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Gov. Rick Perry Will Not Be On VA Ballot

Gage Skidmore (cc) flickr

Gov. Rick Perry's name will not be on Virginia's March 6 Republican presidential primary ballot.  The Republican Party of Virginia said Friday that Perry's campaign had failed to gather the required 10,000 signatures of registered voters, the threshold to get on the primary ballot.

State GOP spokesman Garren Shipley says the party is also validating petitions that Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul submitted by the Thursday 5 p.m. deadline to the State Board of Elections. The process of validating the signatures began Friday morning.

The 10,000 registered voters must also include 400 signatures from each of Virginia's 11 congressional districts.

Associated Press

Texans Top Distance Drivers In Holiday Travel Survey

Today is the official start of the holiday travel season:  December 23rd through January 2nd.

Sarah Schimmer, with AAA-Texas says the roads will be jammed because most people are driving this year. And Texans are driving farther.

Schimmer:  Texans are expected to travel a round trip of 817 miles.  So, compared to other areas of the country, Texans definitely travel a lot farther that other people in other regions of the country.  Not only are people going to stay here in Texas, but they’re also going to be visiting neighboring states: lots of traffic to Louisiana, lots of traffic to Florida.

Nationwide, 92 million people will travel for the holidays.  AAA says 90% of them will drive.  Air travel is expected to be down about 10%.

BJ Austin, KERA News

No White Christmas For North Texas

Parts of West Texas can expect snow to fall on Christmas Eve.

But meteorologist Dan Shoemake, with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, says North Texans shouldn’t count on a white Christmas.

Shoemake: What we do see is rain beginning Saturday afternoon and continuing, with the best chance of Saturday night.  And early, before six am we could see a few flakes mixed in with the rain early Sunday morning.

Shoemake says the low Christmas morning will be about 35, and the rain should taper off by noon.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Fed court says Texas may have discriminated

The federal court in Washington says there are genuine issues of whether or not Texas Republicans intentionally discriminated against Hispanics in redrawing the state's political maps.

Texas is one of 16 states covered by the Voting Rights Act and must get federal approval for any changes to voting laws. The Texas attorney general asked the Washington court to approve the new maps drawn this year by the Legislature. But the Justice Department and Texas minority groups argue the maps were discriminatory and asked the court to hold a trial.      

The court refused to approve the maps last month and set a trial date. The court released its analysis of the case late Thursday saying there is evidence of discrimination.

The court scheduled the trial for Jan. 17.

Associated Press

Southwest flight instructors agree on seniority

Southwest Airlines said on Friday that its flight instructors have agreed on how they will integrate their seniority with workers who came from AirTran.

Dallas-based Southwest bought AirTran in May and is working to absorb it into its own operation. Southwest has about 70 flight instructors, and AirTran has 18. The Southwest workers are in the Transport Workers Union.

The tentative seniority agreement will be voted on by both work groups.

Southwest said on Thursday that its mechanics will also be voting on a seniority agreement. Southwest's 1,800 mechanics are represented by the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, whileAirTran has 400 Teamsters mechanics. 

Associated Press

150,000 seed balls for wildfire-stricken Bastrop

About 300 groups of children have worked to make sure parts of Central Texas blackened by wildfires get new plants. Officials with Capital Area Master Naturalists in Austin say about 150,000 seed balls will be available to Bastrop residents, whose land was damaged by the fires.

The marble-sizeballs of clay and compost also contain native plant seeds. Members of the Native Plant Society raised $1,800 to buy compost, clay and a special seed mix.

The Austin American-Statesman reported Thursday that the seed balls were put together by children at schools, churches and youth groups. The seeds are from more than 50 varieties of Central Texas plants.

Organizer Ryan Fleming says she wanted to give something back to people whose land was burned in wildfires since Labor Day weekend.

Associated Press

2 convicted in Dallas of telecommunications fraud

A federal jury in Dallas has convicted two men in a $20 million telecommunications scam in which homeless people were paid for use of their identities. Prosecutors say Nathan Shafer of Irving and Matthew Simpson of Red Oak were convicted Thursday of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud.

Simpson was also convicted of email-related fraud, obstruction-destruction of evidence and false registration of a domainname. Prosecutors say the names of some homeless people were listed as officers, directors and managers of bogus companies, to defraud telecommunications firms of goods and services.

A dozen other people have pleaded guilty since 2009, when Simpson's home and business were raided. Sentencing has been set for March 23. The conspiracy and obstruction-destruction of evidence counts carry maximum 20-year prison terms.

Associated Press