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Burnt Orange Report is redeveloping our website for the first time in almost a decade. This is critical to the ongoing existence of BOR.

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Friday Wrap: Homophonophobia, New Zoo News, Dollars Full of Women, and More...

by: Burnt Orange Report

Fri Aug 01, 2014 at 04:00 PM CDT

It's Friday! Time for your Burnt Orange Reporters to comment on all the news that fits in a blockquote.

First up this week, Joe Biden shared a disarmingly handsome picture in honor of Throwback Thursday and to encourage people to #GetCovered.

We appreciated it.

Below the jump, read about the science behind Harry Potter fan superiority, watch Brian Williams be an embarrassing dad, and learn what Republican Congressman thinks that an American Assistant Secretary of State is working for India.

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Texas Border Community Leaders Fire Back At Gov. Rick Perry Over Troop Surge

by: Joe Deshotel

Fri Aug 01, 2014 at 01:00 PM CDT

The surge of National Guard troops along the border at Governor Perry's behest has done wonders for his presidential aspirations -- rocketing him from statically insignificant to double digits in the latest GOP Primary polls -- but the local border community hasn't exactly jumped on the bandwagon.

Members of the business community and elected officials are among those who have criticized the militarization of the border. The concerns expressed include the impact on tourism, business recruitment and the perception that cities on the Texas-Mexico border are unsafe.

See below the jump why many see Perry's actions as little more than costly political theater...

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CD-23 Republican Candidate Will Hurd's Budget Plan Would Force Massive Medicare Cuts

by: Katie Singh

Fri Aug 01, 2014 at 00:00 PM CDT

Republican Will Hurd is running to replace incumbent congressman Pete Gallego in the 23rd District, and we've written extensively about how his proposed budget plan would be devastating for many important programs for Texas veterans.

It turns out that Hurd's proposed across-the-board, indiscriminate 16% budget cuts would put yet another program at risk--Medicare. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a budget plan like Hurd's would "inevitably force enormous cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, and possibly Social Security."

The types of cuts proposed by Hurd would jeopardize the traditional Medicare guarantee, leaving CD-23's seniors without the medical coverage they need.

Read more about how Hurd's plan puts Medicare at risk after the jump.

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Stop Patriarchy Should Donate $32,000 Raised For Texas Travel To Texas Abortion Funds

by: Genevieve Cato

Fri Aug 01, 2014 at 09:00 AM CDT

If you haven't heard, Stop Patriarchy is coming to Texas for an Abortion Freedom Ride, and a lot of Texans aren't too happy about it.

While clinics in Texas close and abortion funds struggle to meet the needs of Texans across the state, Stop Patriarchy is using this devastation to raise tens of thousands of dollars - not to help people who need abortions, but rather to pay for their own airfare.

Despite highly detailed criticisms of the plan from those working on the ground to increase access to reproductive justice in Texas, Stop Patriarchy is continuing with their plans to come down to Texas and stage protests across the state, and continuing to get positive press coverage from out-of-state news sources that fail to ask Texans working in the reproductive justice movement what they think.

Though there are plenty of reasons to be frustrated with Stop Patriarchy, one of the most important complaints is that of fundraising transparency.

The group started an Indie Go Go campaign to fund the action and raised over $30,000. So where is that money going and what could it be better spent on to help actual Texans?

Wish lists from abortion funds in Texas and a breakdown of Stop Patriarchy's use of funds raised to "help" Texans below the jump.

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Greg Abbott Defends Sociopathic Surgeon Over Victims of Botched Spinal Surgeries

by: Katherine Haenschen

Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 06:30 PM CDT

When victims of a sociopathic surgeon sued a hospital over botched surgeries that left patients dead and maimed, they got no help from Greg Abbott.

Instead, Greg Abbott used his AG's office to help the hospital avoid the suits, and was rewarded with a $350,000 donation from the hospital's board chairman.

A piece published in the Dallas Morning News today details Abbott's three interventions on behalf of the Baylor Regional Medical Center in Plano in their attempts to defend Dr. Christopher Duntsch. Duntsch lost his license after multiple accusations of malpractice that left his patients injured, and in some cases irreparably maimed or dead.

More on the shady donation timeline below the jump.

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Armed Domestic Terrorist 'Militia' Groups Patrolling Texas Border on Hunt for Child Refugees

by: Omar Araiza

Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 03:00 PM CDT

No less than 10 armed "militia" groups, all composed of private citizens, have ganged up together to patrol the Texas-Mexico border, with a mission to seek out "illegals" -- child refugees coming in from Central America.

Leading the groups is Chris Davis, a former truck driver discharged from the Army in 2001 "under other than honorable conditions in lieu of trial by court martial." Davis is asking his followers to threaten and shoot to kill any child they see crossing the border seeking refuge. "You see an illegal. You point your gun dead at him, right between his eyes, and you say, 'Get back across the border or you will be shot.'"

While Republicans remain silent on condemning these fascist, domestic terrorist groups, Democrats have denounced the groups and call for appropriate action by law enforcement officials.

More on the border crisis below the jump.

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Austin Urban Rail Would Be An Alternative To Traffic Not A Panacea

by: Joe Deshotel

Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 00:00 PM CDT

The battle for the narrative on Austin's urban rail proposal is being fought out as much with in the pro-transit community as it is with those who oppose it all together.

The stakes are high, as it remains unclear how a new 10-1 City Council may address future transportation investments if voters turn down rail in November. Add to the pressure pot the lingering sting of losing by less than 1% that many advocates still remember from 14 years ago.

On Wednesday I attended a media tour sponsored by CapMetro to visit the proposed rail route from East Riverside to Highland Mall. The tour included one of rail's most vocal proponents, Mayor Lee Leffingwell.

Read about the route and how the plan is being pitched below the jump...

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Children's Home of Lubbock Fires Employee for Being Gay

by: Emily Cadik

Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 09:00 AM CDT

The Children's Home of Lubbock, which provides adoption, foster care and other family services, has fired an employee simply because of his sexual orientation. Children's Home knew that childcare worker Casey Stegall was gay. But when he introduced his fiancĂ© to some of the children he worked with, he was fired over his "lifestyle choices," the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports.  

"I got fired just for being who I am," Stegall said.

According to Children's Home President Lynn Harms, "As a faith-based, church-related outreach providing welfare services, if you will, to children and families, there is a set of biblical values that we adhere to and live by. When you are implementing life training and so forth - particularly with children - to put a confused message out there is counterproductive."

"If you want to try to force our culture to meet your expectations, that's not going to go well," Harms continued. "I don't feel like the culture here has to meet an individual's desire for the world to be different."

Read about Stegall's response and his options for recourse after the jump.

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Texas Rep Dennis Bonnen Thinks It's Easier To Teach "Coonass" Katrina Evacuees Than Refugee Kids

by: Joe Deshotel

Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 09:00 PM CDT

State Representative Dennis Bonnen said in a committee hearing this week that there has been "way too much focus on the children" refugees along the border. He also made a faux pas during that same meeting that might have some Cajuns ragin' and maybe anyone who speaks Spanish as a first language.

The first rule of using ethnic slurs is -- don't. Sure there may be exceptions like referring to yourself for instance (if you're into that sort of thing) but certainly not at the dais of a Legislative Committee Hearing which you are chairing.

He was trying to describe why children from Central America might be harder to teach than evacuees from Katrina -- "we had to have a teacher who could do Coonass and English, but here we have to do Spanish and English, maybe, and there's a higher marker."

More below the jump...

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Dan Patrick's Disappearance Act: Where Did Danny Go?

by: Genevieve Cato

Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 04:30 PM CDT

Image courtesy of Lone Star Project
If the campaign landscape in Texas has seemed a little less ridiculous recently, it is probably because one of the most unabashedly offensive characters running for office in November disappeared for almost forty days.

After winning his primary against David Dewhurst, Dan Patrick dropped off the radar. If it strikes you as odd that one of the candidates in the country's most interesting race for Lieutenant Governor would be MIA following an incredibly high profile run-off, you aren't the only one.  

More on Disappearing Dan below the jump.

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CD-23 Republican Will Hurd Plans to Cut Veterans' Benefits as Rep. Pete Gallego Passes VA Reform

by: Katie Singh

Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 01:00 PM CDT

The centerpiece of Republican candidate Will Hurd's challenge to incumbent congressman Pete Gallego is his call for across-the-board, indiscriminate budget cuts. These cuts would be devastating for many Texans, but especially for Texas veterans.

As we've written, Hurd's plan puts many vital services for veterans at risk. These include VA medical care, disability services, and small business loans. In total, there are over 46,000 veterans who live in CD-23 whose access to services would be jeopardized by this part Will Hurd's budget plan.

It turns out there is yet another place Will Hurd's budget would cut support for veterans--education support provided through the GI bill. This program is used by 30% of veterans nationwide, including tens of thousands of Texans, and it would be endangered if Will Hurd's budget succeeded.

Meanwhile, Pete Gallego spent this week once again showing his commitment to helping Texas veterans as two of his proposals for VA reform were incorporated into the final version of a bill agreed upon by the House and Senate.

Watch Pete Gallego stand up for veterans on the House floor after the jump.

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The Ugly Truth About Our Website

by: Burnt Orange Report

Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 11:00 AM CDT

While we at Burnt Orange Report work hard to bring you progressive coverage of Texas news, the website we have isn't that great. In fact, it's kind of ugly.

That's why we're doing something about it. Last week, we started the process of redeveloping Burnt Orange Report's website -- we're making one that will look as good as the content we publish on it.

This is a big step for our blog. And we can't do it alone. We're counting on our loyal readers who value Burnt Orange Report and rely on our progressive news coverage to help us fund part of this redesign.

--> Click here to help build an even better Burnt Orange Report. <--

Over the last few years we've broken national news stories, provided on-the-ground live-blogging of major political events, and kept our focus on the issues that matter to progressive Texans.

If you help us fund this redesign, you will enable Burnt Orange Report to do even more great reporting, expand our audience, and engage the growing progressive base in Texas.

Click here to help us build a website that is as great as the content we publish on it..

Thanks for your support over the past 11 years -- we're committed to working even harder to provide progressive coverage of issues that matter in Texas on a website that matches the quality of our work.

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Protect The Vote! Texas Democratic Party Launches Voter Protection Effort

by: shaltom

Tue Jul 29, 2014 at 00:48 PM CDT

(Thanks to the TDP for making voter protection such a priority! - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)

The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy. That's why the Texas Democratic Party is doing everything it can to protect the vote.

We've been fighting hard against the Republican voter bullying efforts in court, and now we're gearing up to fight against them at the polls.

Election judges and clerks will play a critical role on November 4th. That is why one of our first priorities is to help your local Democratic county parties recruit and train more qualified election workers. These election workers are on the front lines of voter protection. We know that eliminating confusion at the polls goes a long way to improve the voting experience. Election workers who understand correct voting procedures can alleviate confusion and ensure that ballots are cast correctly and accurately counted.

Sign up to be an election worker!

Read more below the jump.

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Texas has Some of the Highest and the Lowest Costs of Living in the Country

by: Emily Cadik

Tue Jul 29, 2014 at 04:30 PM CDT

Everything is bigger in Texas - including cost of living disparities.

The Atlantic Citylab looked at data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) on the price levels of various expenses like food, transportation, housing, and education.  

The analysis shows that in Texas, there are metro regions where the costs of living are among the highest in the country - generally in the major cities of Dallas, Austin and Houston where you'd expect higher costs. On the other hand, there are metro regions along the border where the costs of living are among the lowest in the country.

There are very few states that combine such low-cost and high-cost areas. But then again, there are no states like Texas.

There's more after the jump.

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Criminal Complaint Filed Against Sen. Ken Paxton

by: Joseph Vogas

Tue Jul 29, 2014 at 03:00 PM CDT

Republican Sen. Ken Paxton: Do not pass go, do not collect $200
At the beginning of the month, it was becoming clear Republican State Senator and nominee for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton could become toxic to the entire Texas Republican slate. Paxton admitted to violating the Texas Securities Act when he failed to register as an investment advisor when soliciting clients and paid a fine as a result of his violation. However, Paxton's actions may have also been criminal. To find out, an investigation would need to be held by Texas' Public Integrity Unit.

It is rare for Texas' Public Integrity Unit, led by the incumbent District Attorney of Travis County, to open an investigation on their own. Often, formal criminal complaints must be filed for an investigation to begin. Recently, such a criminal complaint was filed against Senator Paxton by the watchdog group Texans for Public Justice.

The criminal complaint lays out a direct case of what it is believed Paxton did and how the law was violated. The complaint is now expected to be reviewed by a staff lawyer for the Public Integrity Unit to determine if the Public Integrity Unit has jurisdiction and if a formal investigation is warranted should the Public Integrity Unit have jurisdiction.

Should Ken Paxton be convicted of committing a felony, he will be unqualified and ineligible to serve as Texas Attorney General.

The official criminal complaint which is a direct and stinging indictment on Sen. Paxton's potentially criminal past can be read in full after the jump.

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Burnt Orange Reporters
Editor and Publisher:
Katherine Haenschen

Senior Staff Writers:
Genevieve Cato
Joe Deshotel
Michael Hurta
Ben Sherman

Staff Writers:
Omar Araiza
Emily Cadik
Phillip Martin
Natalie San Luis
Katie Singh
Joseph Vogas

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