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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Business
5:59 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Texas Water Shortages Could Put Limit on Fracking

Fracking uses a lot of water in drawing gas and oil out of the ground.
Eddie Seal, Texas Tribune

Shortages of water could limit the growth of fracking in Texas, according to a report from Ceres, a nonprofit group that advises investors about corporations’ sustainability practices.

Monika Freyman, who wrote the report for Ceres, says that fracking accounts for more than 20 percent of the water used in some Texas counties.

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Texas
5:10 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Drought May Ease in NE Texas but Persist Elsewhere

The line between drought improvment and persistence passes through Texas.
National Weather Service

The Texas drought is forecast to diminish slightly in the latest long-range outlook from the National Weather Service.

Meteorologist Anthony Artusa says most of the improvement is expected in northeastern Texas, with a sliver of some improvements in the central and southeastern parts of the state.

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Austin
5:33 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Students Team Up With Activists for Hunger Film Project

A still from a short film by Emily Ng on Keep Austin Fed, a local organization that serves surplus food from restaurants and bakeries to people dealing with hunger.
Emily Ng

Hunger in Austin is the focus of a series of videos produced by students at the University of Texas, the project of an organization called the Creative Activist Network.

The network pairs activists with creative college students to produce content that communicates their social concerns. Some of these films will be screened tomorrow night along with the documentary A Place at the Table, which examines hunger in the United States.

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Texas
4:41 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Rolling Blackouts Unlikely This Summer, ERCOT Says

It would take an unusually hot summer to trigger blackouts.
Nasha Lee, KUT News

Rolling blackouts are unlikely this summer, according to the state’s grid regulator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which released its outlook (PDF) for the adequacy of the power grid for the summer months.

“If we do have a much hotter than normal summer, one like 2011, or if we have much higher than normal generator outages, we could be into our emergency procedures this summer,” said Kent Saathoff, executive advisor at ERCOT.

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Austin
4:34 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Austin Apartment Demand Rising - Along With Supply

The market is looking up for Austin apartments.
courtesy flickr.com/ahockley

Finding an apartment in Austin keeps getting harder, even as more units are being built.

The real estate tracking firm Austin Investor Interests says occupancy rates edged up to 95 percent in the first three months of the year. Rental rates grew more than 2 percent in the first quarter. Robin Davis with Austin Investor Interests says more than 16,000 units are under construction.

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Texas
7:19 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

U.S. Senate to Probe West Fertilizer Plant Explosion

KP Tripathi/Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/kptripathi/5953182596/

The United States Senate will hold a hearing into the fertilizer plant explosion in the town of West, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California) announced Monday. Sen. Boxer chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee.

“I cannot rest until we get to the bottom of what caused the disaster in West, Texas and the tragic loss of life," Sen. Boxer said in a statement. "We must ensure that facilities like the one in West are complying with chemical safety laws. We will look at how the laws on the books are being enforced and whether there is a need to strengthen them."

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Transportation
2:15 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

Austin Cab Drivers Group Partnering with AFL-CIO

While cab drivers can't collectively bargain, an Austin group is partnering with a union to address working conditions.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Austin’s taxi drivers association is affiliating with the largest federation of unions in the United States, the AFL-CIO.

At a press conference today, the Taxi Drivers Association of Austin announced a partnership with the AFL-CIO’s National Taxi Workers Alliance.

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Environment
7:56 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Hays Seeks Alternative Groundwater Sources

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Hays County is looking for alternative groundwater supplies. An open Request for Proposals seeks to pipe in water from aquifers that could be tapped to supplement water from the Edwards and Trinity aquifers.

County Commissioner Ray Whisenant (R-Precinct 4) says the existing supply of water appears to be unsustainable with the county's current growth rate.

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Politics
5:19 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

State Lawmaker Wants Travis County DA to Resign

The House chamber below a mostly empty gallery during the final days of the special session on June 27, 2011.
Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

A state lawmaker is calling for the resignation of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, who’s serving a 45-day sentence in the county jail after pleading guilty to a charge of driving while intoxicated.

State Representative Phil King, R-Weatherford, says if Lehmberg doesn’t resign, the state’s Public Integrity Unit should be moved from her office to the Texas Attorney General’s. The unit investigates corruption by lawmakers.

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Austin
7:22 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

Group Supports Keeping DA Rosemary Lehmberg in Office

The Travis County district attorney is under pressure to quit after pleading guilty to DWI.
Texas Tribune

There’s a show of support this afternoon for Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, who’s in the county jail after pleading guilty to a charge of driving while intoxicated.

A group of more than 175 lawyers called Friends of Rosemary Lehmberg filed a friend of the court brief calling for Lehmberg to remain in office and serve out her term as district attorney.

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FOOD
6:50 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

Eat Like You’re At the Austin Food and Wine Fest – Without Going

A bacon wrapped sausage at Foreign and Dometic, one of several local restaurants whose chefs are featured at the Austin Food and Wine Fest
TastyTouring/Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/tastytouring/4715459338/

Interview with Austin American-Statesman food critic Matthew Odam

Celebrity chefs will descend on the city this weekend for the second annual Austin Food and Wine Festival. People will shell out at least $250 for the opportunity to taste the food of famous cooks such as Marcus Samuelson, Jonathan Waxman and Graham Elliot

But if the ticket price is too high for your budget, you can still enjoy some of the featured food without having to buy a badge. That's because many of the chefs have restaurants right here in Austin. Austin American-Statesman restaurant critic Matthew Odam stopped by KUT to tell us about some of the local chefs at the Austin Food and Wine Fest. Listen to our conversation by clicking the player above. 

Politics
5:04 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

Medicaid Negotiations Going Nowhere, HHS Chief Says

HHS Commissioner Kyle Janek says the Legislature needs to call the tune.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

Negotiations with the federal government to expand Medicaid in Texas are at a standstill, according to the head of the state’s health agency, because he’s waiting on the Legislature to give him direction.

“If I were to go up and say, ‘Oh what if we try this or try that,’ only to come back and find that that very day the Legislature had passed legislation saying, ‘You may not talk about that,’” Health and Human Services Commissioner Kyle Janek said at a TribLive event held by our political reporting partner the Texas Tribune, “it would be a waste of my time to start negotiating pieces.”

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Austin
6:53 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

Justice Department Investigates Austin Fire Dept. Hiring Practices

Flickr/C. Young Photography http://www.flickr.com/photos/kaanah/1510572663/

The Austin Fire Department’s hiring practices are being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice. In a letter to the city, the DOJ says the fire department may be discriminating against Hispanics and African Americans. The letter does not say what prompted the investigation.

A statement from Assistant City Manager Mike McDonald says the fire department is committed to equal opportunity and diversity. 

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Arts and Culture
6:39 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

Moontower Comedy Festival Gets Under Way

Moontower Comedy Festival/Facebook

Austin’s Moontower Comedy Festival starts today and runs through Saturday, bringing some big names to town, including Bill Hader, Dana Carvey, Michael Ian Black, Judah Friedlander. But there are a lot of lesser-known standup comedians as well, and they have to work even harder to build an audience and make you laugh. We spoke about it with local comic Matt Bearden. Click the player above to listen. 

They’re trying to bring a festival like, say, the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal back to the states; there used to be the festival in Aspen that HBO ran, and there are a lot of other comedy festivals, but I think they’re trying to bring one that’s a real premier marquee-style festival.

Austin
4:30 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

New Report: West Explosion Destroyed 142 Homes

The explosion last week destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes.
facebook.com/TexasAttorneyGeneral

The blast damage from an explosion in West was more extensive than authorities first thought.

Initial estimates pegged the number of homes destroyed at about 50, but a report from the Texas Department of Public Safety now says 142 homes were destroyed.

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Texas
7:29 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Some West Residents Still Waiting to Return Home

KUT News

Some residents in the town of West are still waiting to return home as building inspectors go house to house, making sure the residences are safe to re-occupy after last week’s explosion at a fertilizer plant. The blast killed 14 people, 12 of them first responders. 

The Mayor Pro-Tem of West, Steve Vanek, is asking people to be patient.   

“It is not safe," Vanek said at an afternoon news conference. "We do have engineers and building inspectors on the ground determining which houses are safe and which are not.”

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Education
6:44 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Interview: Texas Dials Back Standardized Testing

Darren Braun for Texas Monthly

Interview with Texas Monthly's Nate Blakeslee

As Austin ISD and other school districts across Texas hunker down and power through another round of state standardized tests this week, lawmakers are making moves that suggest they think the testing regime has gone too far.

House Bill 5, for example, would reduce the number of tests students need to pass to graduate from 15 to 5. This is happening in a state that gave birth to the "academic accountability" movement. 

Texas Monthly senior editor Nate Blakeslee examines the issue in the May edition of the magazine, on news stands now. Listen to our interview with him above and read his article at TexasMonthly.com.

Texas
7:26 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

Texas Youth Placed in Solitary Confinement More Than 36,000 Times Last Year

Harris County Juvenile Detention Facility
Flickr/Uffdah!!! http://www.flickr.com/photos/uffdah777/

Juvenile offenders in Texas were placed in solitary confinement 36,820 times last year. That’s according to state records obtained by the civil rights group called the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. 

“There’s been a lot of research about it, and the consensus seems to be that it’s pretty harmful for kids, especially kids with traumatic experience, or a kid who has a mental health concern," said Benet Magnuson, a lawyer with the coalition. "That’s actually most of the kids that we are talking about."

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FOOD
4:54 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

Five Highly-Anticipated Restaurants Opening Soon

Paul Qui's restaurant on E. 6th St. is scheduled to open in May.
Qui/Facebook

Austin’s restaurant scene is constantly growing and evolving, and Jessica Dupuy, food editor at CultureMap.com, has her eye on five openings expected between now and the summer. Click the player above to hear our conversation and read her article at CultureMap.

Education
12:55 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

SBOE to Review CSCOPE (Update)

CSCOPE

Update: The Texas Education Agency reports the State Board of Education approved a resolution today supporting a review of CSCOPE material. Thirteen SBOE members voted in favor of the measure. Two abstained.

Some conservatives have argued  CSCOPE has an anti-American bias.

According to the TEA's website:

CSCOPE is a curriculum management system created by Texas Education Service Centers with assistance from content experts. It is now used in 875 public school districts, charter schools and private schools in Texas, which educate 34 percent of the state's total student population.

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