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Morning Headlines 11/2/11: Fallen Soldiers, Redistricting & Museum Merger

The Department of Defense has announced the death of an Austin soldier in Afghanistan. And funeral services will be held Wednesday for a soldier from Round Rock.
Photo by Simrat Sharma for KUT News.
The Department of Defense has announced the death of an Austin soldier in Afghanistan. And funeral services will be held Wednesday for a soldier from Round Rock.

Austin Soldier Killed in Afghanistan

The Department of Defense has announced the death of a solider from Austin. 38 year-old Sergeant James M. Darrough was one of four U.S. soldiers killed in a suicide car bombing Saturday in Kabul Province, Afghanistan. Sgt. Darrough was with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The Associated Press reports he is survived by his parents, his wife, two sons and two daughters.

Funeral Today for Round Rock Soldier

Funeral services will be held this morning for Army Sergeant Paul A. Rivera of Round Rock. Sgt. Rivera was killed in action on October 22nd when a vehicle he was in rolled over during an attack southeast of Kabul. He was 26 years-old. Paul Rivera graduated from Stony Point High School in 2003. He joined the Army when he graduated. Rivera was stationed in Germany when he was deployed to Afghanistan.

He leaves behind his parents and a younger brother who is also in the Army. Services will be held at Saint Mary Cathedral in downtown Austin. Army Sgt. Paul Rivera will be buried later today at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen.

Federal Court Hearing Texas Redistricting Case

A federal court in Washington is set to hear oral arguments today about the latest round of redistricting in Texas. The new district maps were adopted by the GOP-controlled Texas Legislature earlier this year. As NPR reported during Morning Edition today, the court will decide if the Texas voting maps discriminate against minority voters:

The state has sued the federal government to try to win court approval for its new legislative maps. There are big stakes: Texas stands to gain four new seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. But minorities in Texas, with a boost from the Justice Department, say the new boundaries amount to a step backward for Latino voting power. Under the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act, Texas needs to get permission from the federal government or a special federal court before it makes big voting changes. That's because the state has a history of discriminating against minorities at the ballot box

Big Change for Austin Art Scene

The boards for the Arthouse at the Jones Center and the Austin Museum of Art have announced the two institutions are now one. The merger was announced yesterday after months of talks. The organizations say the new entity will save more than $1 million dollars a year in operational costs and has zero debt. Here's more from the press release:

“What makes this merger so exciting is the combination of things coming together,” said Stephen Jones, who has served for many years on the Arthouse board of directors and is now serving on the new, combined board of trustees. “We have an architecturally significant building downtown at the Jones Center, a beautiful space at Laguna Gloria, no debt, a strong board, and a forward-thinking artistic vision. Taken together, it all adds up to a very bright future for the visual arts in Austin.”

The new board has kicked off a national search for a new executive director. For now, both organizations will continue to run under their current names but the board plans to re-brand in the future and possibly get a new name.