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BC-TX--Texas News Digest 12 am, TX

March 26, 2019

Good morning! Here’s a look at AP’s general news coverage in Texas at this hour. Questions about coverage plans are welcome and should be directed to the Dallas AP at 972-991-2100, or, in Texas, 800-442-7189. Email: aptexas@ap.org. Jill Bleed is at the desk after 5:30 a.m.

Reminder: This information is not for publication or broadcast, and these coverage plans are subject to change. Expected stories may not develop, or late-breaking and more newsworthy events may take precedence. Advisories and digests will keep you up to date. All times are Central.

For up-to-the minute information on AP’s coverage, visit Coverage Plan at newsroom.ap.org.

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TOP STORY:

PETROCHEMICAL FIRE-TEXAS

HOUSTON _ Businesses and residents are expressing concern about the environmental and economic fallout from a fire at a Houston-area petrochemical storage farm that sent huge plumes into the air for days and prompted the partial closure of one of the busiest commercial waterways in the U.S. Officials said it could be several more days before a section of the Houston Ship Channel reopens. Investigators with Harris County, which includes Houston, said they have delivered a subpoena to Intercontinental Terminals Company _ the firm that owns the facility _ to preserve any evidence regarding the cause of the blaze. Students returned to class after the fire prompted school closures near the facility. By Juan A. Lozano. SENT: 930 words, photos, video

With:

_ PETROCHEMICAL FIRE-TEXAS-THE LATEST

TEXAS GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS:

ELECTION 2020-BETO O’ROURKE

DES MOINES, Iowa _ He doesn’t prepare speeches. He doesn’t like pollsters. And, so far at least, Democratic presidential contender Beto O’Rourke doesn’t always have the capacity to coordinate basic campaign logistics. Just ask Des Moines County Democratic Party Chairman Tom Courtney. Last week, Courtney got an 8 p.m. text from the frantic owner of a local cafe who heard rumors that O’Rourke planned to hold a campaign event at her business the next day. But she hadn’t heard from O’Rourke’s team. When his representatives did reach out later that night, the cafe owner was left scrambling to find a half dozen additional employees with just hours of notice to work the event. Almost a week later, Courtney is still incredulous. “He’s a nice candidate, and I liked him,” the Democratic chairman of Iowa’s most populous county said of O’Rourke. “But if he does that kind of organization, he’s gonna piss everybody off.” By Steve Peoples and Alexandra Jaffe. SENT: 1200 words, photos.

Also:

_ BORDER SECURITY-PENTAGON _ Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has authorized the Army Corps of Engineers to begin planning and building 57 miles of 18-foot-high fencing in Yuma, Arizona, and El Paso, Texas, along the U.S. border with Mexico. SENT: 130 words.

AROUND THE STATE & NATION:

WEAPONS HOAX-ARREST

SACRAMENTO, Calif. _ A California man has been arrested in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on charges of mailing letters containing a white powder and threatening to kill police and government officials, federal authorities said. Darnell Ray Owens, 32, of Sacramento, was arrested Friday and will be returned to California to face charges of making interstate threats and a biological weapons hoax in an apparent attempt to get back at his father. He sent one hoax letter with a harmless white powder to a Dallas church, threatening to kill the pastor, and another to a Sacramento County revenue department, according to court documents filed in federal court in Sacramento. Among other targets of about 50 letters and online complaints over the last year were a Sacramento TV station and the county’s prosecutor. SENT: 200 words.

EPA-DISPERSANTS

NEW ORLEANS _ Environmental groups and women from Alaska and Louisiana say the Environmental Protection Agency has dragged its heels on issuing rules for oil spill dispersants, and they’re ready to sue to demand them. They say dispersants such as Corexit, used during the Exxon Valdez and BP oil spills, were more toxic to people and the environment than oil alone but, nearly four years after taking public comments about such rules, the agency hasn’t acted. By Janet McConnaughey. SENT: 610 words. Moved on general and health news services.

COLLEGE ADMISSIONS-BRIBERY

BOSTON _ Athletic coaches charged in a sweeping college admissions scam have pleaded not guilty to taking bribes from wealthy parents in exchange for helping students get into elite universities such as Georgetown. They appeared in Boston’s federal court nearly two weeks after they were arrested in what authorities have described as the biggest college admissions scheme ever prosecuted by the U.S. Justice Department, which also ensnared prominent parents like actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. Authorities say the coaches were paid tens of thousands of dollars to help falsify student’s athletic credentials and get them admitted as recruits for sports they didn’t play. By Alanna Durkin Richer. SENT: 660 words, photos. Moved on national general and sports news services.

IN BRIEF:

_ MOTHER’S BODY IN YARD _ An East Texas man is jailed after sheriff’s deputies said he was keeping his mother’s body wrapped in a tarpaulin in their front yard. SENT: 130 words, photos.

_ DEADLY SUV CRASH-TEXAS _ Four people were killed and six were hospitalized — all foreign nationals — after the sport utility vehicle in which they were travelling crashed while speeding away from deputies. SENT: 120 words.

_ DEPUTY SHOT-TEXAS _ The man accused of shooting a West Texas sheriff’s deputy faces an upgraded charge after the lawman died over the weekend. SENT: 140 words.

_ GEORGE HW BUSH-OFFICE CLOSES _ Four months after the death of the former president, George H.W. Bush’s office in Houston is to close for the last time at 5 p.m. Friday. SENT: 110 words, photos.

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