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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In Race for Seat on Texas' Oil and Gas Regulator, a Candidate Campaigns Against Abortion

Wayne Christian for Railroad Commissioner
Wayne Christian is eying a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission, the state agency charged with the twin tasks of regulating the oil and gas industry. So naturally, Christian is campaigning hard on his unwavering opposition to abortion.

Christian, a former state representative from East Texas, touts his pro-life bona fides in a recent campaign video.

"I have and will continue to fight for the rights of the unborn and for the basic right to life," he says, citing endorsements from pro-life groups like Texas Right to Life and the Texas Alliance for Life.

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Months After Vetoing Disclosure Bill, Rick Perry Gets a New Dark Money Group

The cover story for Governor Rick Perry's feud with California Governor Jerry Brown, his job-poaching trip to Missouri and his visit to a Maryland gun manufacturer the day after this month's Navy Yard shooting, is that he's bolstering the Texas economy by spreading the state's low-tax gospel and wooing people and businesses.

No one really believes that. What he's actually doing, according to pretty much everyone, is laying the groundwork for a 2016 presidential run.

The most recent junkets have been financed by a new group called Americans for Economic Freedom, which was established in August using the $212,608 left over from the SuperPAC that backed Perry's woeful 2012 presidential bid.

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Texas v. Obama, Part XXX: Greg Abbott Pledges Lawsuit Over U.N. Arms Trade Treaty

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What happens to creatures that try to take Greg Abbott's guns.
The goal of the U.N.'s Arms Trade Treaty -- of fostering international peace and cooperation and "reducing human suffering" -- is laudable. Its methods, which basically consist of asking countries to monitor gun exports so they don't wind up in the hands of terrorists and other malevolent actors, are commonsense. In a rational world, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry adding his signature on Wednesday would be a benign and unobjectionable piece of diplomatic theater.

But this is not a rational world. The NRA immediately bristled at the mention of "small arms and light weapons" and predicted that the treaty will be used as a pretext for a gun registry, which are "blatant attacks on the constitutional rights and liberties of every law-abiding American." Glenn Beck also sounded the alarm.

In Texas, there was a similar refrain.

"I'd like the see the UN try to send inspectors to the Texas State Rifle Association's annual gathering," Senator John Cornyn said in a statement to the Texas Tribune. "Secretary Kerry's signature on the UN Arms Trade Treaty is the latest in a long line of the Obama administration's attempts to trounce on the constitutional rights of law-abiding Texans and Americans across the country."

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To Battle Teen Pregnancy Crisis, Texas Builds $1.2 Million Abstinence-Only Website

Vagina demagogues.jpg
You're a public health policymaker in Texas. Teenage girls in the state are getting knocked up at an alarming rate, then they're having babies and getting knocked up again. The data, along with the bulk of the scientific literature, suggest that the state's longstanding strategy of telling kids not to have sex isn't working.

Do you A.) come to terms with reality and embark on a campaign to teach kids about safe sex and the benefits of contraception; or B). declare jihad on family planning clinics and pour $1.2 million into an abstinence-only website and ad campaign?

Having trouble? Go back to the first sentence. Focus on the "Texas" part. The correct answer is clearly b.

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With Roads Turning to Gravel, TxDOT Turns to "Don't Mess With Texas" Merchandise for Cash

If the Texas Department of Transportation were a private company, it would have long ago plastered "Don't Mess With Texas" all over T-shirts, belt buckles, chastity belts, firearms, and any other consumer good its marketing department could call to mind.

As it is, the state agency has mostly limited the slogan to billboards, TV spots, and roadside trash cans, jealously guarded its trademark to keep it from "losing its original antilittering message," as the New York Times put it recently. Hence the 100-plus letters the agency's attorneys have sent out since 2000 warning everyone from belt-buckle manufacturers to romance novelists to cease and desist.

Now, 28 years after an Austin ad man coined the phrase in an attempt to convince young male Texans not to throw trash from their pickups, and with TxDOT reduced to converting paved roads to gravel, the agency has decided it's high time to cash in.

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Rick Perry Gives Small California Gun Shop a Big Texas Welcome

Office of the Governor
It's thirsty work being Rick Perry. You have to stand in the warm May sun outside a gun shop and wax poetic about the virtues of firearms, laissez-faire capitalism and how much California blows. It's no wonder then that you would promptly hightail it across town to the local brewery. After all, what could go better with guns than beer?

The correct answer is whiskey of course, but there's no commercial distillery in Shiner, where Governor Perry gave a warm Texas welcome to Shield Tactical, which is both the state's newest firearms retailer and a refugee from California's gun regulations.

In the Golden State, "it's like before you put up your range you have to be worried about whether the noise level is going to bother the 10-headed duckmouse," Shield Tactical's John Harrington explained to The New York Times. In Texas, "it's an iota of bureaucracy."

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