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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hyperloop
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Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced today that he plans to build a test version of his Hyperloop transit system, and that test loop will likely be built in Texas.

Musk announced plans for a Hyperloop in California in 2013. The high-speed transit system would move at rates up to 800 miles per hour, potentially cutting the five-plus hour drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles down to about an hour.

The test track potentially in the works for Texas would be a five-mile loop, Musk said. One trip around that loop would take about 22.5 seconds.

Photo by Philip Rogers / philiprogersphotography.com

If you are a visual artist or know of any who want to get paid for their work, the City of Austin is looking for people to add to a pool of artists they call upon to create works of public art. We were curious about this, so we called the city's Art in Public Places program administrator Meghan Wells to ask some questions about it.

KUT: What kind of artists are you looking for exactly?

Meghan Wells: We're looking for qualifications from artists who are interested in being commissioned for public art projects through the program in a streamlined way. In essence, we're looking for a way to create a pool of artists we can pull from to expedite the selection project for various public art projects that are coming along.

KUT: How much money could an artist expect to earn? 

The next Texas governor said his wife is making history as the “first Hispanic first lady of Texas.” The Austin American-Statesman’s PolitiFact Texas fact-checking team was on the case, digging up ancestry research to assess the validity of Abbott’s claim.

Abbott made the declaration in early December on an episode of Meet the Press.

http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/12700-Hughes-Park-Rd_Austin_TX_78732_M80803-44996

Homes worth more than $1 million sold at a faster pace last year in the Austin-area than they did 2013. In a new report, the Texas Association of Realtors says "luxury home sales" were up by 9 percent between January and October. That amounted to 479 homes sold. 

Those homes make up a small fraction of the overall housing market, just two percent of the 23,700 places sold over the time period. Homes over $1 million are also taking longer to sell -- five months, on average -- compared to an average of 40 days for the Austin market as a whole.

KUT

A legendary Austin music venue, the Cactus Café, celebrated its 35th anniversary this year. For the past few years, the Cactus has been operated by KUT. But the famous listening room at the University of Texas at Austin got its start in February 1979.

In the beginning, the venue mostly hosted student bands playing a lot of cover songs. But over the years, the Cactus Café became known as a place where you could hear some of the biggest names in Texas music such as Townes van Zandt, Guy Clark and Jimmie Dale Gilmore.

"It became sort of the premier place for the singer-songwriter," Gilmore says. 

But everyone I spoke to for this story says the Cactus was only able to gain its status because of the die-hard Texas music fan who started booking bands there in the 1980s: Griff Luneburg.

Listen to the full story here: 

Austin Chronicle https://flic.kr/p/88nevS

Austin received the highest possible score in a new report card measuring city policies toward lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) scored 353 cities nationwide, including 22 in Texas, and gave Austin a score of 100 out of 100.

Texas Tribune

Democrat for Texas Governor Wendy Davis sold at least 4,450 hard copies of her memoir Forgetting to Be Afraid since it was published on September 9th, Nielsen BookScan reports. Conservatives have bashed the number as dismal, but some independent book industry veterans say the sales figure is actually respectable.

Image courtesy Dave Wilson http://www.flickr.com/photos/dawilson/

An unidentified nurse has returned to Texas from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone. She arrived at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport this morning.

The nurse has no symptoms of the disease, but has agreed to a request from Gov. Rick Perry to self-quarantine at home for 21 days. In a statement, Gov. Perry called her a "health care hero" and said the state will check in on her twice a day, but she was not forced to quarantine.

https://flic.kr/p/aQtkzi

Investors who want to buy into the legal marijuana industry are gathering this weekend in Houston. Organizers say it's the first marijuana investor conference in Texas. 

Even though marijuana is illegal in Texas, it's not necessarily against the law to invest in aspects of the business in one of the 23 states that have permitted it for medical or recreational use.

"If you are touching the plant, and you're in Texas, you may have a problem," organizer Doug Leighton says. "If you're doing the ancillary businesses and products, then I think you have a clear pathway to invest."

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Immigration advocates say whistleblowers are reporting sexual assault by guards at a privately run immigrant detention center in South Texas. The Karnes County Residential Center is run by GEO Group.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and attorneys at the University of Texas School of Law have filed a complaint with the federal government. It comes on the heels of a separate complaint last week alleging detainees have inadequate access to food, telephones and appropriate conditions to care for their children. 

In the latest complaint, MALDEF and the attorneys allege GEO guards are having sex with detainees, groping them in front of children, and calling the women detainees their "girlfriends." 

Yasir Mirza

An Austin-area Muslim community that helps maintain a stretch of road in Round Rock had its official Adopt-A-Highway sign vandalized. The sign is on A.W. Grimes Boulevard between Old Settlers and University Boulevards. 

Someone over the weekend sprayed black paint over the part of the sign that said "Ahmadiyya Muslim," the name of the community that cleans litter from the stretch of highway every three months or so.

TexasGunTrader.com

Someone is selling a rifle they say was used in a mass shooting at the University of Texas campus almost 50 years ago. Charles Whitman killed 16 people on August 1, 1966 and wasn't stopped until Austin police officer Houston McCoy shot him at the top of the UT tower.

A listing on the Texas Gun Trader website shows a starting bid of $25,000 for the Remington 700 ADL with Lupold scope. Donald Weiss says he's selling it for a collector who wishes to remain anonymous.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice

A Houston man was executed tonight for murdering two people in 1993. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice says the execution drug pentobarbital was administered to Willie Trottie at 6:13 p.m. He was pronounced dead at 6:35 p.m. 

In 1993, Trottie burst into the family home of his ex-girlfriend Barbara Canada and shot her to death. He also killed her brother execution-style and wounded Canada's mother and sister, according to the TDCJ's offender information.  

U.S. Census Bureau

Texas has one of the nation's lowest rates of people on welfare, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau. It says 1.8 percent of Texas households received benefits through the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program in 2012. 

Only Wyoming (1.7 percent), South Carolina (1.6 percent), North Dakota (1.5 percent) and Louisiana (1.5 percent) had lower welfare rates than Texas. The United States average is 2.9 percent. The tally did not include food stamps or Social Security benefits. 

Williamson County

A 19-year-old in Round Rock is no longer facing the possibility of life in prison for allegedly making marijuana brownies and selling them for $25 each. The case involving Jacob Lavoro attracted national attention. An online petition against the punishment has more than a quarter million signatures. 

Williamson County assistant District Attorney Mark Brunner says they decided not to pursue a charge based on the total weight of the brownies to avoid jury "distraction" during a possible trial. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

As the school year starts anew for Texas public schools, the Austin Independent School District is preparing for a year of changes.

In November, as many as five new school board members will be elected, a replacement superintendent will be hired in the wake of Meria Carstarphen’s departure and the district could face more, or less, funding after the legislature convenes in January.

The district’s interim superintendent Paul Cruz spoke with KUT about the difficulties facing Austin students, parents and educators as bells ring in the new academic year.

Fox News Sunday

The indictment of Governor Rick Perry on charges of abuse of power and coercion follows a general pattern in the U.S. of the “rule of law not being followed,” Perry said this morning on Fox News Sunday, adding it’s partly the result of a “government out of control.”

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT

Texas Governor Rick Perry is facing accusations he broke the law two times when he threatened to veto state funding for a unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office that investigates public corruption. The story includes a lot of legal terminology, so here’s a decoder.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT

Texas Governor Rick Perry firmly rejected criminal charges connected to his 2013 veto of state funding for a public corruption unit in the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, labeling the prosecution a “farce” and promising to defend himself vigorously.

“I cannot and I will not allow this to happen,” Perry said at a brief news conference at the State Capitol this afternoon.

“I intend to fight against those who would erode our state’s constitution and laws purely for political purposes, and I intend to win,” he said.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Almost four weeks after Gov. Rick Perry said he was deploying the National Guard to the border, the first wave of soldiers has started setting up at observation posts. Several guardsmen were seen Thursday afternoon manning an observation tower along the busy road leading to the Hidalgo International Bridge, which connects McAllen and Reynosa, in the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico near Matamoros.

Perry announced in July he would send up to 1,000 members of the National Guard to the Texas-Mexico border, on top of extra state troopers he already ordered there from the Texas Department of Public Safety. Perry says the National Guard will serve as extra eyes, reporting suspicious activity to authorities.

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