• Twitter storm planned for Omid Kokabee

    At 12 p.m. CST, freeomid.org is planning a "Twitter storm" to alert people to the situation of Omid Kokabee, a former UT physics graduate student who is imprisoned in Iran.

    Kokabee was arrested and imprisoned in Iran in 2011 on charges on conspiracy. He was charged with "allegedly conspiring with enemies of Iran and receiving illegitimate funds.” He has since been sentenced to a 10-year term, and has lost multiple appeals. In multiple letters from prison, Kokabee has insisted on his innocence. Advocates from the international academic community claim Kokabee was wrongly accused and given an unfair trial.

    Last summer, UT President William Powers Jr. attempted to gain permission to release a statement supporting Kokabee. However, he was unable to do so because according to UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroara only the board president or UT System chancellor may comment on “matters of a political or obviously controversial nature, which represent an official position of the UT System or any institution or department thereof.”

    The Twitter storm begins at 1 p.m. 

    Follow Bobby Blanchard on Twitter @bobbycblanchard.

  • The Morning Texan: Austin requests feedback on bike shares

    According to the National Weather Service, today's high will be 98 degrees. While it has been dry all week, the chance for rain returns tomorrow night.

    Here is some morning reading,

    Yesterday's most read story online: MyEdu executives have cited student satisfaction in a short presentation to the UT System Board of Regents, which elicited few comments from the regents, but the company’s new career services options may not be the best direction for students, said Michael Morton, former Senate of College Councils president and UT alumnus. 

    In case you missed it: A $2.7 million grant by the Lee and Ramona Bass Foundation has helped establish the Texas Invasive Species Program, which will research foreign species introduced into the state and methods to reduce their threat to native ecosystems.

    What you have to read: Austin is now accepting recommendations from the public for potential bike share locations. The city is using the location suggestions and votes on the locations to select the upcoming kiosk sites.

  • Austin accepting recommendations on bike share locations

    Austin is now accepting recommendations from the public for potential bike share locations. The city is using the location suggestions and votes on the locations to select the upcoming kiosk sites.

    The first 10 stations, with 100 bikes, will open by the end of year, with help from the public suggestions. The remaining 30 stations and 300 bikes will open in the spring of 2014.

    The company will provide the city with 400 bicycles, 600 docking stations and 40 kiosks. The stations will have mapping systems to help riders navigate the city, and the operating functions will be available in English and Spanish. The system’s Apple and Android mobile apps will provide dock and bike locations and give overdue notices to riders.

    In June, Austin City Council approved a $150,000 partnership with Bike Share of Austin as a managing partner and system operator, as well as an equipment contract with vendor B-Cycle. B-Cycle systems are in use in 17 cities around the country.

    People can add a location or vote at www.votebikesharesaustin.com. The interactive map allows voters to create locations, comment or tweet about previous suggestions and view information about the program's progress.

    Follow Christine Ayala on Twitter @christine_ayala.

  • The Morning Texan: Hot temperatures, internship lawsuits and more

    The weather in Texas is only getting hotter as the week goes on. According to the National Weather Service, today's high is 99 degrees. For the rest of the week, the high is at least 100 degrees.

    Here is some morning reading:

    Yesterday's most read story online: Following a federal ruling that broke new ground on the legal requirements businesses have for training their interns, interns around the country are taking employers to court who do not pay them at least minimum wage.

    What you have to read: At Day 2 of the Big 12 Media Conference, Mack Brown told reporters UT was ready to run an "up tempo offense." Read the blog here, and read the other reports from the Big 12 Media Days here.

    In case you missed it: UT President William Powers Jr. has informed the University faculty and staff via email that there will be no centrally funded salary increase for the current fiscal year.

  • More changes on the way for Texas financial aid

    The changes brought on the state’s B-On-Time Loan Program aren’t the only waves coming for state financial aid.

    Beginning in fall 2014, students at community colleges and other two-year institutions will not be eligible for the TEXAS grant program, a state financial aid program for students whose families contribute $4,000 or less to their attendance. The policy is a result of SB 215, by state Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, passed during the regular session of the Texas Legislature this spring. 

    This may mean that UT and other four-year state universities will receive more funding for transfer students and other groups in the future. In the meantime, the Texas Higher Educating Coordinating Board has also been directed to look at the possibility of creating a state financial aid program for online colleges.

    The state already partners with Western Governors College, a Utah-based university, to provide online courses in nursing, information technology and teaching certification to Texas residents.

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