12:30 pm
Tue January 11, 2011

Travis Commissioners Extend Burn Ban

A burn ban remains in effect in Travis County and several Central Texas counties to guard against wildfires, like last year's burn in Bastrop County (pictured).
Erika Aguilar/KUT

Cold weather, no matter.  Recent rain, no matter.  Conditions are still dry enough for Travis County Commissioners to extend the current outdoor burn ban another month.

According to a release from Travis County Fire Marshal Herschel Lee,

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1:51 pm
Fri January 7, 2011

DPS Makes More Than 1,100 Holiday DWI Arrests, 35 Percent Increase

Image courtesy Texas Department of Public Safety

The Texas Department of Public Safety says it arrested 1,106 impaired drivers over the holidays.  That's a 35 percent increase over last year's 818 arrests.

DPS partially credits a Texas Department of Transportation grant targeting high risk locations for the increase.  Of this year's arrests, 442 were made in areas where drunken driving accidents were statistically more likely to occur.

The $2 million grant will fund increased patrols throughout 2011, meaning more troopers will be on patrol during Spring Break, Independence Day, and Labor Day.

12:30 pm
Fri January 7, 2011

State Panel Reviews Willingham Case

Fire expert Craig Beyler testifies before the Texas Forensics Science Commission on Friday reviewing the Cameron Todd Willingham.
Photo by Matt Largey for KUT News.

A state panel in Austin has been hearing today from fire experts about the high profile Cameron Todd Willingham arson conviction.  Willingham was convicted and put to death for setting the fire that killed his three daughters in 1991.  He was executed in 2004, But some experts have said the conviction was based on bad science. 

The Texas Forensic Science Commission reviewed the science that was used in the investigation and whether or not investigators were negligent. KUT's Matt Largey is covering panel.

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10:05 am
Wed January 5, 2011

FLDS Leader Warren Jeffs Back In San Angelo Court On Child Rape Charge

Warren Jeffs, ecclesiastical head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, in a photo dated December 1, 2010. Jeffs is facing a pre-trial hearing today in San Angelo.
Image courtesy Reagan County Sheriff's Department

A pre-trial hearing is scheduled today in the West Texas town of San Angelo for Warren Jeffs, a spiritual leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS).

The FLDS practices polygamy, and its Yearning For Zion Ranch in West Texas was raided by Texas child welfare authorities in April 2008.  More than 400 children were seized by the state, but most were eventually returned to their families under a Texas Supreme Court ruling that found the state overstepped its authority by treating the entire community as a single family.

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8:50 am
Sun January 2, 2011

Sunday Morning Round-Up

Election Night 2010 will have a big affect on this upcoming legislative session.
Picture by KUT News

The 1st Sunday of 2011.  I hope more and more of you will resolve to start off your Sunday checking out the KUT News blog to see what's going on around town.

Taking a look at the top stories today:

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1:05 pm
Thu December 30, 2010

Court Deals TCEQ "No" on Stay Request

An appeals court hands the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality a setback in its ongoing dispute with the EPA.
Image courtesy Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The battle between the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took another step yesterday.  And it was a step toward the Feds.

3:41 pm
Wed December 29, 2010

Warren Jeffs Pleads Not Guilty To Child Rape In West Texas

Warren Jeffs, ecclesiastical head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, appeared in a San Angelo courtroom today.

The Associated Press reports the polygamist sect leader stood silently during a hearing in a West Texas court Wednesday. The court entered the not guilty pleas on his behalf.

The 55-year-old Jeffs faces charges of bigamy and sexual assault of a child.  He’s scheduled to stand trial for the aggravated sexual assault charge January 24th. The AP reports says he plans to hire a Texas attorney but doesn’t have one yet.

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10:13 am
Wed December 29, 2010

Read This Dramatic Account Of BP Well Blowout

Image courtesy SkyTruth http://www.flickr.com/photos/skytruth/

In one of the most detailed accounts of the explosion on board the Deepwater Horizon oil rig earlier this year, New York Times reporters David Barstow, David Rohde, Stephanie Saul and Ian Urbina tell the story of a disaster that killed 11 men and led to one of the largest environmental catastrophes in United States history.

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5:00 pm
Tue December 28, 2010

Texas Mirrors Nation In Percentage Of High Income Earners

Image by Erik Reyna for KUT News

It's traditionally the slowest news week of the year, so thank goodness the folks at Yahoo! Finance came up with the idea of parsing new US Census Bureau data to rank states based on their percentage of high income earners. Texas came in at number fourteen, but rate of high income earners was only slightly higher than the national average.

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9:48 am
Wed December 22, 2010

Tuesday Morning Update

Fort Hood and other military posts prepare for implementation of the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
Photo by KUT News/Erika Aguilar

Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repealed

President Obama formally signed the bill repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."  In the signing ceremony, the President said, "valor and sacrifice are no longer defined by sexual orientation."  He also encouraged people discharged under the old policy against gays in the military to return to the armed forces. 

Texas to Pick Up Four Congressional Seats

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9:00 am
Tue December 21, 2010

Tuesday Morning Update

Evening and Saturday parking downtown could start costing you.
Photo by KUT News

Parking Subcommittee Meets

The city subcommittee that will explore whether to extend paid downtown parking to evenings and Saturdays met for the first time yesterday.  KUT's Mose Buchele reports that some fear that a time line to end free downtown parking has more to do with Austin’s political calendar than with good city government.

High Fire Danger = No High-Flying Fireworks

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4:31 pm
Mon December 20, 2010

Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Approves Devils River Land Deal

TPW approves a land deal for frontage along Devils River
Photo courtesy of Laurence Parent.

Texas Parks and Wildlife today approved the purchase of land fronting the Devil's River.

As KUT previously reported, The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commissioners pulled the original Devil's River land deal at their November 4 meeting, after public feedback that the plan blocked access to the river.  

In a statement released today TPW said

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12:25 pm
Mon December 20, 2010

Appliance Rebate, Part II

The purchase period for the state’s appliance mail-in rebate program starts today.

The last time the state did this, the website and phone lines were jammed with people trying to get in on the action. This time, consumers are supposed to buy the energy-efficient appliance first, and then mail-in a rebate application form.

The State Comptroller’s office says just over $18-million in federal stimulus funding is available for the rebates.  The program will remain open until all the funds have been distributed.

4:04 pm
Thu December 16, 2010

Avoid at Christmas: Fruitcake, Family Drama and Mexico

State officials say stay away from Mexico over the holidays
Picture by KUT

In a move that seems to be becoming a holiday tradition, the Texas Department of Public Safety released it's annual call for Texans to avoid Mexico over the holidays.  DPS sighted increased violence, kidnappings, assault and rape along the boarder as reasons Texans should stay away.

In a press release today, DPS Director Steven C. McCraw says that while the department knows people safely travel and vacation in Mexico on a daily basis, the increase in violence is also a reality.

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9:52 pm
Wed December 15, 2010

Amber Alert for McAllen Toddler

Police in McAllen have issued an Amber Alert for two-year-old Terry Bennett
Photo courtesy AmberAlert.gov

Police in McAllen have issued an Amber Alert for Terry Onne Bennett.

4:48 pm
Fri December 10, 2010

East Texas Church Arsonists to Plead Guilty

The guilty please are expected December 15th.
Image courtesy Keith Burtis http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithburtis/

The two men charged in a string of church fires last year in East Texas have announced their plan to plead guilty, reports the Associated Press. 

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Fort Hood
11:57 am
Fri December 10, 2010

Accused Fort Hood Shooter Undergoing Mental Evaluation

The family of Staff Sgt. Amy Kreuger mourns her death at a ceremony marking the one year anniversary of the November 2009 Fort Hood shootings.
Image courtesy 807MDSC http://www.flickr.com/photos/807thpao/

Three psychological experts appointed by the Pentagon have been examining the Army Major accused of killing 13 people during a shooting rampage last year at Fort Hood.

Nidal Hasan's lawyer, John Galligan, told KUT News that the evaluation started on Wednesday. The experts will determine whether Hasan is fit to stand trial.  Galligan objects to the evaluation because he says he hasn't received all evidence in the case, including some held by the White House. He is prohibited from attending the evaluation.

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fort hood
2:38 pm
Thu December 9, 2010

WWE Will Tape Star-Studded Wrestling Show At Fort Hood on Saturday

CM Punk at WWE's 2009 Tribute to the Troops. The 2010 edition will be taped at Fort Hood this weekend.
Image courtesy WWE

World Wrestling Entertainment is taping its annual "Tribute to the Troops" at Fort Hood this year.  A press release from Fort Hood's public affairs office says it will feature an all star cast.

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1:37 pm
Thu December 9, 2010

DREAM Act In Limbo, Undocumented UT Students Bummed

Image courtesy Kevin Dooley http://www.flickr.com/photos/pagedooley/

Texas has a large share of students with no legal immigration status in the US. Many of them come to this country with their parents, and grow up learning English and assimilating to American culture. The Texas Comptroller estimated that about 3 percent of students are undocumented immigrants.

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1:11 pm
Thu December 9, 2010

Dallas Ordinance Targets Panhandlers During Superbowl

Dallas City Council voted to ban panhandling 24/7 in its downtown business district, partly they don't want Superbowl visitors to be approached by the homeless.
Image courtesy skys the limit2 http://www.flickr.com/photos/52949402@N03/

Dallas is getting revved up to host Superbowl XLV on February 6, 2011, and yesterday the Dallas City Council voted to prohibit people from begging for change in the downtown business district.

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