Rhonda Fanning | KUOW News and Information

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.

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 U.S. House passed its version of a tax bill on Nov. 16, and now the Senate is racing to pass its own version before the end of the year.

As the clock ticks down, what ultimately happens with this tax bill could shape the terms of engagement for the midterm elections in 2018.

A small group of GOP senators may not be on board with the plan yet. John Diamond, director of Rice University’s Center for Public Finance, says that at least one senator is concerned that the tax plan doesn’t help small businesses.

From Texas Standard:

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday in a case that some say has the potential to be the most important privacy case of the century. It started with a smartphone and a string of robberies in the Midwest.

From Texas Standard:

Just two weeks after its introduction, and with a total of zero hearings, the U.S. House has approved what could be the biggest change to tax policy in at least a generation. The Senate Finance Committee also passed a GOP-sponsored tax bill that differs somewhat from the House measure.

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.

More allegations surfaced over the past week involving high-profile American men with a history of sexual harassment and molestation. From Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore to comedian Louis C.K., these revelations have rocked the country’s political landscape, the entertainment industry, and NPR.

Many of these accusations date back decades, but they’re coming out now. Joanna Grossman, the Endowed Chair in Women and the Law at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, says that doesn’t necessarily signal a new cultural shift.

From Texas Standard:

In the past, Hollywood was sometimes enlisted to tell an approved version of military events. Lately, though, stories on screens both large and small have begun to show more nuanced accounts of war from different and often more critical perspectives.

Now a new eight-part miniseries may help us understand a key moment in the war in Iraq: the 2004 attack on Sadr City.

From Texas Standard.

Our stereotypes of male athletes often go something like this; strong, dumb, macho. There’s even a phrase for the type of chauvinistic conversation that too often goes on behind the scenes on sports teams – locker room talk.

These stereotypes are not without some supporting evidence. Take, as just one example, the widespread and deplorable sexual assault scandal that continues to haunt the Baylor University football organization.

A program making its way through east Texas right now is aimed at redefining what it means to be a male athlete in an effort to stop that sort of behavior before it starts. An organization called Men Can Stop Rape is educating high school athletes on how to stop sexual assault on their teams and among their friends.

From Texas Standard.

Two months after the storm, there may be cause to rethink what many of us thought we knew about Harvey. Most folks assume that during times of disaster you do see major spikes in crime, but that’s actually not what happened in Houston.

Robert Downen, a reporter for the Houston Chronicle, has found some surprising numbers that counter a common narrative.

From Texas Standard.

In 2014, the Obama administration secured the release of Bowe Bergdahl from captivity in Afghanistan by agreeing to release five Taliban prisoners being held at Guantanamo. At first, Bergdahl’s homecoming was celebrated as a hero’s return. What most Americans didn’t know at the time was that, back in 2009, Bergdahl had deserted his post in Afghanistan before he disappeared. He spent five years as a captive of the Taliban.

From Texas Standard:

Published reports say the Trump administration wants to decertify the nuclear agreement with Iran. All signs point to President Donald Trump announcing that the international accord is no longer in America's national security interests. Since several other countries are parties to the nuclear deal, the question is: would a U.S. pullout kill the deal altogether?

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:

Put aside the current occupant of the White House for a moment and ask yourself: When was the last time a president delivered on all that was promised? If you can’t remember, then ask: Is this the fault of the candidate?  

 

Texans Help Bring Light Back To Florida

Sep 14, 2017

From Texas Standard:

Back-to-back deadly storms have a way of bringing families together, whether they're related by blood, or share a bond based on their work as first responders.

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:

When Hurricane Harvey made landfall, it flattened places like Rockport and Portland. But the massive damage in Houston and the Golden Triangle area came from flooding that occurred after Harvey had been downgraded from a hurricane-force storm.

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:

Amazon has made online shopping almost too easy: You can buy pretty much anything, from patio furniture to pet food, and have it delivered, in some cases, within two hours. Now brick-and-mortar retailers are finding creative ways to compete.

From Texas Standard:

Despite the struggle President Donald Trump has had moving his agenda through Congress, his presidency is still likely to leave a major mark on U.S. law.

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 Trump put himself back into the debate over Confederate monuments Thursday. In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville over the weekend, he tweeted in defense of the monuments, saying the country is “being ripped apart” with their removal.

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:

The Texas Legislature’s 30-day special session is moving through an ambitious agenda at a rapid-fire pace, at least in the Senate.

From Texas Standard:

Researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington are taking on the fake news of the world.

The project, aptly named “Bot versus Bot: Automated Detection of Fake News Bots,” will develop tools to detect online social bots that create and spread fake news.

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.

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