Rhonda Fanning

Producer, The Texas Standard

Rhonda  joined KUT in late 2013 as producer for the station's new daily news program, Texas Standard. Rhonda will forever be known as the answer to the trivia question, “Who was the first full-time hire for The Texas Standard?”  She’s an Iowa native who got her start in public radio at WFSU in Tallahassee, while getting her Master's Degree in Library Science at Florida State University. Prior to joining KUT and The Texas Standard, Rhonda was a producer for Wisconsin Public Radio. 

From Texas Standard:

Labor Day once marked the traditional start of election season. That's hard to believe now with 24-hour news cycles, and more and more people tuned in to social media. These days, Labor Day signals the final sprint for those running for office to reach voters before they head to the polls in November. So, with campaigns already well underway, how are the midterms shaping up in Texas?

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From Texas Standard.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old political newcomer, socialist and former campaign organizer for Bernie Sanders, beat her primary opponent in a primary race in New York. Her victory over Joe Crowley, the fourth-highest ranking Democrat in the House, came as a shock to some.

From Texas Standard.

While it appears that border agents are no longer applying a zero tolerance policy, it’s been a different scene on the other side of the state.

Shannon Najmabadi is the higher education reporter at the Texas Tribune. She has been reporting from a privately-operated U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility 75 miles outside Houston where adult men are being detained.

Julia Reihs/KUT

From Texas Standard.

The nation is grappling with disturbing news of children separated from their parents at the border as a consequence of President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy that calls for prosecution of border crossers. In Congress, multiple bills have been filed in response. A proposal by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz calls for doubling the number of immigration judges.

Pixabay

From Texas Standard.

As many reacted with shock this week to the deaths of designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, we also learned from the Centers for Disease Control that suicide rates have risen in nearly every state between 1999 and 2016, the latest year for which complete data is available. Though Texas remains below the national rate, suicides have been rising here, too. The state experiences 12.9 suicides per 100,000 Texans. Across the nation, there were more than twice as many suicides as homicides in 2016. The CDC says these trends cannot be linked to any specific medical diagnosis. 

Photo by James Tourtellotte/U.S. Customs and Border Protection

From Texas Standard.

Under federal law, anyone who reaches a U.S. port of entry may make a claim for asylum. But now it appears U.S. Customs and Border Protection has adopted a new tactic to keep out immigrants – telling agents to stop would-be asylum seekers before they reach a border checkpoint.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News.

From Texas Standard.

Tech transformations can have such a dramatic effect on the course of your day that it’s hard to remember your life before the latest gadget. When was the last time you used a paper map when your phone died or lost service? Though he admits his own sense of direction is lacking, Bill Kilday, in his new book, Never Lost Again, tells the story of how a small Texas tech startup named Keyhole eventually became Google Maps as we know it.

Travis Wise/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

Something is happening in far west Texas that could be a harbinger for the rest of the state. El Paso has no place to send recycled trash. China, which is a destination for much of what we recycle in the U.S., doesn’t want it anymore.

House Intelligence Committee

From Texas Standard.

It was a cold rainy day back in February 2016 outside NFL headquarters in New York. Media crews were fluttering about in anticipation of a protest much buzzed about on social media. It would be a demonstration against Houston-born Beyoncé's halftime performance at the Super Bowl, which was memorable for costumes echoing those used in the 1960s by the Black Panthers and dance moves which included raised fists.

COMPADMIN /Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)

From Texas Standard.

Today, the majority of headlines about the National Rifle Association involve a bit of controversy – debates over gun laws inevitably following mass shootings, or boycotts by citizens or businesses not wanting to be affiliated with the gun rights group. But it hasn’t always been this way. At its founding, the NRA was focused on firearms skill and safety, not politics.

Brianmcmillen/Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 4.0

From Texas Standard.

For many Texans of a certain age, learning civics and math and grammar began as we sat cross-legged on the floor in front of a big cathode ray tube on Saturday mornings. In between  The Archies, Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp, Josie and the Pussycats and Super Friends, we learned lessons that have stuck with us all our lives.

Molly Adams/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

Young immigrants protected by the DACA program have been in limbo since the Obama-era program was canceled by President Trump last year.  Now we’re hearing rumblings of Republicans, including at least one from Texas, trying a new strategy to get a DACA vote in Congress.

Photo courtesy of Kathy McCullough

From Texas Standard.

This week’s deadly Southwest Airlines incident marked the first passenger death in U.S. commercial aviation since 2009. A mother of two was killed when she was partially pulled from the plane by decompression forces after a window was shattered by shrapnel from an exploding engine.

George Bush Presidential Library

From Texas Standard.

Back in the late '80s and early '90s, you could be fired if your employer discovered you’d done something like volunteering to work with AIDS patients. Acquired immune deficiency syndrome was, at the time, considered a death sentence, saddled with the stigma as a disease spread by drug users and gay men.

cool.as.a.cucumber/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

Every time a vessel comes to a port of call, a local sailor takes command of the ship to maneuver it through the shallow water to berth, or out to sea. Those sailors are called “marine pilots” or maritime pilots, and they must be experts on their specific ports and waters.

Andrea Garcia for KUT News

From Texas Standard.

Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are all on Democrats’ short list to pick up House seats in the November midterms, but that’s expected when it comes to so-called battleground states. As Frank Bruni of The New York Times notes, Democrats definitely smell blood in the water this year.

U.S. Army/Maj. Randall Stillinger

From Texas Standard.

About 250 Texas National Guard troops have deployed to the Texas-Mexico border. Texas’ Gov. Greg Abbott says he’ll eventually send more than 1,000. But even with the state’s leadership so supportive of any appearance of cracking down on illegal immigration, are the Guard troops really doing immigration enforcement? And how do folks who already work on border law enforcement perceive the influx of military personnel?

YouTube, via PBS News Hour

From Texas Standard.

The first day of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress wrapped up Tuesday. Zuckerberg sat alone at a brown wooden table, surrounded by nearly half the Senate, and by the look of things, just as many photographers. He was there to answer questions about the social network’s role in presidential election meddling and the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

Charlie Jackson /Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

In February 2017, several newspapers in north Texas carried the story that 250 workers were being laid off from a General Electric facility in Fort Worth that makes locomotives. Now, that same plant has plans to bring back nearly double that workforce by the end of the summer.

Photo courtesy of Dorceal Duckens

From Texas Standard.

Fifty years ago today, on April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on a hotel balcony in Memphis. King was the preeminent leader of the American civil rights movement, and advocated nonviolent resistance to discrimination against black Americans. King had gone to Memphis to support sanitation workers who were in a labor dispute with the city.

Maciek Lulko/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

Depending on your sense of community, and how intentional you want to be regarding whom you do business with, the ownership of your bank is not just a remote, esoteric question.

Martin do Nascimento/KUT

From Texas Standard.

In Texas, where the weather is no laughing matter, it’s not an exaggeration to say storms are wreaking havoc in many parts of the state.

On Thursday, tornadoes touched down near Rockport and Refugio. KUT Ausin’s Jimmy Maas says at least three Texas communities recovering from Harvey – Holiday Beach, Seadrift, and Woodsboro – are once again picking up the pieces.

Kumar Appaiah/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

According to the Dallas Federal Reserve’s monthly Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey, activity at Texas factories expanded in March. But the report also indicated that the production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, fell 15 points – the sixth biggest drop since 2004. So what does this mean for the state and its manufacturing industry?

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard.

In the aftermath of the bombing spree that paralyzed Austin over the past several weeks, many have suggested that the race of the bomber and his victims played a role in the way the case was discussed, even by law enforcement officials. The bomber’s first three victims were African-American and Latina, and critics have charged that Austin’s collective reaction to the attacks underwent a change when later victims, who live in an affluent, predominantly white area of town, were injured. Even after the bomber, a 23-year-old white man, took his own life as police closed in, some charged that descriptions of the crime and the perpetrator were different than they would have been in the case of a person of color.

Andrea Garcia for KUT News

From Texas Standard.

There are a lot of stereotypes about Texas but the one about being the reddest of the red states may be about to become less accurate. Karen Tumulty is a veteran reporter – now political columnist – for the Washington Post. In her latest column she writes Texas could turn a little bit bluer in 2018.

Pexels (CC0)

From Texas Standard.

A bill targeting online sex trafficking is up for a vote today in the U.S. House. Authors of the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, or FOSTA, say it would make it easier for underage victims or prosecutors to hold websites and online services accountable for sex-trafficking activities that occur on their platforms. But the tech industry has been divided on the issue.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. /KUT News

From Texas Standard.

Bump stocks are back in the news now that President Donald Trump has made a move to ban them. These devices, which basically turn a semiautomatic gun into an automatic gun, were not used in the latest mass shooting at a Florida high school, but were used in the deadly Las Vegas concert shooting in October.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT News.

From Texas Standard.

There are about 100 public and private historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the country, most of them in the south. The new documentary Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities premieres Monday on PBS’s Independent Lens, exploring the history and significance of these institutions.

Gabriel C. Pérez/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard.

A new building opens to the public this weekend on the University of Texas at Austin campus. It doesn’t have desks, books, or basketball hoops inside. In fact, it’s empty except for a couple of benches placed there for admiring the art on the walls, on the windows – and, well, the building itself is a piece of art. It’s not very big but its igloo-like structure and tall ceilings give it the echo of a large sanctuary.

Image via Pixabay (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard.

It’s been two days since a young gunman opened fire on a Florida high school, taking many lives and forever altering many more. As outsiders to this event, it’s probably about the time when we begin to move on. It’s harder, though, to resist the hurt for those who relate directly to the victims – parents of high schoolers in this case. And it’s harder for those who work in schools, which have so often been the target of horrific mass shootings.

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