Rhonda Fanning | KERA News

Rhonda Fanning

Rhonda is the newest member of the KUT News team, joining in late 2013 as producer for KUT's new daily news program, The 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. 

From Texas Standard.

Under federal law, anyone who reaches a U.S. port of entry may make a claim for asylum. But now it appears U.S. Customs and Border Protection has adopted a new tactic to keep out immigrants – telling agents to stop would-be asylum seekers before they reach a border checkpoint.

From Texas Standard.

Today, the majority of headlines about the National Rifle Association involve a bit of controversy – debates over gun laws inevitably following mass shootings, or boycotts by citizens or businesses not wanting to be affiliated with the gun rights group. But it hasn’t always been this way. At its founding, the NRA was focused on firearms skill and safety, not politics.

From Texas Standard.

This week’s deadly Southwest Airlines incident marked the first passenger death in U.S. commercial aviation since 2009. A mother of two was killed when she was partially pulled from the plane by decompression forces after a window was shattered by shrapnel from an exploding engine.

From Texas Standard.

Young immigrants protected by the DACA program have been in limbo since the Obama-era program was canceled by President Trump last year.  Now we’re hearing rumblings of Republicans, including at least one from Texas, trying a new strategy to get a DACA vote in Congress.

From Texas Standard.

Back in the late '80s and early '90s, you could be fired if your employer discovered you’d done something like volunteering to work with AIDS patients. Acquired immune deficiency syndrome was, at the time, considered a death sentence, saddled with the stigma as a disease spread by drug users and gay men.

From Texas Standard.

Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are all on Democrats’ short list to pick up House seats in the November midterms, but that’s expected when it comes to so-called battleground states. As Frank Bruni of The New York Times notes, Democrats definitely smell blood in the water this year.

From Texas Standard.

About 250 Texas National Guard troops have deployed to the Texas-Mexico border. Texas’ Gov. Greg Abbott says he’ll eventually send more than 1,000. But even with the state’s leadership so supportive of any appearance of cracking down on illegal immigration, are the Guard troops really doing immigration enforcement? And how do folks who already work on border law enforcement perceive the influx of military personnel?

From Texas Standard.

In February 2017, several newspapers in north Texas carried the story that 250 workers were being laid off from a General Electric facility in Fort Worth that makes locomotives. Now, that same plant has plans to bring back nearly double that workforce by the end of the summer.

From Texas Standard.

There’s a whole lot of potential change right now on the Texas political landscape. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller has a challenger for his office from fellow Republican Trey Blocker, a longtime lobbyist who will take on the colorful incumbent. It’s the most serious intra-party challenge to a sitting statewide official – at least so far.

From Texas Standard.

The forces arrayed against Alabama judge Roy Moore are mounting. A fifth woman has come forward with sexual misconduct allegations against Alabama’s Republican candidate in the U.S. Senate race. Lawmakers in Texas may have to focus on problems closer to home, though, based on reports that are now coming to light.

From Texas Standard:

Recovering from Hurricane Maria seems like an impossible task for Puerto Rico, given the island’s already-crippling debt. That's why so many commentators cringed on Tuesday when President Donald Trump playfully tossed paper towel rolls into Puerto Rican crowds, as if such essentials were commemoratives of his visit. But before leaving the Island, he did say that Puerto Rico’s staggering $73 billion debt would have to be forgiven – which would indeed dramatically improve the prognosis for Puerto Rico – if it can and does happen.

From Texas Standard:

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, a lot of Puerto Ricans are setting their sights on becoming Texans. Because Puerto Rico is a territory of the U.S., its citizens are American citizens, too – free to locate anywhere in the country they wish.

From Texas Standard:

Certain events in history have changed the lives of Texans forever. The Great Storm of 1900 in Galveston is still the deadliest hurricane on record. On a day in Dallas, in 1963, a nation lost a president. In 1966, a shooter atop the UT Tower terrorized a city by committing the first mass murder on a college campus. And now Harvey. These defining moments are embedded in the memories of those who lived them, but for everyone else, we rely on the written record.

From Texas Standard:

Up to 500,000 cars took on water during Hurricane Harvey. Not having a vehicle in car-dependent Texas could be a significant hardship. And those looking for a used car to replace a flooded one should be wary of buying storm-damaged rides.

From Texas Standard:

As the levels in Houston's two main reservoirs continue to drop, many Texans have begun cleaning up their waterlogged homes. And in Baytown, Exxon is rebooting its refinery, the second biggest in the U.S. But there’s much more to do.

From Texas Standard:

Even though the Texas Legislature failed to pass measures to reform property taxes or the school finance system during the regular and special sessions, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas says the Texas economy continues to grow at a solid pace.

Comptroller Glenn Hegar is the chief tax collector, accountant and revenue estimator for the state government. Among his responsibilities is providing the legislature with an estimate of state revenue before each regular legislative session.

 

From Texas Standard:

President Donald Trump staged one of the most memorable press conferences in U.S. history Tuesday afternoon: a combative exchange about last weekend's violence in Charlottesville, Va. It was an opportunity to reinforce his heavily scripted message from Monday, condemning neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Instead, he went off script, reiterating talking points of the self-described “alt-right.”

From Texas Standard:

It's not unheard of for an obituary to be published by mistake. A few years ago, People.com put up an obit for actor Kirk Douglas, who – at 100 – is still alive.

Something similar happened to Dallas-based Half Price Books chain, Austin’s BookPeople and independent bookstores across the country when the first e-reader made its debut. The death knell never rang so loud.

But it turns out bookstores aren't dead after all, at least not some of the best-known ones in Texas.

From Texas Standard:

In a series of blockbuster tweets this morning, President Donald trump wrote that transgender individuals won’t be allowed to serve in the U.S. military.

From Texas Standard:

Soon, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) will begin billing local police departments across Texas for any lab work done by the agency. The service used to be free but DPS is now charging in order to make up for budget cuts to its lab system made during the regular legislative session.

From Texas Standard:

With election day 2018 more than a year away, a Houston-area energy attorney appears to be the first to throw his hat in the ring as a primary challenger to fellow Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

From Texas Standard:

The Legislature’s special session begins this Tuesday. It’s 30 days long with 20 items on the agenda and Gov. Greg Abbott is calling the shots.

From Texas Standard:

A week after the Fourth of July, independence is still on the minds of Texans. But two-and-a-half centuries after the U.S. became a nation, Texas lawmakers, rather than a king, are the despot in some eyes.

From Texas Standard:

President Donald Trump addressed thousands of people in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, focusing, in part, on the nation's dependence on Russian energy. He said Poles will not be "held hostage" anymore by the Russian energy market, and pitched U.S. energy as an alternative.

From Texas Standard:

North Korea demonstrated its new intercontinental ballistic missile capability over the weekend. It launched a guided missile with a range of at least 3,400 miles. It landed in the Sea of Japan. Experts say such a missile could reach Alaska, but North Korea does not yet have the capability to arm one with a nuclear warhead.

From Texas Standard:

An article by New Yorker staff writer and Texas resident Lawrence Wright makes the case that Texas is a political bellwether. In "America's Future Is Texas," Wright argues that, indeed, as Texas goes, so goes the nation — politically speaking, at any rate.

From Texas Standard:

At airports in big cities across Texas and around the country, part of the president's new travel ban is taking effect, in the wake of this week's Supreme Court ruling that some aspects of the ban could be enforced. The court will fully consider the ban, and the lower court rulings that blocked portions of it, when its new term begins in October. For now, travelers from the six predominantly Muslim countries included in the ban will be barred from the U.S. unless they can show a "bona fide relationship" with someone in this country. That includes relatives and employers, and other unspecified connections to the U.S.

From Texas Standard:

Weather watchers are tracking ominous activity in the Gulf of Mexico. An Air Force Reserve helicopter is on standby, ready to fly to a spot off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula where a storm system is building steam.

From Texas Standard:

Austin Mayor Steve Adler released a letter yesterday addressed to “All Good People in the World” following two U.S. Senators’ call for South by Southwest to relocate their annual festival out of Texas until Senate Bill 4 is repealed or overturned by the courts.

From Texas Standard:

Seven countries severed ties with Qatar on Monday. Not only did Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Yemen, Libya and the Maldives suspend diplomatic relations with the Gulf state, they also cut off land, air and sea travel to and from Qatar. They also ordered their citizens to leave Qatar.

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