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Sunday News Roundup, May 1, 2011

Good morning and welcome to the month of May! You know Memorial Day is close in Austin when throngs of costumed partiers take over Pease Park for Eeyore's Birthday. The video above gives you a feel for the annual festival, which took place yesterday.  Austin 360 also has this photo gallery.

Is your child exceptionally brilliant? Like, Doogie Howser brilliant? If so, university administrators across Texas are working on a new option to allow high school students to enter college before their graduation. Our political reporting partner, the Texas Tribune, says the new system is being ironed out in 16 school districts and the KIPP charter schools.

“Kids who are ready to move on — a lot of times, unfortunately, in the current system, those kids get bored,” said Reece Blincoe, superintendent of the Brownwood ISD “They are bored out of their mind. Sometimes that can even lead them going the wrong direction instead of the right direction."


Hundreds of cyclists biked down South Lamar Blvd. yesterday evening in memory of Andrew Runciman, a 24-year-old who was killed by a hit-and-run driver while cycling down the same street last weekend. As KVUE reports, riders set up a “ghost bike”, a bike painted white to remember where a cyclist has been killed. 

That wasn’t the only local memorial yesterday for a tragic and senseless death. A group of people “marched against hate” after a lesbian woman and her mother were slain earlier this month. Police say they were killed by the father of a woman who was in a relationship with the victim. Fox 7 covered the march.

The Austin American-Statesman leads its Sunday edition with a feature on the life settlement industry, a business where the owner of a life insurance policy accepts money from an investor who becomes the beneficiary once they die.

[S]tate securities regulators have moved to shut down at least a half-dozen life settlement companies based or operating in Texas. In the past two years alone, they say, 2,200 investors have placed $220 million at risk. Other Texas-related federal actions add hundreds more investors, and tens of millions of dollars more to the toll.

The Desert Sun, meanwhile, reports on a city councilman in Rancho Mirage, California who wants his municipality to get into the life settlement business.

The state is facing its biggest budget challenge in years, but a review by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram found that more than $3 million was set aside in 2010 to spend on freebies to promote state programs, like flashlights, baby clothes, pens, and umbrellas.

A Star-Telegram analysis of Texas comptroller data shows that 45 state agencies or universities reported promotional spending in their fiscal 2010 budgets. That doesn't include other dollars that may have been set aside in advertising or other budget categories. These amounts may have been reduced after state leaders called last year for agencies to cut their budgets.

Finally, Austin Psych Fest continues today at the Seaholm Power Plant. Community Impact Newspaper has this photo gallery showing what it was like to be there.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.