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Good News Dallas
by Trey Garrison    Fri, Apr 21, 2006, 11:48 AM

Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed this morning that almost 100 illegal immigrants were arrested at three Dallas area plants in a raid on IFCO Thursday, a wooden pallet maker, as part of a crackdown on the company nationwide. About 1,200 were arrested at other sites, including Houston.

Most of those arrested were released within hours.

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by Scott Bennett    Fri, Apr 21, 2006, 11:47 AM
gas pump.jpgAAA has named Big D the champ again with the highest gasoline prices in Texas at $2.90 a gallon.  That is up a dime since last week.  We are ahead of the Texas average of $2.83 which is also the national average.  San Antonio is still in last place with $2.73 but they are trying hard with a jump of 9-cents in the past week. 
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by Brian Bodine    Fri, Apr 21, 2006, 11:46 AM

Community activist and educator Joe Tave is saying that Dallas ISD has been misdirected. DallasBlog recently interviewed Tave, who is one of seven candidates running for the District 6 seat on the Board of Trustees, and talked to him about the misdirection that he believes the district is headed in.

According to Tave, Dallas ISD needs a “general superintendent” that will serve all of the district’s children. While Tave didn’t suggest that DISD find a new superintendent, he did say that the current agenda of the Superintendent needed to be changed.

“That misdirection, I feel, has been the push for the Hispanic agenda. It’s been noticeable. Particularly when it comes to the general superintendent, he needs to be a superintendent for all of our children,” said Tave.

Tave said that the agenda and misdirection could be replaced by a “broad umbrella of fairness and educational programs” that meets the needs of the various different populations that the district serves, and not just the Hispanic population.

“If (the misdirection) is not corrected, regardless of who is superintendent, there is going to be racial conflict and that will hinder progress,” said Tave.

According to Tave, the issue of fairness and educational programs in the district was very complex. He said that he would have to study problems with the current misdirection of the district before he could recommend specific solutions.

“(If elected) I would spend an inordinate amount of time researching to make sure that nobody would mislead me,” said Tave.

Tave also said that salaries, insurance, and benefits are major issues for him. “Teachers are paying far too much money for health insurance,” said Tave. “That’s not only a local problem, but it’s a state problem because any school district is an extension of the state of Texas. The state is needed to aid local districts to ameliorate that situation.”

On the issue of principal incentives, Tave expressed concerns that a recent DISD proposal to implement principal incentives based on academic performance could lead to unethical conduct.

“From the information that I have, the Superintendent wants to impose expectations for the principals to attain a certain level of academic performance,” said Tave. “I think in doing that you put pressure on principals to meet statistical plateaus and that may encourage dishonesty and test manipulation. If people get into this position, they are going to do what it takes to get there and to stay there.”

Tave also said that he had no problem with merit pay and goals for principals and teachers to meet, but he emphasized that parents are also participants in the effort to increase academic performance in the district.

When asked about studies showing the high performance of students enrolled in dual language programs, Tave said that often “statistics” can be manipulated by whoever is presenting them and that the bigger picture is much more complicated than dual language studies have shown. Tave also mentioned that native Spanish speaking students that are immersed in Spanish language programs don’t do as well on standardized tests as those that are immersed in English instruction.

When asked what he thought was the biggest issue facing the district, Tave said that it was public school financing. “I anticipate that funding will be the biggest issue,” said Tave. “The district is slated to lose millions of dollars if this thing is not changed. Public school financing both at the state and local level is the top priority.”

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by Trey Garrison    Fri, Apr 21, 2006, 10:55 AM

Apple: You're not the real press.
Online journalists: Sawk eet.

A California court in San Jose is scheduled to hear a case where Apple Computer claims that online journalists don't have the same rights as traditional reporters. Apple's lawyers say in court documents that Web scribes are not "legitimate members of the press" when they reveal details about forthcoming products that the company would prefer to keep confidential.

(Personal opinion: Journalists - be they traditional or cyber-based - should have no more rights, privileges or special treatment than any other member of the public. Journalists aren't a privileged class, and the First Amendment applies to everyone or it applies to no one.)

Full story here.

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by Special to    Fri, Apr 21, 2006, 09:12 AM

Fox News is reporting that President Bush's approval rating hit a new low this week of 33 percent.  Support is dropping, even among Republicans:  "Approval among Republicans is below 70 percent for the first time of Bush's presidency.  Two-thirds (66 percent) approve of Bush's job performance today, down almost 20 percentage points from this time last year when 84 percent of Republicans approved."  Among Democrats, Bush has an approval rate of 11 percent today.

The news from the latest Fox poll also is not good for the Republican-controlled Congress with 25 percent of the public approving the job Congress is doing and 52 percent disapproving.  That could put Republican control of the US House and the Senate in jeopardy this November. 

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by Special to    Fri, Apr 21, 2006, 08:58 AM

ABC News quotes its foreign affairs analyst Tony Cordesman as saying that the War in Iraq could wind up costing US taxpayers as much as a trillion dollars:  "When the administration submitted its original budget for the Iraq war, it didn't provide money for continuing the war this year or any other.  We could end up spending up to $1 trillion in supplemental budgets for this war. "  The ABC report notes that "not only in human lives, but in monetary terms as well, the costs of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq far exceed the initial projection of a $50 billion tab." 

The ABC report comes at a time when the Bush Administration is reported to be considering military action against Iran over its nuclear program.  On that subject the U.S. Intelligence chief John Negroponte was quoted Thursday as saying that "we believe that it is still years off before (Iran is) likely to have enough fissile material to assemble into, or to put into a nuclear weapon; perhaps into the next decade.  So I think it's important that this issue be kept in perspective." 

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by Trey Garrison    Fri, Apr 21, 2006, 03:05 AM

Today is the 170th anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto, wherein Texas won its revolution and became free of Mexican domination. More or less.

Inscribed on the San Jacinto Monument outside Houston:

"Measured by its results, San Jacinto was one of the decisive battles of the world. The freedom of Texas from Mexico won here led to annexation and to the Mexican War, resulting in the acquisition by the United States of the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah and parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Oklahoma. Almost one-third of the present area of the American Nation, nearly a million square miles of territory, changed sovereignty."

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by Scott Bennett    Thu, Apr 20, 2006, 10:12 PM

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Visit Bill DeOre at

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by Trey Garrison    Thu, Apr 20, 2006, 04:57 PM

By U.S. Sen. John Cornyn

Many Texans understandably wait until the last week to file their federal tax returns. The experience is so unpleasant—and I'm not just talking about paying taxes due—that we tend to put it off as long as possible

With the mid-April filing deadline now behind us, let's take a moment to look at the monster we have created in the federal income tax. What started in 1913 as a small levy that affected only two percent of citizens has grown in complexity and seeming inequality. It increasingly frustrates almost everyone.

There are currently 325 separate forms that taxpayers might be required to complete. The code has become so complex that a majority of Americans now require professional help to file their taxes—and even those pros often make mistakes. We spend a total of $250 billion annually just to comply with tax laws, and more than six billion hours preparing our returns.

Here's another way to look at it. In 1955, there were 744,000 words in the IRS code. By 2000, this number had grown to 6.9 million. And since 1986, there have been more than 15,000 changes made to the tax code, many of them special provisions to benefit a small number of taxpayers.

The process seems designed to confuse even those who don't have to pay. Consider this deceptively simple directive on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) web site: "Even if you do not have to file a return, you should file one to get a refund of any Federal Income Tax withheld."

If someone is eligible for a refund, why would the IRS obscure the matter by even suggesting that filing a return was unnecessary?

It reminds me of some advice an accountant friend in Austin once said: "When it comes to the IRS, the answer is maybe, and that's final."

I've now come to the conclusion that our current tax system is in danger of collapsing under its own weight. It ought to be replaced by a much fairer and simpler process. That's why I'm a co-sponsor of the Fair Tax Act (S.25). If passed and signed by the President, the bill would significantly change the way we collect taxes in America.

The bill would eliminate most current major federal taxes—including the income tax, capital gains, all payroll taxes, estate, gift, corporate and self-employment taxes—and replace them with a national retail sales tax. Collection could be done through state systems, and the IRS would be significantly downsized and reformed.

Think about it—no Byzantine forms and laws to comprehend quarterly or annually. In their place: a simple sales tax on the cost of new goods and services.

To ensure a fair tax didn't penalize low-income Americans, everyone would receive a monthly "prebate" of the tax on essential goods and services.

This system would greatly simplify the collection process. It would eliminate the demand for expensive tax advisers who specialize in finding loopholes and exceptions in our complicated tax code. It would also negate measures such as the Alternative Minimum Tax that are sweeping up increasing numbers of middle-class taxpayers.

The Fair Tax idea has been talked about for decades. But there is increasing support for making a radical change, in the name of fairness and efficiency.

I've always believed the key to economic prosperity in our country is keeping taxes low for Americans and their businesses. That's the way to reward initiative, and to promote job creation and economic growth.

Reclaiming the reins of our runaway federal income tax system will help promote a strong economy. A national retail sales tax is a simple and viable alternative to our current federal income system.

Albert Einstein, a genius at analyzing complex scientific principles, once said: "The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax."

Einstein died more than 50 years ago. What would he say about the system today?

Sen. Cornyn is a member of the following Senate Committees: Armed Services, Judiciary, Budget, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and Joint Economic. He is also the chairman of the subcommittees on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship and Emerging Threats and Capabilities.

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by Carolyn Barta    Thu, Apr 20, 2006, 04:50 PM

A New York Times front page story today says Texans are fed up with hosting hurricane evacuees.  Elected officials, law enforcement agencies and residents say Texas is nearing the end of its ability to play good neighbor without compensation. Houston, in particular is straining at the seams, reporting a rise in crime and problems at schools. More federal funds are sought to pay for new police officers in Houston. See the story here.

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