Texas

Texas
3:50 pm
Fri July 13, 2012

Last Stand or Last Call? Alcohol on Alamo Grounds Sparks Revolt

The Daughters of the Republic of Texas dispute plans to allow alcohol at a site on the Alamo grounds.
flickr.com/petirrojo

The General Land Office is allowing beer, wine and liquor to be served outside of the Alamo – and for some, that decision isn’t going down easy.

A decision from the GLO allows for alcohol to be served during private events at Alamo Hall, on the grounds of the famous San Antonio mission that serves as a symbol of Texas independence.

The Daughters of the Republic of Texas serves as the Alamo’s longtime caretaker. It’s disputing the GLO’s decision. 

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Texas
2:51 pm
Fri July 13, 2012

Sen. Cornyn Calls on FBI to Release Ft. Hood Shooting Report

Sen. John Cornyn (right) has asked FBI Director Robert Mueller (left) to make its findings in the Ft. Hood shooting public.
FBI, U.S. Senate

U.S. Senator John Cornyn has called for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to release its report into the 2009 Fort Hood shooting that left 13 dead. The FBI tells KUT News it will do so as soon as possible.

This morning, Sen. Cornyn issued a statement referring to a story from FOX News stating the report will “include eighteen (18) formal recommendations for corrective and enhancing measures on matters ranging from FBI policies and operations to information systems infrastructure, review protocols and training."

“This report is a matter of tremendous public importance, and I call on you to release an unclassified version of it as soon as possible,” Cornyn writes to FBI Director Robert Mueller. “ … The key findings and recommendations of this report must be made public, so we can glean any and all lessons from this incident.  The American people and specifically the Fort Hood community in Texas have the right to know.”

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Texas
4:18 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

Gas Prices Inching Back Up

After a recent lull, gas prices are inching back up locally and statewide.
Erik Reyna for KUT News

For the first time in months, gas prices are up across Texas.

AAA Texas reports that the average price of gas is up seven cents, to $3.23 per gallon. The average in Austin is $3.19.

You can get cheaper gas the further north you go – three gas stations in Round Rock are selling gas at $3.02.

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Texas
9:15 am
Thu July 12, 2012

Military Lawyers to Discuss Jury Issue in Fort Hood Murder Trial Hearing Today

The jury questionnaire will be sent to the military jury pool before Maj. Nidal Hasan's murder trial starts Aug. 20.
flickr.com/fabliaux

Military prosecutors and defense attorneys cannot agree on the pre-trial questions that the jury will be asked for the Fort Hood murder trial. They are discussing the issue today at a hearing for the Army psychiatrist charged in the 2009 shooting.

Maj. Nidal Hasan’s murder trial begins on Aug. 20. Hasan’s attorneys want the jurors to return the form a month before the trail begins, so they need to have the form sent out soon. The judge will decide on the questionnaire that will be sent to the military jury pool.

Hasan faces the death penalty if he’s convicted of the 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the Fort Hood shooting rampage.

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Texas
5:24 pm
Tue July 10, 2012

Texas Changing Its Lethal Injection Protocol

via Texas Tribune

Texas will join a handful of states that use a single drug in lethal injections, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice announced Tuesday. 

"Implementing the change in protocol at this time will ensure that the agency is able to fulfill its statutory responsibility for all executions currently scheduled," TDCJ spokesman Jason Clark said in an email.

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Texas
9:50 am
Mon July 9, 2012

Controversial Texas Voter ID Law Begins Federal Trial

The trial for the new Texas Voter ID law begins today.

The controversial Voter ID Law that passed last year in the Texas State Legislature is going before a federal court. The trial begins today to determine if Texas can implement the law, which requires voters to show government-issued photo identification.

The state says the law will prevent voter fraud. The Justice Department worries it will disenfranchise Hispanic voters and claims it violates the federal Voting Rights Act.  A disproportionate number of minorities in Texas lack the necessary identification, which would prevent them from voting. Texas will have to persuade a three-judge panel of the law’s legality.

The Mexican American Legislative Caucus says during the 2008 and 2010 elections there was only one case of voter fraud in over 13 million ballots cast.

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Texas
4:11 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

Video: Inside a Fireworks Stand

Sales started somewhat slowly at American Fireworks, but sellers expect them to pick up closer to the Fourth.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Plan on shooting some fireworks off this July 4th?

KUT News recently traveled out to a fireworks stand along Highway 290 to see how sellers were faring. Sales are up from last year, when a ban on fireworks was in effect, but American Fireworks proprietor Keith Coober noted the challenges in a business where you can sales only come on the Fourth and New Year’s.

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Texas
10:54 am
Tue July 3, 2012

AMBER Alert for San Antonio Toddler Canceled

Update 10:50 a.m.: The San Antonio Police Department says the boy has been found and is "safe and sound."

Earlier: The San Antonio Police Department has issued an Amber Alert for a 3-year-old boy. Police say Gabriel Rivera was abducted by two people in a gold Ford Explorer.

The vehicle has Texas plates with the license plate number: 5-7-R-8-4-5-4.

The missing toddler was last seen yesterday. He is Hispanic with brown hair and brown eyes. He’s about 3-feet tall and weighs about 35 pounds.

Police believe he is in danger.

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Texas
4:28 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

Austin Vigil for Lesbian Teens Shot in Portland, Texas

Kristene Chapa (left) and Mollie Olgin (right).
getequal.org

Recent high school graduates Mollie Olgin, 19, and Kristene Chapa, 18, were recently shot in the head while walking through a community park in Portland, Texas – a tragedy that has set off a nationwide series of vigils.

The lesbian couple was found Saturday morning by park visitors, with wounds to their heads from a large caliber weapon. Olgin died at the scene of the crime; Chapa is in critical but stable condition at a local hospital.

An Austin vigil for Olgin and Chapa, organized by grassroots LGBT advocacy group GetEQUAL, is happening tonight.

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Texas
1:16 pm
Tue June 26, 2012

City, State Energy Conservation Varies by Department

City of Austin employees are notified when demand for energy is high and are encouraged to take steps to reduce use.
Callie Hernandez for KUT News

Triple-digit heat is putting pressure on the state’s electrical system. Texas set a record yesterday for peak demand during the month of June. Officials with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas are asking everyone to reduce electricity use from 3 to 7 p.m. That means turning up your thermostat by a couple of degrees and avoiding use of large appliances during those hours.

The City of Austin and the State of Texas are some of the largest energy users in the city.

Carlos Cordova is with Austin Energy. He says the city relies on Austin’s Energy’s Load Cooperative program for alerts about peak usage and to track incentives for reducing use.

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Texas
10:12 am
Tue June 26, 2012

Decision on Juvenile Sentences Stirs Questions in Texas

Texas Tribune

Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that murderers under the age of 18 cannot be sentenced to mandatory life in prison with no possibility of parole may not change Texas law much, but it could leave some work for state lawmakers.

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles violated the Constitution’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

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10:09 am
Mon June 25, 2012

ERCOT Girds For High Use, Urges Electric Conservation

Lead in text: 
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates Texas' power grid, has said it hopes to avert blackouts this summer. That statement may soon be tested, however, as ERCOT is urging users to conserve electricity from 3-7 p.m. today, due to "continued extreme heat creating tight capacity." Austin has predicted highs in the triple digits all this week.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Inc. (ERCOT), system operator for the state's bulk transmission grid, is asking consumers and businesses to reduce their electricity use during peak electricity hours from 3 to 7 p.m. today.
Amber Alert
7:40 am
Fri June 22, 2012

Amber Alert for Live Oak Boy

Authorities issued an Amber Alert for 6-year-old Simon Weyman.
Courtesy of Nation Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Update: The suspects, one black male and one white male, are in a red 1990 Toyota Celica GT with Texas license plate# CG5G973, according ot the Selma Police Department.

Original post (7:40 a.m.): The Live Oak Police Department issued an Amber Alert this morning for six year-old Simon Colby Weyman. Simon is a white male, 4’ 0” tall, about 90 pounds with blonde hair and brown eyes.

Simon was last seen wearing a white t-shirt with black cars on it, khaki shorts and no shoes.

The suspects are unknown but police believe they are driving a black 4-door compact Mazda or Toyota with a green and white bumper sticker on the rear.

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Texas
11:36 am
Thu June 21, 2012

Advocates Worry Food Aid Cuts Could Hurt Texas Families

Todd Wiseman / Julie Jordan Scott, Texas Tribune

As Congress debates proposed cuts to programs that help feed needy families and school children, some school officials and advocates for low-income families are concerned about how the changes could affect Texans who rely on food stamps and reduced price school lunches.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, provides food for 3.6 million Texans each year. But some lawmakers argue that the program has grown too large and become too expensive, and they are looking for ways to cut SNAP in the 2012 Farm Bill.

"A lot of Texas families rely on SNAP, especially now," said Jonathan Lewis, food policy specialist for the Center for Public Policy Priorities, an Austin-based liberal think tank. "Families that already are having trouble paying for their electrical bill, rent and the gas in their car could struggle even more." 

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12:08 pm
Wed June 20, 2012

Governor's Mansion Restoration Nears Completion

Lead in text: 
Here’s a progress report on the restoration of the Texas Governor’s Mansion: The historic furnishings traditionally filling the building are finally being brought back in. The Office of the Governor notes that the historic collection– including a bed used by Sam Houston, and Stephen F. Austin's writing desk – is being returned to the home. The restoration began in 2007, and was derailed when an arsonist firebombed the vacant mansion in 2008. No suspect has ever been charged. The restoration is said to be completed in late July.
As the massive restoration of the Texas Governor's Mansion nears completion, pieces from the historic Governor's Mansion Collection are being moved back into the home. Owned and curated by the non-profit Friends of the Governor's Mansion, the collection was removed when the deferred maintenance project started in October 2007.
AM Update
8:06 am
Fri June 15, 2012

AM Update: Texas Earthquake, Juneteenth Celebrations, Heat Burn OKC

Juneteenth 2010 parades through Austin; Earthquake strikes north Texas; Kevin Durant leads Thunder with 32 points.
Mose Buchele, KUT News; Photo courtesy US Geological Survey; Photo by Layne Murdoch NBAE

North Texas Tremor

An earthquake shook part of North Texas early this morning.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the 3.1 magnitude earthquake happened about 16 miles south of Fort Worth and just over 150 miles north of Austin.

The local sheriff’s office says so far there are no reports of injuries or damage.

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Weather
3:31 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

Insurers: Dallas Storm Damage May Exceed $400 Million

High winds destroyed a mobile home in Fannin County, outside the Dallas-Fort Worth area .
facebook.com/US.NationalWeatherService.FortWorth.gov

Powerful thunderstorms ripped through the Dallas-Fort Worth region late yesterday, producing strong winds and baseball-sized hail. Now comes the clean-up – and paying for it.

The Insurance Council of Texas notes the thunderstorm was the second extreme weather event to hit the region in the last six weeks. In April, several tornadoes unexpectedly touched down in the Metroplex area.

The insurance council estimates the cost of insured losses from the tornadoes exceeded $400 million – but adds "losses from last night’s storm could be higher."

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Crime
2:20 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

Allen Stanford Sentenced to Over 100 Years

A 2009 mug shot of Allen Stanford.
United States Marshals Service

Texas financier Allen Stanford was sentenced to 110 years in prison today, reports Agence France Presse.

Stanford was recently convicted on several charges, including fraud, after prosecutors proved he was running a Ponzi scheme with his Stanford International Bank:

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Texas
12:39 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

Most Texans Plan to Take a Vacation this Summer

Flickr.com/exlibris

More Texans are planning to go on vacation this summer.

A new AAA Texas survey found 75 percent of Texans plan to take at least one summer trip. That’s up from 72 percent last year.

Lower gas prices may have something to do with the increase. In Austin, a gallon of unleaded is about 20 cents cheaper now than a year ago.

Around half of those who are traveling say gas prices are not significantly affecting their plans. The survey found those Texans who are going on vacation are finding ways to adjust their trip budgets for gas prices.

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Texas
11:59 am
Wed June 13, 2012

ERCOT App Sends Alerts When Grid Demand is High

The ERCOT Control Center at their headquarters in Taylor, Texas.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

ERCOT – the organization that operates the state’s power grid – unveiled a free mobile app today that lets consumers know about demand on the grid. When demand is high, the app will send out notification messages.

The app also includes tips for conserving energy.

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