Doualy Xaykaothao | KERA News

Doualy Xaykaothao

Doualy Xaykaothao covers breaking news from Asia for NPR News. She's based in Bangkok, Thailand, and her reports can be heard across all NPR News programs.

Xaykaothao joined NPR in 1999 as a production assistant for Morning Edition and has since worked as an NPR producer, editor, director and reporter for NPR's award-winning programs. As a producer for NPR's Newscast Unit, she was a member of the team receiving the 2001 Peabody Award for its coverage of the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Xaykaothao began reporting about anti-war protests from Seoul, South Korea. A year later, Xaykaothao was in the Phang Nga region of Thailand reporting on the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. In 2006, Xaykaothao served as a fellow for the International Reporting Project at Johns Hopkins University-SAIS with a focus on women inside Nepal's 10 year civil war. Xaykaothao was also an Annenberg Fellow for NPR member station KPCC in Los Angeles in 2007, and was part of the reporting team to receive a LA Press Club Award for breaking coverage of the California wildfires. By 2009, Xaykaothao was in Indonesia reporting on the earthquake that devastated Padang. In 2010, she reported about North Korea's deadly attack on a South Korean warship. When Japan was struck by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, Xaykaothao was the first NPR reporter to reach Fukushima to report on the triple disasters in 2011.

Xaykaothao is Lao-Hmong American. She was born in Vientiane, Laos, but raised in France and the United States. She attended college in upstate New York, where she specialized in television, radio, political science, and ethnic studies. Her radio career began at Harlem community radio station WHCR 90.3 FM, where she volunteered as news-reader. Later, at Pacifica Radio's WBAI 99.5 FM, she worked for the station's resident film critic, the late Paul Wunder. At Pacifica, she also coordinated and produced Asia Pacific Forum, a program on politics, culture and arts inside Asian American communities, as well as missed stories from Asia.

For those who are curious, Doualy Xaykaothao is pronounced "dwah-hlee sigh-kow-tao."

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A Negro Leagues pitcher who started Dallas’ first black weekly in the late 1940s has died. William “Bill” Blair Jr., was an athlete, a newspaper publisher, and a civil rights activist. He was 92.

Doualy Xaykaothao / KERA News

Update, Friday afternoon: Today, the morning after a citywide memorial, KERA’s Doualy Xaykaothao talked with Amber Adamson, author of an upcoming book called “The Last Alarm: First Responders’ Stories of the West Explosion.”

Update, Thursday afternoon: A year after a deadly explosion, West is rebuilding.

The small central Texas town paid tribute Thursday night to 15 people killed a year ago when a fertilizer plant exploded in a ball of fire. The blast injured hundreds of people, destroyed homes and schools and left a nearly 100 foot-wide crater.

Doualy Xaykaothao / KERA News

D Magazine’s Zac Crain is Facebook friends with practically half the town of West. He grew up just 500 yards from the fertilizer plant that exploded a year ago. He talked with KERA about life after the explosion. “It worried me that it was a town that could die out," he said. Crain reflected on the town the morning after the explosion. (Here's an expanded version.) Crain also profiled the town for D in July.

Joe Berti

Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of the day when West, Texas, changed forever. A massive explosion at a fertilizer plant rocked the small town in McLennan County, killing 15 people, including 12 volunteer firefighters, and injuring more than 200.

A memorial service, called West 4-17 Forever Forward, takes place at 7:30 p.m. at the West Fair and Rodeo Grounds. A moment of silence will be observed at 7:51 p.m., marking the time of the explosion.

Doualy Xaykaothao / KERA News

The ferry that sank off the Korean peninsula is sending shock waves all the way to North Texas.

Minjung Kim got word of the ship sinking overnight, and immediately went to work, getting the latest details for her broadcast on Dallas Korean Radio, AM 730.

“Especially the fact that most of the passengers were young high school kids makes this tragedy even more painful,” Kim told KERA. “The whole nation of Korea is in shock.”

Eduard Moldoveanu / Shutterstock.com 181528181

Louis A. Bedford Jr. was born in Dallas, in the 1920s, when the Ku Klux Klan was rampant and Texas enforced Jim Crow laws. Four decades later, he became the city’s first black judge, and eventually helped other blacks into city and state politics. 

Elizabeth Baier / MPR News

On Wednesday, Fort Hood remembered the victims of last week’s shootings.

President Obama spoke at the memorial service.

“It was love for country that inspired these three Americans to put on the uniform and join the greatest army that the world has ever known,” the president said.

The last week has also been hard for survivors of the last shooting spree. In 2009, Patrick Zeigler was shot four times by Major Nidal Malik Hasan.

Zeigler talked with KERA about his recovery -- and the surprising friendships that have come from that tragic day.

Doualy Xaykaothao / KERA News

Can food revitalize an ailing neighborhood? In Dallas, global flavors seem to be playing a pretty big part in one area's transformation.

For decades, West Dallas was a ramshackle place: a Superfund site with a cement plant, some crime-ridden warehouses and a modest Latino neighborhood known as La Bajada across a potholed two-lane bridge from glittery downtown.

Now there's a soaring new bridge, the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, that some called the "Bridge to Nowhere." But with a dozen new restaurants, nowhere is becoming somewhere.

Can food revitalize an ailing neighborhood? In Dallas, global flavors seem to be playing a pretty big part in one area's transformation.

For decades, West Dallas was a ramshackle place: a Superfund site with a cement plant, some crime-ridden warehouses and a modest Latino neighborhood known as La Bajada across a potholed two-lane bridge from the glittery downtown.

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A victim of the 2009 Fort Hood massacre says he knows the pain that friends and family are going through in Killeen this week. KERA talked with retired Staff Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford, who was shot seven times by co-worker Major Nidal Malik Hasan.

Sgt. Lunsford says the moment he heard about Wednesday’s shooting, he physically sank, and thought about Fort Hood on lockdown, scared people -- suspended in time.

Kate McGee / KUT News

Update, 6:30 p.m. Thursday: Listen to KERA's interview with a survivor of the 2009 Fort Hood shootings, retired Staff Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford.  

A soldier opened fire Wednesday on fellow service members at the Fort Hood military base, killing three people and wounding 16 before committing suicide.

The incident took place at the same Army post where more than a dozen people were killed in a 2009 attack.

The shooter, who served in Iraq in 2011, has been identified by NPR as Spc. Ivan Lopez, a 34-year-old military truck driver. The man had mental health issues and was being evaluated for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley, the senior officer on the base.

We're updating this post throughout the day. Check with NPR for the latest developments, too.

Doualy Xaykaothao / KERA News

Update 10 p.m. Tuesday: The Fort Worth City Council has delayed for one week a vote to permanently restrict outdoor watering to twice a week. 

Council member W. B. Zimmerman asked for the additional time to educate the public about proposed conservation plans.

Sal Espino, who represents District 2, was opposed to the delay. He said: "I would be in favor of moving forward with this ordinance, imperfect as it may seem to some, and then later changing it or tweaking, because we've already been doing twice per week watering."  

Doualy Xaykaothao / KERA News

Want to use a plastic carryout bag at your favorite store in Dallas?

It will soon cost you.

The Dallas City Council Wednesday morning voted 8-6 to approve a partial ban on plastic bags – the kind you see flying around on freeways and in trees.

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Now that Malaysia’s prime minister announced that Flight 370 “ended in the southern Indian Ocean,” the family of Philip Wood is still trying to sort the reality from speculation.

Wood of Keller was a passenger on the flight.

Aubrey and Sandra Wood can’t help but watch television or check social media for any developments on the missing Malaysian airliner.

Globalization of Higher Education

Their presidential plans may be uncertain but one thing is clear: Jeb Bush and Hillary Rodham Clinton keep bumping into each other – this time, in North Texas.

Bush and Clinton were taking the podium today at a higher education conference in Irving organized by Bush, the former Florida governor who is the brother and son of Republican presidents. The former secretary of state, whose husband, Bill Clinton, served two terms in the White House, is the leading Democratic contender in 2016 if she runs for president again.

Doualy Xaykaothao / KERA News

St. Patrick’s Day isn’t until Monday, but a lot of people are already wearing green. At the Fort Worth Stock Yards saturday, free events are planned for kids and their families attending the Cow Town Goes Green parade. In Dallas, there’s the annual St. Patrick's Day run, followed by a parade on Greenville Avenue at 11am. 

Jade Buddha for Universal Peace

An immense Buddha statue made from exquisite jade can be seen in Garland through this weekend as it makes its way around the world.  The Jade Buddha for Universal Peace sits 8 feet tall and weighs 4-and-a-half tons. The group behind the tour claims it has been valued at $5 million. 

Doualy Xaykaothao

A Staples distribution center in Coppell has saved more than $65,000 on its energy bill annually, thanks to green measures, employees, and a little help from the U.S. Department of Energy.

RedState Women

A new conservative Texas political action committee launched online this week. Named "RedState Women," the group wants to counter efforts by Wendy Davis to attract female voters. 

Cari Christman is chief of staff for a Texas senator and executive director for the PAC. She said Democrat Gubernatorial Candidate Wendy Davis doesn’t speak for all Texas women.

Doualy Xaykaothao / KERA News

An East Texas legislator wants Attorney General Greg Abbott to determine whether it's legal for cities to enforce plastic bag bans. Nine Texas cities have passed ordinances that prohibit or limit the use of plastic bags by retailers. Dallas plans to consider a ban later this month. 

Flynn sat down with KERA to talk about his formal request.

Interview Highlights: Dan Flynn...

Phinalanji / Flickr Creative Commons

A North Texas family continues to pray for more information on the Malaysia Airlines jet that went missing between the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea. The plane carried 239 passengers, including Keller native Philip Wood. 

Philip Wood's younger brother, James Wood, said he had not slept much since Malaysian officials contacted him and his family four days ago.

Doualy Xaykaothao / KERA News

The deadline to get insured this year under the Affordable Care Act is the last day of March. The main challenge for advocates is getting young people and minorities to buy in. But an effort is underway to encourage them. 

Alexander Demyanenko / Shutterstock

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Texas’ gay marriage ban is unconstitutional, but he's leaving the ban in place for now.

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio issued a preliminary injunction on the ban after two gay couples challenged a state constitutional amendment and a decade-old law.

He said the couples, one of which is from North Texas, will likely win their case and the ban should be lifted. But he said he would give the state time to appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The state will appeal the ruling, said Greg Abbott, the Texas attorney general.

Doualy Xaykaothao / KERA News

For the first time in more than 40 years, an incumbent isn't running for district attorney in Tarrant County. Joe Shannon Jr., the 13th criminal district attorney, announced his retirement not long after a sexual harassment case against him was settled, ultimately costing taxpayers about $500,000.

Three Republican candidates are vying to replace Shannon.

Before we talk names, and qualifications, consider these numbers: The job pays about $200,000. The elected official will manage a budget of more than $35 million. And the office handles roughly 45,000 criminal cases a year.

Doualy Xaykaothao / KERA News

A veteran Dallas firefighter who was killed on an icy highway overpass last week was buried on Monday. The funeral for William Scott Tanksley attracted hundreds of people from Terrell to Dallas. 

Moms like Reagan Melton brought their children out to salute the men and women riding on motorcycles and firetrucks, escorting the body of the father of three to his final resting place.

Ellen Appel / Fort Worth Opera

The Fort Worth Opera has pulled the plug on the sci-fi opera A Wrinkle in Time, the $1.2 million world premiere by American composer Libby Larsen that was to have anchored the company's 2015 festival.

General director Darren K. Woods says the festival will shrink from four productions to three next year because the company's fundraising has not kept up with rising costs.

Doualy Xaykaothao / KERA

Fort Worth wants to reduce medical bills and invest in healthier living, so the city is going blue in a five-year project, called the Blue Zones Project. But it doesn’t have anything to do with water or the ocean. 

Doualy Xaykaothao / KERA News

Researchers from Southern Methodist University say folks shouldn't rush to conclusions about what's been causing the swarm of more than 30 earthquakes northwest of Fort Worth since November.

Scientists have installed a temporary seismic network in and around the earthquake swarm to help gain a better understanding of the quakes.

Doualy Xaykaothao / KERA News

The Texas Rangers’ Ballpark has a new name: Globe Life Park in Arlington.

Globe Life is an insurance company with North Texas ties. It's a 10-year deal, but financial terms haven't been announced.

The Rangers sold the naming rights to the ballpark once before to Ameriquest Mortgage Co. and renamed what was then The Ballpark in Arlington to Ameriquest Field in 2004. Ameriquest relinquished those rights when it closed. In 2007, the park was renamed Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Doualy Xaykaothao / KERA News

Greg Abbott, the Republican attorney general and candidate for governor, stopped in Dallas Tuesday to unveil a $300 million border security plan that would also target domestic violence and sex crimes.

Speaking to a Dallas nonprofit that helps victims of child sex trafficking, Abbott argued that the federal government has failed to secure the Texas border.

“Powerful and ruthless international cartels and violent transnational gangs are operating within our state,” Abbott said. “Even within our prison system. And narco-related cross-border crime is on the rise.” 

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