TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 1/2/12

Gov. Rick Perry said he would head home for some "prayer and reflection" after his fifth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses and that he would decide whether to continue his presidential campaign over the next couple of days. Then he surprised everyone — including some of his own staff — by announcing the next morning that he would stay in the race.

What motivated Gov. Rick Perry's quick-turn decision to forge ahead in the GOP presidential race despite a poor finish in the Iowa caucuses? We asked campaign strategists and politicos for their top five theories.

Here's the problem for the Texas governor after his awful fifth-place showing in Iowa, as the specter of his first defeat has come into focus: He does not really know how to lose.

The recent kerfuffle over the sand dunes lizard in the West Texas oilfields may be nothing compared to what's coming. Across Texas, dozens of species are under consideration for a possible endangered species listing.

Payday lenders are about to come under the microscope — the result of new laws designed to curb predatory lending and prevent a cycle of "debt and dependency."

Is UT the new Wall Street? A group of students taking their cues from the worldwide Occupy movement is preparing for a battle with University of Texas System regents over proposed tuition increases.

Some of our most popular data apps deserve a new year's makeover. The Tribune's original Census 2010 population viewer has been updated with new functions that make it faster and easier to use. Explore U.S. Census Bureau population data with our improved county-by-county maps.

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