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Leading Off (11/25/2014)

Locals Gather to Protest Ferguson Grand Jury Decision. After the no-bill announcement last night in Missouri, a small group showed up at the Dallas Police Department with signs. Most of people in this video seem to be having a pretty good time. Certainly a better time than the people in these incredibly dramatic photos. There’s another local protest scheduled for tonight.

Rough Week for Local Police. Unrelated to that last item, it has not been a great stretch for local law enforcement. Three Dallas Police officers were fired, and one was charged with excessive force for an incident involving a panhandler. And the Arlington Police Department is investigating how accident reports were leaked to lawyers and injury clinics.

Four Earthquakes in Three Days. All in Irving. The latest one, a 2.2, hit last night around 11:45 p.m. (Insert awkward comment about how we all know this is fracking-related, but because that industry is so profitable and powerful, nothing will change anytime soon–unless maybe it gets worse.)

Mavs Lose Ugly. At home, to the 6-8 Indiana Pacers. Final score: 111-100. Despite having served his four game suspension for last season’s gun charges, Raymond Felton was inactive.

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Child Porn Suspect Told Police He’s Raped More Than 100 Kids

The details emerging in this case are incredibly disturbing. And you will probably be hearing the name Randy Ray Wesson a lot in the next few months. Wesson, a 28-year-old Fort Worth man, was arrested after police linked him to an Instagram account. It appears he was living with a 17-year-old named Ricardo Lugo, who was posing as a 12-year-old and attending Hurst Hills Elementary. Police say Lugo helped recruit victims. Wesson apparently also told police that he has sexually assaulted more than 100 children — identifying a dozen by name — and possessed 42,000 images of child porn.

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Leading Off (11/21/14)

Obama Announces Immigration Reform. It could mean thousands of people in Texas who otherwise might have been deported won’t be. Depending on whom you ask, this is either a great, humane thing for countless families or a tyrant seizing power to subvert democracy.

Local Family Moves to Oregon to Get Medical Marijuana for Infant. “Sure, we may have questioned the cannabis oil at first,” admits Chris Blanchett, whose 14-month-old daughter Ellanor has a rare seizure disorder called Aicardi Syndrome. “But that’s what we want to try now. And until you’re in our seat, you don’t understand what that decision means.”

The Story of Kent Brantley’s Survival. GQ’s Sean Flynn has a short oral history about the heroic Fort Worth doctor’s recovery from Ebola, from the perspective of the physicians who treated him. Worth checking out.

Glenn Beck: The Media Raped Bill Cosby. “Journalism is the most dishonorable, dishonest, callous, cynical, mean, stupid, stupid people and industry I’ve ever seen,” says Beck. Which reminds me: You can read my profile of Glenn Beck here.

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Alex From Target Gets the New York Times Treatment

The story of Alex from Target (from Frisco) is now a story about us looking at ourselves looking at ourselves looking at beautiful, polite people. When he left for work that morning, he had a little more than 100 followers on Twitter. Now he has around 733,000.

“To say Alex is ‘a sweet kid,’ as his parents describe him, is an understatement. He’s shy and exceedingly polite. He often chuckles to himself after speaking. While he answered most of my questions with short and sheepish replies, when I asked him about his girlfriend, Lindsey, he lit up, telling me that they met in chemistry class after sitting next to each other for a lab assignment.”

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Leading Off (11/5/14)

Election Results. Abbott won. Watkins lost. Republicans swept the stateMillions of dollars will go to highways. And Denton banned fracking. More here.

Cowboys Coin Regrettable Hashtag for London Game. The Cowboys are playing the Jacksonville Jaguars in Wembley Stadium this week. The team probably could have come up with something better than #CowboysUK.

Friend Apparently Lied to Plano Police Investigating Missing Woman. Christina Morris went missing after a night at the Shops at Legacy two months ago. Enrique Gutierrez Arochi, a friend of hers from high school, was with her the night she disappeared, but apparently wasn’t completely honest with the police. A coworker also said that Arochi had bruises on his forearm and that he complained of a sore back around the same time.

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Death Metal Legend King Diamond Lives in Frisco

This is just weird and awesome. King Diamond is one of those classic, screeching European metal singers who inspired bands like Metallica: skulls, makeup, a femur for a microphone, a denouncement by Tipper Gore in the ’80s. And apparently now he spends a lot of his time walking around Frisco. Sorry. Not just walking. Power walking.

From Thor Christensen’s DMN story:

“It’s all very normal. The neighbors know who I am and they say ‘Hi’ when I’m out walking,” says the 58-year-old falsetto-voiced singer of “Evil,” “Burn” and “Satan’s Fall.”

“I feel the Southern hospitality big-time in Dallas,” he says. “People are just so polite and helpful, which is one reason I love Texas. It’s not like that at all in Denmark.”

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Leading Off (10/29/14)

Amber Vinson is Back. I feel like this part of the inevitable Ebola book(s) and movie(s) will be covered in a cheerful montage.

Two Convicted Killers Set Free. Stanley O. Mozee and Dennis Lee Allen were both serving life sentences for the 1999 murder of a pastor when their convictions were overturned due to what sounds a lot like some disturbing prosecutorial misconduct.

Mavs Lose Close Season Opener to Spurs. Ugh. With 1:37 left on the clock, Dallas was winning. Chandler Parsons missed a three-pointer as time expired. I’m sure Zac will be along later with a venn diagram or something that explains this game, and, if we’re lucky, the whole season. Or franchise. Or — oh! — maybe the history of the rivalry with the Spurs. He could definitely do something solid with that. It could turn into the kind of material mere mortals might confuse for the hilarious ramblings of a mad man. But yeah, anyway, rough start.

A Story That Will Make You Feel Emotions. If you’re into that sort of thing.

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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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