Alain Stephens

Investigative Reporter

Alain Stephens is KUT's investigations reporter. A graduate of the University of North Texas and a veteran of two of the U.S. armed forces, Alain served both in the Coast Guard and the Air Force. His work has won accolades for exposing how the state pays those with disabilities below minimum wage, as well as the fast-tracking of juveniles to adult prisons. Contact Alain at astephens@kut.org, or (512) 232-6173.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Since his inauguration, President Donald Trump has kept his campaign promises of tougher immigration policies, leading to a constant flow of policy changes — from scaling back on programs like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to his “zero-tolerance” policy along the border that’s led to separation of parents and children attempting to cross into the U.S.

All of these individual actions amount to a broader strategy that is now becoming clear.

Lynda Gonzalez for KUT

State representatives on Monday will begin discussing whether a "red flag" law giving courts the ability to remove guns from a person considered dangerous would work in Texas.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

As Texas debates what, if any, steps should be taken to prevent mass shootings in the state, we asked our audience what questions they had about guns in schools.

A common question was whether why regulations on automatic weapons differ from those regulating semiautomatic ones:

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Austin City Council passed a resolution today preventing the police department from selling used guns to the public.

Lynda Gonzalez for Texas Standard

From Texas Standard.

Over the weekend, an estimated 80,000 people descended on the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas for the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting – over 900 firearms and gun-related vendors, along with politicians from President Trump to Governor Greg Abbott. The event was a window into an organization that, in the wake of shootings such as Parkland and Sutherland Springs, has been under increased scrutiny.

Office of Senator Luther Strange/Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

From Texas Standard.

Defining violent crime can be trickier than it sounds. Mugging someone on a sidewalk or robbing a store with a firearm are obviously violent acts. But, what about stealing something from an unoccupied and unlocked home? Even the Supreme Court has difficulty making the call.

Gabriel C. Pérez/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard.

Remington Arms – a gun company that has been in business for over 200 years – has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and they’re not the only gun company that has seen shrinking profits lately. Sturm Ruger, as well as American Outdoors Brand, formerly known as Smith and Wesson, have been taking hits, too. Is Remington a victim of shifting public sentiment surrounding guns – or is something else going on?

U.S Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Scorza

From Texas Standard.

In February, a video was released on the website Voice of Jihad – a piece of propaganda created by the Taliban that displays an overnight raid against Afghan security forces in Kandahar.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. /KUT News

From Texas Standard.

Much of the discussion surrounding firearms is about gun control measures and violence. But the gun industry, just like any other industry, has been going through it own ups and downs. All of that came to a head just last week when firearms giant Remington said it would file for bankruptcy. And they aren’t the only company facing increasingly difficult challenges as market demands shift.

Michael Cargill owns and operates Central Texas Gun Works, a gun store in Austin.

Marco Verch/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly four of every ten adults in the U.S. are obese. Among children, one in ten pre-schoolers are obese. Obesity and related illnesses are said to disproportionately affect poor and minority communities. One theory is that lack of access to healthy food makes it difficult for these families to maintain healthy weight. So-called food deserts, where few stores offer fresh produce or other healthy items, are commonly believed to keep people with low income from eating better. But new research says there could be another reason.

Panich-Linsman/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Pentagon officials have undertaken a new policy that seeks to get rid of non-deployable military members. Is it a move to maintain a leaner, meaner fighting force? Or is the military simply not accounting for thousands of support personnel?

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT News

From Texas Standard.

Based on a Houston Chronicle investigation that found the Texas Education Agency had capped access to special education services, the U.S. Department of Education has concluded that Texas violated federal law in a deliberate effort to lower the number of students receiving aid.

Dion Hinchcliffe/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

We’re three days into 2018 – how are your New Year’s resolutions going? If you stumble along the way, you’re not alone; some research shows that up to 80 percent of people who make a resolution will have given up on it by February.

appaIoosa/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

When it comes to combating Mexican drug cartels, law enforcement agencies have aimed at the head, aiming to weakening them by eliminate the groups’ leadership. According to the Congressional Research Service, Capitol Hill’s nonpartisan think tank, 107 of Mexico’s 122 most violent criminals have been removed from cartels. The results? Violence has surged, with media outlets reporting that death tolls have hit 20 year highs. So how did this explosion of violence happen and what’s coming next?

Aidan Wakely-Mulroney/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

Economists and Democrats have leveled a lot of criticism at the GOP tax plan that just passed in Congress. But for many of the 200,000 AT&T workers who have been told they will receive a $1,000 bonus, thanks to the plan, things probably seem pretty good. And that may be the big idea. 

Lynda Gonzalez for KUT

From Texas Standard.

Several news outlets have reported that Devin Patrick Kelley, the suspect in a deadly mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, bought the weapon used in the attack from an Academy Sports and Outdoors store in San Antonio. Given Kelley’s history of domestic violence, some are saying he shouldn’t have been allowed to buy a firearm in the first place.

Federal Bureau of Investigation/Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

From Texas Standard:

Federal law enforcement officials are concerned about what they believe is a new threat within the United States. It's not white supremacists or neo-Nazis, but another politically motivated group.

The agency says "black identity extremists" could be the next domestic terror threat.

But some say the FBI's move is less about law enforcement and more about Trump administration rhetoric and a history of tamping down minority political activism.

Pexels (CC0)

From Texas Standard:

The Texas Legislature has discussed the idea of raising the age of criminal responsibility during the two most recent sessions. It’s a topic that will be debated this weekend at the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin. Several proposals would consider treating 17-year-olds as juveniles, rather than adults, for purposes of criminal prosecution and sentencing. That change would align Texas with the majority of the country. Many proponents of such a change cite new research regarding cognitive development and lowered recidivism rates for offenders in the juvenile justice system. And there may be another reason making such a change could benefit the state.

Scott/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Irma and Harvey delivered a one-two punch to two major airline hubs: Houston and Miami. We've heard a lot about the electrical grid, the impact on roads and infrastructure, but what effect did the hurricanes have on airline businesses?

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From Texas Standard

The North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect January 1, 1994 The pact was created to bolster trading of commodities between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, by eliminating trade tariffs. But some argue that making it cheaper to trade also made it easier for companies to move American jobs elsewhere.

Steve Hillebrand, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

From Texas Standard:

There has been a growing public debate over President Donald Trump's plans to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, but many residents in Texas' Rio Grande Valley say a whole host of other issues affecting their region are being ignored.

At two protests last weekend against the wall in Mission, Texas and at the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, south Texans tried to call attention to the untold stories.

Thomas Hawk/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The saying, you’re only as good as your equipment, has serious implications for first responders. A faulty service weapon can mean the difference between life and death for police officers and those they protect, which makes what's happening in Houston all the more frightening.

Michaelpugh/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

new study has opened fire against the commonly held belief – particularly in Texas – that carrying guns can reduce violent crime.

U.S. Navy/Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

From Texas Standard:

A controversial proposal to bring American troops home from Afghanistan, replacing them with contractors, wouldn’t involve private citizens manning tanks or Humvees. Instead, they would fly military-style planes above the battlefield – amounting to a private air force. The proposal comes from Erik Prince, whose contacting firm Blackwater made headlines during the Iraq War.

 

Billy Hathorn/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

A type of synthetic marijuana that is undetectable on standard drug tests is quickly becoming the most popular form of contraband in Texas prisons.

AFGE/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

There are a lot of labels in the world of politics. There are Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives and even libertarians. But socialists is another thing altogether. Socialists are pretty close to communists, as some see it. 

For years, the socialist label has been something of a taboo, not just in Texas but in many parts of the country. Today though, many younger voters are leaning hard left, and they’re looking to old-school socialists for leadership and inspiration.

U.S. Navy Airman Michael Arteaga/Wikimedia Commons (public domain)

From Texas Standard:

On Monday, Russia threatened to shoot down any coalition jets flying west of the Euphrates river, after the U.S. shot down a Syrian warplane over the weekend. Russia is also suspending its use of the hotline between the U.S. and Russia that was set up to prevent accidents in the Syrian combat zone. The U.S. has also suspended talks with Russia over resolution of the Syrian conflict.

 

Tesla/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Ever sat at the gas pump, and just wondered when enough is enough? Constantly fluctuating gas prices, the wasted time spent sitting at the pump – not to mention fumes, smog and other environmental factors – all lead to the search for a better alternative.

Defence Images/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

In the wake of last weekend’s terrorist attack in London that left seven people dead, Prime Minister Theresa May has gone beyond asking social media companies to vet content posted on their sites more fully. She’s raised the specter of holding social media platforms legally accountable for facilitating the spread of terrorist ideology.

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