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Poll: Is It Too Easy to Graduate High School in Texas?

Yesterday Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law a measure that reduces the burden on Texas public high school students to pass exams before graduating. Instead of having to pass five end-of-course exams from the ninth grade on, they only have to pass three of the five. (They’ll still have to obtain a special waiver to do so.)

What do you think of this change?

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Islamic State Claims Responsibility for Garland Attack

So reports the BBC about the Islamic terrorist organization that controls parts of Syria and Iraq:

It said that “two soldiers of the caliphate” carried out the attack at a conference centre near Dallas.

IS’s al-Bayan Radio news bulletin said the exhibition “was portraying negative pictures of the Prophet Muhammad”.

Both suspects were shot dead after opening fire at the contest on Sunday.

Correspondents say that it is believed to be the first time that IS has claimed to have carried out an attack in the US.

Of course, ISIS (or ISIL, or IS, or whatever you want to call them) might just be opportunistically taking credit for an operation it had nothing to do with. Does this news change how safe you feel from terrorist attacks?

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Poll: Will Texas Rangers Fans Welcome Back Josh Hamilton?

Late Friday, news broke that the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are so tired of having underperforming slugger (and relapsed drug addict) Josh Hamilton on their roster that they were practically willing to give him away. They’d pay $68 million of the remaining $83 million on his contract, and the Texas Rangers could just have him if they picked up the rest of the tab. No need to send any player back in return, not even some A-ball scrub.

That report ended up being inaccurate. The move will cost the Rangers, according to Evan Grant, at most $6 million over the next three years. It’s all expected to be finalized today.

This is unbelievable deal for the Rangers. If Hamilton turns out to be a complete disaster, they’re on the hook for very little money. If he does just as well as he has during his two underwhelming years with the Angels, he’ll be well worth what they’ll be paying for him.

His old Texas teammates are happy to have him back. But will the fans be? Hamilton struggled mightily at the end of his last season with the Rangers, and when he signed with LA of A he said that Dallas isn’t “a true baseball town.”

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Poll: Has Love Field Gotten Noisier?

Tim mentioned in Leading Off that Southwest Airlines will add a bunch of new destinations accessible directly from Love Field tomorrow, and they’ll have even more come August. The repeal of the Wright Amendment restrictions has significantly increased the number of daily departures at the airport smack dab in the middle of Dallas. Have you noticed an effect on noise pollution in the vicinity?

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Poll: Will You Root For the Dallas Cowboys?

Last week the Dallas Cowboys signed Greg Hardy, a noted football player suspended last season for having beaten up his girlfriend. As discussed on our most recent EarBurner podcast, the move prompted WFAA sports anchor Dale Hansen to go “unplugged,” and Mayor Mike Rawlings (an outspoken crusader against domestic violence) called it a “shot in the gut.” But then, yesterday, Rawlings said he’ll still be rooting for America’s Team this season.

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Poll: Can Marcos Ronquillo Beat Mike Rawlings in the Dallas Mayor’s Race?

In the March issue of D Magazine, we ask whether attorney Marcos Ronquillo has a shot to unseat Mayor Mike Rawlings. As Tim noted in “Leading Off” this morning, the Morning News characterizes Ronqullo’s campaign as an “uphill battle.”

Meanwhile, on the most recent episode of our EarBurner podcast, our own Zac Crain shared some insight into just how he would govern if he were sitting at the top of the horseshoe each week.

So how should this play out?

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Poll: If the Trinity Toll Road Is Built, Will You Leave Dallas?

Before an event last night, I had a conversation about, yes, the Trinity Toll Road. Hard to avoid the topic these days, particularly in Oak Cliff at book readings with anarchist Icelandic politicians. I casually mentioned to someone that a number of people, particularly younger, community-minded people, have told me that if the Trinity Toll Road gets built they are going to leave Dallas.

“That’s funny,” he said. “I was just saying that to someone yesterday.”

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Poll: Are Schools Too Quick to Call a Snow Day?

When I was a kid, I don’t think school ever got called off a day in advance due to the weather. We always had to wake up as early as usual to find out if we were among the lucky districts to get time off.

Maybe I’m misremembering, but it seems to be a phenomenon of the past several years to have shutdowns declared before a storm has even arrived. I’m probably misremembering. But what do you think?

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Poll: Will You Vote in Local Elections?

In the February issue of D Magazine, Wick writes that this May’s Dallas council elections could revolutionize the city:

Because of term limits, six seats are open, the largest number in one election in memory. The ones giving up their seats are among the worst council members in the city’s history (Dwaine Caraway excepted). Luckily, the remaining council members are among the brightest and most thoughtful ever to serve. It would take only a few new members of the same caliber to tip the balance.

So this time the candidates do matter. Beware the guy who promises to fix the pothole on your street. That’s another go-along, get-along sort who will be easily co-opted by the city staff. Embrace instead the candidate who talks about growing the tax base as a whole so we can fix all the potholes and reduce your tax burden at the same time.

Is that enough to get you fired up about voting?

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Poll: Should Dallas Put Fluoride in Its Water?

It’s tough sometimes to know which “experts” we’re supposed to believe, especially when scientific consensus also has a way of changing its collective mind as researchers learn more. It can be confusing to mere lay-folk like you (most of you, anyway) and me.

For years we’ve heard that fluoride in our drinking water is an absolute good and has promoted dental health for decades. But now, as Tim noted last week, scientists have concerns about the chemical’s neurotoxic effects. These concerns have been raised to the Dallas City Council, which will vote Jan. 28 on a contract to continue fluoridating the city’s water supply. Should they continue the practice?

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Poll: Where Is Dallas?

Last night’s arrival of the national spotlight on our area, thanks to the first official college football national title game out in Arlington, plus the recent downtown highway debates that have centered on whether what’s good for the region is necessarily good for the city of Dallas, raise again the question of how best to brand ourselves to the outside world.

So where do we live?

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Poll: Where Is Dallas’ Most Difficult Holiday Shopping?

Tis the season for driving around for half an hour to find a parking space, trying not to take an elbow to the face as you navigate through crowds, and counting your blessings if you’re lucky enough not to have a little one who requires you stand in an interminable line to meet Santa.

There’s much to love about the holidays, but there is also much to despise about the consumer warfare that accompanies the season. Which area shopping center do you do your darnedest to avoid this time of year?

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