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Leading Off (10/13/14)

More About the Second Ebola Case: There’s more info about the Dallas healthcare worker diagnosed with Ebola here, here, and here. And you should be following the reporting of our Matt Goodman here. Among other things, we know that, unlike in the recent case in Spain, this Ebola patient’s dog will not be euthanized.

Wright Amendment Is No More: The 1980 law restricting flights to and from Love Field becomes history today. Southwest, Virgin, and Delta will have dozens of new direct routes heading to nine new airports. It’s been a long time coming, and under other circumstances, this would probably be the biggest news of the week. But these are strange days in Dallas.

Cowboys Win Big Game: Dallas defeated the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks in Seattle yesterday, marking only the second time the Seahawks have lost at home in the last three years. DeMarco Murray is almost certainly the leading candidate for league MVP at the moment, and he just tied a 56-year-old record held by Jim Brown. The win puts the Cowboys’ record at 5-1 and gives all Cowboys fans the sick agony of expectation.

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Marcus Smart’s Crazy Back Story in Lancaster

Marcus Smart, the sixth overall pick in last June’s NBA draft, was, until recently, most famous for shoving a Texas Tech fan in the middle of a game earlier this year. (He also had a pretty good two-year career at Oklahoma State.) Then the Celtics drafted him, and he got a multi-year endorsement deal from Adidas worth $1 million. Now, Baxter Holmes at the Boston Globe has a profile that includes harrowing details from Smart growing up in Lancaster.

The story has bullets flying, a mentor half-brother dying of cancer, a teammate hit by a train, and eventually Smart breaking down in tears. He took Holmes to several of his old houses and apartment buildings.

From the story:

Marcus recalls the area, known as the “1500 block,” as a place where Crips and Bloods gangs waged war, where drugs were rampant, where police sirens howled, where the Fourth of July was an excuse to fire off more gunshots than normal because outsiders mistook them for fireworks.

“At the time when I was here,” Marcus says, “if you heard ‘Lancaster, 1500 block, Meadows,’ everybody said, ‘Oh, you live by the Meadows. We won’t come over there. We’ll talk to you later.’ ”

Read the entire thing here.

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Can We Please Stop Conflating Michael Sam and Josh Brent?

Josh Brent drove drunk, after a previous conviction for doing just that, and was going between 110 mph and 134 mph in an area with a 45-mph speed limit, when he killed his friend and teammate Jerry Brown.

Michael Sam is the first publicly gay player drafted into the NFL.

Both are defensive lineman who have a chance to play for the Dallas Cowboys at some point this season. The comparisons should end there.

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How a North Texas Man Became the Leader of the Syrian Opposition Government

This weekend, the New York Times ran a fascinating story about how a director of operations at a North Texas-based telecommunications company became–for a few months anyway–the interim prime minister of an alternative government opposing the Assad regime in the Syrian civil war.

Ghasson Hitto grew up in Syria, in a Kurdish family. His older brother was imprisoned for 14 years for voicing opposition to the government of Bashar al-Assad’s father. At 19, Hitto moved to America, married a midwestern woman, and had four children, at least one of which played varsity football in high school.

A year into the conflict, Hitto’s oldest son, then 24, moved to Syria. Hitto started his involvement by volunteering to work on humanitarian aid projects in the fall of 2012.

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TCU’s Project ISIS Changing Names

The director of an alternative education program at TCU called Project ISIS has decided to change name of the project. The school was facing the same problems as this company, this institute, this Egyptian goddess, and apparently thousands of women like this. The old program name stood for: “innovating strategies, inspiring students.” The new name, LiiNK, stands for: “let’s inspire innovation ‘n kids.”

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Rafael Cruz Says More Things That Upset People

I know Rafael Cruz, father of Ted Cruz. He once baked a pretty incredible flan for Elizabeth Lavin and me. And I wrote a story about him for our January issue. So it didn’t surprise me when I saw news of his latest controversial remarks.

While speaking to the Williamson County Republicans last month about minimum wage and race relations, he he cited a black member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board, Jason Riley: “Jason Riley said in an interview, Did you know before we had minimum wage laws, Black unemployment and white unemployment were the same? If we increase the minimum wage, Black unemployment will skyrocket,” Cruz said. “See, he understands it, but the average Black does not.”

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That ESPN Profile of Jerry Jones

If you haven’t read Don Van Natta Jr.’s profile of Jerry Jones, you really should. The access Natta had is a writer’s dream. (And possibly an editor’s nightmare.) And you will probably end up liking Jones more by the end of the story.

The access starts with the writer finding Jones alone in a bar outside an owners’ meeting. We see Jones in his suite during the George Strait concert, hear him whispering in his son’s ear in the draft room, and drinking like the guys on Mad Men. He really, really, really wanted to draft Johnny Manziel. He’s apparently a big fan of Johnnie Walker Blue. (In plastic Dallas Cowboys cups.) And even at 71, he is irresistible to certain ladies. Or, as one of his close friends puts it: “Good women won’t leave him alone.”

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Leading Off (7/23/2014)

Brad had tickets to the Jay Z-Beyonce show last night. So he asked me to fill in for him this morning.

Plano Man Arrested for $56,000 In Unpaid Tolls. What’s 50 grand to Robert Walter Dupree? Can you please remind me? According to the NTTA, it’s more than 2,110 passes through a toll station without paying. First they had to find him. He was arrested for failing to use his signal in The Colony. No word on how hard he may have bawled.

Migrant Children Not Showing Up to Immigration Hearings. If you grew up with holes in your Zapatos, you’d be celebrating the minute you thought those days were behind you. Which might explain why 18 of the 20 children whose cases were scheduled yesterday in federal court missed their hearings. It’s also possible the children never received proper notice. What kinds of facts are those?

Plano Thanks Residents for Conserving Water…with Water. Calling it a “water holiday” is kind of a beautiful lie. Apparently it was mostly “stale” water the city needed to get rid of anyway. And only lawns with odd-numbered addresses got the extra watering. The other residents are finding that keeping all that green grass pretty hurts. But, as someone once said, perfection is a disease of a nation.

Cowboys Legend Dies. Robert Newhouse, Jr. played 12 seasons with the Cowboys, all in the Landry era. He was irreplaceable as a blocker for Tony Dorsett, but he was also the first running back to throw a touchdown in a Super Bowl. He died yesterday, after a long battle with heart disease. He was 64.

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Brantley Hargrove Lands Book Deal with Simon & Schuster

I want to say something funny here. I want to poke fun at Brantley’s affinity for “cat facts,” or his life in “the bubble,” or his fear of ghosts, or his inexplicable desire to climb–and then jump off of–things he shouldn’t. But no. Today we celebrate.

It’s official: Simon & Schuster will publish D contributor Brantley Hargrove’s forthcoming book about famed storm chaser Tim Samaras and the gigantic tornado–the widest ever recorded–that killed him. The book, tentatively titled The Storm is likely to come out some time in early 2016. It grew out of the reporting Brantley did for this Dallas Observer story last year. I know David Patterson, his agent, is very excited. So is Brantley, though he knows he has a formidable task in front of him.

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Leading Off (4/30/14)

Veterinarian Accused of Keeping “Euthanized” Pets Alive, Using Them for Blood Transfusions. The accusations against Lou Tierce are disturbing. In theory, something like this might save the lives of some other, healthier pets. Maybe even a lot of them (a 170-pound dog has a lot of blood). But if that were your dog or cat being abused–the one you said goodbye to and thought was dead–you might want to see that doctor taken to a terrifying place, locked in a cage, and involuntarily drained of a few pints every so often.

Ex-Dallas Police Officer Indicted for Shooting Mentally Ill Man. Last October, Cardan Spencer stepped out of his squad car and shot a man in the street. Then he claimed the man had come at him aggressively with a knife. Then video of the incident surfaced. Then Spencer was fired. And now he’s facing unspecified criminal charges, the second former Dallas officer indicted in less than a week for an on-duty shooting. (The most recent one before that was in 1973.)

Arlington Police Looking for Man Who Groped Teens. The guy police are searching for, someone may have attacked six women since January, apparently drives a dark Honda sedan that looks like this.

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Leading Off (3/11/14)

Stars Game Postponed After Player Collapses On Bench. Moments like this put professional sports in perspective. As it happens, when the news about Rich Peverley broke last night, I was having dinner with a surgeon who sometimes serves as the emergency physician at Stars games. Which means I got to hear elaborate explanations of the procedures Peverley likely went through in the offseason, when doctors discovered an irregular heartbeat, and some of the treatment he might have received in the emergency room last night. The latest reports say Peverley is conscious and in stable condition. 

Details Emerging in Murder of Wylie Teen. Yesterday Cristina mentioned the two Wylie teenagers arrested after they told police they were “burying a body,” later identified as a fellow student at Wylie East High School. Today brings news that the victim was choked to death, that the crime may have planned for days, and that the motive could have had something to do with a romantic dispute. The DMN isn’t naming the two minors charged in the case, but WFAA is.

Dallas Bids for 2016 Republican Convention. After a snow delay, the city will make its presentation on March 21. The convention would bring at least 40,000 visitors and upwards of $200 million in economic impact, plus the guarantee of some solid Daily Show segments. We’re up against Las Vegas, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Denver, Phoenix, Cleveland, and Columbus, Ohio. At some point, I expect Zac to produce something hilarious ranking each city’s strengths, possibly referencing the letters WKRP.

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How Colten Moore Celebrated Winning Gold at the Winter X Games

If ever a family deserved to celebrate, it was the Moore family last night. As mentioned earlier, Colten Moore (the good one) returned to the site of his brother’s fatal crash and won Winter X Games gold. Cheering him on in 8-degree weather were his parents, grandfather, girlfriend, and 60 or so of his closest aunts, uncles, cousins, and longtime family friends. They waved Texas flags and wore custom-made shirts featuring several of Colten’s trending hashtags: #RideforCaleb and #MooreGold. And most of them began to cry as Colten hit one incredible trick after another, then rode to the top of the tallest hill on the course, stopped, and pointed to the sky. The story was the lead of SportsCenter, and ESPN commentators called it the greatest moment in X Games history.

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SMU Student Writes Nice Story About Michael J. Mooney

The SMU student newspaper has made some waves nationally over the last week, thanks to a well-intended but misguided op-ed about rape victims. Lost in that shuffle was another story, by a 19-year-old journalism student named Jehadu Abshiro. The headline, “Writer discusses reporting on doctor who treated Kennedy,” makes it sound like the story will be […]

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