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POLLS OFFER BAD NEWS FOR GOP, INTERESTING NEWS ON ABORTION
by Scott Bennett    Tue, Mar 14, 2006, 01:34 AM

The CNN/USA Today Gallup Poll released today finds Democrats opening a wide margin in the generic Congressional question.  Democrats now lead Republicans 55% to 39%.  (The same poll found that 36% approve of the job President Bush is doing while 60% disapprove.)

An Associated Press Ipsos Poll also released today found that while 51% believe abortion should be legal in all (19%) or most (32%) versus 43% who believed it should be illegal in all (16%) or most (27%) cases those surveyed were almost evenly divided on whether the issue should be left to the state where 46% said the Federal Government should rule versus 43% that would let the states decide.

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THREE GOP RECOUNTS LIKELY By Scott Bennett
by Scott Bennett    Tue, Mar 14, 2006, 12:08 AM

It appears there will be three recounts in Republican races for the Texas Legislature.  In Mesquite incumbent Elvira Reyna is expected to ask for a recount.  She lost to Tom mLatham by 64 votes out of 3664 cast.  In the Texas Hill Country incumbent Carter Casteel has decided to demand a recount.  She lost to Nathan Macias by 45 votes out of 20,307 cast.  In El Paso incumbent Pat Haggery appears to have bested Lorrainne O'Donnell by only 107 votes out of 6090 cast.

In the case of Casteel there is much at stake.  Macias was one of five GOP primary candidates heavily backed by San Antonion school voucher advocate Dr. Jim Leininger.  At this count Leininger won two and lost three.  If Casteel should revers the outcome Leininger would have spent nearly $3 million of his own money to pick up a single seat. 

However, the victorious Latham was heavily backed the Parent PAC and other education lobby organizations while Reyna was backed by Speaker Tom Craddick and last minute contributions from a Political Action Committee that had never before made a contribution. 

While the elections were close the history of recounts overturning elections isn't good.

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DFW AIRPORT ANNOUNCES NEW BOARD LEADERSHIP
by Special to DallasBlog.com    Mon, Mar 13, 2006, 09:24 PM

The DFW Airport Board to elected Dallas resident Jan Collmer as its new Chairman and Lillie Biggins of Fort Worth as Vice Chairman. Dallas attorney Robert Hsueh will serve as secretary.

Collmer, a Dallas native is an accomplished pilot who will serve as the 21 st chair. He is the owner of Collmer Components, a former Chairman of the Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce and an experienced pilot. One of Dallas ’ premier civic leaders Collmer currently serves as President of the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas , and is a trustee for the University of Dallas and the Jesuit College Preparatory School Foundation. He is a member of the Board of Directors at Southwest Securities. Many Dallas area residents have seen Collmer perform in air shows since 1996.

Biggins is a graduate of the John Peter Smith School of Nursing. She received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Texas at Arlington and a Masters of Science from Texas Woman's University in Denton . Biggins held an appointment of Assistant Clinical Professor in Hospital Administration from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas for six years and is currently Adjunct Faculty at the University of Texas at Arlington .

Biggins also serves on the Board of the American Heart Association, Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County Board, the American Cancer Society Board, The North Texas BOLD Initiative Advisory Board and the University of Texas at Arlington Nursing Advisory Board.

Hsueh is the managing partner of the Law Offices Robert W. Hsueh, P.C. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, School of Law , and Hsueh is very active in the international business community and is currently an Arbitrator, China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission, member of American Immigration Lawyers Association, and member of State Bar of Texas.

Hsueh also is on the Board of Directors for KERA, JP Morgan Chase Bank, NA, TXU Electric & Gas, Dallas Museum of Art, World Affairs Council of Greater Dallas, and is Chairman of The Dallas-China Partnership and was the founding chairman of The Greater Dallas Asian American Chamber of Commerce.

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IS TRASH JOURNALISM LOSING ITS APPEAL?
by Special to DallasBlog.com    Mon, Mar 13, 2006, 07:19 PM

The Economist recently reported that the American Media empire, which includes the National Enquirer and the Star, may be in serious financial straits. According to the Economist, the National Enquirer has "lost more than 20% of its circulation between 2003 and the middle of last year… Meanwhile, sales of the Star, American Media’s flagship publication, have been soft recently."

The Economist reports that the debt on the American Media properties has had its rating lowered to junk bond standing, suggesting that American Media may be at risk of sliding into bankruptcy. The article suggests that American Media (which it calls the purveyor of "low culture") may have bumped up against a saturated market for "junk culture".

The Economist reported recently: "Half-a-dozen publications now use exclamation marks on their covers to describe the divorces, pregnancies, affairs, eating disorders, and assorted depravities of the same small group of celebrities – notably Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears, "Tom-Kat" (Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes), Jennifer Aniston and, most important, Angelina Jolie and her "bump". The formula for filling out the rest of these publications has been standardised: spotting cellulite, tracking breast augmentation and all around liposuction; a smattering of scoops brought from gossipy make-up artists and bouncers, etc; and a bit of slavish grovelling in the ‘exclusive interview’."

It won’t be much of a loss if this particular media empire goes down the drain.

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SOECHTING TO RESIGN AS STATE DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHIEF By Ken Molberg
by DallasBlog.com    Mon, Mar 13, 2006, 07:00 PM

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Texas Democratic Chairman Charles Soechting
San Marcos attorney Charles Soechting will step down as Chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, DallasBlog has learned.

Soechting, who will today begin notifying members of the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) of his decision, will make a formal announcement of his resignation at the Committee’s meeting this weekend.

Plans currently call for Soechting’s replacement to be selected by a majority vote of the SDEC at its April 22 meeting in Austin. That replacement will serve until June, when the state Democratic Convention will elect a chair at its Fort Worth convclave.

Soechting, who was first elected chairman in 2003 to fill the unexpired term of Molly Beth Malcolm of Texarkana, cited professional opportunities for his decision.

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MORE VIOLENCE ALONG TEXAS-MEXICO BORDER
by Tom Pauken    Mon, Mar 13, 2006, 03:23 PM

A radio commentator and emergency dispatcher was gunned down over the weekend in Nuevo Laredo by suspected Mexican mafia members. Ramiro Tellez Contreres was the fourth journalist in this border city adjacent to Laredo, Texas to be attacked by suspected drug dealers since 2003. Three of them died.

According to the San Antonio Express-News, "there have been a least 150 homicides – more than 20 of those victims were police officers – in Nuevo Laredo since January 2005. Few of the cases have been solved."

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CIVIL WAR LOOMING IN IRAQ
by Tom Pauken    Mon, Mar 13, 2006, 02:41 PM

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Muqtada al-Sadr
The Kurdish President of Iraq, Jalal Talabni, has issued a decree to convene Parliament in Iraq on March 19th in an attempt to head off civil war in that war-torn nation. Talabni said on Al-Arabiya TV that: "There is a serious crisis, and if we don’t agree on a government of national unity, there will be dangerous consequences, a catastrophe. We could have civil war." The U.S. Ambassador to Iraq warned of the threat of civil war in an interview given to the Los Angeles Times earlier in the week.

Meanwhile, radical Islamic cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who has close links to the current Iraqi premier Shiite Ibrahim al-Jaafari, denounced the United States, Britain and Israel as a "triad of evil" over the weekend. Sadr is increasing his political influence in Iraq.

Today’s edition of the Los Angeles Times points out that Muqtada Sadr’s expanded power base "has spread to Iraq’s parliament, where the young anti-U.S. cleric’s followers control a key 35-seat block that has boosted interim Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari’s political fortunes, and to provincial councils and local police forces in the Shiite south, where militiamen serve as a kind of morality police. It stretches through key ministries such as transportation and health, which have become vast patronage troves for Sadr’s followers."

Sadr has developed ties with the political leadership and clerics in Iran as well. He appears to be positioning himself to be the Kingmaker (or King) in any future regime in Iraq. If he and his followers come to power, the result will be the imposition of a Shiite theocratic regime on that nation.

Clearly, time is growing short to avert an outbreak of civil war in Iraq and the possible ascendancy to power of this radical cleric.

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NEARLY 70% OF AMERICANS SAY U.S. ON WRONG TRACK IN IRAQ
by Special to DallasBlog.com    Mon, Mar 13, 2006, 01:33 PM

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Karl Rove
A new Associated Press poll reveals that "nearly 70% of Americans say the United States is on the wrong track in Iraq." In the same poll, 77% of those polled expect that civil war is likely to breakout in Iraq. Even 70% of Republicans "believe civil war will break out between Sunnis and Shiite Muslims."

Bush’s approval rating is below 40%. This compares with Presidents Reagan and Clinton whose approval ratings were in the mid-60s "at this stage of their second terms in office". President Eisenhower was in the 60% range in his second term.

Meanwhile, the AP also reported that the President’s chief political advisor, Karl Rove, said in a speech over the weekend at Bowling Green University that the Bush Administration will not withdraw Americans troops from Iraq until "victory is won".

Rove also said that Democratic votes against the Patriot Act will be a "key issue on this year’s midterm elections".

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PARENT COMPANY OF STAR-TELEGRAM SELLS FOR $6.5 BILLION
by Trey Garrison    Mon, Mar 13, 2006, 12:06 PM

Sacramento, Calif.-based The McClatchy Company is buying the Fort Worth Star-Telegram along with parent company Knight Ridder for $6.5 billion - that's $4.5 billion in cash and $2 billion in assumed debt.

The two companies announced they have signed a definitive agreement under which McClatchy will acquire Knight Ridder in a transaction valued at $67.25 per share consisting of $40 in cash and a fixed fraction of .5118 of a Class A McClatchy share. The transaction values Knight Ridder at approximately $6.5 billion, including approximately $2 billion in assumed debt at closing.

The expanded McClatchy Company will have 32 daily newspapers and approximately 50 non-dailies after the planned sale of 12 Knight Ridder papers. The San Jose Mercury News reports that McClatchy buying Knight Ridder is, as one analyst wrote, like "a dolphin swallowing a small whale." McClatchy's annual revenue of $1.2 billion in 2005 was less than half of the $3 billion Knight Ridder posted in 2005. And the stock market values the smaller company at $2.44 billion compared with $4.2 billion for Knight Ridder.

More about the deal, how it may affect the Startlegram, and how McClatchey is a favorite both among journalists and on Wall Street, can be found here. (Wonder if McClatchey will look at buying Belo?)

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GASOLINE PRICES JUMP IN TEXAS
by Special to DallasBlog.com    Mon, Mar 13, 2006, 10:38 AM

The average retail price for a gallon of unleaded gas in Texas jumped 12 cents last week and averaged $2.27 cents per gallon, according to an AAA Texas gas price survey released this week.  It is anticipated that this price hike will be temporary since oil and gas inventories are at their highest  levels in many years.

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