Laura Rice

Producer, Morning Edition

Laura joined the KUT team in April 2012. She works with Jennifer Stayton each weekday morning to bring you the latest local news during Morning Edition, hosts the noon newscast and reports for on-air and online. You'll also hear Laura with the morning news headlines on KUTX and filling in for Jennifer during the morning drive-time. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.

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Texas Standard
10:58 am
Wed April 22, 2015

Texas Walmart Stores Close Suddenly, Lay Off Workers Due to ‘Plumbing Problems’

Some employees and patrons are suspicious about the retailer’s claims. Could the real reason for the closures be union busting?
flickr.com/jeepersmedia

From Texas Standard:

Mega-retailer Walmart has closed five stores across the country – two in Texas – for one reason:

“They came in and announced that they were going to close the store for at least six months due to extensive plumbing issues,” says Jim Wright, City Attorney of Livingston, Texas. 

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Texas Standard
3:28 pm
Mon April 20, 2015

Looking Back on the BP Oil Spill: How It All Started

What we knew – and when we knew it – about the Deepwater Horizon explosion.
SkyTruth/Flickr

From Texas Standard:

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded. Two days later, it crashed into the ocean. By mid-May, an underwater camera showed the broken pipe constantly gushing black liquid into the Gulf of Mexico.

As the oil spread, so did the panic. Crews tried several different methods to keep it from spreading across the Gulf and into sensitive ecosystems. Engineers tried everything from a containment dome to a “top kill” – sealing the pipe with cement. Nothing worked.

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Texas Standard
2:54 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

Is the Houston-Dallas Bullet Train Plan De-Railed?

A high-speed train similar to this one could connect Dallas and Houston - but not if some state legislators get their way.
facebook.com/texascentral

This story comes from Texas Standard.

Do anti high-speed rail efforts in the Texas legislature and in DC mean it’s an idea that’s going nowhere fast?

Aman Batheja is following the issue for the Texas Tribune.

On Who is Opposed to High-Speed Rail:

“The issue here is the rural communities between Dallas and Houston … The mayors of Dallas and Houston and a majority of the elected officials there strongly support the train project – they’re very strongly behind it. It’s the rural communities that are trying to figure out what’s in it for them.”

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Texas Standard
12:50 pm
Wed April 15, 2015

A Brit’s ‘Modern English’ Journey to Becoming an Austinite

Steven Walker (second from left) played guitar for 'Modern English' before moving to Austin to open a gallery.
Simon Crow/Colchester 101 Magazine

This story comes from Texas Standard.

Steven Walker has thick-rimmed glasses and full beard. He’s wearing a pearl snap shirt with a Western pattern sewn on the pockets. He looks right at home in artsy East Austin.

“People are shocked when they come in and they see all these amazing American artists on the wall and then the guy in the beard and the cowboy shirt comes up to them and says, ‘yuh alright?’ (in a British accent). It is a bit weird for them I guess,” Walker says.

Walker’s journey to Texas wasn’t direct.

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Texas Standard
9:44 am
Sun April 12, 2015

This Sunday is Dedicated to Reading Texas Authors

Texas is taking over one day of “Drop Everything and Read” month.
Via Pixabay.

This story comes from Texas Standard.

There’s a popular kids book by Beverly Cleary titled Ramona Quimby, Age 8. It’s the sixth book in the Ramona series. In it, the struggling pre-adolescent protagonist proclaims that the best part of third grade is the time when you can “drop everything and read.”

Well that sentiment’s not just for precocious book characters or little kids, either.

This Sunday marks the first ever Drop Everything and Read Texas Day or “DEAR Texas Day” – for those of us who like acronyms.

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Texas Standard
2:38 pm
Mon April 6, 2015

Austin Mom Wants Women to Talk About a Common, Embarrassing Problem

The "Just Go Girl" pads are supposed to be invisible from behind.
Megan Jo Olson for Texas Standard.

This story comes from Texas Standard.

At the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon, Texas Standard volunteer Megan Jo Olson approached a handful of women and asked them an uncomfortable question: “Have you experienced stress urinary incontinence?”

The answer from a lot of the women was, “Yes.”

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Texas Standard
2:32 pm
Fri April 3, 2015

The New Battle Over the Alamo

A new museum and visitors center is in the works for the Alamo, but will the collection in the library curated by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas be a part of it?
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons user Jonathanmallard

This story comes from Texas Standard.

For about a century, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT) were caretakers of the Alamo. The group rescued parts of it from being demolished and made efforts to carefully preserve its history.

But new Texas General Land Commissioner George P. Bush ended an arrangement with the DRT last month. Bush cited multiple issues – including the DRT’s failure to keep the Alamo operating without placing significant financial demands on his office.

That’s ignited a new battle over the Alamo.

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Texas Standard
1:55 pm
Fri April 3, 2015

Are the Zellner Filmmakers Texas’ Answer to the Coen Brothers?

David, left, and Nathan Zellner.
Via kumikothetreasurehunter.com

This story comes from Texas Standard.

When someone says filmmaker brothers, who comes to mind? Likely, it's the Coen brothers. But it’s another set of filmmaker brothers that have really gotten the attention of critics and film festival attendees lately, and these guys have Texas ties.

David and Nathan Zellner were born in Colorado but now live in Austin. They’ve probably spent at least half of their careers fielding comments about the Coen brothers, but their latest film “Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter” sort of pays homage to them.

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Texas Standard
1:37 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

How Texas Summers Inspired a Novel Change to the Water Balloon Fight

Check out the world's "only self-sealing water balloons."
Laura Rice, Texas Standard

This story comes from Texas Standard.

The weather is warming up and kids across Texas are finding ways to stay cool as they play outside. One longtime favorite is a good old-fashioned water balloon fight. But a Texas man may have changed the game forever.

“Where I’m from in West Texas originally, it’s very hot and dry in the summers, and there’s very much a lack of things to do,” Kendall Harter says.

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Texas Standard
2:44 pm
Fri March 27, 2015

Kidnapped Texas Journalist Could Be In Negotiations For Release

flickr.com/enriquecespedes

It's no shock that the increased tension in the Middle East has made it tough for Western journalists to cover stories there. That trek didn’t deter Austin Tice, a former Marine from Houston turned freelance journalist, who went to Syria to cover the ongoing civil war. Now, Tice finds himself in trouble.

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Texas Standard
2:25 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Population Growth: Big Texas Keeps Getting Bigger

Via Pixabay

Texas has gotten used to topping lists about booming business and population growth. And while the headline of today’s Census Bureau data is all about Florida, don’t be fooled. Texas is still leading the way in a lot of areas.

“In a lot of cases, Texas leads a lot of the growth area statistics primarily because Texas itself is very, very large,” U.S. Census Bureau Population Estimates Branch Chief Ben Bolender says.

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Texas Standard
3:47 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

Water Fight in Wimberley Could Have Statewide Implications

A sign in Wimberley protesting the Electro Purification plan.
Laura Rice/Texas Standard

About 60 percent of the water we use in Texas comes from aquifers – natural underground reservoirs that often aren’t easily replenished. In Hays County, aquifers have raised a critical question: Who has the right to draw from the Trinity Aquifer, how much they can draw – and can anyone stop them?

A private company based out of Houston – Electro Purification (EP) – plans to pump groundwater from around the city of Wimberley and pipe it to other thirsty communities. EP has contracts to pipe more than 5 million gallons of water a day from this part of the Trinity Aquifer through the year 2036.

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Texas Standard
12:16 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

What SXSW Filmmaker Wants Texans to Know About Mexico’s Drug War

The documentary "Kingdom of Shadows" is showing at SXSW 2015.
Bernardo Ruiz

This story comes from Texas Standard.

A documentary at SXSW – “Kingdom of Shadows” – forces us to look at the ongoing violence south of the Texas-Mexico border.

The film is told through three people – a Mexican nun working to find answers about tens of thousands of disappearances, a U.S. drug enforcement agent and a former Texas drug smuggler. Bernardo Ruiz directed the film.

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Texas Standard
12:03 pm
Wed March 18, 2015

Texas Gospel Group Shines in New Film at SXSW

facebook.com/thejonesfamilysingers

The Jones Family Singers is made up in part of five sisters, two brothers and their father. The gospel music band is based in Bay City, Texas – outside of Houston.

For the last several decades, the Jones Family Singers have been touring churches and winning singing competitions. But it wasn’t until recently that the group started getting some real attention.

That’s thanks in major part to music critic Michael Corcoran. Austin-based Arts and Labor produced an album last year. And now, their story is being told in a film getting its world premiere at South by Southwest: The Jones Family Will Make a Way.

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Texas Standard
2:35 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

Interview: Texan’s Powerful Films on Lasting Effects of Indonesia’s Genocide

Filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer came back to Texas for SXSW Film.
Cody Rea for Texas Standard.

From Texas Standard:

The SXSW Film Conference marks a sort of homecoming for MacArthur genius and Oscar-nominated filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer.

Oppenheimer’s 2012 film, The Act of Killing, looks at how the perpetrators of Indonesia’s military coup cope with their past. His new documentary, The Look of Silence, follows victims of the coup and how they continue to live alongside the people who killed their family members.

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Texas Standard
9:07 am
Tue March 17, 2015

Inside Texas Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez’s SXSW-Exclusive Downtown Art Museum

Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez shows off art at his pop-up museum.
Cody Rea for Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Robert Rodriguez is one of Texas’ most high-profile contemporary filmmakers — best known for Sin City, Spy Kids and From Dusk Till Dawn among other films. So, why has he set up a temporary art museum in Austin?

Rodriguez has taken over a space near the Capitol and has lined the exposed brick walls with framed work by fantasy artist Frank Frazetta.

Rodriguez says when he was a kid growing up in San Antonio, he devoured Frazetta’s work – which showed up on the covers of comic books and paperbacks including "Conan the Barbarian," "Tarzan" and "The Death Dealer." Some of the art in the downtown space once even hung on his bedroom wall.

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Texas Standard
11:19 am
Fri March 13, 2015

SXSW Film: Poor and Pregnant in San Antonio

'Petting Zoo' makes its North American premiere at SXSW.
Micah Magee, Petting Zoo

Filmmaker Micah Magee has been all over the world – but just wanted to capture the Lone Star State in her SXSW Film "Petting Zoo."

Micah Magee directed "Petting Zoo." It's making its North American premiere at SXSW.

"When I was in film school in Berlin I’d go like sit in the cactus section at the biological gardens because I missed the way it smelled so much and you can’t really get smells to be in a film," Magee says. "So I had to find the ways to have that feeling of really being there that I really missed so much. I wanted to like transport that to everywhere else in the world where the film could and, hopefully, would go."

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Texas Standard
4:20 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

SXSW 2015 Features More Films Than Ever Before

"BRAND: A Second Coming" is the opening night film of SXSW.

South by Southwest is the biggest conference of its kind in Texas. It draws in tens of thousands of people and has an economic impact of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Janet Pierson heads up SXSW Film, which is screening 150 films this year – the most ever.

“We actually really wanted to show fewer films. The last couple of years we had settled on about 130-133 features – down from 140 – and we wanted to actually pull it down to about 125, and then there was just too much work that was interesting,” Pierson says.

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Texas Standard
2:31 pm
Wed March 4, 2015

The San Antonio Spurs and the Trouble With Analytics

Turns out, the definition of 'analytics' varies – and so do the stories of how much the Spurs rely on them.
Flickr User Katie Haugland

From Texas Standard: 

The Spurs recently won an award for using analytics – but do they use them?

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Texas Standard
11:31 am
Thu February 26, 2015

Texas Football: The Black Quarterback's Battle Against Racism

Vince Young, James Brown and Donnie Little talk to an LHN commentator about their experiences with the Texas Longhorns football team.
Courtesy of Longhorn Network

The quarterback is sacred in football. It's a job that wasn't entrusted to a black man at UT-Austin until 1978.

UT's first black quarterback was Donnie Little.

"It's more prevalent now in the last 10 years. You see more black quarterbacks in the NFL, all over. It wasn't like that when I came through," Little says.

Little sort of dismisses the racism he faced. He talks about it in a special Longhorn Network program in recognition of Black History Month.

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