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by Trey Garrison    Mon, Feb 13, 2006, 05:14 PM

WOAI AM 1200 is reporting that one person (not the Vice President) is in custody after a sniper opened fire on troops this morning at Ft. Hood, the country's largest military instillation. Base Public Affairs Officer Delena Kanaus says the shots were fired at morning troop formation of the 13th Corps Support Command.

Kanaus says nobody was injured in the shooting. Full story here.

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by Brian Bodine    Mon, Feb 13, 2006, 03:59 PM

Democratic party officials and local Democratic candidates are saying that a number of factors could combine to turn Dallas County into a Democratic-controlled county come November. Among those factors, they claim, are voter concerns over failures in the current county administration.

“We’ve had so many problems with the Commissioner’s Court,” said Dallas County Democratic Party Chair Darlene Ewing.

Ewing cited lawsuits, contractors walking off jobs, and issues with jail certification as being among the problems with the current Commissioners Court. When asked about the most important local issue facing voters in the county, Ewing said it was “accountability to the citizens of Dallas County”.

Several Democratic primary races are particularly contentious this year. Ewing mentioned Democratic primaries for the Dallas District Attorney and the County Clerk as two examples of highly contested primaries. She also said that large numbers of primary candidates usually translates into increased voter turnout.

“We have more options, more contested races, and a spirited DA’s race,” said Ewing.

Three candidates are running in the Democratic primary for Dallas District Attorney and four are running in the primary for County Clerk.

One of the hottest races of the year is for District Attorney.

“On the Republican side, you’re guaranteed a runoff. On the Democratic side, you can’t really tell what’s going to happen,” said Attorney Craig Watkins, who almost beat Bill Hill four years ago and is running again for DA this fall.

Democratic party leader Ewing said that current Dallas District Attorney Bill Hill’s decision to not seek reelection helps the chances of a Democrat winning the District Attorney’s race, but she also said that demographics in Dallas County are now on the side of the Democrats. According to Ewing, as long as Democrats can get out their vote, it shouldn’t matter which Republican was running for what countywide office. She believes Democrats will sweep the county this fall.

Republicans disagree. According to local GOP Chairman Kenn George, certain factors that helped Democrats in 2004 are absent from the 2006 election year. Martin Frost, who was very effective at turning out the Democratic base vote, is not on the ballot this year. Nor is there a Presidential race. According to George, this will make it harder for Democrats to turn out their vote in Dallas County.

“They don’t even have a Democrat running for Governor that can get on the radar screen,” said George.

Toby Shook, a Republican candidate for District Attorney, said that one of the factors that brought out the Democratic vote in 2002 would not be a factor in 2006. “Ron Kirk running for the U.S. Senate brought out the Democratic vote in Dallas County. Some Republicans voted for Kirk,” said Shook, referring to the U.S. Senate race that Kirk lost in 2002.

Ewing, though, thinks that Democrats in Dallas County could gain from the crossover vote. She mentioned that concerns on a number of national issues could influence more Republicans to vote for Democrats this year than in recent election years.

“I don’t think they want to be conned anymore by the Republican Administration,” said Ewing. Ewing mentioned Iraq and medical care spiraling out of control as national issues that could affect Republican turnout.

“Moderate, reasonable Republicans are offended by the direction that the party has taken. They don’t like being called disloyal because they have a difference of opinion,” Ewing added.

George disagrees. “How does that affect offices like Family Law Judge, County Judge, and the Commissioners Court?,” said George, referring to Democratic claims that President Bush’s approval rating and the GOP’s image will affect local races.

“Republicans are offended by the way the Democrats demagogued at the Roberts and Alito hearings,” added George.

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by Trey Garrison    Mon, Feb 13, 2006, 03:31 PM


A housewife accused of fatally chopping off her 10-month-old daughter's arms with a large kitchen knife pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity Monday as her capital murder trial opened.

Dena Schlosser, 37, said nothing and stared straight ahead, sometimes gently rocking back and forth, as her attorney entered the plea.

Testimony was to begin Monday afternoon after opening statements to the Collin County jury in state district court.

During the opening, Schlosser's attorney said his client clearly did not know right from wrong during the November 2004 slaying of Margaret Schlosser.

"This is the real thing. This is somebody who at the time was not capable of knowing what she was doing was wrong," defense attorney William Schultz. "She didn't see it coming. ... Normally Dena is a sweet woman. She cares; she has compassion."

Schultz said Schlosser had several screaming and growling outbursts before the attack, which he called clear evidence of criminal insanity.

Assistant District Attorney Curtis Howard disagreed, saying that while Schlosser obviously had mental problems she did know right from wrong when she killed her daughter.

"At some point that morning, Dena Schlosser put Maggie Schlosser down on the bed and cut off her arms," he said.

A jury of seven women and five men was selected Friday to hear the case. Prosecutors have said they will not seek the death penalty, so a capital murder conviction would mean an automatic life sentence.

Schlosser was arrested in her Plano home in 2004 after telling a 911 operator she had hacked off the arms of her daughter. Police found the dying baby in her crib and Schlosser in the living room, covered in blood, holding a knife and listening to a church hymn.

Schlosser had reportedly stabbed herself deep in the left shoulder.

Doctors diagnosed Schlosser as manic depressive after her arrest and hospitalized her.

In February 2005, a jury deliberated only a few minutes before deciding Schlosser was mentally incompetent to stand trial. A court-appointed psychiatrist had testified that Schlosser suffered from bipolar disorder and depression and was a severe suicide risk.

She was committed to North Texas State Hospital in Vernon. In May, a judge decided Schlosser was competent to stand trial after doctors at the psychiatric hospital determined she was ready.

Schlosser's two other daughters, then ages 6 and 9, were placed in foster care and then returned to their father's custody a year ago.

Schlosser attempted suicide shortly after Margaret's birth in January 2004. After the child's death, she told a psychiatrist she wouldn't be bothered if she were convicted and sentenced to death.

Child protective authorities said Schlosser had a history of postpartum depression. They investigated her for neglect shortly after the baby's birth, but deemed Schlosser a fit parent following a regimen of psychiatric counseling and medication.

The day before the baby's death, Schlosser had told her husband she wanted to give her child to God.

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by Trey Garrison    Mon, Feb 13, 2006, 01:25 AM

The cost of U.S. traffic delays is, conservatively, $63.1 billion a year, based on 2003 figures, the Texas Transportation Institute says. And it's not getting any better.

By the Texas Transportation Institute's reckoning, the cities having the worst traffic problems are:

1. Los Angeles, Long Beach, Santa Ana, Calif.
2. San Francisco, Oakland, Calif.
3. Washington, D.C.
4. Atlanta
5. Houston
6. Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, Tex.
7. Chicago.
8. Detroit
9. Riverside, San Bernardino, Calif.
9. Orlando, Fla.
11. San Jose, Calif.
12. San Diego and Yahoo have the full story.

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by Trey Garrison    Sun, Feb 12, 2006, 07:28 PM

Here's one you didn't see in the local paper.

When the Enron trial in Houston took an abrupt recess the other day, word was it was "scheduling problems."

The New York Post, however, reports that the problem was really an over-abundance of cologne on Enron CEO Jeffrey Schilling's lawyer, Daniel Petrocelli.

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by Trey Garrison    Sun, Feb 12, 2006, 06:56 PM

A public memorial service is set for 1 p.m. Monday at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center at 2301 Flora Street for Joe May, 61, the Dallas school board trustee who made headlines just last week for his proposal to hire illegal immigrants.

Mr. May died Friday of a heart attack.

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by Trey Garrison    Sun, Feb 12, 2006, 06:52 PM

Vice President Dick Cheney's spokeswoman says Mr. Cheney accidentally shot and injured a man during a weekend quail hunting trip in South Texas. It happened at the Armstrong Ranch.

The vice president reportedly sprayed Austin attorney Harry Whittington, 78, with shotgun pellets while trying to shoot a bird. Mr. Whittington is reportedly doing fine.

The vice president is said to have been with Whittington and his wife at the hospital Sunday afternoon.

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by Tom Pauken    Sun, Feb 12, 2006, 05:40 PM

In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Federal Appeals in New York has banned Christian symbols in New York schools while allowing Jewish and Islamic symbols to be displayed.  The Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to set up a Christmas creche at public schools, but it was permissible to allow a menorah for Hanukkah and a crescent-and-star to be shown during Ramadan.  In his dissent from the majority opinion, Judge Chester Straub criricized  the Court's  ruling:  "A reasonable student observer would perceive a message of endorsement of Judaism and Islam and a reasonable parent observer would perceive a message that Judaism and Islam are favored and that Christianity is disfavored."  

It will be interesting to see whether this rather bizarre ruling is reviewed by the Supreme Court which now has two new members in John Roberts and Samuel Alito who may tilt the Court more in favor of allowing recognition of our religious symbols in public institutions. 

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by Tom Pauken    Sun, Feb 12, 2006, 05:02 PM

Recently retired Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan was paid $250,000.00 this past week for a single speech at a secret dinner meeting for the partners and special clients of Wall St. investment banking firm, Lehman Brothers. (Obviously, the meeting didn't stay secret for long.) Reports from numerous media sources suggest that Greenspan gave the audience information about what he anticipated would be continued interest rate increases from the Fed going forward.  One of the major criticisms of Greenspan during his tenure as Chairman of the Fed was that he kept interest rates artificially low, thus fueling the housing bubble in the United States.  Now, he faces additional criticism for a possible violation of the central bank's rules with regard to any public discussion of the Fed's  private meetings.  Economists are still divided over Greenspan's record as Chairman.  The ultimate answer may come with whether the U.S. economy can manage a soft landing (as opposed to facing a severe recession), given the heavy levels of debt accumulated by individuals, corporations, and the federal government in recent years.

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by Tom Pauken    Sun, Feb 12, 2006, 04:55 PM

The New York Times reported this week that as many as 900,000 of the 2.5 million applications for individual assistance in the wake of the Katrina disaster may have been fradulent claims that cost the government tens of millions of dollars.  An audit of the expedited assistance program of FEMA determined, according to the Times, that the "controls were so lax that auditors were able to secure their own $2,000  relief check by using 'falsified identities, bogus addresses and fabricated disaster stories' and then simply waiting for the money to arrive in the mail, says the report for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee."  That's the problem with people spending other peoples (we, the taxpayers) money.

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