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. 

Image via Flickr/The White House (Governmental Works)

From Texas Standard:

Over this weekend the U.S. and its allies conducted 17 air strikes on ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq. These strikes come shortly after the Afghan Air Force claims to have hit ISIS-related targets in eastern Afghanistan.

Image credit Shelby Knowles/Texas Tribune

From Texas Standard:

If you want to understand what's happening in the nation at large, you need to understand the unusual politics of Texas. On Tuesday, a prominent advocate of the idea that "less is more" when it comes to government has a big head start on a voyage he hopes will end at the White House.

Image via Wikipedia Commons (CC BY 4.0)

From Texas Standard:

One of the most difficult, but edifying, exercises in following the news is trying to get a handle on how what's happening today will be understood in the future. What really matters versus what doesn't. What we think we know right now can seem awfully near-sighted, once those same facts show up in the rearview mirror.

Weinberg photo via Flickr/Larry D. Moore (CC BY-SA 3.0), Protest photos credit Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

On Monday, University of Texas at Austin professor Steven Weinberg said a faculty meeting that despite campus carry legislation, he would not be allowing guns in his classroom when the law takes effect in August.

Since then, he's become something of an unlikely leader in the campus carry debate, the Texas Tribune reports.

Weinberg spoke to the Standard about his opposition to campus carry and how he's willing to fight it.

 


Image credit Jon Shapley/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

House Bill 11, passed during the 2015 legislative session, is a sweeping law pitched as part of a broader $800 million border security effort. It expands the border presence of the Texas National Guard, green-lights hiring more troopers, and mandates an intelligence center to analyze crime data at the border.

One of the law’s other provisions has recently drawn a lawsuit that's just now making headlines. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, better known as MALDEF, has filed suit against Texas over what's called the “immigrant harboring” provision. They argue that it's unconstitutional under federal law.

 


Photo via Flickr/fabliaux (CC BY-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

In November, state district Judge Judy Kocurek was shot in the driveway of her Austin home – a murder attempt that had been preceded by a phone tip to police. Kocurek was never informed of the threat against her.

Tony Plohetski, investigative reporter for the Austin American-Statesman, said it's unclear how many threats are made against judges in Texas and judges aren’t always informed of the threats to their safety.

 


Photo via Flickr/Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

There are only nine days left until decision day in Iowa. It’s the first shot that will set the stage for the rest of the presidential nominating process.

On the Republican side, the U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is still within striking distance of the juggernaut that is Donald Trump. Although, a recent issues of the National Review has a roster of 22 major conservatives all coming out strongly against Trump.

 


Photo via Flickr/prettyinprint (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Gas prices are at the lowest they’ve been on average in about seven years, according to AAA. Today crude oil prices are near 2003 lows – under $27 a barrel – and lower gas prices will follow.

Photo via Office of the Attorney General

From Texas Standard:

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has vowed to beat the odds and quash online sports gambling. Even if you don't play daily fantasy sports, you've probably encountered the names of the sites: Draft Kings, Fan Duel. They advertise incessantly so you might be tempted to admit that's a measure of their prominence and popularity.

Despite that popularity, those sites may soon be gone from Texas. Paxton says sites that charge players to compete cannot operate legally in the state.


Image via Twitter/GregAbbott_TX

From Texas Standard:

Gov. Greg Abbott is on his third official international trip since being sworn in last January. Yesterday in Jerusalem, the Governor met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Last week Abbott said the purpose of the upcoming meeting was to promote business ties abroad.

However, since news broke over the weekend of the U.S. prisoner swap and an end to sanctions against Iran, Monday's meeting seemed more like a political trip. That’s left some scratching their heads, and others nodding in approval.

 


Image via Flickr/Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The national debate over whether Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is eligible to be President continues. The fact that Cruz was born on Canadian soil to an American mother has constitutional legal scholars at odds over whether he meets the criteria for the nation's top office.

Now a Houston attorney has filed a suit further questioning Cruz’s eligibility and asking the Supreme Court to define the term, "natural-born citizen."

 


Image via Flickr/Jarrod Carruthers (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

HELP!

That's the message coming from two environmental groups petitioning the Environmental Protection Agency. The Environmental Defense Fund and the Caddo Lake Institute are asking the EPA to take over enforcing federal air and water laws in Texas. But why?

Environmental Defense Fund's regional director Jim Marston says the petition asks the EPA to take back authority that they delegated to the state "when Texas made certain promises about how they would run the federal programs."

 


Image via txs.uscourts.gov (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard: 

Update (11 a.m. CT):  After a 40-minute hearing, Al Hardan has been ordered to be held without bond until his detention hearing on Wednesday.

Original story: Thursday, two Iraqi-born refugees were arrested on terror-related charges – one right here in Texas, the other in California.

Image via Flickr/Paul Weaver (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Tonight, President Barack Obama will speak and take questions at a televised town hall hosted by CNN.

The topic? Guns – specifically, the administration's new executive orders on gun control.

 


Image via Flickr/Joe Gratz (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

We often hear about achievement gaps and income gaps, but a new commission in Texas is tasked to address a “justice gap.” They warn that a growing number of people make too much money to qualify for legal aid but aren’t wealthy enough to afford legal services on their own.


Photo via Bland's social media account

From Texas Standard:

In a highly anticipated decision earlier this week, the grand jury refused to issue any indictments related to the death of Sandra Bland.

Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old black woman, was arrested and charged with assaulting a public servant on July 10 in Prairie View, Texas. She had allegedly failed to use her turn signal while changing lanes and was pulled over. After her arrest, she went through intake and was booked into Waller County jail. Three days later she was found dead in her jail cell.

 


Image via Flickr/Rachel Johnson (CC BY-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The next military conflict might not start with a bomb, but with a blackout.

National security experts have long warned that the United States’ infrastructure was vulnerable to hackers abroad. A few high profile cases have made headlines in recent years. In 2012 and 2013, Russian hackers were able to get into the U.S. public utilities and power generators to send and receive encrypted messages.

 


Image via Flickr/MSC U13 (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Soccer star Abby Wambach suited up for the last time as a member of the US women's national team last night. Wambach ends her career with 184 goals scored in international play. That's the most by any player, man or woman: Two Olympic gold medals and a World Cup. Her accomplishments led some, including the President, to call her the GOAT – the Greatest Of All Time.

Image via Flickr/Texas Military Department (CC BY-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The surge in immigrant children has prompted Gov. Greg Abbott to extend National Guard deployments at the Texas border. Paul Weber, a reporter covering the story for the Associated Press, says while the exact number of troops is unknown, it’s probably in the low hundreds.

“In December of 2014 when Gov. Perry first deployed the National Guard to the border, he sent up to 1,000 troops,” Weber says. “But as recently as February, state officials said that there's now only about 200 troops there. And that was in anticipation of an expected drawdown to eventually get the troops out of there.”

 


Image via Flickr/Texas.713 (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard: After the Sandy Hook shooting, President Obama and his colleagues in Congress pushed to close what they call a loophole in background checks. They were not successful. The word loophole, it should be noted, is a political term, primarily used by advocates of gun control who say there's a gap in the law when it comes to the sale or transfer of guns between private citizens.

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