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Lead Stories

Washington Post - September 16, 2014

Morning Plum: Are Dems now winning the culture wars?

In multiple Senate races, Democrats are hammering Republican candidates over contraception and “Personhood,” a development that many observers interpret as a sign that Dems are now the ones on offense in the culture wars. A new ad blitz from Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS nicely captures the emerging dynamic. Colorado GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner has been treated to the most direct and sustained assault over Personhood of any GOP candidate, and a new Crossroads ad appears designed to defend Gardner against it with an appeal to female voters. Yet the ad does this only by changing the subject.

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Houston Chronicle - September 16, 2014

Ad war spending heats up Texas’ premier congressional race

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), the political arm of Republicans in Congress, has booked $613,225 worth of television time in San Antonio and its environs to defeat first-term incumbent Democrat Pete Gallego. The ad buy is a sign of confidence in GOP challenger Will Hurd, a former CIA officer who lost a GOP primary runoff in Texas’ 23rd Congressional District in 2010. It’s less money than the $1.2 million the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has reserved so far, but spending by several outside conservative groups could even the media playing field in what is shaping up to be Texas’s premier congressional race.

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San Antonio Express News - September 16, 2014

Epstein says F1 made a 'verbal application'

Bobby Epstein, chairman of the Circuit of the Americas racetrack, has told a TV station that a “verbal application” was made to Formula One to bring a yearly race to the Austin facility. The comment Monday came the day after a San Antonio Express-News investigation raised questions about the application, which is required by law to receive state funding. A member of the board set up to file the application swore in an affidavit that board never did so, and no written application is on file with the state or the board. Failure to make an application would make the Formula One races ineligible for state subsidies — which are expected to cost $250 million over 10 years — according to a 2012 ruling by Attorney General Greg Abbott.

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Dallas Morning News - September 16, 2014

Right, left blast new Texas textbooks

Too much negative about former President George W. Bush, too much positive about Hillary Rodham Clinton and way too much coverage of Moses. Those were among a long list of complaints — from both sides of the political spectrum — during an all-day hearing Tuesday in front of the State Board of Education on new history and social studies books for Texas public schools. Most of the complaints centered on alleged biases in the textbooks and e-books that the board will vote on in November. But more broadly, the hearing demonstrated how pitched battles over culture and politics are reflected in Texas’ schools and their curriculum. The materials will be distributed to schools in the fall of 2015.

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State Stories

Texas Tribune - September 17, 2014

A&M System Launches Think Tank With Eye on State Policy

Earlier this month, the Texas A&M University System's board of regents approved the establishment of the cryptically named Area 41 Institute. Its creation had been foretold by Tommy Williams, a former state senator who now serves as the system’s vice chancellor for federal and state relations. “The chancellor and our board has a vision that we should have a think tank dedicated to solving the problems the state faces over the next decades,” Williams let slip during a Texas Department of Transportation meeting in July.

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Texas Tribune - September 16, 2014

SpaceX One of Two Companies Awarded NASA Contracts

NASA announced on Tuesday that it will contract with two private companies, Boeing and SpaceX, to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station beginning in 2017. Boeing and California-based SpaceX, which specializes in private space travel, were two of several private companies competing for the NASA contracts, called the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability. Earlier this summer, SpaceX announced it was choosing Brownsville as the future home of a commercial launch facility. The state put up $15.3 million for the project.

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Austin American Statesman - September 16, 2014

Charitable bingo sues to block historical racing in Texas

Several organizations that benefit from charitable bingo in Texas headed to court Tuesday to try to stop a new form of betting from being put into place in Texas. The groups — including an American Legion in Temple, Save Barton Creek Association in Austin and the Humane Society of Dallas County — are suing the Texas Racing Commission in a Travis County court to prevent the commission from going ahead with a plan to allow so-called historical racing at the state’s horse and dog tracks.

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Austin American Statesman - September 16, 2014

Balancing privacy, police needs tricky, Texas Senate panel hears

Privacy advocates urged the Legislature to better protect Texans from intrusive electronic surveillance during a wide-ranging Capitol hearing Tuesday that also saw several members of law enforcement push for looser investigative standards. The difficulty will be finding the delicate balance “between legitimate law enforcement and the illegitimate collection of things that are none of the government’s business,” acknowledged Sen. Craig Estes, chairman of the Senate State Affairs Committee. “It’s pretty scary what (personal information) actually can be gathered,” Estes, R-Wichita Falls, said during Tuesday’s hearing, held to prepare legislators for privacy issues that will arise in the 2015 legislative session.

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Corpus Christi Caller Times - September 16, 2014

Gov. Perry talks Texas roads, funding

Gov. Rick Perry told the transportation officials at an Austin conference to enjoy the festivities of Texas’ capital city when they come around, like the concert and movie festival South by Southwest. But there is a chance they’ll run into traffic, he said. “You’ve come to what I would suggest is the mecca of innovation on transportation infrastructure,” Perry told those from out of state. “This place has become — Austin in particular, well you can say it about a number of the cities, whether it’s Houston, or Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth area, San Antonio — really cultural meccas of the country and of the world. But with all of that brings transportation challenges. If you’re here for (SXSW), you’ll get a big dose of it. … There is always challenges when you have that type of growth.”

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Dallas Morning News - September 16, 2014

Gay cops, firefighters, paramedics target Texas gay marriage ban

The Democratic sheriffs of Texas’ two most populous counties have signed on with more than 60 other Texas law enforcement officials and first responders saying the state’s ban on same sex marriage not only disrespects but endangers front-line public safety officers. Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia lent their names to a friend-of-the-court brief filed Tuesday with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court is hearing the state’s appeal of a February ruling by U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia that declared Texas’ ban against gay marriage as unconstitutional.

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Texas Tribune - September 16, 2014

Perry Touts Legacy to Toll Road Group

Calling Texas “the mecca of innovation on transportation infrastructure,” Gov. Rick Perry touted the state’s approach to expanding roads without raising taxes in Tuesday morning remarks to the toll road industry. Perry was the keynote speaker at the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) annual conference, held this year in Austin.

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Dallas Morning News - September 16, 2014

GOP campaign committee to boost Will Hurd with ads in run against Pete Gallego

The National Republican Congressional Committee is throwing its weight behind Republican Will Hurd in Texas’ 23rd district, booking $613,225 worth of television ads in the San Antonio market. Beginning this month, the Republican campaign arm will air ads to support Hurd, who is battling freshman Rep. Pete Gallego in Texas’ only competitive election this cycle. “This district, which Mitt Romney won, is definitely seen as a huge pick-up opportunity for us,” NRCC spokeswoman Katie Prill said. “The race is very winnable for Republicans.”

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Texas Tribune - September 17, 2014

Midland ISD Developing "Petroleum Academy"

As this Permian Basin city continues to thrive amid an oil boom transforming the region, local drilling companies have faced challenges in recruiting workers to come to West Texas. But the local school district plans to implement a program that could provide a homegrown solution to those labor concerns. Pending school board approval, the Midland school district will launch a pilot program in January for its “petroleum academy” for high schoolers.

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The Guardian - September 16, 2014

Texas proposes rewriting school text books to deny manmade climate change

Texas has proposed re-writing school text books to incorporate passages denying the existence of climate change and promoting the discredited views of an ultra-conservative think tank. The proposed text books – which come up for public hearing at the Texas state board of education on Tuesday – were already attracting criticism when it emerged that the science section had been altered to reflect the doctrine of the Heartland Institute, which has been funded by the Koch oil billionaires. A report from the Texas Freedom Network and the National Centre for Science Education on Monday found a number of instances where the proposed texts rejected recognised science.

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San Angelo Standard Times - September 16, 2014

Growth may put Texas in bind

The oil and gas boom and millions of new consumers have propelled revenue growth in Texas to nearly twice the national average. Yet, a new report from Standard & Poor’s shows income inequality is putting a brake on the pace of expansion. “Even for Texas, the growth rate is almost unsustainable,” Pia Orrenius, a vice president and senior economist at the Dallas Federal Reserve, told The Associated Press. “This incredible growth has brought lots of people to the state, and the demand for services is growing so fast. At some point, the state is going to have to deal with the income inequality issue.”

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Bloomberg - September 16, 2014

Texas Electricity Rises on Below-Forecast Production From Wind

Spot wholesale electricity in Texas jumped amid below-forecast wind output and demand that was above estimates on the grid that serves most of the state. Consumption on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas Inc. network averaged 45,359 megawatts for the hour ended at 11 a.m. local time, versus the day-ahead forecast of 44,419 megawatts, according to the grid’s website. Wind production on the grid averaged 110 megawatts at 11 a.m., versus the day-ahead forecast of 740 megawatts.

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KYTX - September 16, 2014

Pipeline adds value to area tax bases

Local governments in one East Texas county say they're seeing the financial benefits of the new Transcanada pipeline to their tax bases. Appraisers in rusk county say the pipeline added nearly $30 million to the total tax base there. That means more revenue for the county and several schools including Henderson and Carlisle.

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San Antonio Express News - September 16, 2014

CMS targets immigration, income discrepancies among health plan shoppers

Nearly 20,000 Texans whose citizenship or legal residency are in question will lose their federally subsidized health plans at the end of the month if they don't respond to government queries about their eligibility for coverage. They are among 115,000 people nationwide who haven't responded to questions since May about proof of U.S. citizenship or whether they are in the country legally, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said. CMS could not provide specific numbers Tuesday for how many of those people live in Bexar County.

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San Antonio Express News - September 16, 2014

New ads reflect contrasting styles of Abbott, Davis

In her memoir, Wendy Davis recalls agonizing over her decision to go negative during her bid to unseat state Sen. Kenneth “Kim” Brimer in 2008. She even admits crying as she weighed the strategy, which her advisers ultimately convinced her to use. “You're asking the voters to fire someone from his job,” she writes, “and they're not going to fire someone, no matter how great you are, unless they have a reason to do that. And you have to tell them what those reasons are.”

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Houston Chronicle - September 16, 2014

Surprise hospital bills are common in Texas, report finds

When Terry Combs suffered a stroke the day before Thanksgiving of 2011, he and his family felt reassured knowing paramedics had rushed him to a hospital in the network of their insurance company. So it was a shock when the Dallas-area facility sent the bill a few days later: Combs had been treated by emergency room staff on contract with the hospital, with no tie to its network agreements, so he had been charged as an out-of-network patient - at a rate several thousand dollars higher. "When I saw the bill, I just about had a second stroke," said the 64-year-old retired high school science teacher, adding he fought the charges for a year before realizing he had no hope of winning.

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San Antonio Express News - September 16, 2014

Wendy Davis, Greg Abbott split on disability issue

State Sen. Wendy Davis says if she's elected governor, she'll support legislation to make it easier for people with disabilities to get their day in court when they're alleging state violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Responding to a survey by the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, Davis said she would support legislation to waive the state's sovereign immunity in such cases. “The ADA is a milestone civil rights law. The majority of states do not seek sovereign immunity from the ADA. Texans with disabilities should feel as secure in their right to be free from discrimination based on disability as people in any other state,” said Davis.

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Dallas Morning News - September 16, 2014

Wendy Davis and Greg Abbott light up TV spots with vitriolic charges about ethics and money

Wendy Davis and Greg Abbott are accusing each other of ethics problems in campaign ads that underscore the increasingly vitriolic tone of the governor’s race. With just weeks before the November election, Davis has prepared a web ad denouncing Abbott for taking $250,000 from the chairman of a hospital that employed a problem doctor, then siding with the hospital against victims. The Abbott camp is airing a spot that accused Davis of voting as a member of the Fort Worth City Council to give tax breaks to businesses in property deals involving her title company.

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Dallas Morning News - September 16, 2014

Republican Rep. Tan Parker open to medical marijuana in Texas

This election season our newspaper added two questions on drug policy to questionnaires we sent candidates for state offices. Rep. Tan Parker, R-Flower Mound, surprised me with his answer on whether he’d support putting a medical marijuana amendment on the ballot for voters to decide. Parker said he’d be open to a tightly written medical marijuana amendment.

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Houston Chronicle - September 16, 2014

State’s top candidates to make rare appearance together

The candidates for the state’s top two offices are scheduled to make a rare appearance together Wednesday afternoon to honor the first Texan to be posthumously exonerated. The politicians are heading to Texas Tech University to help dedicate a statue of Timothy Cole, who was falsely convicted of rape, sentenced to 25 years in prison and died there in 1999. The event’s guest speakers include the gubernatorial nominees — Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott and Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth — as well as the candidates for lieutenant governor — Republican state Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston and Democratic state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio. Gov. Rick Perry, who pardoned Cole in 2010, is also slated to attend the ceremony.

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Beaumont Enterprise - September 16, 2014

Beaumont Enterprise: Texas GOP should OK expanded Medicaid at least for now

Republicans don't like Obamacare. We get that - and the law is not perfect. But it has been upheld by the Supreme Court and is in effect. In fact, it will be unless or until Republicans retake Congress and the presidency - which is a tall order. So every year that Republicans refuse to accept expanded Medicaid in Texas under Obamacare is another year they leave money on the table - lots of it, as in $100 billion in federal funds from 2014 to 2023. It's time for a rational compromise.

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Austin American Statesman - September 16, 2014

Political differences dominate Texas textbook debate

Reviving a four-year controversy over what Texas children should be taught about Islam, capitalism and the role Judeo-Christianity played in the country’s founding, about 50 people testified Tuesday to the State Board of Education about proposed social studies textbooks. The first textbooks to be adopted by the state board since 2002 have been criticized by some scholars as biased and misinformed. Others warned that those complaints are based on an anti-American, anti-Christian agenda.

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Houston Chronicle - September 16, 2014

City size doesn't matter when it comes to Texas crime

Among Texas cities with populations of 100,000 or more, Odessa had the highest crime rate in the six-month period. That doesn't necessarily make it the most violent city in the state, since the calculation is based upon population size. Focusing on the state's 26 cities with more than 100,000 residents, we divided each city's population size by the total number of reported violent crimes -- murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault -- to get the violent crime rate per 1,000 people. Houston had 10,106 reported violent crimes in the first six months of 2013, according to the report issued in February. With a population of about 2.18 million, Houston's crime rate was 4.64 per 1,000.

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Texas Tribune - September 16, 2014

Texas Still Tops Census List of Highest Uninsured Rates

The rate of Texas residents without health insurance has dropped slightly but continues to outpace every other state, according to early figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. The 2013 American Community Survey’s estimates show that the rate of uninsured Texans dipped to 22.1 percent in 2013 from 22.5 percent in 2012. The figures indicate that Texas had 14,000 fewer uninsured residents last year than the year before. The new estimates complicate efforts to gauge the effectiveness of the federal Affordable Care Act, which required most Americans to purchase health insurance by March 2014.

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Austin American Statesman - September 16, 2014

Some Texas textbooks get climate change wrong, watchdog group charges

Several textbooks up for approval by the State Board of Education offer false scientific information, according to an education watchdog group. Echoing previous battles about evolution and creationism, the group, Texas Freedom Network, says some of the textbooks cast doubt on the role humans are playing in a changing climate. A McGraw-Hill geography book, for example, says that while scientists agree that Earth’s climate is changing, they disagree on the cause. “Is it just another natural warming cycle like so many cycles that have occurred in the past?” reads the text. “Scientists who support this position cite thousands of years’ worth of natural climatic change as evidence. Or is climate change anthropogenic — caused by human activity?

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San Antonio Express News - September 16, 2014

With immigrant apprehensions down, some say state can cancel border surge

Gov. Rick Perry's surge of law enforcement officers on the southern border recently met the most specific goal publicly set by its commander, a development that has received so little attention that critics say it calls into question the true aim of the deployment. Col. Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, mentioned to a legislative committee last week that officers in the Rio Grande Valley operation zone had caught just 1,977 unauthorized immigrants the week before. In July, when weekly apprehensions averaged around 4,000, McCraw told lawmakers the mission's “intended objective” was to reduce unlawful crossing so much that officers encountered fewer than 2,000 per week.

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Texas Observer - September 15, 2014

Lawman’s burden

Recovering human remains in the heat of a South Texas summer is not for the faint-hearted. The sight and smell of the dead can linger with you for days. It can give you nightmares if you let it. Whenever ranchers in rural Brooks County, 70 miles north of the Mexican border, find a body, which is often these days, they call the Brooks County Sheriff's Office. Chief Deputy Urbino “Benny” Martinez and his deputies are tasked with recovering the growing number of dead, and placing them in Department of Homeland Security-issued body bags – black bags for the recently dead, white for skeletal remains.

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Dallas Morning News - September 16, 2014

DMN: Insurance boss must take stand on rate requests

Insurance companies too often seem to have an ally in the Texas insurance commissioner’s chair. After nearly two years in office, the previous commissioner, Eleanor Kitzman, was considered such an industry lapdog that state senators blocked her reappointment. So last year Gov. Rick Perry turned to Julia Rathgeber, a former deputy chief of staff to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Regrettably, things haven’t gotten better. A front-page article in Saturday’s Dallas Morning News pointed out that Rathgeber has made no ruling on the latest round of homeowner rate increases from Allstate, Farmers and State Farm since receiving notice of them late last year. This inaction amounts to pocket approval under the state’s file-and-use system, which allows insurers to announce and then immediately implement new rates.

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Austin American Statesman - September 16, 2014

AAS: Mike Collier is best choice for comptroller

Here is where the importance of the Texas comptroller of public accounts most publicly manifests itself: The comptroller is responsible for issuing the revenue estimates that lawmakers use to write the state’s two-year budgets. Thus, an accurate revenue forecast is paramount. Miss the mark, and education, transportation and public health and safety suffer. With that responsibility in mind, we think Democrat Mike Collier is the comptroller candidate best qualified to produce estimates that more accurately tell lawmakers how much money they have available to write the state’s budgets, and to lead the agency in other key ways.

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Houston Chronicle - September 16, 2014

Davis TV commercial brings back ‘sociopath’ surgeon

Democratic candidate for governor Wendy Davis is using a TV ad to press questions about Republican rival Greg Abbott’s involvement in federal lawsuits against a Plano hospital with ties to a major donor. The plaintiffs in the lawsuits claim Baylor Regional Medical Center did not protect them from a cocaine-using neurosurgeon who a colleague once described as a “sociopath,” The Dallas Morning News reported in July. The doctor, Dr. Christopher Duntsch, had his license put on hold and left the hospital in 2012 following accusations of seriously harming patients, at least one of whom died. Davis’ 30-second spot, which leaked Tuesday afternoon, alleges connections between Abbott, Duntsch and Drayton McLane, chairman of the network of hospitals including Baylor Medical Center. The Davis campaign has drawn attention to six-digit sums McLane reportedly donated to Abbott’s campaign as the hospital took heat for Duntsch’s actions.

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County Stories

Dallas Morning News - September 16, 2014

Adams-Wade: New Dallas-area group advocates for prisoners’ civil rights

Prisoners have civil rights. And when those rights are violated, advocates say, prisoners deserve a helping hand. In the first public meeting of the new North Texas Civil Rights Project, attorneys for the volunteer-run group will listen to complaints on behalf of individual prisoners and offer advice to their families and friends. The nonprofit, which launched in June, has a hotline to field complaints. The group is based in south Irving to provide a centralized location for families from both the Dallas and Fort Worth sides of the metro area, officials said. It is affiliated with the 24-year-old Texas Civil Rights Project, based in Austin.

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Dallas Morning News - September 16, 2014

Price commends late Parkland CEO, a longtime nemesis

Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price offered a surprising resolution Tuesday, praising the late Dr. Ron Anderson for his leadership of Parkland Memorial Hospital. The kind words were not totally unexpected, given Anderson’s death last week. But they were somewhat unusual for their source: Over the years, Anderson was a frequent target of Price’s public wrath. For almost three decades, Price seldom missed an opportunity to berate the Parkland CEO for a long list of perceived failings. Price would summon Anderson to weekly meetings of the Commissioners Court and make the CEO stand at the podium while the two of them argued over budgets, taxes, hospital expansion, minority hiring, board appointments and Anderson’s contract (which was renewed every other year from 1982 to 2011).

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Dallas Morning News - September 16, 2014

Dallas County DA fight stirs talk of inquiry into judge

A familiar pattern is playing out inside the Dallas County courthouse as the district attorney’s office battles with a judge amid talk of a grand jury investigation of that jurist. The fight began earlier this month in a family violence case handled by Criminal Court Judge Elizabeth Frizell. Depending on who’s talking, paperwork in the case either never existed, was lost or destroyed. Defense attorney David Finn believes the dispute is a power grab by the DA’s office. But top prosecutors say it’s a political ploy by Finn to taint District Attorney Craig Watkins before the November election where the DA will face former judge Susan Hawk.

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City Stories

El Paso Times - September 17, 2014

Juan Cabrera gets additional year as superintendent at EPISD, criticized by union leader

The El Paso Independent School District Board of Managers unanimously voted Tuesday to extend Superintendent Juan Cabrera's contract by one year. Board President Dee Margo said Cabrera has shown "great leadership" and made significant progress during his first year as superintendent. "He cares about the district," Margo said.

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Odessa American - September 15, 2014

Lobbyist: Denton fracking ban a threat

A Houston-based energy lobbyist warned local Republicans Monday that a Denton referendum on whether to ban fracking could set a harmful precedent by restricting access to minerals, limiting economic development and targeting a specific industry. Such initiative would be unlikely to succeed in Odessa, but Judy Calloway of the Ector County Republican Women said the group wondered about the potential impact here if the Denton ban passes.

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El Paso Times - September 16, 2014

El Paso City Council approves payday lending zoning restrictions

The El Paso City Council on Tuesday put tougher restrictions on payday lenders, who council members claim are "predatory" businesses taking advantage of needy people. The council voted 6-2 on Tuesday to adopt a new zoning ordinance for payday lenders. The ordinance will require payday lenders and title-loan companies to operate 1,000 feet from each other, ban them from within 500 feet of a freeway and 300 feet of a neighborhood, limits them to operating in buildings by themselves and bars them from shopping centers.

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Austin American Statesman - September 16, 2014

Herman: How’s a voter to know?

Warning: Cranky columnist ahead, even crankier than usual — if that’s possible. I’m sorry to burden you with this rant. You’re not part of the problem. I know that because you’re reading the paper or pixels. This was inevitable as well as inevitably infuriating. The headline on my colleague Lilly Rockwell’s recent story said: “Some council candidates say Austin’s voter outreach is lacking.” Austin City Council candidate Delia Garza summed up the gripe by saying many locals “don’t even know that there are districts and what districts they live in.” Memo to Ms. Garza: Many locals don’t even know there’s a city council. When they happen upon a council meeting on TV they think it’s another reality show about oddballs. It is good when these folks don’t vote.

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National Stories

Washington Post - September 16, 2014

We ran 10,000 simulations through our Senate model. They came back tied.

On Tuesday, The Fix looked at the latest numbers from the Post's Election Lab. It showed that Democrats, for the first time this year, were now favored to hold the Senate. Well, we're a few hours past that, and we can now say this: The battle for control of the Senate is a pure toss-up. Not just like a this-is-very-close toss-up, but like a 50-50-odds toss-up. Our team ran 10,000 simulations using our most recent ratings of the 36 seats up for grabs on Nov. 4. It showed Republicans with a 50.03 percent chance of winning the Senate and Democrats with a 49.97 percent chance of holding the Senate. Again: pure toss-up.

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Politico - September 16, 2014

Obama: Ebola outbreak demands global response

President Barack Obama labeled the Ebola outbreak a “potential threat to global security” on Tuesday and called on Congress to immediately appropriate $88 million in funds the administration has requested as part of an international response to the outbreak ravaging West Africa. During a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Obama described the outbreak as “spiraling out of control” and warned that the world could be looking at hundreds of thousands of people infected in coming months.

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Politico - September 16, 2014

Obamacare: From game-changer to background noise

A year ago, it looked like Obamacare was going to have a huge role in this year’s elections. And not in a good way — as a symbol of government incompetence and the Republicans’ main case against President Barack Obama’s record. Now, it’s clear that the health care law not going to be Will people notice it? Sure — especially the ones who don’t like wallpaper. Will it make anyone buy a different house, all by itself? Probably not.

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Politico - September 16, 2014

Barack Obama’s dirty war

How dirty is President Barack Obama prepared to get in the war to defeat ISIL? Beating back the brutal Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant may require cozying up to unsavory groups in Syria — including some currently affiliated with the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front — and may collide with existing law if the groups the U.S. wants to train or co-opt have murky human rights records, former officials and analysts say. Some lawmakers are questioning the wisdom of such alliances, though that doesn’t seem to be slowing down momentum on congressional approval of Obama’s plan to take on ISIL.

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Ft. Worth Star Telegram - September 16, 2014

Labor Department announces grants to fight tax cheats

The U.S. Department of Labor on Monday awarded $10.2 million to nearly two dozen states to beef up enforcement of a labor scheme that companies employ to evade their tax obligations. The announcement of the first-of-their-kind grants comes one week after McClatchy’s five-part series that uncovered the federal government’s failure to stop companies that wrongly classify their workers as independent contractors instead of employees on federal contracts.

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Bloomberg - September 16, 2014

Kurds Fight Iraq’s Second Bid to Seize Tanker Off Texas

The Kurdistan Regional Government asked a U.S. judge to reject the Iraqi Oil Ministry’s bid to use new legal theories to seek a second seizure order for $100 million of Kurdish crude waiting in a tanker off the Texas coast. U.S. District Judge Gray Miller ruled last month he had no authority to decide which government rightfully owns the cargo, which was pumped from wells in the autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq and exported through a Turkish pipeline. He threw out a U.S. magistrate’s arrest warrant that would have allowed federal agents to seize the crude and store it ashore at the Iraqi government’s expense, if the ship enters U.S. territorial waters, until the ownership dispute can be resolved.

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San Antonio Express News - September 16, 2014

Rick Perry: Washington treats states like 'vassals'

Gov. Rick Perry took one of a long line of swipes at Washington during a transportation speech Tuesday, saying the nation's capital treats states like “vassals.” In contrast, Perry said, Texas works with local governments and trusts them to best know their needs. Citing his recent trip to Japan and China as he eyes another run for president, Perry said employers consistently bring up the issue of infrastructure when considering Texas, including transportation infrastructure.

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Columbus Republic - September 16, 2014

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez holds fundraiser in Texas oil patch community

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has traveled to Texas to raise money for her re-election campaign. Martinez campaign spokesman Chris Sanchez said Martinez held a fundraiser on Monday in Midland, a West Texas community in the oil-producing Permian Basin. The governor's campaign will pay for her travel costs.

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Bloomberg - September 16, 2014

Mexico’s Interest in U.S. Oil Seen Opening Export Door

U.S. oil producers anxious to export booming supplies of domestic crude may have another way around a ban in place since 1975, this one via Mexico. Mexico’s state oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, has expressed interest in importing some of the lighter oil the U.S. has in abundance, swapping it for heavier Mexican oil that U.S. refineries are able to process. If approved by the U.S. Commerce Department, it would be another exemption permitted by President Barack Obama’s administration, which this year let two oil producers sell a lightly processed form of crude overseas.

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Marketwatch - September 16, 2014

Scotland is as important to the U.K. as Texas is to the U.S.

When it comes to population and economic impacts, Scotland is as important to the United Kingdom as Texas is to the United States. Scottish voters will decide Thursday whether to separate from the United Kingdom after more than 300 years. The referendum has become too close to call, according to the latest polls. For a better sense of how important Scotland is to the United Kingdom as a whole, MarketWatch looked at its population, land area and GDP.

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Associated Press - September 16, 2014

BLACKS, HISPANICS HAVE DOUBTS ABOUT MEDIA ACCURACY

A new study shows a large majority of African-American and Hispanic news consumers don't fully trust the media to portray their communities accurately, a statistic that could be troubling for the news industry as the minority population of the United States grows. Three-fourths of African-American news consumers and two-thirds of Hispanics have doubts about what mainstream media report about their communities, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Media Insight Project. And while most say it's become easier to get news generally in the last five years, few feel the same way about news regarding their own community, the survey said.

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The New Yorker - September 16, 2014

Toobin: The Disappearing “Undue Burden” Standard for Abortion Rights

Those words—“undue burden”—represent Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s most important triumph during her long and consequential tenure on the U.S. Supreme Court. Almost single-handedly, O’Connor rewrote abortion law. She had been a politician in Arizona, and her views, not coincidentally, roughly mirrored those of most Americans: abortion should be legal, but states should be allowed to impose some reasonable restrictions on the practice. When she joined the Court, in 1981, O’Connor was still basically alone among the Justices in how she saw the issue, but by 1992 her position commanded a majority. That year, she wrote the decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which said that, while states did have the right to regulate some aspects of abortion—by, say, imposing twenty-four-hour waiting periods and requiring parental consent for minors—such power to constrain a woman’s choice had limits. As O’Connor put it, “Only where state regulation imposes an undue burden on a woman’s ability to make this decision does the power of the State reach into the heart of the liberty protected by the Due Process Clause.”

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Dallas Morning News - September 16, 2014

Gohmert, Flores to seek Republican Study Committee chairmanship

Tyler Rep. Louie Gohmert and Bryan Rep. Bill Flores are officially seeking the powerful chairmanship of the Republican Study Committee. Gohmert and Flores will appear on the ballot to lead the conservative bloc, along with Reps. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming and Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina. The election is set to occur after the November midterms. Unlike past contests, the group’s founders declined to endorse a candidate.

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Dallas Morning News - September 16, 2014

Rep. Joe Barton has gallbladder attack, will need surgery

Rep. Joe Barton had a gallbladder attack on Monday night, forcing the Arlington Republican to stay in Texas for immediate treatment. “It is something that strikes millions of Americans every year. While painful, my doctors have told me this is non-life threatening and treatable,” Barton said in a written statement. Barton will have his gallbladder removed early next week, spokesman Sean Brown said. The earliest he would return to Washington is the week of Sept. 29, when Congress reconvenes after a weeklong break.

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Dallas Morning News - September 16, 2014

Republican Scott Brown says he gave Ted Cruz the idea to strip the citizenship of Americans who fight for ISIS

Ted Cruz’s bill to strip the citizenship of any American who fights for the terrorist group ISIS sounds like a good idea to Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown. In fact, Brown says he gave Cruz the idea. Brown is a former Massachusetts Republican who is in a tight race for Senate in New Hampshire against incumbent Democrat Jean Shaheen. Brown is trying to burnish his conservative credentials. Polls show them virtually tied in a race that could have an impact on the shape of the Senate next year. Brown has been anxious to align himself with Cruz, a darling of tea party conservatives – if not always with some fellow Republicans in Congress.

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New York Times - September 16, 2014

Calpers, Nation’s Biggest Pension Fund, to End Hedge Fund Investments

Even as some pension funds are reconsidering their investments in hedge funds, the industry has continued to grow to a record $2.8 trillion today, according to HFR. After the pension funds had their asset values decimated by losses from the financial crisis, many of them flocked to hedge funds, and their promise of high returns, even in years when the broader stock and bond markets were down. Some pension funds vastly increased their hedge fund holdings, with many going from virtually no holdings to allocations of up to 15 percent. The Teachers Retirement System of Texas went so far as to take a stake in the giant hedge fund Bridgewater Associates.

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Copyright September 17, 2014, Harvey Kronberg, www.quorumreport.com, All rights are reserved