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The Playlist: Force Multiplier

This week's special edition of The Playlist features song selections by the reporters who wrote the stories.

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Gov. Rick Perry's decision to deploy up to 1,000 National Guard troops to the border as a "force multiplier" to the DPS officers and Border Patrol agents already there — at a predicted cost of as much as $17 million a month — grabbed headlines across the nation. So we're leading off this week's special edition Playlist of songs chosen by the reporters who wrote the stories with "Frontera" by Jorge Drexler. Newsletter Editor John Reynolds, who also writes The Brief for you every weekday, made the selection.

The easiest way to enjoy the playlist is to download Spotify, which is free. But even without it, you can still follow along. Here are the other selections for the week:

Ross Ramsey wrote a column about the political implications of Perry's National Guard decision. Ramsey had four suggestions — we settled on Duke Ellington And His Kentucky Club Orchestra playing “Immigration Blues.”

Gilad Edelman covered a story out of McLennan County, where defendants claiming their right to a court-appointed attorney are being investigated to verify they’re poor enough to qualify. Edelman settled on Bobby “Blue” Bland singing "Sitting On A Poor Man's Throne.” Edgar Walters wrote about a study out of California that determined that legalizing gay marriage in Texas would offer a significant economic boost to the state, so he went with “Chapel of Love” by the Dixie Cups.

With the tremendous surge in oil and gas drilling in West Texas, cities like Odessa are experiencing a severe housing crunch that’s left folks scrambling for a place to live — and employees at agencies like Department of Family and Protective Services scrambling to make do. Reporter Corrie MacLaggan turned to an expert for musical guidance: Her father came up with “I Ain’t Got No Home In This World Anymore” by Woody Guthrie. 

The drilling boom and its consequences also show up in Jim Malewitz's story on the Denton City Council leaving a decision on whether to ban fracking up to voters. That vote could spur a legal showdown, leading Malewitz to suggest “We’re Not Going to Take It” by Twisted Sister.

Eli Okun wrote about a report the state comptroller’s office released Wednesday stressing the need for investment in training and education to keep up with the fast-changing employment landscape in Texas. Okun chose “Welcome to the Working Week” by Elvis Costello. 

If Congress doesn’t take any action on the border crisis before its August break, it will send a “horrible signal,” U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, told Julián Aguilar. Cuellar's comments this week reminded Aguilar of “Hang Fire” (In the sweet ol' country where I come from/ nobody ever works, nothing ever gets done/ we hang fire) by the Rolling Stones. 

Alexa Ura wrapped up a yearlong series started by Becca Aaronson on the consequences of laws passed in Texas around women’s access to public health programs by examining what comes next. There's been a transition from a largely federally funded system supporting widespread clinics around Texas to a state-level administration. The next step is consolidation of services, but that proposal has some critics, reminding Ura of John Anderson’s “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It.”

We also looked back at another recent series, “Falling Behind,” which explores the flip side of the “Texas Miracle.” Neena Satija wrote about the Dallas-Fort Worth region, with some of the worst air quality in the country, so Satija chose “Something in the Air” by one-hit wonder Thunderclap Newman.

Finally, Aman Batheja noted the return of more exit polling in Texas as a major media consortium confirmed its intent to conduct more robust exit polling this year. So if you’re greeted with a questioner as you leave the voting booth this year, you may be reminded, as Batheja was, of the Beastie Boys’ “Twenty Questions.”


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