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Top Morning Stories August 15, 2011

Photo by KUT News
Governor Rick Perry announced his presidential candidacy over the weekend in South Carolina. He continues this week with campaign stops across Iowa.

Perry Targets Iowa

Governor Rick Perry will be making numerous campaign stops in Iowa in the next few days. The presidential hopeful entered the race on Saturday, and is now vying against other GOP hopefuls.

KUT's political reporting partner, The Texas Tribune, reports on how Perry is handling his controversial decision in 2007 to mandate that some young girls receive an HPV vaccine.

A few hours after unveiling his campaign for president, Perry began walking back from one of the most controversial decisions of his more-than-10-year reign as Texas governor. Speaking to voters at a backyard party in New Hampshire, Perry said he was ill-informed when he issued his executive order, in February 2007, mandating the HPV vaccine for all girls entering sixth grade, unless their parents completed a conscientious-objection affidavit form. The vaccine, Merck & Co.’s Gardasil, would have protected against the forms of HPV that cause about 70 percent of all cervical cancer, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control.

Arson Suspected in Dripping Springs Fires

Fire officials in Hays County are investigating an unusual number of fires in Dripping Springs over the weekend. The fire department responded to four blazes on Friday and five on Sunday.  All of them happened around the same time of the afternoon.

"What we're looking at is the possibility that these could be set fires," Hays County Fire Marshal Mark Chambers told KUT News, who called them "suspicious in nature."

The Hays County Fire Marshall's Office is looking for clues as to what started the fire. No criminal investigation has begun yet.

Chambers said one of the fires on Sunday was in the same location as one from Friday, and it was possible the first had not been completely extinguished.

The only damages were to fences and a reported outbuilding.

SEC Meeting Rejects A&M Addition

Southeastern Conference officials met in Atlanta Sunday to consider the possibility of adding an additional school to the football league partnership. The meeting was targeted at Texas A&M University, who has announced its intentions of leaving the Big 12. In a statement from SEC chair Dr. Bernie Machen:

“The SEC Presidents and Chancellors met today and reaffirmed our satisfaction with the present 12 institutional alignment.  We recognize, however, that future conditions may make it advantageous to expand the number of institutions in the league. We discussed criteria and process associated with expansion.  No action was taken with respect to any institution including Texas A&M.