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AIR FORCE SEX SCANDAL
WASHINGTON — The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said the Air Force is diligently investigating a widening sex scandal at Lackland Air Force Base after he made a personal visit to the Texas installation. Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon spent three hours at the base, where he met with Gen. Edward Rice Jr., military officers, enlisted members and recruits. The base and the Air Force have been rocked by allegations that dozens of female recruits were sexually assaulted or harassed by their male instructors. The California Republican, who made the stop in Texas on his way to Washington for Congress' return this week, said he received assurances from top military officers that they will do all they can to ensure the incidents don't occur again. By Donna Cassata.
TEXAS-SUING THE FEDS
AUSTIN, Texas — The slogan goes, "Don't Mess With Texas." But with President Barack Obama in the White House a more appropriate cry might be: "Try it and we'll sue." The Texas attorney general's office has filed 24 lawsuits against the federal government since Obama took office — litigation that has cost the state $2.58 million and more than 14,113 hours spent by staff and state lawyers working those cases. Many of those have resulted in defeats, including the recent high-profile lawsuits defending Texas' strict law requiring voters to show picture ID at the polls and the new state-approved voting districts that a federal appeals court ruled were discriminatory toward minorities. Those two cases alone cost more than $2 million, according to records obtained by The Associated Press using the Freedom of Information Act. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said the costs are worth it, calling the litigation "a fight against the unprecedented ideology coming from the Obama administration." By Will Weissert.
OBAMA-BECAUSE HE'S BLACK?
Is it because he's black? The question of whether race fuels opposition to President Barack Obama has become one of the most divisive topics of the election. It is sowing anger and frustration among conservatives who are labeled racist simply for opposing Obama's policies and liberals who see no other explanation for such deep dislike of the president. "Every time they say, 'We want our country back,' I know what that means," Susan Bankston, a white Democratic National Convention delegate from Richmond, Texas, said at the gathering last week. By National Writer Jesse Washington.
AP IMPACT-COMING HOME-NEW MEDICINE
BOSTON — Scientists are growing ears, bone and skin in the lab, and doctors are planning more face transplants and other extreme plastic surgeries. Around the country, the most advanced medical tools that exist are now being deployed to help America's newest veterans and wounded troops. An Associated Press review of progress from a government-funded effort found surprising feats of surgery and bioengineering. In San Antonio and other cities, doctors are testing sprayed-on skin cells and lab-made sheets of skin to heal burns and other wounds. The ingenuity is impressive: One product was developed from foreskin left over from circumcisions. By Chief Medical Writer Marilynn Marchione.
BORDER CRIME DEBATE
MCALLEN, Texas — A difference of opinion is forming over how crime-infested the Texas borderlands are near the border with Mexico. Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, a Republican who's running for lieutenant governor, has a state-operated website portraying the Texas borderlands as a violent, dangerous place. ProtectYourTexasBorder.com aims to pressure federal officials into putting more security assets along the border, a keynote of Texas Republicans. McAllen police and Hidalgo County sheriff's official, though, cite crime statistics that show a precipitous drop in violent crime. The Monitor of McAllen reports the 2011 crime report for McAllen, a border city, hit a 21-year low with a dramatic increase in auto theft. Hidalgo County, where McAllen is situated, reported its second-lowest crime rate in 15 years with a 21.9 percent decline in violent crime.
GAME ROOM BONANZA
AUSTIN, Texas — Some South Texas governments are reaping a revenue bonanza from fees charged on game-room machines. So far this year Duval County has collected just under $600,000 (about a quarter of it in cash) from the "eight-liner" game machines in its game rooms, an amount equal to nearly 9 percent of its $7 million yearly budget, the Austin American-Statesman reported. More is expected; over Labor Day weekend, a sprawling new room with hundreds of eight-liners opened just outside the county seat of San Diego. But there's a small catch. "Of course the machines are illegal, as I understand it," said Jo Ann Ehmann, the part-time bookkeeper for the tiny city of Gregory. Just northeast of Corpus Christi, Gregory — population 2,000 — has collected about $800,000 in the 18 months since it started enforcing its $1,000-per-machine game room ordinance. The city's annual budget is about $1 million. Together, a half-dozen or so rural counties and municipalities have earned millions of dollars from recently enacted fees levied on the gaming machines.
LAUNCH SITE-ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTIONS
BROWNSVILLE, Texas — A rocket launch site proposed for a South Texas Gulf Coast beach is drawing is drawing grumbles from environmental activists as federal officials prepare an environmental impact statement on the proposal. The FAA can grant or refuse SpaceX its license for a Cameron County launch site space center on Boca Chica Beach, between Padre Island and the mouth of the Rio Grande. Local conservation groups have expressed concern for such a project to be developed on a site surrounded by a wildlife refuge and adjacent to a beach where endangered sea turtles nest, The Brownsville Herald reported.
COACH'S CANCER FIGHT
AUSTIN, Texas — As a minor league baseball coach, Brian Rose has always been a competitor and has tried to imbue his team's players with that same fire. Now, the bench coach of the Wichita (Kan.) Wingnuts of the independent American Association is fighting for his life, diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma. The suburban Austin resident recently won a battle to pay for his participation in a clinical trial, but it wouldn't have happened if not for the help of a pair of foundations and an Austin businessman. The Austin American-Statesman reports Rose, who lacked medical insurance, got help from the Lance Armstrong Foundation's Cancer Navigation Center and the Patient Advocate Foundation. Then Austin businessman and philanthropist Milton Verret pledged $35,000 and issued a community challenge to raise the rest.
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— FIZZLED BOMB SCARE — A television set abandoned on beside an apartment complex in downtown Waco drew a full-scale response from the local bomb squad who spent 3½ hours checking it for explosives.
— TEEN SLAIN — A 30-year-old man has been charged with capital murder in the death of a teenage suburban Dallas girl whose body was found in a secluded wooden area near the Trinity River.
— TODDLER DEATH — A 32-year-old Texarkana, Texas, man is jailed on a capital murder charge in the death of a 2-year-old boy.