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Roundup: Perry Urges Conservation

By Bill Zeeble, KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – Saying our electricity supply is strong but not unlimited, Governor Rick Perry this afternoon urged electricity conservation. His words echoed those of state officials who watch Texas power use.

Perry said because of extreme heat that has created unprecedented demand on the state's energy grid, and with no relief in sight, all Texas residents and businesses are being asked to conserve electricity.

He thanked those who have already reduced their energy use, and said conservation needs to continue as long as the extreme weather lasts.

Our record-setting daytime temperatures won't cool anytime soon, says Victor Murphy, with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.

Victor: unfortunately yes it looks like we will set a record high for today. The record high for today was 106 degrees back in 1964 and we do expect a high of near 108 degrees.

Murphy says our overnight lows are also setting records. He says even though they aren't as glamorous or sexy, people should pay attention.

Victor: For cattle or livestock, it's literally impossible to cool off properly when your low is 86 degrees, which is what we've had on 3 occasions this year, which is an all time record high minimum temperature.

Murphy says hot overnight temperatures also stress outdoor pets and overworked home and office cooling systems. But he maintained some optimism. He says "Fall is around the corner."

For more information from ERCOT and PUC, including a daily peak demand forecast and current load please visit http://www.puc.state.tx.us or http://www.ercot.com

Parkland settles with federal agencies

Parkland Memorial Hospital has reached an $80,000 settlement with the U.S. Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration regarding the 2007 theft of controlled substances from the hospital's pharmacies.

Last year, the Dallas hospital paid $20,000 in state penalties for not stopping the theft. State officials said that 370,000 pills were stolen from the pharmacies over a year. The Dallas Morning News reported Thursday that the investigation indicated thefts may have been going on much longer.

An internal audit discovered that thousands of tablets of hydrocodone, a prescription painkiller, were missing from outpatient community clinics. The drug has a street value of $1 to $4 per pill.

Investigators found that five pharmacy technicians and two outsiders were running a drug ring from the county hospital. The employees were fired and subsequently prosecuted.

Two of the workers, who pleaded guilty to theft and organized crime charges, cooperated in exchange for probation. A hospital pharmacist also was fired.

Vivian Johnson, the hospital's pharmacy director, said the federal settlement means all investigations into Parkland's pharmacy operations have ended.

Polygamist leader's trial continues in his absence

The punishment phase in the child sex assault trial of Warren Jeffs has resumed without the polygamist leader in the courtroom.

Jeffs asked Friday to be excused in protest. He didn't want anyone to represent him, but state District Judge Barbara Walther appointed two standby attorneys.

Defense attorney Deric Walpole says he'll "finally get to do my job." He was one of seven lawyers Jeffs fired before deciding to represent himself. Jeffs called a single witness to testify in his defense before he was found guilty.

The head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was convicted Thursday on two counts of sexual assault of a child.

Jeffs was accused of having sex with underage followers he took as brides in so-called "spiritual marriages." His church believes polygamy brings exaltation in heaven.

Prayers, protesters to gather Saturday

Gov. Rick Perry's prayer rally is drawing thousands of protesters, including Muslim, Jewish and even some Christian leaders.

Critics say the evangelical Christian event is exclusionary and inappropriate. They say Perry is overstepping the bounds of his office.

The event, billed as "The Response" is a seven-hour gathering to include Christian prayer, scripture readings and song at Reliant Stadium. More than 8,000 people have signed up to attend.

Protesters say the meeting is exclusionary and disrespects the separation of church and state.

Perry, who is moving closer to announcing his if he intends to make a run for the White House or not, has rejected the criticisms as unfair.

Alaska governor proclaims Saturday day of prayer

Alaska's governor has proclaimed Saturday a day of prayer for the nation, heeding a call from Gov. Perry.

Gov. Sean Parnell cites Perry in the proclamation. He also urged them to proclaim Aug. 6 a time to pray for "unity and righteousness."

Parnell's spokeswoman said Parnell won't attend but issued a proclamation recognizing "we are a nation under trial of war, impacts of natural disaster, threat of more severe economic hardships, and that our families are under attack on many fronts."

The proclamation urges Alaskans to seek "God's face," and pray for the people of this nation and for the strength and wisdom of leaders.

UP derailment in East Texas, heat could be factor

Union Pacific officials are trying to determine whether heat was a factor in an 18-car derailment in rural East Texas.

UP spokeswoman Raquel Espinoza says crews are working to clear the tracks, several miles east of Mineola, but it would likely be Saturday before the line reopens.

She says nobody was hurt Thursday afternoon in the derailment of a train made up of four locomotives and 99 cars, traveling from Kingfisher, Okla., to Westwego, La.

Investigators are trying to determine the cause of the derailment. The National Weather Service says the temperature in the area reached 109 degrees. UP has said excessive heat can cause tracks to buckle.

Some hopper cars overturned, spilling grain. Espinoza didn't provide a damage estimate.

Mineola is 75 miles east of Dallas.