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Texas News Scrawl | Miriam Rozen,David Martindale,Kate Galbraith,Cristina Alesci,Darrell Preston,Anthony A. Mestas,Matthew Tresaugue,Robert Wilonsky,Angela Morris,Mose Buchele,Patrick Beach,Jette Kernion,Laylan Copelin,William Lowther,Sarah White,Tanner Clark,Kathleen Petty,David Barron,Jay Root,Matt Egan,Andrea Ahles,Jeremy Goldmeier,Tom Weir, Rob Lovitt,Laurel Brubaker Calkins,Logan Hawkes,Martha L. Hernandez,Laylan Copelin,Ciara O'Rourke,Jerry Lackey,Jayne Clark,David Hendricks,Kiah Collier,Elizabeth Stoddard,Julián Aguilar,Joe Mullin,Ben Philpott,Lynn Brezosky,

Photo by Karnegie Musa. Copyright 2011.

Stories from other sources that Texas Business recommends:  

WikiLeaks will publish Stratfor correspondence by the Austin American-Statesman. Anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks announced Sunday that it would expose email correspondence from the Austin-based global geopolitical analysis firm Stratfor, detailing the work of the company for clients. WikiLeaks did not disclose how it obtained the emails, but Stratfor acknowledged in December that its data servers were breached on two occasions by a group of hackers known as Anonymous.

Contract Lawyer Sues Firm and Clients Seeking Payment by Miriam Rozen of Texas Lawyer.  Dallas' 5th Court of Appeals has decided that a suit a contract lawyer filed against a firm and five of its clients over allegedly unpaid wages can go forward — an opinion the plaintiff's counsel says merits the attention of all Texas firms and attorneys who hire contract lawyers. As a result of the 5th Court ruling, 191st District Judge Gena Slaughter issued Feb. 13 orders reopening Malcolm Pipes v. D. Hemingway, et al. and setting a Sept. 4, 2012, trial date.

Actor John Schneider hopes little 'Doonby' makes a big impact  by David Martindale for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. John Schneider said something in character two years ago while shooting Doonby, a Texas-based independent film currently in limited release, and the line has stuck with him ever since.

Texas' Coal-Fired Power Fell Sharply in January by Kate Galbraith of the Texas Tribune. The amount of Texas electrical power produced by coal has plunged so far this year, and cheap natural gas appears to be the cause. A report this week by Potomac Economics, a consulting company that serves as an official monitor for the Texas electricity market, showed that coal-fired electricity production dropped by 30 percent in January compared with January 2011.

Apollo Group Said to Be Near Deal to Buy El Paso Oil Unit for $7 Billion by Cristina Alesci of Bloomberg. Apollo Global Management LLC (APO) is leading a group that is near a deal to acquire El Paso Corp.’s oil-exploration business for about $7 billion. 

Consumers Hit by High Rates After Deregulation by Darrell Preston of Bloomberg. Houston consumers were supposed to get lower electricity rates from deregulation. Instead, they pay some of the nation’s highest prices, partly because of bonds Goldman Sachs Group Inc. recently sold for a local utility.

TCEQ will take another look at Matagorda coal-fired plant by Matthew Tresaugue of the Houston Chronicle.  The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will accept new evidence as part of a court-ordered review of the air pollution permit for a coal-fired power plant to be built in Matagorda County. The three-member commission, however, stopped short Wednesday of ordering a trial-like hearing of the evidence, as opponents of the White Stallion Energy Center wanted.

Another Texas Icon's Caught Between Dublin Bottling Works, Plano-Based Dr Pepper: Big Red by Robert Wilonsky of the Dallas Observer.  Ever since Jack Perkins got his Dublin Bottling Works soda fountain at Maple & Motor, well, let's say I've had way too many cane-sugar soft drinks in recent weeks.

American Airlines aims to bolster routes, fleet by Reuters.  Bankrupt American Airlines aims to boost revenue by $1 billion annually by beefing up its international routes and fleet to lure more well-heeled business travellers.

Firm Alleges Number-Napping Left Clients Incommunicado by Angela Morris of Texas Lawyer. Feb. 15 was the day the music died at the Fort Worth office of a busy personal-injury and criminal-defense firm. The phones just stopped ringing. When The Dunham Law Firm investigated, it learned someone allegedly had "transferred" the office's phone number to a new phone provider without its permission.

Another One Bites the Dust? Permit Expires for Joslin Power Plant say Environmental Groups by  Mose Buchele of StateImpact. A petroleum coke power plant planned near the Gulf Coast community of Point Comfort has lost its permit to build, according to environmental groups. Petroleum coke is a fossil fuel used like coal.

Vampire bats in Texas? Texas State researcher says it's possible -- and now is the time to prepare by Patrick Beach of the Austin American-Statesman. To the growing list of unwelcome effects of global warming or climate change or whatever your politics dictate you call the phenomenon, you may add this: Vampire bats are threatening to invade Texas. he bats are native to South and Central America and Mexico, and a move north is a distinct possibility in coming decades.

Dallas IFF's First Film Announcement is Texas-Heavy by Jette Kernion of Slackerwood. The Dallas International Film Festival has announced 15 of the films in its 2012 lineup, and not only does Texas make a great showing, but Austin is well represented

Kyle energy storage company at center of key debate over power rates by Laylan Copelin of the Austin American-Statesman. KYLE — Central Texas-based Xtreme Power, an energy storage company, got a real-world test of its battery technology last year at a ribbon-cutting for one of its sites in Hawaii. With dignitaries looking on, eight of 12 electricity-generating windmills unexpectedly tripped off.

Texas senator pushes Fort Worth-made F-16 sale by William Lowther for the Tapei Times. Members of the US Congress are again pushing US President Barack Obama to put the sale of F-16C/D aircraft to Taiwan back on the front political burner.The move comes as Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平) completed a highly publicized visit to the US and as Obama’s re-election campaign gets underway.

Missing newspapers raise concerns from The Daily Texan by Sarah White of The Daily Texan. An undetermined number of copies of Friday’s Daily Texan appear to have disappeared from news boxes across campus, according to the operations manager for Texas Student Media. Frank Serpas III, Texas Student Media operations manager, said he was concerned when he discovered the missing papers, which are printed and distributed by the Austin American-Statesman.

UMHB breaks ground on new stadium by Tanner Clark of the Belton Journal.  Last Friday marked the beginning of a long road of growth and development for the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. The groundbreaking ceremony for a new 10,000 capacity stadium and connected state-of-the-art student union building brought in trustees, alumni and spectators from all across the country. 

Mike Leach loses appeal in suit vs Texas Tech by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. LUBBOCK, Texas — The fight between Mike Leach and Texas Tech isn't over yet. Leach's attorney vowed to keep fighting after the Texas Supreme Court on Friday rejected the former coach's appeal in his wrongful termination lawsuit against Texas Tech. 

TSA opens new body scanner at Midland International Airport by Kathleen Petty of the Midland Reporter-Telegram. Passengers now will have the option of being screened with a body scanner at Midland International Airport after the Transportation Security Administration installed new technology there this week. “This is the wave of the future,” said Shawn Lawler, the Federal Air Marshal Service’s assistant federal security director of law enforcement for the West Texas Region. “It can find anything ... Absolutely it will provide a safer environment.” 

TV-radio notebook: Astros to call on former players in 2012 booth experiment by David Barron of the Houston Chronicle. Milo Hamilton's announcement Wednesday that he will leave the radio booth after the 2012 season starts the clock ticking on yet another makeover project for the Jim Crane-era Astros. Team president George Postolos has a year to decide how to arrange the Astros' post-Milo radio future and how incumbents Brett Dolan and Dave Raymond figure into his plans for 2013 and beyond.

Stanford Operations Run by CFO Davis, Not Boss, Manager Says by Laurel Brubaker Calkins of Bloomberg Businessweek. R. Allen Stanford left daily operating decisions to his finance chief, who volunteered to “lay himself off” for a $650,000 lump-sum payout as regulators were closing in on the company in February 2009, a former manager testified.

Keystone Pipeline Sparks Property Rights Backlash by Jay Root of the Texas Tribune. As the White House and Congress battle it out over the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, the Canadian company that wants to build it is still using its land-seizure powers to get property easements for the ambitious project. And it’s ruffling some feathers in a politically conservative patch of Texas.

Report: BofA Could Sell U.S. Trust, Texas Assets if Under Stress by Matt Egan for Fox Business.  If things start to unravel again in the U.S. economy, embattled Bank of America (BAC: 7.98, -0.10, -1.30%) would reportedly consider unloading its prized U.S. Trust wealth-management business as well as its vast retail network in Texas. According to The Wall Street Journal, BofA formulated the contingency plan at the request of the Federal Reserve, which is conducting stress tests on 31 large U.S. banks this year. 

American Airlines' top executives lose $17.5 million in awards by Andrea Ahles of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. For years, union leaders have criticized top executives at American Airlines for how much they make. But the airline's bankruptcy filing cost those executives millions of dollars. In its annual report filed this week, American's parent, AMR Corp., said it does not plan to distribute stock from incentive plans awarded to executives over the past three years because of the company's Chapter 11 filing.

Young Zephyr actor appears in another Texas-flavored movie by Jeremy Goldmeier of the Abilene Reporter-News. It was the biggest perk that Brayden Whisenhunt had ever experienced in his young acting career: his own dressing room, with his name on it and everything. Of course, he did what any 13-year-old would do with all of this newfound personal space.

Friday Night Lights' movie will borrow Mike Leach's plot by Tom Weir of USA Today.  If and when another Friday Night Lights movie is made it will tap into the story line of Mike Leach's demise at Texas Tech. Executive producer Peter Berg tells MTV News he hopes to make a movie based on the TV series, and that a script is nearly finished.

Southwest raises fares, others expected to follow by Rob Lovitt for MSNBC. If airfares suddenly seem higher, look no further than Southwest Airlines, which, according to Rick Seaney, CEO of, initiated a fare hike of $10 roundtrip ($5 one-way) early Wednesday. If history repeats itself, other airlines are likely to follow suit. The move represents the third attempted fare hike of the year, coming on the heels of two in January. Both of those were led by Delta Air Lines, but only the first one was matched by the competition.

Stanford Blew Millions on Bellagio, Women and Yachts, Agent Says by Laurel Brubaker Calkins of Bloomberg Businessweek. R. Allen Stanford blew $1.1 million at the Bellagio hotel and casino in Las Vegas and gave another million in cash to family members, including his wife and girlfriend, an FBI agent told jurors at the financier’s criminal fraud trial.

Texas Comptroller report warns of megadrought devastation by Logan Hawkes of Southwest Farm Press. Imagine a Texas where reclaimed wastewater for human consumption is commonplace and where skyrocketing utility rates could limit the amount of electricity used in your home or business every day. Consider a time when farms and ranches are abandoned because of water shortages and consumption of desalinated sea water and reduced industrial production are normal, and where buying rights for groundwater use becomes common.

Nokia to lay off 700 at Reynosa plant by Martha L. Hernandez of The Monitor. McALLEN — Nokia says the 700 workers it is laying off at its maquiladora in Reynosa will receive severance packages “a little bit” bigger than what Mexican labor law mandates. The Finland-based phone manufacturer announced Wednesday it would eliminate 4,000 jobs from three of its plants — in Reynosa; Komarom, Hungary, and Salo, Finland — amid a plan to shift assembly to Asia.  

Texas companies - like San Marcos-based CFAN - look to keep focus on manufacturing by Laylan Copelin of the Austin American-Statesman.  SAN MARCOS — Any Central Texan flying on a Boeing jet is probably relying on a crucial piece of equipment manufactured here. CFAN Co. is the world's only manufacturer of composite jet engine fan blades that power GE engines for the Boeing 777, 787 and 747-8 airplanes.

Cottage food producers wary of new rules by Ciara O'Rourke of the Austin American-Statesman. Should Texas bakers selling muffins out of their kitchens be required to label their goods, letting customers know that no health department has inspected the food?

Demand up for mohair carpet by Jerry Lackey of the San Angelo Standard-Times.  SAN ANGELO, Texas — A continued increase in the demand for mohair carpet in 2011 has created a stabilized situation for the first time in the 47-year history of the Mohair Council of America. The organization has become self-sufficient, even when Angora goat inventory registered a decline in numbers and mohair production. 

The world's best spots for stargazing by Jayne Clark of USA Today.  Bend National Park in Texas is the latest venue to get the "International Dark Sky Park" seal of approval. It's the darkest in the lower 48 states and the largest in the world among the 10 areas that have earned the title since 2006. 

Texas banks already feeling the pinch of impending rule by David Hendricks of the San Antonio Express-News. One of the benefits of wealthy Mexican nationals moving to Texas is the deposits they place in Lone Star State banks, making more money available for business loans that generate jobs. But should a likely new rule go into effect, Texas banks could be hurt or crippled as Mexicans pull their money out over fears for their personal safety. 

Hong Kong trade official seeks closer Texas ties by Kiah Collier of the Houston Chronicle. Like the Port of Houston, the Port of Hong Kong is preparing for a burst in trade between Asia and the Gulf Coast when a nearly complete expansion of the Panama Canal doubles the waterway's size.

 SXSW Announces 2012 Shorts and Midnight Movies by Elizabeth Stoddard of Slackerwood. Last week, SXSW announced the feature film lineup for the 2012 Film Festival, and today we've heard word about the short films and midnight screenings that will be headed our way this March. In recent years, some of my favorite finds at SXSW have been short films, and here's hoping this year is no different.  Two of the programs will especially focus on films by Texans: Texas Shorts and Texas High School Shorts.

Blackstone Jumps Into ‘Unconventional’ Energy Rush by Jonathan Shieber of the Wall Street Journal. The Blackstone Group LP’s billion dollar bet alongside GeoSouthern Energy Corp. on South Texas oil and natural gas is just the latest example of private equity’s rush to tap the unconventional oil and gas energy craze. As the Wall Street Journal reported, some $145 billion is expected to be spent on drilling and completing onshore wells this year, nearly double the $73 billion spent in 2009, according to oil-field market researchers Spear & Associates Inc.

Can you really grow olives in Texas? Jack Dougherty of Bella Vista Ranch reveals his secrets by Tavaner Sullivan of CultureMap Austin. With the publication of Tom Mueller's Extra-Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, the seemingly benign subject of olive oil is a hot topic. CultureMap caught up with Jack Dougherty, the owner of Bella Vista Ranch in Wimberley, one of the first to plant and grow olives in the state of Texas. 

SETX cattlemen prep for beef shortfall by Sarah Moore of the Beaumont Enterprise. Hamshire cattleman Harold Clubb's voice could barely be heard above the bawling of mama cows suddenly bereft of their calves. Ranch hands on horseback had been separating the 3- to 5-month-old youngsters from their mothers Wednesday morning and now had them sequestered in two separate pens. 

Texas Border Battle Over Mexican Company's Coal Mine by Julián Aguilar of the Texas Tribune. EAGLE PASS — George Baxter knows how to fight. The East Coast native dodged bullets while serving in Vietnam, then, as a U.S. Border Patrol agent, he guarded a vast swath of rough terrain just across from Mexico.

Texas Jury Strikes Down Patent Troll’s Claim to Own the Interactive Web by Joe Mullin of Wired.  TYLER, Texas — After threatening web companies for more than a decade, Michael Doyle and his patent-holding company Eolas Technologies — named after the Irish word for knowledge — may be finished. An eight-member federal jury in East Texas deliberated Thursday for just a few hours before concluding that all of Eolas’ asserted claims of ownership to technology allowing access to the interactive web were invalid.

Texas' Electric Capacity Under Scrutiny by Ben Philpott of the Texas Tribune. Last summer’s record heat pushed the Texas power grid to the brink. Many of us sat comfortably in our air conditioning without realizing we were on the edge of rolling blackouts.

State Department updates travel warning for Mexico by Lynn Brezosky of the San Antonio Express-News.  The State Department has updated its warning on travel to Mexico, noting that 120 U.S. citizens were reported murdered there in 2011 and that the “location and timing of future armed engagements is unpredictable.” The warning issued Wednesday, superseding a similar message in April, repeats that there's no evidence that warring drug gangs are targeting U.S. citizens and that most resort areas and tourist destinations have escaped the rampant bloodshed of the border region and other key trafficking routes. 

Cattle population decreases but optimism remains high by Angelina Perez of KFDA. Amarillo, TX - The cattle population is the lowest it has been in several decades, but officials say there is still room for optimism. Texas herds have dropped by about 11-percent in the last year, but even with fewer cattle there is still hope for ranchers.

Lawmakers press regulators to explain how electricity reserves have suddenly waned by Laylan Copelin of the Austin American-Statesman. Texas' risk of running short on electricity reserves over the next two years has risen dramatically in the past six months, as about 13,000 megawatts of planned new generation projects were either canceled or suspended, regulators told state lawmakers. That surprised at least one member of the House State Affairs Committee, Rep. Rene Oliveira, D-Brownsville, as the panel investigated whether the state's competitive electricity market can keep the lights on.

The first couple of Texas country music reveal new tunes during February residency at Continental Club by Meredith Rainey of CultureMap Austin. Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison have a standing date night all this month: They are leaving their four children at home every Thursday night in February to take up residency in the Gallery at the Continental Club. No, they're not sneaking out.     

University of Texas joins bid for role in battery research center by Kirk Ladendorf of the Austin American-Statesman.  The University of Texas and the Austin area are getting ready to embark on another high-stakes competition to land a vital national research center. UT is teaming with Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee in a joint bid to become a federally funded research hub for advanced battery development for electric vehicles and "utility-scale" energy storage systems.

American Airlines asks Nader to pay $2,680 for seat by Maria Recio of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. WASHINGTON -- Cost of an American Airlines ticket: $700. Cost for an aisle seat: $2,680. Potential cost of alienating Ralph Nader: priceless. 

Even For $600,000, Top Chef: Texas Can’t Tell the Difference Between Dallas and San Antonio by Jason Heid of the Dallas Observer. Bravo’s Top Chef, you may have heard, has set its current season in Texas — namely rotating between the cities of San Antonio, Dallas, and Austin.  This is a departure from previous seasons which were each centered on a single city: San Francisco, Las Vegas, and New York among them. The excuse for the change of pace is that Texas is just “too big” to have its season confined to one spot, but in reality the state tourism office paid Top Chef’s production company $600,000 to feature San Antonio plus two other Texas cities.

Mussels scar waters by Nancy Howell of the Wichita Falls Times Record News. The latest TPWD news release concerning the invasion of zebra mussels hasn't gotten much press. Speaking for the average fisherman and water enthusiast, I feel compelled to write about it, since it's a serious situation.

Top Chef Misrepresents Texas by Millie Kerr of the Huffington Post.  A weekly tradition was born when Top Chef first aired six years ago. Desperate for time away from the library, a small group of law students, all foodies, convened for dinner and debate in my tiny Austin apartment. We never anticipated that our ritual would continue years later in New York, where my friends practice law while I write about food and travel.

Uriah Lott, wool dealer and railroad-builder by Murphy Givens of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. CORPUS CHRISTI — Uriah Lott, a native New Yorker, started a wool-buying business in Corpus Christi in the late 1860s. But his ambition was to build railroads and within three decades, from 1875 until 1905, he became, as a book by J.L. Allhands called him, "The Gringo Builder" in a book by that name.

Record Drought Takes Toll on Texas Cattle by Greg Flakus of Voice of America. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the United States' cattle herd has shrunk to its smallest size in 60 years, mostly because of a severe drought that has ravaged the southern plains.  Beef prices have gone up 17 percent as a result.  In the pastures near Hallsburg,Texas, ranchers are hanging on desperately, hoping for rain.

RadioShack Bonds Signal Distress of Thin Mobile Margins: Corporate Finance by Sapna Maheshwari of Bloomberg. Credit investors are paying the most ever to protect against a default from RadioShack Corp. (RSH) on concern that the consumer electronics retailer’s emphasis on selling mobile devices will fail to revive its fortunes.

American Airlines in talks over Brazil debt: May return jets to Embraer by Reuters. American Airlines is renegotiating terms of $1.6 billion in debt owed to Brazil's state development bank to help it emerge more rapidly from bankruptcy in the United States, a Brazilian newspaper said on Wednesday. American Airlines Chief Executive Thomas Horton, who was named in November to the top post at the third-largest U.S. airline, declined to say how the company plans to pay the BNDES.

Austin chip startup Javelin lands major customer: Samsung by Kirk Ladendorf of the Austin American-Statesman. At age 4, Javelin Semiconductor Inc. has landed its first customer and it's a big one. Samsung Electronics Co. , one of the world's largest cellphone makers, has chosen Javelin's power amplifier chip for its Galaxy Ace Plus model, a mid-range 3G smartphone that is targeted primarily at the European and Asian markets.

Firm Alleges Defendants Misappropriated Trade Secrets, Privileged Info by Brenda Sapino Jeffreys of Texas Lawyer. Houston's Shrader & Associates has been experiencing things lately that seem more like the plot of a legal thriller than reality at a small toxic-tort firm. In 2011, a former office manager at the firm, Tara Robertson Stevens, was charged with and indicted for felony theft for allegedly taking more than $200,000 from Shrader & Associates from May 16, 2007, through Aug. 17, 2011.

Texas gave out $25 million in film, TV incentives in 2011 by Matthew Odam of the Austin American-Statesman. The Texas Film Commission distributed approximately $25 million in state funds to 177 projects in 2011 under the auspices of the Moving Image Industry Incentive Program. Details of the grants were recently released to the American-Statesman after a request under the state's Public Information Act.

Pee-wee Herman returns to the Alamo on 'Top Chef: Texas' by the Los Angeles Times. Almost anyone who grew up in the 1980s knows the connection between Pee-wee Herman (the bow-tied alter-ego of comedian Paul Reubens) and the Alamo. It was in the Alamo's supposed basement that Herman sought his beloved bicycle in Tim Burton's "Pee-wee's Big Adventure" in 1986. But of course, the Alamo has no basement, which Pee-wee discovered much to his chagrin in the film.

Amarillo = Cheapest gas in Texas 2 weeks in a row by Travis Ruiz of  AMARILLO— Although gas prices have risen 14 cents in the last week, Amarillo is still the home of the cheapest gas in the state. And that's two weeks in a row!

Intercontinental West Texas Crude Trade Drops 52% in January by Matthew Leising of Bloomberg Businessweek. Intercontinental Exchange Inc., the second-largest U.S. futures market, said U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures volume fell 52 percent in January, compared with a year ago.

New publisher for Express-News as veteran takes over in Houston by Karisa King of the San Antonio Express-News. The Hearst Corp. announced that longtime newspaper executive John C. McKeon, former president and general manager of the Dallas Morning News, will take over as publisher of the San Antonio Express-News.As part of the shift in leadership at Hearst's two largest Texas newspapers, Express-News President and Publisher Tom Stephenson was named publisher of the Houston Chronicle.

American Airlines restructures on the backs of workers by Loren Steffy of the Houston  Chronicle. As expected, American Airlines’ bankruptcy is going to be balanced on the backs of employees. The airline is hoping to cut labor costs by 20 percent and eliminate as many as 14,000 jobs. 

American Airlines Layoffs Don't Bode Well For Frequent Flyers by Deborah L. Jacobs of Forbes. American Airlines announced yesterday that it wants to get rid of 13,000 workers, or 16% of its work force. That’s terrible news for company employees and their families.

Navistar, Pickens in natural-gas truck push by James Kelleher of Reuters.  LISLE, Illinois—Truck and engine maker Navistar International Corp (NAV.N) is joining forces with Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens in a bid to get more natural-gas-powered heavy trucks on U.S. roadways.

Some Questions About the Texas Music Awards 2012 Ballot by William Michael Smith of the Houston Press.  If you think we were flabbergasted by songwriter Bob Cheevers touting his election as 2011 Songwriter of the Year in the Texas Music Awards sponsored by and "sanctioned" (a hedge word that appears frequently in relation to the Texas Music Awards) by the Texas Academy of Music (high fallutin' term for we're just not sure what), you should have seen our mouths gape when we got this year's nominees.

New details unveiled for Galveston Pleasure Pier by KHOU. GALVESTON, Texas— A $60 million tourist attraction is expected to draw more visitors to Galveston's Seawall when it opens. Landry’s Inc. owner Tilman Fertitta gave a sneak peak Monday of the latest drawings for the new Pleasure Pier planned for Galveston.

Struggling Mexican vendors head north by Lynn Brezosky of the San Antonio Express-News.  BROWNSVILLE — If the colored streamers, fat piñatas and soulful norteño tunes filling this border city's timeworn Majestic Theatre evoke feelings of a marketplace in old Mexico, it's no accident. The dozen or so vendors here, having given up on tourists venturing into violence-plagued northern Mexico, now hawk their goods in Mercado Juárez Brownsville, a miniature of the Mercado Juárez across the Rio Grande in Matamoros, Mexico.

Sotol Maker Tries To Break Into U.S. Spirits Market by John Burnett of NPR. Americans drank more than 100 million liters of tequila in 2010. It's no wonder then, that a little-known spirit from Mexico is trying to make its name in the United States. Introducing Sotol — a smoky smooth liquor distilled in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

Stanford sought to influence regulator by Anna Driver of Reuters.  HOUSTON—Allen Stanford, charged with a $7 billion Ponzi scheme, sought to have a Antiguan regulator with oversight of his offshore bank dismissed after she rejected a number of the Texas financier's overtures to work together, she testified on Monday.

Drought could lead to higher beef prices by William Pack of the Houston Chronicle. The nation's cattle inventory, scorched by a record-breaking drought in Texas, has plummeted to a 60-year low, triggering concerns that beef prices will spiral higher for consumers. 

Ron Washington, Texas Rangers Reportedly Agree To Two-Year Extension by Grant Brisbee of Baseball Nation. Ron Washington is the kind of manager who can drive Rangers fans nuts. Ron Washington is the kind of manager who will hit Mike Napoli eighth on some bizarre hunch or imperceptible strategy. 

Mexico banks expand in Texas by the San Antonio Express-News. As Mexican nationals continue to move to and invest in Texas cities such as San Antonio, Mexico companies and brands are following them. Banks have become a prime example.

Glenn Close's Singular Pursuit Leads Her to 'Albert Nobbs' by Christopher Kelly of Glenn Close, legendary actress, star of Albert Nobbs, is on the prowl in a black leather pantsuit. She smells Oscar.  The party at the sprawling home of Fort Worth, Texas, real estate magnate John Goff and his wife, Cami, is nothing if not deluxe: Waiters smoothly circulate around the bejeweled, carefully coiffed guests, carrying trays of drinks, lobster rolls and mini empanadas.

Crop insurance demand may hike by Jerry Lackey of the San Angelo Standard-Times.  SAN ANGELO, Texas — Because of the worst drought since 1895 mingled with a summer of 105-plus degree daily temperatures and wildfires that scorched millions of acres, 2011 also will make the Texas history books for paying out $2.4 billion in indemnity payments to farmers and ranchers.

Smuggling brings down Texas deer breeders by Molly Hennessy-Fiske of the Los Angeles Times. Reporting from New Summerfield, Texas— Texas' hunting season for white-tailed deer draws to a close this month. Normally Billy Powell would be counting his profits from catering to "hornographers," hunters who will pay as much as $100,000 to bag a monster buck with impressive headgear. Instead, the 78-year-old deer breeder is under house arrest and wearing an ankle monitor.