Nathan Bernier

Host, All Things Considered

Nathan Bernier a KUT reporter and the local host during All Things Considered and Marketplace. He grew up in the small mountain town of Nelson, BC, Canada, and worked at commercial news radio stations in Ottawa, Montreal and Boston before starting at KUT in 2008. 

Nathan has won numerous journalism awards including a National Edward R. Murrow Award, Texas Associated Press Awards, Lonestar Awards from the Houston Press Club, and various other awards and recognitions.  Nathan's hobbies outside work include producing music and enjoying Austin's many food and drink establishments.

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Food
11:05 am
Thu May 1, 2014

Austin is Making It Easier For Food Trucks to Recycle and Compost

The Korean Komfort food trailer in West Campus. Trailers and trucks in established courts can possess freestanding recycling and composting services, but under current city code, solo trucks cannot.
flickr.com/sbogdanich

Baton Creole food truck owner Lynzy Moran has been cited twice by the City of Austin for trying to be more environmentally friendly.

Once it was for collecting grease to be recycled into biodiesel. Another time it was for trying to compost food waste. Now she drives the hot oil she uses to clean her fryers from her East Sixth Street location to a commissary for disposal.

"I'm literally having to travel with hot oil in my car every night, which is also very dangerous and pretty scary," Moran says. "[I've] definitely burned myself a few times."

Audio version of story that ran this morning

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Crime & Justice
2:57 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Texas 'Has No Plans' to Use Drug From Botched Oklahoma Execution

Update: After Tuesday night's botched execution in Oklahoma, Texas corrections officials say they have no plans to use midazolam in future executions. Midazolam was the first component of a three-drug cocktail administered to death row inmate Clayton Lockett yesterday. Read more about the execution here.

As KUT first reported in February, the state has supplies of midazolam on hand. But the Texas Department of Criminal Justice says in a statement that it "has no plans to change our procedures. Texas does not use the same drugs as Oklahoma as we use a single lethal dose of pentobarbital and we have done so since 2012.” 

Attorneys for death row inmates in Texas have unsuccessfully tried to find out who is selling compounded pentobarbital to the state. They're suing in civil court and making a case to the Open Records Division of the Office of the Attorney General that TDCJ should disclose its source. 

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Business
7:21 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

Study: Amazon's Sales Tax Sends Shoppers Elsewhere

https://flic.kr/p/h6y7Fr

Requiring Amazon to charge state sales tax has sent many consumers looking for other tax-free options, according to a new study for the National Bureau of Economic Research.

In 2012, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs reached an agreement with Amazon to collect sales tax on items sold to Texans. Because Amazon has a "physical presence" in Texas - its distribution center in Irving - Combs said Amazon should have been collecting state sales tax on online sales. She agreed to drop her demands for $269 million in taxes if Amazon promised to create 2,500 jobs and spend $200 million in capital investments.

But after Amazon started charging sales tax in Texas, its sales in this state dropped by 11 percent, according to researchers.

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Texas
6:43 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

West Gets $4.8 Million to Fix Water System

A scene from West after the explosion on April 17, 2013.
Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

The Texas town of West is getting $4.85 million more to help recover from the fertilizer plant explosion that happened one year ago this week. Fifteen people were killed and hundreds injured in the blast on April 17, 2013. 

Governor Perry authorized the funding a day before a ceremony to mark the first anniversary of the disaster. West Mayor Tommy Muska didn't question the timing of the grant.

"It shows a lot of cooperation between local, state and federal that we can come together and secure these funds within one day of the anniversary and move forward," Muska told KUT. 

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AISD
8:03 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Paul Cruz to Lead Austin Schools As Interim Superintendent

AISD's chief schools officer Paul Cruz is expected to be named interim superintendent Tuesday.
Image courtesy AISD: http://powerofusinaustinisd.blogspot.com/2010_08_26_archive.html

Update: KUT has learned from multiple sources that AISD Chief School Paul Cruz is expected to be named interim superintendent at Tuesday's school board meeting.

This comes one day after Superintendent Meria Carstarphen was unanimously approved to lead Atlanta Public Schools district Monday.

Cruz receives high marks from Drew Scheberle, the vice president of education for the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce.

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Education
5:49 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Update on Mexican-American Studies Course in Texas Public Schools

Supporters of a statewide standard for teaching Mexican-American studies in Texas spoke before a hearing of the State Board of Education on April 8, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

Update: High schools in Texas are one step closer to getting state-funded materials to teach courses in Mexican-American studies after a vote today by the Texas State Board of Education. 

Board members voted to ask publishers to develop textbooks for Mexican-American studies, along with three other social studies courses: African-American, Asian-American and Native-American studies. But the board stopped short of developing a statewide course on the topics. A final vote is scheduled for later this week.

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Fort Hood
4:08 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Fort Hood Update: Timeline, Overview of Shooting Released by Army

Fort Hood officials released this map showing the route Spc. Ivan Lopez took during a shooting that killed four, including himself.
Fort Hood Public Affairs

Investigators probing last week's shooting at Fort Hood presented their first clear narrative today of what they think happened.

U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command's Chris Gray confirmed the shooting spree started after Spc. Ivan Lopez had a verbal altercation with a colleague over a request for leave.

"Within minutes of the altercation, the subject brandished a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun and fired multiple rounds, killing one soldier and wounding 10 additional soldiers," Gray said.

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Education
7:17 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

More Than 5 Million Kids Are Attending Public School in Texas

Students at Anderson High learning about the Declaration of Independence. Public school enrollment in Texas has passed 5 million for the first time.
KUT News

For the first time, more than 5 million students are enrolled in Texas public schools. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) published a report Tuesday that the state hit the milestone last school year when 5,075,840 students were enrolled.

The population of Hispanic students had the largest numerical increase, growing by 64,903 in one year.

Rice University demographer Steve Murdoch, who used to run the U.S. Census Bureau, says the future of the Texas economy will be determined largely by how well those students are educated. 

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urban development
7:26 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Austin Considers Measure Aimed at Lowering Cost of Tiny Apartments

Removing off-street parking requirements for apartments under 500 square feet could make them more affordable, advocates say.
https://flic.kr/p/4sG5xG

The City of Austin could remove off-street parking space requirements for developers who build some apartments smaller than 500 square feet – dwellings known as "micro-units." Advocates say it could encourage development of the micro-units along public transit corridors.

"We're talking about 300- or 400-square-foot apartments. Is there a market for that? In some cities, it looks like there has been," Council Member Bill Spelman said Tuesday during a council work session. "This is another way of simply reducing the cost. The whole thing is really about affordable housing." 

City code requires most residential developments to have at least one off-street parking space per unit. Council removed most of those requirements for downtown businesses last year. 

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Austin
6:44 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

How You Can Help SXSW Crash Victims

People offered prayers for the victims at a vigil Thursday at St. David’s Episcopal Church. You can also help by donating blood, offering money or providing evidence to police.
Mary Elizabeth Ashton

After an early morning crash on Red River Street claimed two lives and hospitalized almost two dozen people, some are understandably asking, "What can I do to help?" Here are some ideas.

Give Money:  SXSW, the City of Austin and Transmission Events set up a relief fund for the victims and their families. You can make a donation at SXSWCares.com. Other ways to contribute are at sxswrelief.org.  

Albert Smith, who operates the Unofficial SXSW Guide, is also raising money at this GoFundMe page

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Politics
4:18 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Activists Plan to Carry Guns on Sixth Street During SXSW Wednesday

Twitter pictures captured from a similar walk last Saturday.
Twitter user @SocialMatchbox and David Yoakum/Twitter user @davidb00ts

Update: About forty gun activists marched from the Capital and down Sixth Street today, many openly carrying black powder revolvers and rifles strapped across their backs. The rally occurred right in the middle of the South by Southwest festival. 

“We’re trying to get open carry of hand guns passed," says Chris Way from Fort Hood. That’s be a lot easier than carrying an AR-15 over the street. Really all it is, is we don’t want the government in our lives and we don’t want telling me how to protect my family and my little one.” 

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Politics
4:46 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Call for Buc-ee's Boycott After Owners Endorse Dan Patrick

Texas convenience store chain Buc-ee's has waded into controversy with its owners' endorsement of Dan Patrick for Lieutenant Governor.
flickr.com/jenniferwoodardmaderazo

Buc-ee's, the Texas convenience store known for their clean restrooms and beaver mascot, is now the subject of a boycott.

U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, is encouraging a boycott after owners of the business endorsed Republican State Sen. Dan Patrick for Lieutenant Governor.

Castro sent a tweet saying he won't gas up there because Patrick is a "fear mongering immigrant basher:" 

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SXSW 2014
7:11 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Don't be Human Spam or a Vampire: Austin Kleon's Advice for SXSW

Austin Kleon

One of the largest gatherings of creative minds is happening right now in Austin, but how can you become a valuable part of that community without sucking the life out of it or annoying other people with your relentless self-promotion?

Don't be "human spam" or a "vampire." That's the advice of Austin Kleon, a local artist and writer whose book "Steal Like an Artist" spent six months on the New York Times best-seller list.

"There's basically the people who want to take all the inspiration, and then there's people who want to flood you with their own thing that they're shilling," he says.

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SXSW
7:27 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Lady Gaga to Perform at SXSW (Update)

Flickr user Jason H. Smith, http://flic.kr/ps/2pqMoZ

Update: South by Southwest announced this morning that Lady Gaga will perform at this year's festival. She's set to take the stage Thursday, March 13. The City of Austin had originally denied a request to have Lady Gaga perform, citing concerns that the Doritos venue wasn't big enough.

So, SXSW is moving that venue for one night to the Stubb's Waller Creek Amphitheater at Eighth and Red River streets.

Click here for details on how to get tickets.

Here's @SXSW's announcement on Twitter:

Original Story (Feb. 26, 2014): The city of Austin is denying a request to have Lady Gaga perform in a downtown parking lot during South by Southwest.

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SXSW
6:12 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Edward Snowden to Speak at SXSW Interactive

Video still from Snowden's interview with Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras on June 6, 2013
http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2013/jun/09/nsa-whistleblower-edward-snowden-interview-video

Edward Snowden will speak at South by Southwest Interactive via videoconference next week. The man who leaked details about the extent of National Security Agency surveillance is currently living in Russia under asylum.

If you don't have a badge, you can still hear Snowden on Monday at 11 a.m. because the Texas Tribune will be offering a free live stream of the session. Snowden will be interviewed by the American Civil Liberties Union's "principal technologist" Christopher Soghoian.

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Politics
3:37 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Sorry Austin Dems: City Won't Host 2016 Democratic Convention

The 2012 Democratic National Convention was held in Charlotte, North Carolina. Could Austin compete in 2016?
flickr.com/stevebott

Update: Mayor Lee Leffingwell announced today that the city won't pursue hosting the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

Despite noting that “recent past conventions have injected $150 to $200 million into the [host] cities economies,” Leffingwell cited two hurdles to an Austin convention: facilities and transportation.

Leffingwell told reporters the DNC has very specific operational requests; foremost among that is a facility big enough for convention attendees.

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Politics
7:59 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Davis Wins Round of Fundraising But Abbott Has More Cash Overall

Democrat Wendy Davis won the latest money battle in the race for Texas Governor. But her likely Republican opponent Greg Abbott is still winning the larger war for campaign cash.

Monday at midnight is the deadline for candidates to tell the Texas Ethics Commission how much they raised in the preceding 30 days.

Davis and a Democratic organization supporting her, the Texas Victory Committee,  raised $2.85 million in the last month.  That was more than Abbott's $2.45 million

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Education
10:44 am
Thu February 20, 2014

Interview: The UT Art History Professor Who Got An Apology From Pres. Obama

President Barack Obama flashes the "Hook Em" sign during a UT appearance in 2010. President Obama apologized to a UT art history professor who took umbrage with the president's remarks about art history majors.
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

President Barack Obama wrote a hand-written apology to a University of Texas art history professor this week.

Ann Johns, a senior lecturer at UT-Austin's Department of Art and Art History, complained via the White House website about the president's remarks in a speech at a Wisconsin factory last month. As CNN notes, stumping for education initiatives, President Obama said "You folks can make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree."

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Fort Hood
8:04 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Video: Site of Fort Hood Massacre Demolished, Memorial to Be Built

In August 2013, a military jury convicted Nidal Hasan and sentenced him to death. The appeals process is likely to drag on for years.
Landov

It was over four years ago when Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan entered the troop-filled soldier processing room at Fort Hood and opened fire with a laser sighted pistol.

Yesterday, the Fort Hood Directorate of Public Works confirmed demolition of Building 42003, the soldier processing room where most of the attack took place.

Video of the demolition – seen below – shows a backhoe tearing into an exterior wall of the building and pulling pieces of it to the ground. The November 2009 attack left 13 people dead and more than 30 wounded.

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Music
5:56 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

'Pay-to-Play' Booking Inside the Austin Hip Hop Scene

flickr.com/nickstone333

If you were an emerging hip hop artist making beats in your bedroom and rapping with friends, would you pay $400 for a chance to perform on a stage before a nationally recognized rapper like Z-Ro? If you were a hip hop fan, would you feel ripped off if you bought tickets to a show and had to sit through hours of inexperienced rappers whose only qualification was having enough cash to get on stage? 

Those are questions confronting Austin's hip hop scene with the rise of pay-to-play, writes Morgan Davis for the local music blog Ovrld.com. The issue became particularly acute this past weekend when several people who claimed to have paid to perform at a Waka Flocka Flame show saw it get canceled

We invited Davis into KUT to talk about the issue of pay-to-play, which is scheduled to be discussed by the Austin Music Commission tonight

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