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Texas Headlines: Secession, Shariah, college graduation

As the nation continues to unravel Gov. Rick Perry’s past, Salon looked at his friendship with the Aga Khan, a prominent, rich leader of the Ismaili sect of Shia Islam.

In the piece titled, “Rick Perry: The pro-Shariah candidate?” Salon pins “surprisingly warm relationship with the Muslim community” on that particular friendship:

Sprouting from that friendship are at least two cooperation agreements between the state of Texas and Ismaili institutions, including a far-reaching program to educate Texas schoolchildren about Islam. That’s a partnership that has already prompted a bit of grumbling in far-right corners of the blogosphere and could conceivably become a primary issue if, as expected, Perry enters the presidential race.

GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum has already seized on Perry’s back-and-forth over whether marriage equality ought to be a states’ rights issue, reported Politico:

Even though Perry won’t be on stage at the presidential debate Thursday in Iowa, Santorum will be eagerly looking for any opportunity to tweak the Texas governor and soon-to-be new candidate on same-sex marriage, campaign insiders say. Santorum’s camp sees Perry’s comments as creating a unique opportunity for him to get some traction by directly challenging a candidate who’s taking up more and more oxygen in the race.

“Sometimes you’re better off being lucky than good,” one Santorum adviser told POLITICO. “Perry saying what he did opened the window of opportunity. That was a fastball, one [Santorum] couldn’t resist the opportunity to hit.”

At the Texas Tribune, Jay Root dusts off a long-forgotten audio clip that’s found new life among Democratic groups, in which Perry goes a little further with the light-hearted flirtations with secession, on a tour around the governor’s office:

In a discussion with tech bloggers in his Capitol office, Perry did not advocate secession but did say Texans are “thinking about that again.” Perry didn’t go quite that far when he was talking to reporters after the now-famous Tea Party rally in Austin a few weeks later. At that event he said that if Washington “continues to thumb their nose at the American people … who knows what might come out of that.”

Perry spokesman Mark Miner said Tuesday that the newly circulated interview changes nothing: Perry has never advocated secession and never will, he said.

More headlines:

Texas on the Potomac: ‘Americans for Rick Perry’ is pushing for Iowa straw poll write-in votes

Five members of the Americans for Rick Perry, the governor’s PAC, arrived in Iowa Tuesday, wearing matching Perry-promoting T-shirts. The group is caravaning behind the Values Voter Bus on its 22-city Iowa tour, put on by the National Organization for Marriage, the Family Research Council and the Susan B. Anthony List, and will stay for Saturday’s straw poll.

Stateline: Texas law seeks to keep college students on four-year path

The idea is spreading. In fact, getting students to think of school more like a vocation is the express goal of a new program being tested at a community college in California. Called “Aid Like a Paycheck,” the program, which is a collaborative effort among the Institute For College Access and Success, the think tank MDRC, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, disburses federal grant money to students on a bi-weekly basis — like a paycheck — rather than in one lump sum at the beginning of the semester.

Reuters: Tea Party faithful wonder if Rick Perry walks the walk

“They’re vetting, they want to know if he is for real,” Dallas Tea Party leader Katrina Pierson, said, adding she has fielded questions about Perry’s record from Tea Party members as far flung as California, Iowa and New Hampshire.

Houston Chronicle: Crime lab finds another 3,000-plus untested rape kits

For years, the Houston Police Department has conceded about 4,000 rape kits — all untested — are stored in a property room freezer, but a recent inventory shows there are potentially thousands more containing never-examined evidence from sexual assault cases.

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