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Top Morning Stories December 8, 2010

Elizabeth Edwards getting ready for an interview with KUT News in 2007.
Photo by Tiffany Jenkins for KUT.
Elizabeth Edwards getting ready for an interview with KUT News in 2007.

Elizabeth Edwards Passes Away at 61

Elizabeth Edwards, the estranged wife of former Senator and Vice Presidential hopeful John Edwards, died Tuesday at her home in North Carolina.

Mrs. Edwards was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, the day her husband’s running mate conceded defeat to George W. Bush in that year’s presidential election.

In 2007 she announced that she had a recurrence. This time, doctors told her the cancer was incurable. During a visit to Austin a few months after she started treatment, she talked about battling cancer for a second time.  You can listen to that conversation in the audio player below.  The report is by KUT's Ian Crawford.

Deeper Cuts for State Agencies

State agencies have been asked to axe an additional 2.5 percent from their current budgets.  That's on top of up to 5 percent cuts agencies already committed to.  The state’s facing a multi-billion dollar budget hole as lawmakers head in to the next legislative session.  State leaders say sales tax receipts are improving... but not enough. 

KUT's political reporting partner, the Texas Tribune, posted the letterfrom Governor Rick Perry, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, and House Speaker Joe Straus.

Death Penalty Hearing Halted

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has stopped a hearing that was underway in Houston over the constitutionality of the state's death penalty.  The Harris County District Attorney requested the hearing be stopped.  As The Houston Chroniclereports, the DA argued the Houston judge was overstepping his boundaries. 

The court has now asked attorneys to file motions about why- or why not- the hearing should resume.  Defense attorneys for an accused killer were trying to prove that the system as is creates a risk that innocent people will be executed.