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Top Morning Stories 01/16/12: MLK Celebrations, SWAT Negotiations in NW Austin, Perry Appeals Ruling

The statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the UT campus.
Photo by Gregor_Bug on Flickr
The statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the UT campus.

MLK Day March and Road Closures

A marchcelebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. begins at 9 am at the MLK statue on the UT campus at the corner of 24th and Speedway. It will continue to the Capitol along Congress Avenue. The march concludes at Huston-Tillotson University, where festivities will continue until 3pm.

You can expect some road closures in downtown Austin this morning as a result. The southbound off ramp of I-35 at MLK may be closed from 9am until 11am, depending on traffic. Chalmers Avenue and East Eighth Street will be closed from 7am to 6pm.

Capital Metro will be running a Saturday schedule today with no rail or UT shuttle service.

Rick Perry Defends Soldiers Accused of Urinating on Afghan Troops

Texas Governor Rick Perry told Candy Crowley on CNN's "State of the Union" yesterday that "obviously, 18, 19-year-old kids make stupid mistakes all too often, and that’s what’s occurred here." But, Perry argued that General Patton and Winston Churchill did "basically the same thing."

Perry also attacked the Obama administration for using "over-the-top rhetoric" and said that it demonstrated their "disdain for the military.”

The desecration of a dead body is punishable by U.S. law and also forbidden under the Geneva Conventions, but Perry doesn't think what these Marines did should be deemed "criminal."

“The idea that this administration would go after these young people for a criminal act — again, I think it is over the top. Did they make a mistake? Absolutely. Should they be reprimanded and appropriately punished? Yes. But going after them as a criminal act, I think -- really bad message.”

Online Piracy Hearing Set for Wednesday

The U.S. House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday to discuss a bill aiming to stop online piracy. The bill was introduced by U.S. Representative Lamar Smith (R-San Antonio). KUT’s Andy Uhler spoke with members of the local tech industry to get a sense of how passage of the bill would affect business.

Perry Appeals Ballot Ruling in Virginia

Texas Governor and current presidential hopeful Rick Perry filed an emergency appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, VA on Saturday. Perry is looking to get his name on the Virginia GOP primary ballot, or to halt the printing of the ballots until his appeal is heard.

Virginia voting law mandates that candidates must obtain 10,000 signatures from valid Virginia voters in order to be placed on the ballot. Currently, only front runner Mitt Romney and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Lake Jackson) have met the signature requirements.

According to KUT's political reporting partner, The Texas Tribune, Perry's lead counsel, Joe Nixon said on Friday that leaving Perry and other candidates off the ballot "disenfranchises" the state's voters.