Laura Rice / KUT News | KERA News

Laura Rice / KUT News

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.

From Texas Standard:

The annual SXSW festivals and conferences were among the first major economic casualties of the coronavirus in Texas.

But now, fans around the world will be able to watch films that would have been featured at SXSW through a virtual venue – no badge required.

From Texas Standard:

Americans are inked these days. The stigma associated with tattoos is long gone, as is the idea that they fly in the face of polite Western society. More than a quarter of American adults have at least one tattoo, and they’re especially popular among those born during the 1970s and later. Tattoos communicate identity and belonging, and for some, faith.

From Texas Standard:

In 2019, the U.S.-Mexico border topped the news, in part, because of the promise that President Donald Trump had made to build a wall along it. While Trump's border wall continues to be a popular topic today, the construction of barriers along the border is nothing new.

From Texas Standard:

More money is about to flow into eight surveillance centers located across across the state. The Texas Department of Public Safety helps oversee these intelligence-gathering hubs, known as "fusion centers," but it doesn't talk much about what they do.

Shutterstock

From the Texas Standard.

Texas isn’t really known for its vast evergreen forests. You could count the piney woods in East Texas, but no one’s cutting those trees down for Christmas. But there is an alternative: For a short time over the holidays, tree farmers across the state open up their properties so Texans can choose and cut their own trees and get the feeling of an alpine experience.

From Texas Standard:

Did you know that the monarch butterfly is the Texas state insect? They flutter through the state this time of year when they migrate from Canada to Mexico. But their populations are dwindling. What's more, entomologists are finding masses of dead monarchs, with their unmistakable black and orange wings, on the side of Texas highways.

Texas A&M University professor Robert Coulson led a study about monarch roadkill deaths, and says cars are just one more threat to the insect, in addition to changes in weather, pesticides and more. His team is tracking the number of dead monarchs in order to try to find ways to protect them in the future.

From Texas Standard:

On Sept. 15, 1959, an ex-convict new to Houston attempted to enroll his 7-year-old son at Poe Elementary, near Rice University. School officials denied his enrollment, saying he lacked the proper paperwork. The man later returned to the schoolyard with a briefcase and some obscure messages. He then exploded the briefcase, killing himself, his son, the school's custodian, a teacher and two young students.

From Texas Standard:

Johns Hopkins University researchers recently analyzed hospital fees nationwide and found that Texas had the country’s highest health care markup ratio. Those ratios were highest in Brownsville-Harlingen, Laredo and El Paso. A markup ratio is what a hospital charges for a service, compared to the Medicare "allowable amount" – the rate that the federal government determines a service is worth.

courtesy of Aspergers101

Getting pulled over by a police officer can be unsettling for anyone. But it can be especially stressful for someone with a communication issue.

Not being able to answer an officer’s question could put that person at risk if the officer misinterprets their behavior.

From Texas Standard:

A new study shows Texas homeowners along the Gulf Coast have lost tens of millions of dollars of property value over a 12-year period ending in 2017 due to rising sea levels. The hardest hit city has been Galveston, followed by three other cities within 40 miles: Jamaica Beach, Bolivar Peninsula and Surfside Beach.

From Texas Standard:

It started as a joke. But when a couple of guys from Fort Worth started distributing literature for their new, fake religious group in the late 1970s, they were surprised when it caught on. Before long, there were factions of the group in New York, San Francisco, Arkansas and many other places.

From Texas Standard:

Leslie Cochran was a man who experienced homelessness and often walked the streets of Austin in a thong and a feather boa. He became an unofficial symbol of the “Keep Austin Weird” slogan before his death in 2012.

Tracy Frazier directs a new film about Cochran's life, Becoming Leslie, which is premiering at South by Southwest.

From Texas Standard:

College has become a prerequisite for most high-paying jobs in the U.S., but college itself is out of reach for millions, and that number is growing. And the Federal Reserve Bank of New York says that in the past 10 years, student loan debt has grown by more than 100 percent. People ages 19 to 29 hold more than $1 trillion in student debt, and that's just the Millennial generation. With a wide-open Democratic primary field, it's almost certain that college affordability will be an issue during the 2020 presidential campaign.

Adam Harris writes in The Atlantic that the current crop of Democratic presidential candidates have focused their attention on how to make college affordable in the future,  proposing free college tuition or policies that would allow students to leave school without debt.

Harris says that prior to the 2016 election, momentum had been building nationally for some sort of free college program. But once Donald Trump was elected president, that momentum shifted to the states.

From Texas Standard:

Representatives from Texas food banks will gather at the Capitol on Tuesday to talk with legislators about food insecurity and lobby for ways the state can help. Food insecurity is a bigger problem than some may think. The term doesn't just describe people who are going hungry; it also describes people who don’t have the household resources to consistently buy healthy food.

From Texas Standard:

The changing news landscape has been a struggle for many local papers. The Associated Press cites a study that found some 1,800 newspapers have shut down in just the last 15 years. Many of those were community weeklies.

That's bad news for the newspaper industry, but Texas A&M professor Johanna Dunaway says it's also impacting our politics. She co-authored a study in the Journal of Communication that found newspaper closures polarize voting behavior, as evidenced by a decline in split-ticket voting.

On Thursday, 15 Texas Catholic dioceses plan to release a list of bishops, priests and other Catholic clergy who, according to the church itself, have been "credibly accused of sexually assaulting minors."

Onetime Dallasite, and UT-Austin student, Sahana Srinivasan is the host of the Netflix series, "Brainchild."
Netflix

Most people know Bill Nye the Science Guy. Well, Texas has its own science booster of sorts, but she is what the Dallas Observer called "the hipper, more accessible Bill Nye for the digital generation."

Sahana Srinivasan is a University of Texas at Austin senior who was born in Houston, raised in Dallas and is the daughter of engineers. Her Netflix science show "Brainchild" has made her one of the fastest-rising young celebrities in streaming TV.

From Texas Standard:

Not since the heady days of the dot-com boom more than 20 years ago has Austin witnessed so much venture capital cash invested in a single year. $1.33 billion in venture funding was invested in companies in and around the Capital City in 2018. Similar investments are being made statewide. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, Texas companies landed $2.2 billion in VC cash. Are happy days here again? The situation appears to be a bit more complicated than it was in the past.  

From Texas Standard:

Texas is home to three types of oaks: red, white and live; all are susceptible to a deadly fungus called oak wilt. It's one of the most destructive tree diseases in the United States, and it's quickly changing the landscape of Texas – especially Central Texas.

Jim Houser, regional forest health coordinator for the Texas A&M Forest Service, says oak wilt has been an issue for longer than most people probably realize.

From Texas Standard:

Fiber: it's not just what's for breakfast anymore. Now, it also means a super-fast connection to the internet. In fact, a lack of fiber can be fatal when it comes to a particular city or town competing for business. Author Susan Crawford argues in her new book, “Fiber: The Coming Tech Revolution – and Why America Might Miss It,” that not upgrading internet technology and speed on a local level is doing real harm to the nation.

Crawford says fiber-based connectivity will change everything, from how fast we can access the internet to the way health care is delivered and where we’re able to work and live. But cable companies and other private providers of internet access have not invested in fiber.

From Texas Standard:

The college football season ends Monday night with the championship game between Alabama and Clemson. At stake are bragging rights and records, but also a lot of money and a coaching legacy.

From Texas Standard:

If you're the investing type, it's likely the stock market has given you a little bit of whiplash in recent weeks. If you're not the investing type, you've probably seen the major ups and downs as a reason to avoid stocks. Ups and downs are par for the stock market course, but has the recent volatility been an outlier? And what explains it? President Donald Trump said this week there was a "glitch" in the market December, so what are we to make of that?

Ray Perryman is an economist with the Perryman Group in Waco. He says the stock market's current fluctuations are unusual.

From Texas Standard:

You’ve heard of minimally invasive surgery – it’s often called laparoscopic surgery. Instead of making a large cut in a patient, and moving tissues and organs that are in the way, doctors make smaller cuts and focus on just the area they need to with the help of a tiny camera.

From Texas Standard.

Wild boars, feral swine – many call them feral hogs. But as lots of Texans know, they’re the source of much angst and misery. Feral hogs cause property loss of more than $1.5 billion nationwide, about a quarter of which is in Texas. And that may be a conservative estimate. Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is stepping in with what it hopes is a solution.

From Texas Standard.

If you didn’t vote in this week’s primary runoff elections, you’re hardly alone. In fact, you are in the vast majority. According to the Texas Election Source, fewer than 1 million ballots were cast in both parties’ primary runoffs. For the Democrats, it was the lowest primary runoff turnout with a governor’s race on the ballot in almost a century. The Texas Election Source reports the Republicans actually had one of the highest turnouts for a runoff election year, but the percentage of voter participation was still just around 3 percent.

From Texas Standard.

On May 31, President Donald Trump will be back in Texas for lunch – $5,000 per plate – with well heeled Houstonians, then that evening he’ll preside at a dinner in Dallas.

From Texas Standard.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor Map shows most of Texas is in some stage of drought. The worst of it is up in the Panhandle, but almost everything southwest of the Brazos is affected.

From Texas Standard.

Christopher Scott was sentenced to life in prison in 1997 for capital murder. He spent more than a dozen years behind bars before another man confessed to the crime and Scott was declared innocent. With his second chance at freedom, Scott teamed up with two other exonerated Texans to form a Dallas detective agency of sorts to help others who have been wrongfully convicted.

From Texas Standard.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a long-running Texas redistricting case. The dispute goes back to 2011, when Republicans in the state legislature drew Congressional and state legislative districts in a way designed to favor GOP candidates, and to move as many Democrats as possible into a few other districts.

From Texas Standard.

Many of us have a cabinet or a closet at home with a stack of homemade VHS tapes – or those little tapes that went into newer-model camcorders – or maybe even Super 8s on little plastic reels. What’s on them may be personally worth keeping. But in the age of Blu-ray and digital files, will you ever watch them again?

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