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Cooper Neill / Texas Tribune

DES MOINES, Iowa — The robust Christian right in early-voting Iowa plays an outsize role in helping determine the Republican presidential nominee, a political reality not lost on the parade of would-be 2016 candidates trying to draw attention at a Saturday gathering of social conservatives.

Ryan E. Poppe

Born between the two Great Wars in October 1931, Sgt. 1st Class Gilberto Sanchez was destined for heroism in a third. The 19-year-old combat medic was serving with the 32nd infantry regiment, 7th infantry division in North Korea when he, like hundreds of other soldiers of the U.S.-led United Nations’ coalition, disappeared in December 1950, in the middle of the horror that was the Chosin Reservoir battle.

AUSTIN — Democrats in the Texas Senate were even more sidelined by the Republican majority Friday, as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced committee appointments with the minority party in charge of only two panels.

Patrick, a Tea Party favorite, had warned he was under no obligation to appoint Democrats to leadership positions for the 2015 session. The only two Democrats to get them were the longest-serving member of the Senate and a border lawmaker who has sided with the GOP in critical votes in the last two years.

AUSTIN — Special runoff elections on Feb. 17 will choose a new member of the Texas Senate and new representatives for two House districts.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday set the election date for the last three open seats in the Texas Legislature. The biggest prize is the San Antonio Senate seat that Democrat Leticia Van de Putte has held since 1999.

Those that survived a deadly fire at the Wedgewood senior living complex in Castle Hills in December, might be allowed to retrieve some of their belongings soon. A judge has been asked to lift part of a temporary restraining order meant to preserve evidence. The lawyer for some of the residents, said a pending proposal with the Wedgewood management would allow re-entry except to the third floor, where the fire began, and the damaged top floor.

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