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GOP 2016-CONSERVATIVES

Perry, Paul bash Obama for 'no strategy' on Syria

DALLAS (AP) - Texas Governor Rick Perry and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul are bashing what they call the president's lack of leadership in response to the violent militant group attacking cities in Iraq.

Both are among four top Republicans considering 2016 White House bids addressing a conservative summit in Dallas.

Tea party-backed Paul said Friday - quote - "If the president has no strategy, maybe it's time for a new president."

Earlier, Perry accused the Obama administration of "dithering and debating" and "minimizing the threat" posed by the Islamic State group and by a Russian-backed rebel offensive in eastern Ukraine.

On Thursday, President Barack Obama said, "We don't have a strategy yet." That came before a meeting of his national security advisers to discuss Pentagon options for confronting the Islamic State group.

GOP 2016-CONSERVATIVES-PENCE

Ind. Gov. Pence discusses presidency in Texas stop

DALLAS (AP) - Indiana Governor Mike Pence jokes that he's heard the argument that the next president of the United States should be a governor - and that he's "sympathetic" to it.

Pence spoke Friday in Dallas at an event held by the group Americans for Prosperity.

Pence did not offer any hints about whether he would seek the Republican nomination in 2016. But he said he didn't want a governor to promise, "Send me to Washington and I'll run the place just like I ran my state."

Instead, Pence says he'd want a president who'd promise to give governors more freedom to work on their own.

Pence gave a 20-minute speech about his work in Indiana and received a standing ovation, with several audience members calling at him to run for president.

GOVERNOR'S RACE-DEBATE

Abbott backs out of televised debate with Davis

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Republican Greg Abbott has backed out of a statewide televised debate in the Texas governor's race with Democrat Wendy Davis.

Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch said Friday the campaign canceled the September 30th debate at Dallas television station WFAA because of the round table format. Hirsch said that wouldn't have allowed for a "thoughtful" discussion of issues.

Davis spokesman Zac Petkanas called the cancellation an insult to Texas voters.

Mike Devlin, president and general manager of WFAA, said in a story posted by the station that the debate would have been "no different" than numerous others that have been balanced and fair to all candidates.

That leaves September 19th in McAllen as the only remaining scheduled debate between Abbott and Davis. Hirsch said the campaign is now working to schedule another one.

ABBOTT-PLASTIC BAG BANS

Abbott says plastic bag bans are illegal

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott says municipal bans on single-use plastic bags are illegal.

In a five-page attorney general's opinion Friday, the Republican gubernatorial nominee said a state law prohibits local governments from prohibiting, restricting or charging a fee, for solid waste management purposes, for "the use of a container or package in a manner not authorized by state law."

Abbott acknowledges that the law does not define a single-use plastic bag as a "container or package." However, he contends the bags fit the dictionary definitions of a container or package.

State Rep. Dan Flynn, a Dallas Republican, had sought the opinion after nine cities enacted ordinances banning the single-use bags. The opinion is non-binding but reflects the attorney general's view of who would win a lawsuit on the subject.

IMMIGRATION OVERLOAD-CONSULATES

El Salvador opens consulate in South Texas

McALLEN, Texas (AP) - A Texas border city at the center of the immigration surge has welcomed its fourth foreign diplomatic office.

The government of El Salvador inaugurated its new consulate in McAllen on Friday. It joins Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico in the city.

From October to July, 63,000 unaccompanied children were arrested after entering the U.S. illegally, double the number from the same period a year earlier. Another 63,000 families - mothers or fathers with young children - were arrested during that October-to-July period. Children from El Salvador accounted for about a quarter of those unaccompanied children.

Those arrests have slowed, however. Arrests of children traveling alone and children and parents traveling together dropped by about half in July from the previous month and the downward trend appears to have continued in August.

STOLEN MINIVAN-CHILDREN

Man charged with kidnapping in Houston van theft

HOUSTON (AP) - Houston police say a man accused of stealing a daycare center minivan containing five young children has been charged with kidnapping.

Police said Friday that 24-year-old Brenton Alex Simmons has been charged with five counts of kidnapping. He was being held in Harris County jail on $250,000 bond. Jail records did not list an attorney.

Police say the minivan containing five children was left running Wednesday in the parking lot of a Jack in the Box restaurant while the driver went inside to get the children food. Police say Simmons then got into the minivan and drove away.

The minivan, all five children and Simmons were found three hours later in the suburb Cinco Ranch in Fort Bend County, 15 miles northwest of the restaurant.

GAS DRILLING-FORCED LEASES

Firm drops bid to force drilling on holdouts

NEW BEDFORD, Pa. (AP) - Hilcorp has dropped its bid to force holdout property owners in Pennsylania to accept drilling under their land, saying Friday the energy company wants to move beyond a protracted fight and begin producing oil and gas.

The Houston-based company had sought to use a 1961 Pennsylvania law to drill under the property of a few holdout landowners in New Bedford, near the Ohio border north of Pittsburgh. The concept, known as "forced pooling," means people who don't sign leases get bundled in with those who do, to make drilling more efficient and compensate all the landowners.

Hilcorp said it will instead drill around landowners who refused to sign leases with the company.

Forced pooling laws exist in some form in about 40 states.

COWBOYS-DIXON FINED

Cowboys rookie Dixon fined for hit in Miami game

IRVING, Texas (AP) - Rookie Dallas safety Ahmad Dixon has been fined $22,050 for a hit on Miami receiver Matt Hazel in a preseason game last week.

Dixon was penalized for unnecessary roughness for hitting Hazel after the ball had sailed past him near the goal line in the Dolphins' 25-20 win last Saturday. He was fined for hitting a defenseless player in the head and neck area.

After the game, Dixon said he didn't care how many times he got fined but softened those comments this week.

While at Baylor last year, Dixon was ejected from a game under the college targeting rule for hitting a receiver with his helmet.

Dallas rookie linebacker Anthony Hitchens was fined $8,268 for a facemask penalty in the Miami game.

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