• A second UT Republican leader catches flak for Twitter activity

    [Updated at 11:16 p.m., added statement]

    A month after former College Republicans President Lauren Pierce resigned over a controversial, anti-Obama Tweet, her replacement is attracting attention.

    Early Sunday morning, government senior Cassandra Wright Tweeted, "My president is black, he snorts a lot of crack. Holla. #2012 #Obama."

    On Nov. 16, Pierce Tweeted "Y'all, as tempting as it may be, don't shoot Obama. We need him to go down in history as the WORST president we've EVER had! #2012".

    According to a critical blog on Burnt Orange Report, Wright responded to the backlash against Pierce and said, "Insofar as she's a representative [of the College Republicans], maybe it shouldn't be said, but she's made a positive statement in a way. I don't really see anything wrong with it. It's just a personal comment, not representative of any group. Just freedom of speech, you know?"

    The Daily Texan received this statement from the UT CR spokesman Cesar Villareal in an email on Monday evening:

    "The UT College Republicans neither condones any 'tweeted' remarks, nor any statements made by any member of our organization that may be hurtful and lacking in sensitivity. The opinion of our President Wright is that of her own not in keeping with our core values, our standards, and our code of conduct. While some within our organization may not respect the current President, UT College Republicans does respect the office of the President of the United States. We are all Americans, and even if we do not agree with certain policies, the UT College Republicans wish all our leaders well, as they are all dedicated to public service. I personally apologize for [the] ‘tweeted’ remark."

  • Five Occupy Austin protesters arrested

    Five Occupy Austin protesters were arrested Thursday evening for criminal trespassing at City Hall during a mandatory power-washing in which protesters are not allowed to demonstrate on the plaza.

    The arrests at City Hall followed a demonstration at the Capitol where several hundred protesters gathered to commemorate the two-month anniversary of the Occupy Wall St. movement.

    Arrested protester James Hill O’Brien chained himself to a tree to protest the warning he and other protesters received that prohibited them from returning to the area after their previous arrests at City Hall.

    The protesters gathered around O’Brien, and after refusing to comply with police orders to disperse from the tree, the protesters were arrested without incident.

    Occupy Austin spokeswoman Wendy Darling said the warning that prohibits arrested protesters from returning to City Hall has a negative effect on the Occupy Austin movement.

    “We suffered a gaping wound in our organization when many of our most committed members had their First Amendment rights infringed following the Oct. 30 arrests,” Darling said in a statement released after the most recent arrests. “Each day this infringement on our most basic rights is allowed to continue, it creates a new, irrevocable injury.”

  • UT graduate student faces trial Iran

    UT physics graduate student Omid Kokabee  plead not guilty to communicating with a hostile government and receiving illegitimate funds Tuesday at his trial in Iran. Reports relayed to Eugene Chudnovsky, physics professor and member of the American Physics Society, predicted a grim outlook for his trial.

    “The lawyer said that he was not very optimistic because the punishments handed down in court today were quite harsh,” Chudnovsky said.

    Kokabee was not permitted to defend himself in court other than by written statement.

    “According to an email from his lawyer, Kokabee was not even allowed to speak in court,” Chudnovsky said. “He was only allowed to submit answers in writing. After all these months he has not been allowed to talk to his lawyer.”

    Chudnovsky said this was the first case of a student being detained for obtaining a United States visa.

    “They do have a history of detaining scientists,” Chudnovsky said. “This is the first time a student visa has been considered as associating with a hostile government however. There are many Iranian students who are exactly in the same situation and are scared.”

    John Keto, director of the UT physics graduate program said Kokabee’s Iranian classmates now fear going home to Iran.

    “Most are now concerned about travel back to Iran, even for a visit,” Keto said.

    People in the physics department are working delicately with scientific organizations to help advocate for Kokabee’s release.

    “A serious outcry from the US may have been interpreted by the Iranian courts as interference  and evidence confirming the allegations of Omid’s working with the US government.” Keto said.  “This was why for the first four months Omid’s family requested that we keep our knowledge of the situation confidential.”

  • Texas State construction worker pulls large blade, attempts assault

    [Updated at 2:37 p.m., added name, photo, details]

    A construction worker pulled a knife on a co-worker this morning on the Texas State University campus, said Mark Hendricks, director of university news at Texas State. Other local news outlets approximate the blade to be between eight to ten inches.

    Police are now seeking Aleczandar Yorick Lovern, 29, in connection with the altercation this morning, according to a Texas State press release.

    “A construction worker had an altercation with another construction worker and attempted to assault him with a knife. There was a brief scuffle. No one was injured, but he left the scene on foot. People walking on the scene saw him and alerted the University Police Department, and we sent out the alerts to avoid that area of campus, and we were looking for an armed individual with a knife. Subsequently we found out he is believed to be headed to his vehicle parked in an off-campus area ... They do have an ID on him. They’re looking for him, and have not yet to my knowledge made an arrest. We do not believe he is trying to hurt anybody. He is just trying to leave the campus. As far as I know construction continued,” Hendricks said.

  • Smokey Skies

    Smoke clouds the skies over the UT campus and partially grays the clocktower on Wednesday morning.