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Top Morning Stories 11/30/11: Hasan Hearing, Wildfire Response Report & Jobless Benefits Extended

Travis County Report Assesses Wildfire Response Successes, Failures

Travis County's Office of Emergency Management has released a report outlining what went right--and what didn't--in the response to the Labor Day weekend fires. Travis County had six large fires on September 4th, including the Steiner Ranch and Pedernales fires.  57 homes were destroyed and the fires burned about 7,000 acres. The report praised responders for doing their best with the local resources at hand. The report says state and federal resources were not available because of all of the other wildfires burning across the state.

The report laid out several communication failures. It says more public information officers were needed to get accurate information out to residents more quickly. The report even cited a "rumor mill at the shelter due to lack of information and conflicting media reports." It also suggested more social media networks need to be created to get out information to the public.

Hasan Hearing Wednesday

Another pre-trial hearing is set for this morning in Major Nidal Hasan's Fort Hood shooting case. Hasan's attorneys have brought forward motions about the military's death penalty. At a hearing last month, Hasan's attorneys asked for a jury consultant and a media expert at the government's expense. The military judge has not ruled on those requests.

Hasan is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder for the November 2009 shootings.

AISD State of the District Address

Superintendent Meria Carstarphen will deliver her 2011 State of the District Address live from the new McCallum Arts Center. While you can only attend the event if you are invited, it will bestreamed live onlineon AISD's website and KUT will have a reporter on scene. Superintendent Carstarphen will discuss the district's budget and Facilities Master Plan, among other things.

Unemployment Benefits to be Extended for Jobless Texans

The Texas Workforce Commission hasannounced a six-week extension of unemployment benefits. The extension is kicking in because the state's average unemployment rate reached or passed 8.5 percent over the past three months. The TWC is mailing letters to about 220,000 Texans who have exhausted all benefits and may be eligible for the extension.