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Emily Donahue, KUT News

Update (6:58 a.m.): About 1,200 Austin Energy customers remain without power this morning. High winds yesterday broke tree limbs and brought down power lines.

At one point yesterday afternoon, around 18,000 Austin Energy customers were without power.

Right now, Austin Energy repair and tree trimming crews are working to fix harder-to-reach problems. An Austin Energy spokesperson tells KUT News that power should be restored to most customers by early this afternoon.

Customers should report outages by calling (512) 322-9100.

flickr.com/blakespot

Good morning, and happy Friday! Austinites are in for a cold and gusty day, with a high of 64 degrees and winds at 20 miles per hour according to the National Weather Service.

Lead Story: Texas is now the last big state to hold out against a push to expand Medicaid, after Florida Governor Rick Scott announced he would push for expansion.

Some Texas lawmakers, including Governor Rick Perry, are still firmly against expanding Medicaid. But others might be changing their minds. For example, State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, says she is all about flexibility.

National Weather Service

Lead Story: A Red Flag Warning is in effect for Travis County late this morning through this afternoon, due to strong winds. Outdoor burning is strongly discouraged.

The warning is due to the critical fire weather conditions expected today: a pacific cold front bringing breezy winds and dry air to Central Texas. The warning will be in effect from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. You can find more information via the National Weather Service.

Texas Push for European Trade Deal:  Texas stands to benefit from a potential free trade deal between the U.S. and the European Union. That’s according to a study by Waco economist Ray Perryman.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Good morning. The National Weather Service says Austin’s in for a cloudy and wet day with a high approaching 60 – and a chance for severe storms later tonight.

Lead Story: Texas’ standardized testing system for public schools faced a fierce round of questioning yesterday before a panel of state lawmakers.

There's a growing push in the State Capitol to change the testing system after complaints from parents and teachers that the new STAAR test is too challenging and is draining resources from school districts. 

Horia Varlan http://www.flickr.com/photos/horiavarlan/

The Texas Senate Education Committee approved a bill Tuesday that would overhaul the state’s high school graduation requirements.

The proposal reduces the English, math, science and social studies requirements and allows students to choose one of four paths towards a diploma.

It also offers more opportunities to take vocational and business electives.

Callie Hernandez for KUT News

The Austin area should see mostly sunny skies today with a high near 70. The National Weather Service reports rain chances as high as 40 percent move in tonight.

Lead Story: The City of Austin and area transportation agencies want the public to weigh-in on a transit plan for Central Texas.

The “Project Connect” regional plan includes urban rail, rapid transit and express lanes.

KUT News

Good morning. Austin’s in for a sunny and mild day according to the National Weather Service, with highs in the low to mid-60s.

Lead Story: Despite crowded conditions and a longer-than-expected “kitten season,” the Austin Animal Center finished 2012 with its “no-kill” record intact.

The city shelter ended the fourth quarter of 2012 with a 91 percent live outcome rate. The no-kill benchmark is a 90 percent live outcome rate.

KUT News

Good morning. The National Weather Service says Austin faces a chance of strong thunderstorms this morning. The day should warm to a high near 70.

Lead Story: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport has a new tenant: Virgin Airlines, which will be operating non-stop flights to San Francisco. And Mayor Lee Leffingwell is among those welcoming the announcement. 

Callie Richmond, Texas Tribune

Good morning. The National Weather Service says Austin can expect continued chances for rain and highs in the 60s today.

Lead Story: Former Williamson County district attorney Ken Anderson has denied any misconduct in the case of Michael Morton, the man who was wrongfully convicted of his wife’s murder and spent 25 years in prison.

Anderson, now a judge in Georgetown, is facing allegations that as a prosecutor he hid evidence that would have proved Morton’s innocence.

Callie Richmond, Texas Tribune

Good morning. The National Weather Service says Austin will see sunny and mild weather today with a high approaching 70 degrees. A band of severe thunderstorms is expected to blow in Saturday night.

Lead Story: In Georgetown, it’s day five of a court of inquiry seeking answers into the case of Michael Morton. Wrongly convicted for the murder of his wife, Morton spent 25 years behind bars before he was cleared by DNA evidence.

facebook.com/cprittexas

Good morning. Austin’s in for temperatures approaching 80 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. A cold front is expected to blow into the region this weekend, bringing with it chances for showers and thunderstorms.  

Lead Story: Leaders of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas testified before a Texas house committee yesterday – but a couple of former leaders were noticeably absent.

George Burns, Oprah WInfrey Network

Good morning. The National Weather Service says Austin’s due for a high near 70, along with scattered clouds and maybe a stray thunderstorm.

Lead Story: Federal prosecutors say Lance Armstrong won’t face criminal charges, despite the cycling star’s confession last month to Oprah Winfrey that he did use performance-enhancing drugs.  

The U.S. Attorney in the case says the decision was made last year not to press charges, and Armstrong’s recent televised comments haven’t convinced prosecutors to re-open the case.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Good morning. The National Weather Service says Austin’s in for another day of slightly-warmer-than-average temperatures today, with light sprinkles this morning.

Lead Story: A ruling is set be issued to today on whether the appropriation of state school funds is constitutional.

Over 600 Texas school districts sued the state after lawmakers slashed public funding and grant programs by $5.4 billion dollars in 2011.

SXSW

In little over a months the city will swell as South by Southwest takes over downtown Austin. And the over 200,000 expected festival attendees have no shortage of events to attend: Today, SXSW released its film lineup, totaling 109 features.  

Film Conference and Festival Producer Janet Pierson writes that this year’s lineup “embraces love and the need/search/desire for connection.”

Texas Tribune

Good morning. The National Weather Service still has Central Texas under a Red Flag Warning until 6 p.m. tonight. The humidity will be low and the winds are high, meaning higher wildfire danger.

Austin’s in for otherwise nice weather today, with temperatures cooling to the 60s after this week’s warm streak.

Lead Story: The non-profit that got the biggest grant so far from the state’s troubled cancer-fighting agency is going out of business. The Clinical Trials Network of Texas says it has run out of money after the taxpayer-funded Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) began withholding payments.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Good morning! With highs in the upper-70s, Austin’s in for a cloudy, breezy and muggy day, according to the National Weather Service.

Lead story: An anti-abortion protest converged on the State Capitol Saturday afternoon. Among the speakers at the “Texas Rally for Life:” Attorney General Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Gov. Rick Perry, who said he was working to “make abortion in any stage a thing of the past.”

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

Good morning! With highs in the upper-70s, Austin’s in for another day of well-above average temperatures, according to the National Weather Service. This weekend should see similar weather, albeit with a little more cloud cover. 

Speaking of the weather: Yesterday’s near record-high temperatures could mean many area plants are at risk of blooming too soon – which could mean a poor year for wildflowers, according to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Lead story: The chair of the Texas Senate's Health and Human Services Committee says she hopes Washington will allow Texas to receive $27 billion to expand Medicaid to people who can't afford private insurance.

Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority

A new pedestrian path has opened along a stretch of the 183A toll road, connecting Leander and Cedar Park. The five-mile, ten-foot-wide path cost $3.1 million dollars and opens in conjunction with the second phase of 183A construction.

The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority is in charge of the project, and spokesman Steve Pustelnyk says the CTRMA hopes people will use the path for recreation and commuting to work. 

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

The Austin ISD Board of Trustees will hold a public meeting to discuss a nearly $900 million bond proposal tonight at Crockett High School in South Austin. 

Erik Reyna/KUT News

The first draft of the Texas House budget comes in at $89.1 billion, and leaves $5.5 billion in unspent revenue.

"The filing of this budget will allow the House to formally begin a discussion about Texas’ priorities," said House Appropriations Chair Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie), in a statement. "This bill recognizes the demands of population growth on public schools and Medicaid, and steadfastly maintains the House's commitment to fiscal discipline."

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Thousands of people paid their final respects to legendary University of Texas football coach Darrell K Royal today. A public memorial was held at the Erwin Center and included a performance by Willie Nelson, and eulogies from UT-Austin President Bill Powers and current Longhorn coach Mack Brown.

“I asked him about what the best thing about coaching at Texas was, coaching football,” Brown said of Royal, “and he said, ‘25 million people care everyday about what you do.’ I said, ‘Coach, what’s the worst thing about coaching at Texas?’ and he said, ‘Twenty-five million people care about what you do everyday.’”

Check back here for results from all the races in Central Texas, except local elections including city propositions and bonds, Central Health, and school board races. 

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Disclosure: KUT is a media sponsor of the Austin Film Festival.

The Austin Film Festival kicks off tomorrow, and KUT News is featuring guest blogs from AFF staffers pointing to several festival highlights. Today we hear from festival founder and Executive Director Barbara Morgan on “family” themed films at the festival. But we’re not talking CGI pandas here - these films explore the bonds of family and community in a decidedly adult way:

As the Executive Director and founder of the Austin Film Festival, I have had the joy of “discovering” many films over the last nineteen years. The excitement that emanates from the perspective of these fresh voices is what makes my job unique. Anticipating the new talent which we get to introduce to the public is the inspiration that makes my job so thrilling. One of the themes which jumped out from this year’s crop of films was the idea of “family.” Each of these films is infused with the spirit of the most elemental aspect of the human existence.  Enjoy!

Liars, Fires and Bears

Nine year-old Eve, hardened by years of neglect as a foster child, never misses an opportunity. 

By

Update at 9:15 a.m. ET. Al Arabiya Says It Will Photograph Gadhafi's Body:

The al-Arabiya news network says it has "been granted permission to photograph Muammar Gaddafi's body." Note: There are still conflicting reports about Gadhafi's fate. Obviously, photos taken by journalists would help end any uncertainty. 

Photo by KUT News

UT Study Ranks it 2nd in Efficiency

A new study says UT Austin is tied with the University of Illinois for second in the nation when it comes to the most efficient public universities. The study was done by an associate dean in UT's College of Liberal Arts.

Photo courtesy of the Reagan County Sheriff's Dept.

AP: Warren Jeffs in a Coma

The Associated Press reports convicted polygamist religious leader Warren Jeffs is in a coma following complications from fasting. A source told the AP the coma was medically induced.

Photo by KUT News

Perry Targets Iowa

Governor Rick Perry will be making numerous campaign stops in Iowa in the next few days. The presidential hopeful entered the race on Saturday, and is now vying against other GOP hopefuls.

KUT's political reporting partner, The Texas Tribune, reports on how Perry is handling his controversial decision in 2007 to mandate that some young girls receive an HPV vaccine.

Image courtesy of Austin Energy

As record temperatures continue to bake Texas and air conditioning units run at full throttle across the state, Austin Energy is trying to reduce the potential impact of rolling blackouts.

Rotating power outages are preventive measures taken by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. Austin’s utility will now spread the effect across 71 areas in Austin. On the above map, these areas are colored green. You can see a more detailed version of that map here.

The reason for this development: a flood of complaints when 20 percent of Austin Energy customers suffered extended (and repeated) power outages during rolling blackouts in February.

Photo by Matt Largey for KUT News.

Naser Abdo Indicted in Fort Hood Bomb Plot

The AWOL soldier accused of planning an attack on Fort Hood soldiers has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Waco. Naser Abdo is charged with possession of a firearm, possession of an unregistered destructive device and possession of ammunition as a fugitive from justice. The 21-year-old faces up to ten years in prison for each charge, if convicted.

 

Warren Jeffs Awaits Sentencing

Jurors are expected to decide on sentencing this week for Warren Jeffs. The 55-year-old polygamist religious leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was convicted last week on two counts of sexual assault against two underage girls he had taken as brides. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Navy Seal from Bastrop Dies

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