Alain Stephens

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Politics
2:33 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

What's In Store For The Texas Legislature?

The Texas House of Represenative chambers
flickr.com/garyjd

Now that the elections are over the big question on everybody’s mind is – what now? What changes will we see coming in the state and what battles will be fought in the halls of the Texas Legislature? If Texas knows anything - it’s how to make legislative waves. In recent memory Texas gained national notoriety for a variety of topics ranging from its voter ID law to its much debated abortion restrictions.

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Texas Standard
12:47 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

Did Campaign Ads Work in Texas?

A still from Wendy Davis' controversial "wheelchair" ad.
youtube.com

Now that Election Day's come and gone, you've probably noticed something different on your television screen – the election cycles' wide assortment of political ads have finally relented.

According to the Center for Public Integrity, about $62 million was spent on campaign ads in Texas this election cycle – earning it the No. 2 spot on ad spending nationally.  

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Texas Standard
3:56 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

Life in Dallas Goes On Despite Ebola Fears

Medical personnel transport an ebola patient in Dallas.
flickr.com/thespeakernews

The eyes of the country are on Texas, as the public continues to follow the progress of a small string of Dallas residents that have contracted the Ebola virus.

While the wide scale global and political implications have been inundating the news, the viewpoint from the ground in Dallas can easily be washed away in a sea of analysis and criticism. Helping us gain a little perspective on the situation is Robert Wilonsky, digital managing editor at the Dallas Morning News who paints a more nuanced picture of the scene there.

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Texas Standard
2:36 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

Voter ID, Davis' Closing Gambit and the Texas Politics of Ebola

Texas Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott speaking in Phoenix, Arizona.
flickr.com/gageskidmore

The month before Election Day is always filled with a wealth of rhetoric as politicians plead their case before the polls open.

This October has been no exception; the sheer influx of information this week alone can be daunting. So Texas Standard's David Brown sat down with Austin American-Statesman chief political correspondent Jonathan Tilove to sort through the run-up to early voting.

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Texas Standard
4:41 pm
Wed October 1, 2014

Inside the Texas Poll Looking at Abbott, Davis and Obama

University of Texas

Texans will be asking themselves a lot of questions come November, when Texas heads into its general elections. Between the battle for governorship, an indictment, and growing concerns over immigration, Texan’s have a lot on their plate.

So where does the average Texan stand in the middle of the political whirlwind? Texas Standard’s David Brown speaks with University of Texas associate professor Darren Shaw, who conducted a poll on behalf of the non-partisan Texas Lyceum group. So after the numbers have been tallied, what do the polls show us?

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Texas Standard
2:04 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

What Allies Could Offer the US in the Fight Against ISIS

Around seventy five Iraqi activists staged an anti-terrorist rally with flags, costumes and theatrical performances in front of the White House, June 20th 2014.
flickr.com/photos/stephenmelkisethian/

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is touring the Middle East to press for cooperation in battling the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, following President Obama's announcement that the U.S would increase its efforts to "degrade and destroy" the group.

In the months leading up to Wednesday's announcement, Bloomberg News reports the United States has flown approximately 2,700 air missions over Iraq against ISIS. The AP reports France has already stated that it will dedicate efforts alongside the United States, but who else might?

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Life & Arts
12:37 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

Texas Monthly BBQ Fest Draws Top Contenders To Austin

A side of smoked brisket is cut at La Barbecue in Austin, one of attendendees of the 2014 Texas Monthly BBQ Fest.
flickr.com/photos/joshbousel/

For Texans, barbeque is nestled somewhere between football and firearms as things closest to a state-mandated religion. We take our barbecue seriously, so it’s no surprise that Texas Monthly magazine would hold an invitation-only barbecue festival every year.

This year's fifth, and largest, annual festival brings 25 of the best pit bosses in the state. The Texas Standard’s David Brown spoke with Texas Monthly BBQ Editor Daniel Vaughn to see which of the competitors have the chops to make the cut.

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Business
3:10 pm
Fri September 5, 2014

How Much of an Impact will an $18 Billion Judgment Have for BP?

Health, safety and environment (HSE) workers contracted by BP clean up oil on a beach in Port Fourchon, La. after the 2010 Deep Water Horizon oil spill..
US Department of Defense

A federal court in New Orleans found BP the primary culprit in the 2010 gulf oil disaster, ruling the company acted with "gross negligence" – a charge four times that of a simple negligence charge. So, how much will $18 billion ruling on the company?

Maybe not much, says Brad Olsen of Bloomberg news. He's been following the Deepwater Horizon spill and its fallout since 2010. He tells Texas Standard's David Brown that the company's already spent $30 billion on cleanup-related costs and "the tab is very clearly going to go higher.” Currently, the energy giant has about $26 billion dollars on their balance sheet. Olsen says, as the fines currently stand, BP can afford it. 

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Kirkus on the Standard
12:23 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

These Two Summer Reads May Just Help You Beat the Heat

With the dog days of summer in full swing and fall's slate of television premieres waiting in the wings, now might be the perfect time to kick back and crack open a book.

Luckily, the Texas Standard's got you covered. Kirkus Reviews' Clay Smith gives us some book recommendations that will, hopefully, keep your mind off the mind numbing heat until cooler temperatures prevail.

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Life & Arts
12:01 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Here's a Look Back at Roy Orbison, an Unassuming West Texas Boy Turned Rockstar

Roy Orbison plays a show in Clearwater Florida in December of 1961.
flickr.com/rockinred1969

Fifty years ago this month, Roy Orbison had his break-out hit "Pretty Woman." The catchy tune about an attractive lady walking by his song became the influence of countless covers and catapulted him into rock-n-roll history. His 1964 song, along with eight other singles, gave the "British Invasion" of the 1960s a run for their money.

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Politics
10:48 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Should The GOP Rethink Gay Marriage?

Protestors gather in downtown Houston in support of gay rights.
flickr.com/us006409

Mark McKinnon is best known as a longtime advisor for President George W. Bush, but recently he’s been taking a surprisingly liberal stance on a popular topic – gay marriage. In opposition to many of his GOP compatriots, McKinnon has been campaigning to bring same sex marriage to the Lone Star State. The Texas Standard’s David Brown speaks with McKinnon on his stance and how he plans to go about it.

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Politics
4:40 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Interview: Rick Perry's Indictment is About More Than a Veto

During a press conference at the Texas State Capitol, Gov. Rick Perry called the indictment against him a farce and an "abuse of power."
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

The indictment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry on criminal charges has gained national attention – particularly since Gov. Perry is being seen as a possible presidential contender.

In a speech given at the conservative Heritage Foundation, Perry defended himself by saying he was acting within the constitutional boundaries of his veto authority. While much of the debate has centered around Perry’s veto authority, the real legal debate is much more serious. 

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Science
3:18 pm
Fri August 15, 2014

How to Learn What's Real – and What Isn't – on Discovery's Shark Week

A Great White shark swims off Guadalupe Island on the pacific coast of Mexico.
flickr.com/elevy

Shark Week is winding down on the Discovery Channel, and with the annual televised ritual comes an uptick of interest in sharks. But with many scientists saying lots of Shark Week facts are dead in the water, how do you separate fact from fiction?

Texas Standard's David Brown recently spoke with freelance writer and evolutionary biologist Christie Wilcox to shed a little light on what's real and what isn’t. 

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Crime & Justice
1:21 pm
Fri August 15, 2014

How Dallas is Trying to Prevent Another Ferguson From Happening

Protestors hold signs in solidarity with Ferguson, MO shooting victim Michael Brown.
Flickr user Light Brigading, https://flic.kr/ps/CcMsa

Police in Ferguson, Missouri finally released the name of the officer involved in the shooting death of Michael Brown this morning. Brown, an African-American teenager, was reportedly unarmed and with his hands in the air when he was killed August 10. The event has sparked public outrage in the predominately African-American community – outrage that has spread over the country.

The Ferguson Police Department has been criticized for its delay in releasing the officer's name, plus its militarized reaction to protestors including rubber bullets and tear gas. But officer involved shootings aren’t limited to Missouri – the reality is that they can happen anywhere.

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Education
4:24 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

Biscuit Brothers Graduate From TV to Teaching at Fine Arts Farm

The cast of the Biscuit Brothers: Buttermilk Biscuit (Jill Leberknight), Buford Biscuit (Allen Robertson), Dusty Biscuit (Jerome Schoolar) and Tiny Scarecrow.
Biscuit Brothers

In Central Texas, The Biscuit Brothers are practically a household name.  Their TV show, filmed here in Austin, has earned them two Emmys and is syndicated as far away as Florida and New York.

The show spawned nearly fifteen years ago, when Jerome Schoolar and Allen Robertson were asked to fill in on a farm-themed sing along, initially a one-time gig. But the personas of Dusty and Buford Biscuit stuck  – and expanded into a successful PBS kids show. 

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Education
1:38 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

Is the News Too Scary for Your Kids? Here's What You Can Do

While many parents are concerned with disturbing content in entertainment, they may overlook news broadcasts.
flickr.com/mamchenkov

The 24-hour-news cycle is ingrained into most adults' lives. Global conflict, natural disasters and crime make their way into in our daily discussions with a sense of normalcy. But for the young and impressionable, the news can paint a rather grim portrait of the world. So how do you go about explaining disturbing world events to your children?

The Texas Standard's David Brown speaks with licensed family and children’s counselor Khris Ford, who gives us some insight on how children perceive the events in the news.

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Immigration
8:45 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Death on the Border: Trying to Identify the Youth Who Never Made It

Members of the Reuniting Families Project excavating bodies along the border.
Baylor University

With thousands of children being detained by the Border Patrol along the Texas border, most of the spotlight seems to be focused on government policy and economic response. The Obama administration believes the ongoing immigration crisis is one that will likely to continue, with estimates of up to 90,000 unaccompanied youth being detained by the end of this fiscal year, three times the amount of last year.

While thousands of undocumented migrants successfully make it across the border, many do not. This has led to an overwhelming amount of deceased, many whom are children, that local authorities are unable to properly identify or even bury. The Texas Standard’s David Brown speaks forensic anthropologist Dr. Lori Baker, who has been working along in South Texas in an attempt to locate and identify the scores of remains along the border.

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Life & Arts
4:31 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

'The World at War' Shares Harrowing Look at the Personal Side of WWI

Harry Ransom Center

World War I stands as a turning point of modern history – a point where industrialization and technology clashed with a bygone imperial policy.

The results were devastating: the four-year conflict involved over a 100 countries and claimed nearly 20 million lives. With its sheer scale it’s easy to forget about the human side of the conflict – the individuals, soldiers, loved ones, and family members who lived throughout the period. 

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Islamic State
4:30 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

You Only Die Once: How ISIS Recruits Young Muslims

Rebels ride a motorcycle in northern Syria
flickr.com/syriafreedom

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, grabbed international attention of media this year after inciting a rash of violence throughout Iraq, gaining momentum and inspiring young Muslims to take up arms, even some right here in Central Texas

Oxford Brookes University modern history professor Roger Griffin tells Texas Standard's David Brown that ISIS, unlike their predecessor al-Qaida, has cultivated an international online brand that glamorizes jihad.

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Texas
11:01 am
Tue June 24, 2014

Listen: Texas Veterans on ISIS and the Future of Iraq

Members of the 1st Air Cavalry on patrol near Taji, Iraq.
U.S. Army, flickr.com/soldiersmediacenter

Last week, the Obama administration announced their response to the unraveling situation in Iraq. The U.S. is sending 300 military advisors to help government forces battling the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. The Al-Qaeda augmented militants have recently taken control of much of northern Iraq. 

The White House has not ruled out air strikes, and the possibility of further military action is the talk of Washington. But what about the men and women who served in Iraq? The Texas Standard's David Brown recently sat down with three veterans for a roundtable discussion of recent events.

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