Rhonda Fanning

Producer, The Texas Standard

Rhonda  joined KUT in late 2013 as producer for the station's new daily news program, Texas Standard. Rhonda will forever be known as the answer to the trivia question, “Who was the first full-time hire for The Texas Standard?”  She’s an Iowa native who got her start in public radio at WFSU in Tallahassee, while getting her Master's Degree in Library Science at Florida State University. Prior to joining KUT and The Texas Standard, Rhonda was a producer for Wisconsin Public Radio. 

Courtesy Amber Briggle

From Texas Standard:

Earlier this week, a federal judge sided with Texas' request to block a federal directive for schools to accommodate the bathroom choices of transgender students. Attorney General Ken Paxton said he was pleased – but not surprised – by the court's order, and subsequently filed suit to remove discrimination protections against health insurers.

The Human Rights Campaign, among others, blasted that move as shameful, cheap and political. Others have been far more harsh in their assessments – both of Paxton and Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who says he's not sure he's ever known a transgender person.

 


Pexels (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has an idea to lower college costs across the board: get rid of what's called "tuition set-asides" for students who need financial help. Generations of Texans have benefited from the financial aid program, but Patrick calls them a hidden tax that unfairly burdens the middle class.

Yesterday, lawmakers began exploring the merits and demerits of Lt. Gov. Patrick's plan, but reporters David McSwane and Lauren McGaughy of the Dallas Morning News have crunched some numbers of their own.

 


Michel Marizco/Fronteras Desk (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

When Sasha Von Oldershausen moved from New York City to Presidio, Texas, a few years back, her friends told her to get a gun and lock the doors. They imagined her moving to the stereotypical lawless Southwest.

But Von Oldershausen knew better – in the vast majority of the tiny Texas towns that dot the borderlands, crime rates are low, the landscape is indescribably beautiful and the sense of solitude is profound. Then ,she discovered she wasn't nearly as alone as she thought. Texas Monthly writer Sasha Von Oldershausen recounts her experience in her article "Nothing To Fear But Fear Itself."

Von Oldershausen says she experienced firsthand the capabilities of Border Patrol's surveillance methods while walking on a trail near the Rio Grande one day.

 


IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Omran Daqneesh is in the back of an ambulance, sitting alone in a padded orange seat. The young Syrian's hair is a messy mop of dust. There’s blood on the seat’s headrest behind him. Blood masks half his face and his entire body is covered in dirt. The video circulated by Aleppo Media Centre shows a man in a reflector jacket carrying Daqneesh into the ambulance amidst shouts. He places the boy down on the seat, where Daqneesh wipes his hand over his face. He takes his hand away and looks at the blood that's left there.


Jaime Chapoy/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

East Texas has seen multiple deadly downpours this year. Yet in south Texas, Brooks County Sheriff-elect Benny Martinez says he wants it to rain along the border to alleviate the unbearable heat. “I’m hoping the rains continue,” Martinez said Monday. “I’m hoping we get a hurricane.”

The heat index down south was over 100 degrees for most of July, which has in part contributed to the hundreds of migrant deaths. Kristian Hernandez, with the McAllen Monitor, says the sheriff’s bold statement comes from his experience with the effect the heat can have on migrants crossing the Texas-Mexico border.


Project 404/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

It's been a long time since kids sat with parents on living room couches watching live pictures from Mission Control in Houston. Even though NASA no longer looms in the American imagination as much as it once did, with a Mars expedition in the works and the rise of Space X and Blue Origin among others, a powerful case can be made that a renaissance is just around the corner.

Houston-area U.S. Rep. Brian Babin, who's chair of the House Space subcommittee, has launched a new mission on Capitol Hill.


Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Lucy, Flo and the Old Man are not content to rest in museum collections. Sure, they’re known for their places in the evolution of humanity, but they, too, have their own Facebook and Twitter followers. They’re also known for something more: they have a role in the evolution of the evolution narrative.

Johannes Jander/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Houston Democrat Rep. Jessica Farrar is calling on the State Auditor’s Office to review a $1.6 million state grant awarded to a group she says funnels money to an unlicensed medical provider with an anti-abortion agenda.

Heather Cortright for Army ROTC/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Every year thousands of veterans benefit from the so-called post-9/11 GI bill, which pays for tuition to help vets afford college.

The original GI bill was credited with lifting many families into the middle class after World War II. Texas has a similar version of the bill, called the Hazlewood Act and the Texas Comptroller – Glenn Hegar, the man with the state's check book – says the act is too pricey.

The act goes back to 1943 and Hegar says three factors have contributed to the rise in expenses in providing this service to Texans.

 


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

From Texas Standard:

Federal funding will be an integral part of controlling Zika in Texas. But promising funding may be easier said than done. Congress left Washington last month for a seven-week recess without passing legislation that would have provided additional funding to combat the virus. Senate Democrats now lead a growing chorus who say Congress should cancel the recess to pass Zika legislation.

Jamie Lovegrove, the Washington correspondent for the Dallas Morning News, tells the Standard that now Texas Republicans are also asking the Obama administration to step up their efforts. They're requesting more transparency about the administration's use of the $589 million that it re-purposed from other areas of the budget in April.

 


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

From Texas Standard:

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) will hear testimony on a new rule that could affect abortion providers and those seeking such services. The new state rules would require abortion clinics to bury or cremate any fetal tissue from a miscarriage or abortion – even at the earliest stages of pregnancy. HHSC proposed the change four days after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas' abortion restrictions passed in 2013.

This hearing is the last chance for the public to give comments on the proposed regulations. More than 80 people signed up to testify at the hearings, including Trisha Trigilio, attorney for the ACLU of Texas. She says the requirements would single out abortion clinics for disposal that wouldn’t apply to any other medical procedures.

 


SaveJeffWood.com

From Texas Standard:

Much has been said of Texas' top rank when it comes to the administration of the death penalty. Notwithstanding the state's record, the state still reserves the ultimate punishment for what most of us would consider the worst of the worst crimes. One man set to die this month in Texas killed a correctional officer while he was behind bars for murder. Another was the trigger man in a murder-for-hire.

But the third man actually didn't kill anyone. Jeff Wood pulled no trigger and had not even planned to commit a crime that morning – and yet, he's scheduled to die later this month.

 


Instagram/Hillary Clinton

From Texas Standard:

Hillary Clinton gives her big speech tonight accepting the Democratic nomination at the party's convention tonight in Philadelphia.

Perhaps you caught the speech from her husband, talking about Hillary's time in south Texas.

"She met one of the nicest fellas I've ever met, the wonderful union leader Franklin Garcia," Bill Clinton said in his speech Tuesday. "He helped her register Mexican-American voters. I think some of them are still around to vote for her in 2016."

If the name Franklin Garcia sounds familiar, there's a reason for that.

 


Flickr/Katelyn Kenderdine (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

In the U.S. and some 30 other countries, the law guarantees citizenship at birth. But for kids born in Texas, a birth certificate was far from a sure thing. In fact, a group of undocumented parents sued the state of Texas over policies denying birth certificates to their kids born here.

Erik Hersman/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Federal courts aren't showing much love this summer for Texas laws. In June, the Supreme Court ruled that the state's 2013 abortion laws impose an undue burden on women, and Wednesday, the conservative Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals says the photo ID requirement for Texas voters is asking too much.

Flickr/dallashabitatphotos (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Police departments across the country, and especially across Texas, have been reeling from last week's police shooting in Dallas – mourning officers lost, but also operating on a heightened sense of alert.

Flickr/dallashabitatphotos (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Five officers were killed and seven others were injured Thursday night as a downtown Dallas protest was ending.

Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Texas has been long known for trying to lure businesses from other countries and states around the U.S. Now, the state of New York is getting in on the game. They’re running ads nationwide, including Texas media channels – like news site KXAN in Austin.

Sarah Montgomery/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

The Supreme Court's 4-4 voting deadlock yesterday over President Barack Obama's executive order on immigration means the appeals court ruling stays – that is, the hold continues on the administration's order to shield millions of immigrants without U.S. documentation from deportation. It's as if, South Texas College of Law professor Charles "Rocky" Rhodes says, the Supreme Court never took up the issue at all.

Public Domain

From Texas Standard:

The court upheld an affirmative action program at the University of Texas at Austin, ending a legal battle that started in 2008.

In Fisher v. the University of Texas, Abigail Fisher, a white student, sued the university for using race as a factor in college admissions. The decision sets a national precedent, at least for the time being.

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