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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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

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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