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The Brief: July 12, 2010

An end to the Gulf oil spill may be in sight. (No, really.)

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An end to the Gulf oil spill may be in sight. (No, really.)

BP announced Sunday that it's a week away from beginning to permanently seal the Deepwater Horizon well leak, which in nearly two months' time — amid a roller coaster of good, bad and ugly news concerning containment efforts — has claimed the title of the nation's worst environmental disaster, and has the Coast Guard on alert as officials await test results on what initially appeared to be the first sign of the spill reaching Texas shores.

The oil giant, which is facing more pressure than ever as it moves to restore its image, has another cap ready to use if the first fails — and will be employing more oversight with this effort than any before it, the Houston Chronicle reports.

But successful containment efforts won't be stanching the flow of Big Oil-related accusations bleeding into political races. As the Austin American-Statesman notes, the oil spill — which, most notably, gave rise to ApologyGate — has now seeped into local political races, with candidates seizing on opponents' ties to BP. Republican railroad commissioner candidate David Porter, the Statesman reports, has hit Democratic opponent Jeff Weems for his history as a BP lawyer. ("I do a very specific set of litigation representing BP," Weems has answered.)

"Clearly any ties to BP are a potential liability," Mark Jones, a political scientist at Rice University, tells the Statesman. "Any work done for them, any donations received, anything an opponent can seize upon."

The oil giant has also worked its way into the governor's and attorney general's race, with Gov. Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott taking hits from their Democratic opponents.


  • Counterprotests overshadowed the Westboro Baptist Church's picketing at two Arlington churches Sunday. The Tribune reported Friday on one targeted site planning to turn the protest by Westboro — which targets churches and military funerals, decrying America's acceptance of homosexuality — on its head.
  • The Trib's Emily Ramshaw has a report today on Medicaid doctors' reliance on potent drugs: "The state spends roughly $2 billion a year on prescription drugs for the one in eight Texans on Medicaid. More than 10 percent of that money is spent on powerful antipsychotic drugs — many of which have no generic alternative and are expensive. And the doctors who see these Medicaid patients are sometimes paid royally for treating them." And in other Medicaid-related news concerning forecasts the Tribune reported on last month, The Dallas Morning News reported Sunday on doctors, fearing cuts, threatening to drop Medicaid.

"God Hates Fax (but loves email)" — A sign held by a counterproester mocking the Westboro Baptist Church's picketing of North Texas churches Sunday


Waco Rep. Dunnam, Democrats decry change to redistricting hearing processWaco Tribune-Herald

Texas universities say new law adds to budget woesHouston Chronicle

Mexico's intense urbanization spurs social, economic trendsThe Dallas Morning News

Has Electric Deregulation Helped or Hurt Texans? — The Texas Tribune

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