Jonathan Baker

News Curator

Jonathan Baker recently returned to the High Plains from New York City, where he was the assistant to the editor-in-chief at W. W. Norton & Co. At Norton, Baker worked with a wide variety of authors, including Neil deGrasse Tyson, Michael Lewis and Larry McMurtry. During his time in publishing, Baker worked on books that were shortlisted for a National Book Award and a Booker Prize, and Norton was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in History.

A former professional comedian, Baker has performed all over the United States and appeared on NBC’s Last Comic Standing. He holds an undergraduate degree in English with a History minor from West Texas A&M University and a master’s degree in the humanities from the University of Chicago. At UChicago, Baker focused on American literature but studied a wide range of topics, from architectural history to 19th-century landscape painting to the history of the natural sciences. His master’s thesis was on glaciers and ice age theory in the Victorian Era.

When not curating stories for High Plains Public Radio, Baker writes advertisements for publications like Esquire and Car & Driver. He also writes crime novels. Baker just finished his fourth book, a murder story set on the barren Texas plains.

Baker is the father of a 12-year-old boy, Inigo. They live in Canyon, Texas, in a tiny wooden house, where they watch a lot of cheesy old horror movies.   

Texas Tribune

New abortion laws went into effect in Texas on the New Year. Texas Public Radio has published an overview of the way the legislature has tightened restrictions for underage Texas women. State law already required those under 18 to get a sign-off from a parent before receiving an abortion. But a judge can circumvent the requirement if they think the parent will harm the young woman.

Jim Bickel / The Oklahoman

Oklahoma had more earthquakes in 2015 than every continental state combined, reports Oklahoma City station KOCO. 49 U.S. states—excluding the massive Alaska—recorded a total of almost 1,600 earthquakes of magnitude 3 or greater last year. Of those, almost 900 were in Oklahoma. The other states had a combined total of 729.

mcdarius / Flickr Creative Commons

Beginning early next month Kansas Geological Survey crews will begin studying almost 600 Kansas wells. The research is part of an effort to measure changes in groundwater levels, reports KAKE.

Tanya Spillane / Flickr Creative Commons

A raft of new laws went into effect in Colorado last week, reports Fox 31 Denver.

One major law will mean money in the pockets of the state’s lowest-paid workers. The minimum wage jumped eight cents, to $8.31. The minimum for tipped workers is now up from $5.21 to $5.29. However, this is a small raise compared to the $15 wage some workers had asked for. The new rate is merely part of a state mandate that the minimum wage be adjusted for inflation each year.

R0Ng / Creative Commons

Texas’s new open carry legislation took effect last week, and the Austin American-Statesman has published a list of everything you need to know about the new law. There are almost a million Texans with concealed handgun licenses, and these citizens are all now allowed to carry their handguns openly in public. Handguns must be kept in a belt or shoulder holster.

KFOR.com

An animal shelter was at the epicenter of an Edmond, Oklahoma, earthquake last week, reports ABC 13 Houston. The 4.3 magnitude quake rattled the building around 5:40 a.m. last Tuesday. The shaking earth sent tile and light fixtures crashing down on top of cages and cracked cinder block walls.

Kansas City Star

Amtrak’s Southwest Chief, which stops at six cities in Kansas, posted a record year with more than 367,000 passengers on its route from Chicago to Los Angeles. The Kansas City Star reports that the Jayhawk state accounted for almost 50,000 of those passengers, a slight increase over last year. Nationwide, Amtrak carried almost 31 million passengers in 2015.

Wikimedia / Creative Commons

On Christmas Eve the Colorado Department of Education announced that the state would switch its mandatory standardized high school test from the ACT to the SAT, reports Channel 9 News Denver. The ACT had been given to Colorado students since 2001. Some parents and educators weren’t pleased with the timing of the announcement.

OK.gov

It’s been a tough year for Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin. And things won’t be getting easier anytime soon. When the Legislature convenes in February, it will face a projected budget shortfall of almost a billion dollars, reports Politico.

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