooms Way Outside Austin (KXAN)

As Austin's F1 race approaches, rooms are getting tougher to find anywhere near the track for that matter anywhere far from the track too. Hotel rooms and B&B's are sold out as far as Marble Falls for race weekend.

"No one expected that to move out this far," said Peggy Franklin, general manager at the Hampton Inn on the Lake in Marble Falls. "We’re sixty miles from Austin so we were all a little uh, caught off guard.”

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3:39 pm
Fri October 12, 2012

Texas Confirms Fungal Meningitis Case

A woman injected with steroids in a Dallas-area facility has died from fungal meningitis. It's the first case in Texas related to a national outbreak.
Debora Cartagena for Centers for Disease Control

State health officials are confirming Texas’ first case of meningitis linked to contaminated steroid injections.

The Department of State Health Services says a Central Texas woman was hospitalized with symptoms of fungal meningitis.

She was treated for back pain at one of two Dallas-area facilities that gave injections of steroids from the Massachusetts pharmacy linked to the outbreak.

The fungal infection associated with the tainted drugs cannot be passed from person to person.

Read more
2:24 pm
Fri October 12, 2012

EPA, Texas Finalize Air Permitting Program

The Valero refinery in Three Rivers, Texas. The state and the EPA are implementing an agreement on air permits today.

The State of Texas and the Environmental Protection Agency have been battling over air permits for years. But now it looks like there's an official agreement between the two.

This week the EPA announced its final approval of revisions to the state's permitting program for "major air pollution sources." But "final" may be something of a misnomer, because the two sides actually announced an agreement on the program way back in June.

KUT News' pals at StateImpact Texas covered the announcement then. Here's a little bit from their report:

So what are the changes exactly? Under the PALS program, emissions monitoring is done on specific units at each site under an overall emissions cap, as opposed to a blanket site-wide cap with no specific unit monitoring as before. “Even though they create some flexibility for those units, they don’t allow you to cover an entire site with pollution limits,” Soward says. The EPA also says the new program requires continuous monitoring.

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11:12 am
Fri October 12, 2012

Why Longhorns Owe Their Survival in Part to Oklahoma

Jason French, Texas Tribune

It might not be the safest week to mention this, but here goes:

The Texas longhorns owe their survival in large part to Oklahoma.

Oklahoma and the federal government, that is.

We’re talking cattle, of course, not football. Here’s what happened: A century ago, the longhorn breed teetered on the edge of extinction. After the Civil War, the great herds that had lumbered up the Chisholm Trail from Texas to the railways depots in Kansas for shipment east had suddenly fallen out of favor. Texas ranchers had become enamored with Herefords and Angus, which grew faster and were often less cantankerous than the lean, hardy longhorn, which was descended from Spanish and Anglo cattle and had sometimes roamed wild.

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The Lead
8:49 am
Fri October 12, 2012

The Lead: ACL Weekend, Short Term Rental Trouble, SoCo Food Trailers Closing Shop?

Good morning. A car and bicycle collision shut down part of 15th Street downtown this morning. Eastbound traffic on 15th Street is open but westbound traffic on 15th is closed at Guadalupe. Right now, Guadalupe is shut down from Martin Luther King Boulevard to 15th Street. Police expect roads to re-open around 9 a.m.

Here’s some stories from KUT this ACL Fest weekend:

Here’s some more stories from around the web:

South Congress Food Trailers Closing Shop This Spring? (CultureMap Austin)

Last week, owners learned that the end would come sooner than many hoped. SOCO ATX would be terminating leases in March 2013, just days before SXSW. Though the trailers have heard this before, there is a sense that this time they’re serious.

Read more
12:54 pm
Thu October 11, 2012

Texas' 85 mph Highway Opening Later This Month

The dotted line south of the airport is under construction no more: SH 130 opens Oct. 24.
SH 130 Concession Company

The latest toll road in Central Texas is set to open later this month.

Operators of the newest segment to State Highway 130 – from Mustang Ridge to Interstate 10 near Seguin – announced this morning the road will be open on Oct. 24.

The 41-mile segment has gained national notoriety because it will have a posted speed limit of 85 miles an hour. As KUT News previoisly reported, It took a new law, passed in 2011, to get the new speed limit in place. 

The San Antonio Express-News reports that the toll road will be free through Nov. 11. 

12:26 pm
Thu October 11, 2012

What Draws People to Austin (And What Drives Them Away)

Many Austin transplants attend events like South by Southwest, pictured here in 2012, before deciding to move here.
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

It’s no surprise that Austin ranks highly on many lists: fastest growing cities, best cities, even “hipster” cities.

But a more personal conversation has been unfolding on the Austin page of popular social website Reddit, simply asking “Why did you choose Austin?”

A native Austinite posed the question, noting many friendships made with people who decided to move to here. “So, my question to you Austin Redittors, why do you love Austin? Why is this where you want to live over other places? I'd love to see from another perspective why you think this city is so awesome.”

The question garnered 70 responses. Several answers dwell upon Austin’s traditional draws, but others are more attached to what makes Austin weird:

  • People come for school – then stick around: “I moved here to finish school at UT about 20 years ago after traveling like a nomad for quite a bit,” writes Redditor MonsterBronson. “Of all the cities I've seen, Austin is the best (for multiple reasons) so I never left.”
Read more
10:47 am
Thu October 11, 2012

Audio: TribCast on SCOTUS and UT Admissions, Voter Fraud in the Valley

Another dose of Texas politics with the Tribcast
Photo Illustration by Todd Wiseman

On this week's political round-up, Evan Smith, Reeve Hamilton, Emily Ramshaw and Ben Philpott talk about the shuffling of committee chairs in the Texas Senate, which could give public school vouchers an easier path to the governor's desk. The TribCast crew also takes up what could happen in the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin case before the U.S. Supreme Court, and a discussion of allegations of voter fraud in South Texas

The Lead
8:28 am
Thu October 11, 2012

The Lead: Texas Inmate Executed, Hasan Back in Court, Police and Occupy Austin

Good morning. Austin’s expecting partly cloudy, warm and humid weather today, according to the National Weather Service. Here’s some of KUT News’ top stories from the last 24 hours.

Here’s some other state and local stories that have people talking:

Fort Hood Suspect's Nidal Hasan‘s Beard Case at Appeals Court Today (AP)

The U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals at Fort Belvoir in Virginia will hear oral arguments. The court also will hear from government attorneys who have said forcibly shaving Hasan would not violate his religious rights, and that the judge has the authority to enforce the Army rule prohibiting beards.

Read more
6:04 am
Thu October 11, 2012

Texas Inmate Put to Death After Court Reverses Reprieve

Jonathan Green's execution was blocked earlier this week but is now set to take place this evening.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Update: Thursday, Oct. 11, 6:04 a.m.:

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-minute appeal to spare Green from execution. Green received a lethal injection Wednesday night before 11 p.m. The warrant for his execution was set to expire at midnight.

Jonathan Green was the 10th inmate executed in Texas so far this year.

Original Story: Wednesday, Oct. 10, 4:13 p.m.:

A Texas death row inmate is once again facing execution this evening.

Jonathan Green’s execution was blocked on Monday when a federal judge ruled on Monday that due process was violated in Green’s competency hearing.

Read more
The Lead
8:54 am
Wed October 10, 2012

The Lead: UT's Affirmative Action Policies Before Supreme Court

Good morning. This misty weather is expected to clear some, with highs warming into the mid-80s according to the Weather Channel. Here’s some of  KUT News’ top stories from this morning and yesterday evening:

The University of Texas is making the case for its affirmative action program before the Supreme Court today. Here’s a round-up of links on what’s at stake, and what to expect.

Supreme Court Set to Hear Oral Arguments on UT's Admissions Policy (Texas Tribune)

Abigail Fisher, a white student who graduated outside the top 10 percent of her high school class, was denied admission to UT-Austin in 2008. Claiming that students with lower test scores and less extracurricular involvement were admitted to UT-Austin over her because of their race, Fisher sued the university.

Now the justices will consider Fisher’s argument that UT-Austin’s admissions policy violates the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause and federal civil rights statutes because it considers race when admitting the students who are not automatically admitted in accordance with state law. The court’s decision is expected to come early next year.

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4:10 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Court to Hear Tom DeLay's Appeal in Money Laundering Case

Former House Speaker Tom DeLay faces jail time and probation if his conviction is upheld.
U.S. Congress

The Third Court of Appeals in Austin will hear the appeal of former U.S. House Majority Leader cum reality show contestant Tom DeLay, who was convicted of money laundering in 2010.

DeLay was found guilty by an Austin jury of conspiring to circumvent campaign finance laws and channel corporate donations to Republican candidates for the Texas Legislature in 2002. His conviction followed a 2005 indictment on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering alongside aides John Colyandro and Jim Ellis. DeLay resigned from his position in the House as a result. In 2009, he appeared as a contestant on the TV series "Dancing With the Stars."

DeLay has been out on bond, working to have his conviction overturned for the past two years. If his conviction is upheld, he faces a sentence of three years in prison and five years probation. As a convicted felon, he would also be ineligible to run for state-level political office in Texas and ineligible to vote until he completes his probation. 

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The Lead
8:48 am
Tue October 9, 2012

The Lead: Voter Registration Ending, Austin Tech Co. Reaps Funding, Fusion Centers Criticized

Good morning. The cooler weather we’ve been enjoying will gradually warm this afternoon to a high near 80, the National Weather Service says – great weather on this last day of voter registration. Here’s some of KUT’s overnight stories.

Here’s some more Texas stories from around the web:

Austin-based Calxeda Pulls In $55M to ‘Slash Data Center Power’ (Venture Beat)

Calxeda, the Austin, TX-based company with the first ever chip capable of running an entire server at a mere 5 watts, just announced a $55 million fundraise.

“Businesses require a more efficient solution for the Web, Cloud, and Big Data,” Barry Evans, the company’s CEO explained in a statement.

Read more
2:28 pm
Sat October 6, 2012

Freezing in the Texas Heat

Many visitors to Texas are bothered by the heavy use of air conditioning.

Mincheol Kwon is a visiting reporter at KUT. He hails from CBS-Christian Broadcasting System, a South Korean radio station in Seoul. He is also studying audio journalism at the Journalism School of Texas State University at San Marcos.

Planning a summertime trip to Texas? It makes sense to worry about the heat. But you might also give some thought to exactly the opposite.

“I have to live with the cold!” said UT graduate student Taehyun Cho on a recent afternoon.

He’s talking about Texans’ tendency to crank up the AC to near-arctic levels.

"Exposed to the heat [outside] and then suddenly to the cold, my biological rhythm has broken,” said Cho. “Today I was in class shivering."

The extreme fluctuations between indoor and outdoor temperatures may seem normal to many locals, but it strikes people from other cultures not just as strange, but as unhealthy. In Korea, they even have a word for it. It roughly translates as “air conditioning-itis.”

Read more
The Lead
8:55 am
Fri October 5, 2012

The Lead: Occupy Austin’s Tent City, SXSW Impact, Austin's November Elections

Good morning and a happy Friday. A cold front should blow in around midnight, meaning weekend lows plummeting into the 40s. Here’s some recent stories from KUT News.  

Here’s some more Austin and Texas stories folks are talking about:

  • As Voters Weigh Austin District Plans, a Question Lingers: Who Should Draw the Boundaries? (Statesman)

One of the two plans voters will consider Nov. 6 — switching the council from seven citywide members to 10 district representatives and a citywide mayor — calls for a commission of citizens with no paid ties to city politics to draw the district lines. Critics say that approach, added to the ballot by a citizens’ petition effort, has several possible pitfalls, including strict criteria that could disqualify too many people from serving.

The other plan — eight district representatives and three citywide seats, including a mayor — doesn’t say who would draw the lines, but the City Council would likely be involved. Detractors worry that would lead to the council manipulating the lines for political gain.

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