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. 

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.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

The Supreme Court wasn't the only active place on Capitol Hill this morning. When the show aired Thursday morning, House Democrats were just over 22 hours into their sit-in on the House floor. The protest started Wednesday around 11:30 a.m. when GOP leaders refused to vote on two pieces of gun legislation.

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

From Texas Standard:

The Supreme Court tied Thursday morning in a ruling on the legality of President Barack Obama’s immigration program.

Flickr/Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Around this time last year, it appeared that Texas would play an outsized role in the 2016 race for the White House. A Texas senator was in the running, as well as a scion of a Texas political dynasty, a former business executive with Austin roots, the libertarian-leaning son of a longtime Texas congressman, and the longest-serving Texas governor in state history.

Intropin/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

This morning, while most of us were sleeping, something happened in the state that might mean the difference between life and death for you or someone you love.

Much has been said and written about the opioid epidemic in the U.S. Of the 25 cities with the highest rate of opioid abuse, four are in Texas –Texarkana, Amarillo, Odessa and Longview. And over the past 15 years, opioid overdoses have risen 80 percent.

A drug called naloxone can help prevent many, if not most, deaths from overdoses in the event of an emergency, but the drug is highly regulated and available only with a doctor’s prescription.

 


Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon, U.S. Air Force/Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

In the skies over Syria, Russian bombers began striking a garrison of U.S.-supported rebels on June 16. American F/A 18s scrambled the Russians, but when the U.S. jets needed to refuel, the Russians returned and bombed again.

As the Daily Beast reports, the aerial close encounter "underscores just how chaotic Syria's skies have become." It also highlights the risk of the U.S. and Russia getting into something bigger.

 


Kgv88 /Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

In May, Mexico's Secretariat of Public Education fired 3,000 teachers. The government agency claimed the teachers had not worked for three days. The teachers say they were on strike because of recent education reforms.

In June, the government arrested the leader of a dissident teacher union splinter group, CNTE, on charges of corruption. Then yesterday, six people were killed and dozens of civilians and police were injured in clashes in the Mexican state of Oaxaca.

The tension between teacher unions and the government is escalating.

 


Flickr/Zach Petersen (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The day after the biggest mass shooting in U.S. history, and the biggest terror attack in the U.S. since 9/11, President Obama addressed the nation.

Speaking to an issue he has addressed repeatedly during his two terms in the White House, President Obama struck, if not a note of resignation, something close to it.

The "powerful assault rifle" the president referred to is the AR-15, a long weapon with an instantly recognizable profile that belies its military origins – a model quite popular here in Texas. Its private ownership is protected by the Second Amendment, of which there are two dominant and dissonant visions.

 


Flickr/cliff1066 (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

According to reports, the Orlando gunman Omar Mateen had been questioned by the FBI twice – in 2013 and 2014. But yet, he wasn't on their watch list.

Paul Miller, associate director of the Clements Center for National Security at the University of Texas at Austin, says the FBI's internal processes are fairly opaque.

"I'm not convinced they are very consistent from case to case either," he says. "The FBI handles a very large caseload, they go through these things all the time. They can't afford to put everyone on the watch list."

 


Daniel Plumer/flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

A Midland man was stung over 50 times and his dogs died after being stung over 1,000 times. In Texarkana, a swarm of bees surrounded a woman's car, trapping her inside. A man mowing his lawn in Raymondville was swarmed, suffered more than 200 stings, and died. A farmer in Lozano died after being stung more than 3,000 times.

These are no ordinary bees. Entomologists call them killer bees, or Africanized bees – a hybrid of two species, the African honey bee and various European cousins. They look like European honey bees, stripes and all, but are smaller. And their impulse to sting is 10 times greater – bees will pursue victims as far as half of a mile away from hives.


Flickr/Michael Vadon (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

When Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was the state's attorney general, he worked on a lawsuit against GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump – then a Republican businessman entering the political sphere on another bid for the highest office in America.

It was 2012 and the top law enforcement official in the state was overseeing a consumer protection team building a suit against Trump University, which had bilked Texas taxpayers out of $2.6 million.

The consumer protection team built a $5.4 million dollar case against Trump, but Lauren McGaughy of the Dallas Morning News says the lawsuit was never filed.

 


Flickr/Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg said this week, "Eight, as you know, is not a good number for a multi-member court."

To wit: Texans are waiting for a Supreme Court decision over state abortion restrictions this session, but the court isn’t at full-strength after the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia last year. This raises the possibility of a potential stalemate. And a tie among the highest court in the country doesn't get a do-over – it just means the lower court ruling stands.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

From Texas Standard:

Over the past week, the Brazos River has risen to its highest level in more than 100 years. The rains that caused the overflow have led to at least six deaths in Texas.

Meteorologists are predicting that some 10 inches of rain will fall in the Houston area over the next several days. If so, we may be looking at another round of devastation in the fourth largest city in the nation. Houston has activated its emergency operations center.


Flickr/Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton intends to rise to the challenge of that old Texas motto: Come and Take It.


Alex Steffler/flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Today marks the beginning of hurricane season – and with it, stories about hurricane preparedness. There's no shortage of them, seeing as how we've recently capped off National Hurricane Preparedness Week. 

Roy Luck/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old Texan arrested and charged with assaulting a public servant at a traffic stop on July 10, 2015, ended up in jail in part because she didn’t have $500 to make bail. Robert Durst, on the other hand, was arrested in New Orleans on charges of murder for slaying a friend, then released on a $2.5 million bond.

Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) says those two disparate cases come to mind as examples of two separate systems of justice in the country: “One for the rich and one for the poor.”


U.S. Customs and Border Patrol/Flickr (Public Domain)

From Texas StandardData from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection show apprehensions of families and unaccompanied minors crossing the Texas-Mexico border has hit levels not seen since the 2014 border surge. There were more than 7,100 such cases in the Rio Grande sector last month alone.

Summer is the time we usually see spikes in illegal border crossings, so what does this mean for the coming season?


Momentum Instruction

From Texas Standard:

In Texas education, there always plenty of fodder still out there to spark outrage. Take a proposed social studies textbook titled “Mexican-American Heritage”submitted to the Texas Education Agency as required for review before appearing on bookshelves in the classroom.

Tony Diaz, an activist based in Houston and host of Nuestra Palabra on KPFT, says this book is the opposite of what activists and scholars, who have campaigned for more visibility of Latino stories in history, wanted to include in the Texas curriculum – in part because of its racist undertones.


Kenneth C. Zirkel/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

One phrase often heard this year: There's never been a political year like 2016. But that’s not exactly true.

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