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.

Ways To Connect

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.

Julian Aguilar/Texas Tribune

Sending additional state police and National Guard troops to the border will cost Texas between $17 million and $18 million dollars a month. That's according to a presentation Tuesday by top officials with the Legislative Budget Board (LBB), who told state lawmakers they will have to find a way to keep paying for it. 

About one-third of that cost is for salaries, travel and other expenses of Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers sent to the border as part of "Operation Strong Safety II."  Close to two-thirds of the $18 million will cover salary, meals, lodging and other costs of deploying up to 1,000 National Guard troops. 

National Association of Realtors

Austin is the best city in the United States for aspiring homebuyers between 20 and 34 years old, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). It said even though housing prices in Austin have shot up in the last few years, the city's median home value of $252,520 is still about half of what it is in Boston and a third of what it is in San Francisco.

"Which is the reason why we still place Austin as reasonably affordable," NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun says. "This is where the millennial generations are moving into and [where] the job opportunities are available."

Texas has one of the lowest rates of marijuana use in the country, according to a closely watched federal report. Recently released state level data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) shows less than five percent of Texas adults said they had used marijuana in the last month.

Among teenagers, six percent reporting having used marijuana in the last month. That rose to almost 14 percent for the 18-25 year old demographic. Only three percent of adults over 26 in Texas said they had used pot in the last month. The survey data was collected in 2010 and 2011. 

Nathan Bernier/KUT

The largest school district in Central Texas has hit a record high graduation rate. But the Austin school district still lags behind the state average.

In the five years that former Austin ISD superintendent Meria Carstarphen oversaw the district before leaving for Atlanta, graduation rates rose by ten percent. In 2013, it hit a new high of just over 84 percent. And the increases in graduation rates were across all student groups in AISD, including Hispanics, African-Americans, economically disadvantaged and special education students. 

Jillian Schantz Patrick for KUT News

Travis County residents could see a property taxes increase in the $901 million proposed budget for 2015. The increase, however, isn’t because of rising property values, but because of the demand for countywide services.

The budget calls to build out integral services for the ever-expanding county, but may lower the tax rate. County officials will debate and hear public comment on the budget before the final Sept. 23 vote.

November 5, 2009 Ft. Hood Memorial

People trying to build a memorial for victims of the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood hope a ground breaking ceremony they held Tuesday will help raise the last amount of cash they need to complete the project. 

It's been almost five years since Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan opened fire at the Army post, killing 13 people and wounding more than 30. Hasan, 43, was sentenced to death last year by a military jury.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

It’s time for another edition of KUT’s Summer School. Every Friday this summer, we head out to learn new skills from people in Austin who are experts in their field. Today’s subject? Meat curing.

Our instructor is a butcher who used to be a vegan for almost ten years: Salt and Time Butcher Shop and Salumeria co-owner Ben Runkle. 

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

People stand in line for up to five hours to eat at Franklin Barbecue. The Austin restaurant, run by Aaron Franklin and his wife Stacey, has earned national praise for serving slow-smoked Central Texas barbecue within the Austin city limits. 

Franklin Barbecue has been closed for the past couple of weeks for an expansion that includes a new smokehouse. It is scheduled to reopen Tuesday, July 8. Aaron Franklin swung by the KUT studios to talk about it. You can read the interview below or listen to it here. 

LBJ Presidential Library and Museum

Update: President Barack Obama will give a public address during his visit to Austin this week.

Obama will be at The Paramount Theater on Thursday for a speech on the economy. Tickets are free and available to the public. They’ll be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 8:30 Tuesday morning at The Paramount (713 Congress Ave). The White House will only distribute a limited number of tickets.

Doors will open for the speech on Thursday at 9:45 a.m. Tickets are required for entry and are not for sale or re-sale. The White House says all attendees will go through airport-like security.

Original Story (July 2, 2014): Austin filmmaker Robert Rodriguez will host a fundraiser for President Obama on Wednesday, July 9, according to a Democratic Party source who wished to speak on background. Tickets for the event will range from $5,000 to the legal limit of $32,400. The proceeds will go to the Democratic National Committee.

North Carolina Department of Transportation

State transportation authorities announced this week that they received the green light to build a $6.7 million "diverging diamond interchange" at I-35 and University Blvd. in Round Rock. That's an area that gets a lot of traffic, partly because it's near the only IKEA in Central Texas and the Round Rock Premium Outlets, among many other retail businesses.

The Austin City Council is calling on the Texas legislature to legalize medical marijuana. The council passed this resolution Thursday, sponsored by council members Bill Spelman and Mike Martinez, who's running for mayor. The resolution calls for the city to change its state legislative agenda to include support for "legislation to legalize the use of medical marijuana."

Project Connect

By a unanimous vote – Austin city council endorsed a package of proposed transportation projects Thursday night, including a $1.4 billion dollar urban rail line

The Austin City Council limited public comment on urban rail to 30 minutes for each side, which angered some public transit advocates who support the concept of urban rail but reject the proposed route of the plan. 

Project Connect

A proposal to build a $1.4 billion urban rail line in Austin faces a key vote today in the city council. The 9.5 mile urban rail line would run from Riverside Drive and Grove, through downtown to Highland Mall.

Supporters of the plan say that route is going to see a lot of growth over the next few years. Opponents wonder why it’s not going in where things are already happening. Like, along Lamar or Guadalupe.

Project Connect

A proposed urban rail line is one small step closer to becoming a reality after a panel of local officials, business leaders and citizens voted overwhelmingly to recommend the $1.38 billion proposal. The Central Corridor Advisory Group voted 13-1 in favor of Project Connect's 9.5 mile plan.

"The last time we put this option before voters was 14 years ago," Mayor Lee Leffingwell said. "I've been conscious all along that we had to put a good and appealing project before the voters. I think this recommendation will do that."

The lone dissenting vote was from public transit advocate Julie Montgomery of AURA. Among her concerns is that parts of the proposed route are not in areas where urban rail is in high demand. 

The computer hack of Austin-based Stratfor in 2011 resulted in credit card numbers and damaging emails being leaked online. A new investigative report from the Daily Dot examining still-sealed court records found that the FBI knew about the hack, because one of its informants helped to orchestrate it.

In addition to directly facilitating the breach, the FBI left Stratfor and its customers—which included defense contractors, police chiefs, and National Security Agency employees—vulnerable to future attacks and fraud, and it requested knowledge of the data theft to be withheld from affected customers. This decision would ultimately allow for millions of dollars in damages.

Daily Dot reporter Dell Cameron was a lead reporter on the story. Listen our interview with him here.

Larry D. Moore

National Instruments is cancelling a project that would have created 1,000 jobs in Austin over a decade.

The $80 million expansion project of NI's headquarters on North Mopac Boulevard received millions in economic incentives from the city, county and state. All those agreements have also been canceled.

"We want to continue to leverage our investments and drive for growth," National Instruments spokesperson Stacy Schmidt says. "But in the current economy and the challenges in the test and measurement industry, we're choosing not to move forward at this time."

Laura Rice/KUT

For the next three days, the streets of downtown Austin will be full of flips – Ninja flips, inward flips and varial kickflips – as dozens of professional skateboarders, BMXers and other athletes descend upon Central Texas for the first ever X Games Austin

Housed in the Austin360 Amphitheater with a large “X” marking the spot, the X Games arena features an ESPN Clubhouse and a video gaming venue along with a full schedule of skateboard and BMX competitions. Musicians including Kanye West and The Flaming Lips will also be in town with the athletes, along with a roster of local acts. (KUT's sister station KUTX is a media sponsor of the X Games, and is hosting its own stage of Austin performers at the fest.)

Laura Taylor

More low-income Texas children have access to free and reduced price lunch over the summer than they did in 2012, according to a new report by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), based in Washington D.C.

FRAC says Texas added 297 "summer meal sites" across the state in 2013. Those are places at schools or non-profit organizations where children whose families make less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level can get reduced-price meals through the federal Summer Food Service Program or the National School Lunch Program. Children from families earning less than 130 percent of the federal poverty level get free meals.

Project Connect

Some die-hard public transit supporters say Austin’s 9.5 mile, $1.38 billion urban rail proposal is misguided, too expensive, and follows a poorly traveled route

"Why would a city our size put in something that is so pricey on a very weak route?" former Capital Metro board vice president Lyndon Henry says. "This is insane."