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The Playlist: A Busy News Week in Texas

With the Dallas hospital that handled the first Ebola case in the U.S. saying it's sorry for its mistakes, we begin our weekly playlist of songs inspired by Texas news with Gregory Isaacs' "I Owe You Some Apology."

An exterior view of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas on Oct. 1, 2014.

With the Dallas hospital that handled the first Ebola case in the U.S. saying it's sorry for its mistakes, we begin our weekly playlist of songs inspired by Texas news with Gregory Isaacs' "I Owe You Some Apology."

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

Local, state and federal authorities scrambled to stay on top of the Ebola situation after news broke that two of the nurses who had treated the patient contracted the disease themselves. Sam Phillips' song of deflated hope, "Help is Coming (One Day Late)," summarizes a feeling that many had – that is, that the authorities were a few steps behind the problem.

It didn't help assuage the public's worries that one of the infected nurses was allowed to travel to Cleveland on a commercial flight. That triggered a race to track down other passengers on her plane. For this alarming flight through the friendly skies, we offer John Denver's "Leaving on a Jet Plane." 

Ebola made air travel a hot topic of conversation, not just for the Dallas health care worker but for international travel to and from Ebola-infected countries in Africa. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz penned an op-ed in TribTalk calling for a West Africa travel ban, as did Rick Perry during a press conference Friday. The Obama administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention opposed the ban, saying it would increase the chances of spreading the disease and make tracking infected travelers more difficult. For Cruz, Perry and others advocating a travel ban, we offer R.E.M.'s "Can't Get There From Here."

With so much news coverage focused on Ebola and the slipshod handling of the matter, anxieties soared among citizens fearing the disease won't be contained. Rather than risk possible infection, even though the virus can only be transmitted through direct exposure to the bodily fluids of someone who is showing symptoms, some parents of Texas students kept their kids home this week, and several schools across the state closed, as Morgan Smith reported in the Tribune.

Health care authorities and elected officials assured the public that the panic was unjustified. Former state Rep. Mark Shelton, R-Fort Worth, a physician who specializes in pediatric infectious diseases, said, "The biggest threat to Texas school children is all the regular stuff. Influenza, pertussis. They are much more likely to be exposed to pertussis than they are to Ebola." For the panic surrounding Ebola, we offer the Kinks' "Destroyer," a tale of fear and paranoia, perhaps without cause.

Ebola wasn't the only topic in the news this week, of course. The city of Houston sparked a national controversy when city attorneys sent subpoenas to local ministers who had vocally supported a failed petition drive aimed at repealing Houston’s equal rights ordinance. "This week, the government of Houston, Texas, sent a subpoena to silence prayers," U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said. For another take on a pastor's sermon, albeit one without civil liberty implications, we offer "Church," by Lyle Lovett.

Jeff Bridges continues the Playlist with “Falling Short,” a song triggered by this article by Aman Batheja. It starts with Gov. Rick Perry’s Texas Enterprise Fund, which has awarded more than $500 million over the last decade to private firms in exchange for a promise to create jobs in Texas. More than a dozen times, however, the governor’s office amended awards to relax the number of jobs they were expected to produce or delaying the deadlines.

Enterprise Fund recipients weren’t the only ones coming up short this week. Texas’ biggest power company, Energy Future Holdings, may reward its executives with up to $20 million in bonuses, a federal judge ruled, even though the company is in the middle of one of the largest bankruptcies in U.S. history. For those executives, we offer “Suspended From Class,” a chiding by the Scottish band Camera Obscura from its album Underachievers Please Try Harder.

Talking Heads winds up this week’s Playlist with “Nothing But Flowers.” In it, David Byrne sings of being a billboard that falls in love with a beautiful freeway. Clear Channel Outdoor might relate. The billboard company is suing the Texas Department of Transportation, arguing that two signs it owns along Interstate 10 in Houston are worth far more than the department offered when it acquired the land under the signs through eminent domain. The Texas Supreme Court is expected to rule on the case, which some fear will make some future road projects more expensive.


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