Former Dewhurst Crony Pleads Guilty to Stealing $1.8 Million from Campaign

Patrick Michels
Couldn't have beaten eggs.
As if the state needed more reason to be ashamed about the 2012 Republican Senate primary -- you know, the one that ended with Ted Cruz basically being handed a national platform on a silver platter -- Buddy Barfield, longtime top aid to Cruz's runoff opponent, David Dewhurst, has admitted to siphoning almost $2 million from Dewhurst's campaign.

From 2008-2012, Barfield filed fake invoices with the David Dewhurst Committee and Dewhurst for Texas. When money was paid to the front companies he created, Barfield used it to pay for things like his mortgage and his kids' school tuition. As you would expect, Barfield did not claim the money he embezzled on his taxes -- in 2008, a year he grabbed more than $650,000 from the Dewhurst piggy bank, he claimed zero taxable income -- so he also admitted to tax evasion.

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How Texas' New Abortion Restrictions Have Actually Impacted Access to the Procedure

Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas
Planned Parenthood's new Dallas ambulatory surgery center
The number of abortions being performed in Texas has dropped moderately, clinics offering abortions are vanishing rapidly and women seeking abortions must travel much farther to get an abortion, according to almost 18 months of data compiled by researchers looking at the effects of Texas' passage of some of the most restrictive abortion regulations in the country.

A group made up primarily of researchers from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project and Ibis Reproductive Health document the law's impact in a report to be published in an upcoming issue of Contraception, an academic journal. Over the course of the team's study, which concluded in April, almost half of the state's women's health clinics that provided abortions closed.

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Royce West Is Suing One of His Constituents for Defamation

Dallas District Court
The defendant, presumably.

In a lawsuit filed in Dallas' 44th District Court on Thursday, state Senator Royce West claims a resident of his district has consistently defamed him and has, more recently, begun stalking him at campaign and other events, including a pair of funerals.

At the events West cites, Bennie Jeffery held signs accusing West of being a "dirty crook" and verbally harassed the senator, the suit claims.

The most recent incident included in the suit occurred at a public event at the Barack Obama male Leadership Academy on June 6. West claims the defendant "took his ill-will to a new and dangerous level" and that " a barrage a racial epithets and profanity [caused] West to believe he was in imminent danger and fear for his personal safety and welfare."

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Final Texas GOP 2014 Platform Says "Homosexuality Is a Chosen Behavior"

Thomas Nast
Rampaging GOP strikes again.

In month when Texas Republicans seemingly cannot stop saying dumb things about homosexuality, the party's finished 2014 platform makes it clear the state GOP isn't just ignorant about gay life -- it's willfully ignorant. They even put it in writing.

See also: Rick Perry Doubles Down on Stupid Talking About Conversion Therapy

Some of the platform's language is almost unfathomable in 2014. On top of the usual stuff -- God is mentioned 12 times, Judeo-Christian values are mentioned four times -- the new platform contains some especially contentious language about the LGBTQ community.

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Rick Perry Doubles Down on Stupid Talking About Conversion Therapy

Danny Fulgencio
So you're telling me there's no scientific evidence. None?

We should probably be used to it by now. Governor Rick Perry went on CNBC earlier this week and said something that, were it to have come from anyone else, would've been stunning for its intellectual dishonesty.

In the midst of an interview, which you can see in full below, Perry told Squawk Box's Joe Kernan that he doesn't know if non-heterosexuals can change their sexual orientation. Then, he commented on conversion therapy, an endorsement of which was added to the Texas GOP's 2014 platform at the party's recent convention in Fort Worth.

"You know, I don't know," he said. "We'll leave that to the psychologists and the doctors."

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You May Soon Be Able to Bet On Races That Have Already Happened at Lone Star Park

R Hensley
Real, live racing horses

Commissioners began considering whether to allow the installation of so-called historical racing terminals at Texas horse tracks at a Tuesday afternoon meeting of the Texas Racing Commission in Austin.

The machines, which allow bettors to rapidly wager on replays of past races that have scrubbed of all identifying information, are described by supporters as a simple extension of something that is already legal, pari-mutuel betting. Anti-gambling advocates say that the machines are effectively slot machines, which are illegal in Texas.

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Texas Governor Rick Perry Is Still a Long Way From Legalizing Pot

It's not often that Texas Governor Rick Perry has occasion to wax at length about his views on drug policy, but when you find yourself in Davos, Switzerland, on a World Economic Forum panel devoted to the "drug dilemma," there isn't much else to talk about.

This morning's discussion (it was late evening in Switzerland) focused on narcotics as a intractable global ill that stretches from the poppy fields of Afghanistan to the Latin American cartels to street-level pushers everywhere, and it featured insights from former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth.

Perry's expertise, and the apparent reason he was included on the panel, stems from the fact that he leads a U.S. state, and that states, particularly post-weed legalization in Colorado and Washington state, have established themselves as laboratories of drug policy.

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Texas Isn't Discriminating Against Dallas Hair Braider, Judge Rules

Danny Hurley
Erykah Badu, a client of Isis Brantley's, at the Natural Hair Parade.
One day in 1997, seven police officers walked into the Institute of Ancestral Braiding in Oak Cliff and arrested Isis Brantley, a local hair guru whose clients include Erykah Badu, for braiding hair without a cosmetology license.

Brantley no longer has the cops to worry about. In 2007, a decade after her arrest, she successfully lobbied the state to create a special hair-braiding certificate requiring just 35 hours of training, compared with 1,500 mandated for barbers. Brantley argued that since stylists who create traditional African hair-braids don't use any harsh chemicals or heat, it's safer than what's traditionally taught in cosmetology schools.

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State Regulators Sit Idle as Quakes Rock North Texas

A USGS map showing the 17 earthquakes that measured 2.5 on the Richter scale and above in the past 30 days.
So far, none of the two dozen earthquakes recorded in North Texas since the start of November have caused any serious damage. The Eagle Mountain Lake Dam is fine. Homes and businesses are intact, save for the occasional hairline crack. No one has been hurt.

There's no guarantee that won't change as the quakes, centered near the Parker County town of Azle, creep toward 4.0 on the Richter scale, the magnitude at which seismic activity can start causing damage. The most recent quake, which happened just after midnight on Sunday, registered a 3.6. At 3:23 a.m. Monday, a 3.7 shook Mineral Wells.

The earthquakes aren't directly related to hydraulic fracturing, the process of releasing oil and natural gas from rock formations by blasting them with a pressurized liquid. But they probably are caused by injecting the resulting wastewater -- nine billion gallons per month in Texas -- deep underground.

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Texas National Guard Will Now Give Benefits to Same Sex Couples Under "New Procedure" That May Not Exist

For the past few months, the Texas National Guard and the Department of Defense have been in a public brawl over gay rights. And last week, it appeared that the Defense Department, along with gay couples, emerged as the clear victor.

Texas, Oklahoma and West Virginia are now complying with the DOD's orders and extending federal marriage benefits to same-sex spouses, the DOD announced last week.

But Texas wasn't about to take the defeat lying down. So instead, the Texas military attempted to clarify the news. It wasn't a loss per se, but more like a compromise, Texas military officials insisted. You see, Texas has actually introduced a "new procedure." This procedure apparently ensures that only some military personnel will handle the gay benefits. The Texas Military Forces explains how the "new procedure" works in a press release:

The new procedure essentially recognizes the conflict between the Texas Constitution and DOD policy mandating the enrollment of same-gender dependent spouses in benefits programs. Under the new procedure, DOD will provide federal personnel, funding and the use of federal personnel systems to enroll all dependents, including those in same-sex marriages, in benefits programs. This solution ensures that no Texas National Guard personnel in a state status will violate the Texas Constitution.
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