Austin American-Statesman from Austin, Texas on February 27, 2012 · A1
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Austin American-Statesman from Austin, Texas · A1

Austin, Texas
Issue Date:
Monday, February 27, 2012
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FOUR-DAY FORECAST | B8 Today’s forecast Mostly cloudy; 40% chance of light rain. 67/57 9 states M M FINAL EDITION | Monday, February 27, 2012 | $1.00 IN TECHMONDAY | B6 Austin startup’s new game aims to help you think big Tuesday: 20% chance of showers. 78/58 Wednesday: Mostly sunny. 74/52 Thursday: Mostly cloudy. 75/57 Real Austin. Real News. IN l IFE & ARTS | D 1 Silent ‘Artist’ makes big statement with ve Oscar statues IN SPORTS | C1 l onghorns corral three more football pledges for 2013 IN THE NEWS Americans’ trial in Egypt is delayed The politically charged criminal trial of 16 Americans and 27 others accused of running unauthorized, foreign-backed nonpro t groups in Egypt opens chaotically and then is abruptly put off for nearly two months . A3 Nation & World The U.S. and its allies dismiss the Syrian regime’s referendum on a new constitution as a farce meant to justify the bloody crackdown on dissent . A2 The U.S. military says it has recovered the remains of the last American service member who was unaccounted for in Iraq . A2 WikiLeaks says it will expose email correspondence from Austin-based geopolitical analysis firm Stratfor, detailing the work of the company for clients . A2 The Obama administration is embarking on a potentially risky plan to help Yemen overhaul its military to ght an al Qaeda faction . A2 American forces are staf ng a new radar defense site in Turkey that could help defend Europe against an Iranian missile attack, the U.S. Army’s commander in Europe says . A5 Harvard scientists say the ovaries of young women harbor rare stem cells capable of producing new eggs . A6 Metro & State Ben Wear explores the possibility of Austinites with excess parking earning some cash for it . B1 PolitiFact Texas looks into a claim about sneaking a gun through airport security . B1 Central Texas Baptist leaders talk about Southern Baptists’ proposal to add “Great Commission Baptists” as an optional name . B1 Sports The Liberty Hill High School girls basketball team is in the state tournament for the first time since 2004 . C1 THE WEE k a HE ad Tuesday Kyle Mayor Lucy Johnson will deliver her annual address at the State of the City luncheon, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Hays school district Performing Arts Center, 979 Kohler’s Crossing, Kyle. Saturday Volunteers will help clean up the San Marcos River. 9:30 a.m., starting at the San Marcos City Park Recreation Hall. 512-393-8448. Sunday Zilker Park Kite Festival, 10 a.m., Zilker Park, www. Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards Show, 7 p.m., ACL Live, $25. www. Deaths B4-5 Life & Arts D1 Sports C1 TechMonday B6-7 Classifieds D7-9 To subscribe to the American-Statesman, call 445-4040 © 2012, Austin American-Statesman Subsidy for city part of rate debate By Marty Toohey AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF Only partially in jest, political activist Tom “Smitty” Smith recently suggested a way for Austin Energy to deal with complaints that it treats suburban customers unfairly. Give those suburban customers the break they want on their electric bill, Smith said, so they no longer contribute to Austin Energy’s spending on the city’s parks, roads and fire protection. But first, set up tollbooths at places such as Red Bud Trail so Westlake residents who commute along the road pay for its upkeep. And perhaps charge them a fee for the wear created by their visits to nearby Zilker Park. “The folks who don’t think they should contribute to Austin services should keep in mind that they enjoy many of those services,” Smith said. As Austin Energy prepares to raise its rates, there is increasingly heated debate about whether the city-owned utility’s 45,000 suburban customers are being forced to pay for things they should not. The utility provides about $180 mil - See RATES , A con T inuing coverage a us T in e nergy Use of Austin’s parks, roads and more at issue By Ciara O’Rourke Americ A n-St A te S m A n St A ff SAN MARCOS — The city of Kyle has nearly 30,000 residents and no regular bus routes. Residents in need of a ride can schedule a trip with the Capital Area Rural Transportation System — a curb-to-curb service that shuttles people around town and to Austin, San Marcos and San Antonio. But its current funding could end soon. Since it started in 1980, the federally subsidized CARTS, as it’s better known, has served residents in nine counties in Central Texas, including Hays County when a mere 40,600 people lived there. But Kyle’s population has ballooned in the past decade, growing more than 400 percent since 2000. When the 2010 U.S. census results are made of cial this spring, Kyle and San Marcos are expected to become small urbanized areas, disqualifying them from pools of money set aside for rural transportation. With that change in mind, the Kyle and San Marcos city councils voted last week to work with Texas State University to create an urban transit district with a bus system that could qualify for other state and federal funds. Though plans to create the district are in the early stages — officials have no cost estimates for a proposed bus service — city of cials and growth planners say the district would ll the area’s need for expanded mass transit options and could be up and running as early as 2013. Kelli Petras, a spokeswoman with Wheels turning for transit district HAYS COUNTY See TRANSIT , A Kelly West A meric A n -S t A te S m A n Derek Casares boards the southbound BT Interurban bus near Highland Mall on Friday to visit friends in San Marcos. An agreement signed by San Marcos, Kyle and Texas State sets the stage for expanding the university’s bus service. Next steps Planning — A consultant has been hired to help San Marcos, Kyle and Texas State University create an urban transit district to expand the university’s current bus service and help San Marcos with a master plan for parking, sidewalks, lighting and other infrastructure needed to qualify for federal grants. Kyle might create a master plan as well. Building support — Regional planning and transportation authorities from Hays, Travis and Caldwell counties will be asked to weigh in. Public hearings for residents will be held. Cities within the proposed district area must pass resolutions to participate. The district could be created by the end of August. Finding money — The district, which would have no taxing authority, could apply for up to an estimated $2 million in federal and state grants. The expanded bus service could roll out by fall 2013. As Kyle, San m arcos outgrow current funding, they plan to work with t exas State on new bus system City poised to pass bag ban By Sarah Coppola AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF The Austin City Council appears ready to enact one of the broadest bans in the nation on disposable paper and plastic bags offered at retail checkout counters. After months of debate, the council is scheduled to vote Thursday on a ban written at the council’s request by Austin Resource Recovery, the city’s trash and recycling department. Six of the seven council members told the American-Statesman last week that they support banning single-use plastic bags, and a slim majority of four said they support banning disposable paper bags, too. The proposed ban calls for all retail - ers to charge either 10 cents per bag or $1 per transaction for disposable bags starting in March 2013, before the ban takes effect in March 2014. Austin Resource Recovery Director Bob Gedert is now recommending that the fee be scrapped and the ban begin in March 2013. A fee could create con icts between cashiers and shoppers over how many single-use bags a shopper needs, among other potential problems, he said. Austin’s ban would be one of the most comprehensive in the nation and would be the rst in a large Texas city. Brownsville, Fort Stockton and South Padre Island all have laws limiting single-use bags. Council Members Mike Martinez, Laura Morrison, Bill Spelman and Kathie Tovo said they support banning paper bags as well as plastic. The latter three haven’t decided when the ban should take effect; Martinez See BAGS , A 6 of 7 on council want to nix plastic, and 4 oppose paper; vote set Thursday STATESMAN EXCLUSIVE ENVIRONMENT By Matthew Rosenberg and Thom Shanker The New York Times WASHINGTON — U.S. officials sought to reassure both Afghanistan’s government and a domestic audience Sunday that the United States remains committed to the war after the weekend killing of two U.S. military officers inside the Afghan Interior Ministry and days of deadly anti-U.S. protests. But behind the public pronouncements, U.S. officials described a growing concern, even at the highest levels of the Obama administration and the Pentagon, about the challenges of pulling off a drawdown in Afghanistan that hinges on the close mentoring and training of army and police forces. Despite a U.S.-led training effort that has spanned years and cost tens of billions of dollars, the Afghan security forces are still widely seen as riddled with dangerously unreliable soldiers and police of cers. The distrust has only deepened as a pattern of attacks by Afghan security forces on U.S. and NATO service members, beginning years ago, has drastically worsened over the past few days. Nearly a week of violent unrest after U.S. personnel threw Qurans into a pit of burning trash has brought into sharp relief the growing U.S. and Afghan frustration with — and, at times, open hostility toward — each other, and the risks of a strategy that calls for U.S. soldiers and civilians to work closely with Afghans. Unrest has U.S. o cials worried about pullout AFGHANISTAN See CONCERN , A Musadeq Sadeq associa T ed press Afghan President Hamid Karzai renews his call for calm Sunday in a televised address to the nation after the burning of Qurans at a U.S. military base sparked days of deadly protests. • Suicide attack kills nine at Afghan airport, A4 By Michael Barbaro The New York Times TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — With two days left before the closely contested Republican primaries in Arizona and Michigan, Rick Santorum delivered a full-throated defense of religion in public life Sunday, appealing to the social conservatives who have revived his presidential campaign. In an escalation of the sometimes fiery language that he has used throughout the race, Santorum declared that colleges are no longer a “neutral setting” for people of faith and described how he had become sickened after reading John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech calling for the rigid separation of religion and politics. “What kind of country do we live in that says only people of nonfaith can come into the public square and make their case?” Santorum said on the ABC News program “This Week.” “That makes me throw up,” he Santorum makes case for religion having a place in public life Presidential ra C e See CAMPAIGN , A

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