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The Brief: November 5, 2009

Recommendation: Do not get swine flu. Tracking the vaccine is getting to be like figuring out what happened to all the TARP money.


Recommendation: Do not get swine flu.  Tracking the vaccine is getting to be like figuring out what happened to all the TARP money. 

City officials in El Paso, where swine flu has claimed ten lives, have been completely overwhelmed as high demand rapidly depleted their currently non-existent stock of vaccines.  Replenishments are reported to be on the way.

Wednesday, the first county-by-county data on who has what (vaccine-wise) was released — and the comparisons began.  In today’s San Antonio Express-News, Don Finley writes, “Bexar, with roughly 1.6 million residents, received 99,036 doses. Dallas County, with almost 50 percent more people, got about twice as much vaccine. Harris got nearly three times the vaccine, with 145 percent more people.” 

State health officials announced that five-percent of the vaccine doses will be set aside for local county health departments, which should improve access.  The Dallas Morning NewsJeffrey Weiss reports, “If the Dallas County health department had received 20 percent of the total vaccine sent to the county since distribution started last month, it would have received about twice as many doses as the 10,700 that actually arrived.”

Tapping into recent outrage that prisoners might get vaccinated before others, Texas’ U.S. Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn introduced a resolution insisting that Guantanamo detainees not be allowed vaccinations until all at-risk Americans have gotten theirs. Local and federal officials have insisted that terrorists and prisoners are at the very bottom of the list.

Meanwhile, in Iowa, a case of H1N1 has been confirmed in a 13-year-old cat. 


 It’s Day 3 of the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.  Today, the Tribune’s Ross Ramsey breaks down the notable differences of opinion between Texans of varying ages and ethnicities.  A sneak peek: “While 49 percent of Texans say the [illegal] immigrants should be deported, younger people and minorities are more likely than Anglos and older people to support assimilation.”

 Rancher Hank Gilbert, Democratic candidate for Governor released a “clarion call” to end discriminatory practices based on sexual orientation and allow for same-sex civil unions.  Today, he will announce a comprehensive insurance reform policy, which will include a demand for prior approval of rate hikes.  

• Khristian Oliver is expected, tonight, to become the 20th person executed in Texas this year. He was convicted of shooting a man in 1998 and then pummeling him to death with a rifle. The court proceedings garnered national attention because of assertions that the Bible held excessive sway over the jury.  Specifically, some jurors are believed to have consulted a passage that says a person who kills someone with an iron object “shall surely be put to death.” All appeals on Oliver’s behalf have been fruitless.

• El Paso is chock-full of aspiring state politicians.  A former governor of the Tigua tribe, Albert Alvidrez thinks he might have what it takes to replace the exiting state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso.  The online journal Newspapertree takes a look at the relationship between Alvidrez and his former boss, El Paso Democrat state Rep. Norma Chavez, who increasingly sounds like she is running for reelection. L. Rene Diaz, a Republican, invited The Texas Tribune to “join” him on his “journey” as he runs for the Texas House seat currently occupied by state Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso.  The Tribune would like to take the liberty of extending that invitation to everyone.

"Our bold prediction: Houston businessman Farouk Shami will not be the next governor of Texas." - Richard Connelly blogging for HoustonPress.


Food stamp workers share frustrationsAustin American-Statesman

Mixed impressions inside the poll numbersThe Texas Tribune 

SELBY: Was Staples' TV spot savvy or just plain illegal?Austin American-Statesman

Six questions for the runoffs – Off the Kuff 

GOP lawmakers rap federal ‘control'Houston Chronicle

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Courts Criminal justice Politics State government Death penalty John Cornyn Joseph "Joe" Moody State agencies