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Nature & Environment

Enormous Trees in East Dallas Park Felled by Wednesday’s Storm

| 41 mins ago

I’ve got some buddies who play gaelic football, which is a thing I don’t quite understand but sometimes watch in a show of support for said buddies. It doesn’t take much effort on my part, really. Their home pitch is right down the street from my house. If you live in East Dallas, you probably know the park at Buckner and Lake Highlands streets as “the rugby fields.” Its proper name is Lake Highlands Park. This summer, shade there will be in shorter supply than usual. Yesterday morning’s storm felled four enormous cottonwood trees and decimated a fifth. On my way home last night, I stopped along with some neighbors to gawk. Those trees have been standing longer than I’ve been alive. They will be missed. Here’s another shot:

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Local News

Leading Off (3/30/17)

| 7 hours ago

Two Boys Fatally Electrocuted by Felled Power Lines at a Fort Worth Park. The power lines were still arching and energized when the rescue team reached the scene. Oncor asks that everyone treat downed power lines as if they are energized by staying away and immediately calling 911.

More About Those Storms. The National Weather Service confirmed that tornadoes touched down in the Keller and Lewisville areas early Wednesday morning—an EF-0 and EF-1, respectively. Rockwall didn’t get a twister, but winds in the 90 mph range damaged almost 20 homes.

Dallas Zoo Welcomes a Fur-Ocious Addition. The lion cub’s name is Bahati Moja, Swahilia for “lucky one.” His March 17th birth comes about a year after mama lion Lina delivered two stillborns, and 44 years since the zoo last welcomed a lion cub. Word is Bahati’s nursing like a boss.

Shake Shack Opens at Legacy West in Plano. Don’t everyone take advantage of the reportedly short lines all at once now, you hear?

Wild Detectives Uses Clickbait For Good, Not Evil. I’m generally anti-Facebook, but this is cool.

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Is The Texas ‘Economic Miracle’ Over?

| 22 hours ago

There was a time not too long ago when Texas regularly led the nation in job growth. Now it ranks 10th. Texas once had the lowest rates of unemployment in the nation, now it has the 26th lowest unemployment rate. Once lauded as affordable, the median price of a home in the state now exceeds the national median. And last year, when Governing magazine ranked states in terms personal income, jobs, and overall production, Texas ranked 21st — just behind Arkansas.

Don’t look now, but Texas is not the booming economy it once was. And as op-ed contributor Richard Parker argues over on the Dallas Morning News, part of the problem is state leaders in Austin aren’t looking:

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Abnormal Psychology

What I Think About When I Think About Death

| 1 day ago
One tree in field

I have been a little obsessed with death over the last few weeks. I randomly started a list of nonfiction stories about people who saw death coming. Then Tim Rogers interviewed Krys Boyd for his wonderful profile in the April issue (“What to Think About When You Think About Krys Boyd”), which caused him to get a little wet-eyed and necessitated a discussion at our desks about the sudden death of Krys’ first husband from heart failure and the slow death of Diane Rehm’s husband from Parkinson’s and the question of which is better—to have notice of loss, or not.

I’ve had both, sudden loss and advance-notice loss. I’d say it’s a toss-up.

The particular loss that has been on my mind, though, is that of my mother. She died from sepsis after a week in the hospital from what started as a cold, or bronchitis, or pneumonia that she caught as a high school English teacher. She was 65. I pretty much just realized a few minutes ago, while multi-tasking and searching for a Mother’s Day item for the Style section of the magazine and instead finding yet another article about death on the New York Times website, that I may have death on the brain because, well, Mother’s Day is coming up. And this will be the 10th anniversary of losing her.

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How Dallas Democrats Are Destroying Themselves

| 1 day ago

Not long ago, Terri Hodge, the ex-con, was leading a breakout discussion at table No. 3 at a meeting hall in the Cedars. The strategy talk in early January was part of a biennial get-together to discuss tactics on how to “empower Democrats in the North Texas region.” Specifically, Hodge was giving advice on the art of “Building Better Vote-by-Mail Results,” according to the day’s agenda. What this political jargon means is that the former state representative was explaining to volunteers and activists—and, as it turns out, at least one mole—how to get more votes in ways other than the party putting forth better candidates.

“Remember,” Hodge told the group, according to my mole, “the elderly and the disabled are excellent sources of mail-in ballots. Don’t overlook them.”

There is nothing untrue or illegal about this statement. Everyone deserves a vote. Just because there have long been allegations in Dallas County of Democratic operatives filing mail-in ballots without the consent or full understanding of elderly or disabled voters, that doesn’t make statements like Hodge’s suspicious. Nor does the fact she’s an ex-con, since she was convicted of tax evasion, not voter fraud. Nor does the fact that allegations of mail-in deception have long followed her. Nor does the fact that her old assistant was once indicted for “helping” a blind person fill out a ballot. The charges were dropped, after all.

Highlighting Hodge, someone with what you could at best call a checkered past, is not illegal, but it is indicative of a fundamental flaw in the Dallas County Democratic Party. The party’s inclusion of Hodge—and, worse, its blundering, cornered-animal defense of her—illustrates the party’s slavish devotion to old-school Democrats who have strutted and fretted their hours upon the stage, and from whom we should hear no more. In a post-Trump landscape, when Democrats all over the country are trying to harness progressive zeal, the Dallas County Dems still seem like a party that has no idea how to remake itself and take advantage of that enthusiasm.

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Health & Medicine

How Rana-Gee Lum Earned Her Scars

| 1 day ago

The state’s accident report is a sparse narrative, neatly packaged, the lines not yet colored in. A 49-year-old woman named Rana-Gee Lum, driving too fast on a country road near the Oklahoma border, loses control of her red Ford Explorer. The SUV flies off the east side of the two-lane road and strikes a tree, damaging a barbed wire fence. To complement this brisk description, there is a drawing of a car and an arrow and a black circle that represents the tree. The report notes that it took 18 minutes for first responders to arrive.

When they got there, they found Lum burning alive. She was tangled in the dashboard wiring, which dislodged after the front end met wood. The car had exploded when it hit that tree. Flames spread into the cab, melting the flesh on her left leg as she struggled to get free. Lum sucked in air and got smoke. The fire spread up her buttocks and settled into her back as it consumed the seat. She doesn’t remember much from there, but she remembers thinking of her daughter, and then she remembers fighting until she was out of the car.

A nearby homeowner saw the black smoke and dialed 911. Soon, Lum was in a helicopter, being flown to what was then known as Medical Center of Plano—one of two burn units in all of North Texas. Lum was one of 736 patients who required inpatient services at the burn center during its first year of existence, so many that the hospital had to hire a third surgeon. That Saturday, June 25, 2016, Dr. Salil Gulati, the burn program’s medical director and one of those surgeons, was called into work. A woman had just been flown in, and her leg was charred to the bone.

Cases like Lum’s are extreme, these deep thermal burns. When they cover more than 20 percent of the body, the injury becomes a cruel alarm; there’s a foreign invader laying waste to soft tissue and the organs respond by flushing the body with fluids. This causes pressure to build up under the skin, limiting circulation to the person’s limbs near the burns, requiring surgeons to quickly make incisions in the skin to relieve it. To treat an injury like Lum’s, who had 46 percent of her body covered in burns, a standard operating room will not suffice. And for decades, the only one that would was located at Parkland Memorial Hospital, 70 miles from the inferno in her Explorer.

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Leading Off

Leading Off (3/29/17)

| 1 day ago

DART Approves Resolution Opposing Plan to Use Money for Pension Fund. The Dallas Area Rapid Transit board approved a resolution yesterday that opposes Dallas City Council member Scott Griggs’ plan to use DART funds to help the Dallas Police and Fire Pension fund. The board believes that the plan might not be legal and could hinder DART’s being able to pay bond debt. Griggs wants to use one-eighth of DART’s sales tax revenue to aid the pension fund, which is in bad shape, and he wants it to be on a November ballot for voters to decide.

Butt Injection Woman Convicted of Murder. Yesterday, Denise “Wee Wee” Ross was convicted of murder and practicing medicine without a license. She had given a fatal butt injection to a client and also carried out two more procedures while awaiting trial. Punishment is being deliberated today.

Irving ISD Didn’t Show Support for Unauthorized Immigrant Students. At Monday night’s board meeting, Irving ISD trustees voted against the resolution designating campuses as “welcome and safe” and providing a “safe environment where all are treated equally regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, or disability.” Other Texas cities, including Dallas, have recently passed such resolutions.

Storms Move Through D-FW. Powerful thunderstorms moved through the area last night, and there was even a tornado warning in Tarrant and Denton counties. A lot of people lost power. A lot of streets have closures. At about 2:30 a.m., I sat bolt upright when deafening thunder woke me up and couldn’t go back to sleep for an hour.

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