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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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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Crime & Justice
7:05 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Texas Exploring 'All Options' For Execution Drugs

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice says it is exploring the use of alternate drugs in executions. The statement comes after KUT News confirmed through a Public Information Act request that TDCJ possesses a pair of drugs used in a controversial execution in Ohio last month: midazolam and hydromorphone.

"TDCJ continues to explore all options including the continued use of pentobarbital or an alternate drug(s) in the lethal injection process," TDCJ spokesperson Jason Clark said in an email. 

In the Ohio execution in January, rapist and murderer Dennis McGuire was administered a combination of midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a pain-killer derived from morphine. McGuire gasped and struggled for at least 14 minutes before dying, according to news reports and an account by a Catholic priest who witnessed it.

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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

Food
7:50 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

New Food Truck Court to Open on Barton Springs Rd.

An artist's rendering of the Picnic, coming in March to Barton Springs Rd.
Ronnie Brooks

A new food trailer court is slated to open on Barton Springs Road in March, creating a new home for well-known mobile food vendors such as The Mighty Cone, Turf N Surf Po’Boy and Ms. P’s Electric Cock.

The Picnic, as it's to be named, will occupy one-third of a three acre site between Chuy's and Baby Acapulco where the Manor Mobile RV Park used to be. The other two thirds of the site is being developed as the Coldwater Luxury Apartments.

Unlike some food trailer courts that are located on undeveloped sites while landlords rent space to offset property tax until they can build something on the lot, the Picnic aims to be a long-term facility.

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Transportation
7:56 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

How to Rid Roads of Ice? City and State Differ on Methods

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

The city and the state cooperated to make icy roads safer for drivers today, sending out a combined 135 trucks to treat some of the 2,000 miles of roads and bridges in Austin. But when it comes to choosing how to treat the ice, Austin Public Works and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) take very different approaches. 

The city employs a reusable sand called dolomite, according to Public Works spokesperson Carolyn Perez.  She says it's better for the environment than some chemical de-icing agents.

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Business
7:21 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Judge Strikes Down New Braunfels' 'Can Ban'

Tubers on the Comal River before a ban on disposible containers was enacted.
Robert Nagle http://flic.kr/p/98bL

The New Braunfels "can ban" is poised to disappear.

The rule prohibits disposable food and beverage containers from the Guadalupe and Comal Rivers inside New Braunfels city limits. It was approved in a city referendum in 2011 to combat litter. Tourism businesses and a Budweiser beer distributor sued.

District Judge Don Burgess, who was assigned the case as a visiting judge after local judges recused themselves, emailed lawyers for both sides Monday, saying he intends to rule in favor of the businesses. Lawyers now have to draft competing rulings, and Justice Burgess will sign one after making any changes.

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Affordable Care Act
7:27 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

No Medicaid Expansion Leaves Thousands of Texas Women in 'Coverage Gap'

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Governor Perry’s decision not to accept federal expansion of Medicaid in Texas means 687,000 women will be left in a "coverage gap," according to a report by the National Women’s Law Center. Those women are too poor to qualify for Medicaid, but don’t make enough money to be eligible for subsidies on the federal health insurance exchange. 

Medicaid eligibility standards in Texas are among the strictest in the nation. A parent in a family of three must make less than $3,737 annually to qualify (19 percent of the federal poverty level), according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Adults without dependent children are not eligible for Medicaid in Texas. 

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Invasive Species
7:34 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Central Texas Boaters Could Soon Face More Rules Because of Zebra Mussels

Zebra mussels can clog pipes, and removing them can be costly and time-consuming.
Larry D. Hodge, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

As the invasive and annoying zebra mussel pops up in a sixth Texas lake, state wildlife commissioners are getting ready to vote on new rules that would require boaters in Central Texas counties to clean, drain and dry their boats whenever they take them out of the water, whether the boat has a motor or not. 

Texas Parks & Wildlife announced Tuesday that zebra mussels were found in  Lake Lavon, one of the largest lakes in North Texas. The invasive species was first discovered in Texas in 2006 and was already found in Lakes Texoma, Ray Roberts, Lewisville, Bridgeport and Belton.

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Water
7:11 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Environmentalists Cheer Water Rate Hike, Mayors Not So Much

http://flic.kr/p/5oEmbT

Environmentalists are giving cautious approval to a plan by the Lower Colorado River Authority to raise municipal water rates by 19.5 percent next year.

The increase would not affect Austin Water customers, because the city-owned utility has a separate deal with the LCRA. But it would affect people in other Central Texas cities such as Dripping Springs, Cedar Park and Leander. 

“Water in Texas is very cheap and by and large," says Ken Kramer with the Lone Star chapter of the Sierra Club, "price increases will, in the long term, at least have a positive impact in making us more efficient in the use of that valuable resource.”

But some Central Texas mayors are not enthusiastic about their constituents paying more for water, especially in some of the faster-growing Austin suburbs like Leander. That city partnered with Round Rock and Cedar Park to develop a $350 million regional water system that could accommodate their growing populations. 

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SXSW
3:20 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Julian Assange to Speak at SXSW Interactive (Update)

Assange speaking at a 2010 conference in Sweden.
flickr.com/photos/newmediadaysdk/

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange will speak via satellite at SXSW Interactive in March. In a rare public interview, Assange will discuss the "pervasive spread of surveillance, advantages and abuses of the digital age, and the future of democracy," according to a statement from the festival. 

Assange will speak with Benjamin Palmer of New York-based web marketer The Barbarian Group at 11 a.m. on Mar. 8, the second day of the Interactive portion of the festival. 

Palmer told KUT that his conversation with Assange at South By will be more of a conversation about the future of the Internet and international communication, and less of a formal interview. 

"This is where everyone that's inventing all the next platforms goes to kind of hear thought leadership, you know?" Palmer said. "And I feel like Julian's point of view — where the Internet has come from, where it's going and what's generally happening — is a really important conversation to have at a place like South By Southwest."

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Education
5:01 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Feds Say Minority Students Face Higher Rates of Punishment

Credit flickr.com/therefore

The federal government and the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education released guidelines encouraging school to use fairness and equity in their discipline policies and warning of potential punishment, if they don't.

The U.S. Department of Education says African-American students make up 15 percent of the nation’s population but account for more than one-third of those who have been suspended from school at least once.

Education advocate Deborah Fowler, with Texas Appleseed, says minority students, especially African-American students, are more likely to experience discipline more frequently, both from administrators and from school resource officers.

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Austin
3:47 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Travis County Commissioners Decline to Renew Gun Show Contract (Update)

The Houston Gun show at the George R. Brown Convention Center in 2007. Travis County Commissioners are considering doing away with gun shows that take place on publicly-owned property.
Credit flickr.com/glasgows

Update: Travis County Commissioners effectively ended their contract with Saxet Gun Show today by refusing to renew their contract to operate at the Travis County Expo Center.

The majority of commissioners declined to renew the contract after the promoter refused to allow background checks for all purchases, not just purchases from federally licensed vendors, which already require checks. The term would have closed the so-called gun show "loophole," says Judge Sam Biscoe. He estimates 10 percent of purchases at Saxet shows are done without background checks.

"So far we have been unwilling to give them a new contract without background checks as a term,” Biscoe tells KUT. “So as long as they insist on not doing background checks on this 10 percent, unless we change our minds, they’re still without a contract.”

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Sports
4:52 pm
Sun January 5, 2014

UT Football Hires Charlie Strong to Replace Mack Brown

Charlie Strong at a Louisville game in September. UT announced Sunday it is hiring Strong as head football coach.
Eleanor Hasken, http://www.flickr.com/photos/94508584@N06/10693063415/

The University of Texas announced Sunday it is hiring Charlie Strong as its head football coach, replacing the outgoing Mack Brown, who announced last month that he was leaving the team after 16 years. 

Strong, 53, will become the first black coach of a men's sport at UT in the university's history, the San Antonio Express-News reported.

"To follow a future Hall of Fame coach like Mack Brown, who built a program that had great success and a reputation of doing it with class and integrity, is extra special," Strong said in a statement released by the university. 

Strong will receive a salary of $5 million per year for five years, Sports Illustrated reports, citing an unnamed athletics official.  

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Health
1:46 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

Defibrillators Save Lives, But Experts Say They're Scarce in Austin

Photo via http://www.flickr.com/photos/mloberg/

All the holiday stress, dehydration and alcohol consumption at this time of the year can lead to something called “holiday heart syndrome.” It’s an irregular heartbeat that often presents in people who are otherwise healthy.

If someone collapses around you, you might be able to save their lives with an automated external defibrillator, or AED. But public health experts say there aren’t nearly enough of them out there. 

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