BC-TX--Texas News Digest 1 pm, TX
Good afternoon! 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. Jill Bleed is at the desk.
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ELECTION 2020-TEXAS SENATE
AUSTIN, Texas _ Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas is expected to announce Wednesday whether he’ll run for U.S. Senate in 2020. By Paul J. Weber. UPCOMING: 500 words.
TEXAS GOVERNMENT & POLITICS:
TEXAS-GUNS IN CHURCH
AUSTIN, Texas _ Nearly a year and half after a gunman killed 26 people at a small-town Texas church during a Sunday service, state lawmakers are working to advance a measure that would remove places of worship from a list of places that ban licensed handguns. By Clarice Silber. UPCOMING: 450 words.
WASHINGTON _ Senate Democrats are stinging from a trio of high-profile failures to recruit candidates who could help reclaim the majority, including Stacey Abrams’ announcement that she would pass up a U.S. Senate run in Georgia. That decision, announced Tuesday, was a blow to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. After Abrams gained fame from her ultimately unsuccessful effort to become America’s first black female governor last year, Schumer personally — and publicly — urged her to consider challenging GOP Sen. David Perdue. In a particularly notable move, he tapped her earlier this year to deliver the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address. Abrams follows former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper in spurning Senate Democratic leaders’ entreaties to take on incumbent Republicans seen as potentially vulnerable. By Elana Schor. SENT: 930 words, photos.
AROUND THE STATE & NATION:
EX-TEXAS A&M PLAYER-SLAYING
DALLAS _ A former Texas A&M football player has been sentenced to life in prison for the slaying of a Dallas jogger who was hacked to death with a machete in 2015. A Dallas County jury found Thomas Johnson guilty of murder Tuesday for the seemingly random killing of David Stevens and returned the sentence Wednesday. Johnson was accused of waiting on a trail in East Dallas four years ago and attacking the 53-year-old mechanical engineer as he ran by. SENT: 130 words, photos. UPCOMING: 300 words.
MENTAL ILLNESS DIVERSION-JAIL
HOUSTON _ Houston-area law enforcement officials are expanding a program to keep low-level misdemeanor offenders with mental health problems out of jail following the success of new facility that resulted in diverting more than 1,000 people from incarceration and saving taxpayers $9 million. Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced Wednesday officials will increase the types of low-level misdemeanor offenses that can be referred to a mental health diversion center that opened in September. By Juan A. Lozano. SENT: 130 words. Will be updated.
BOSTON _ Federal prosecutors said all along that they expect more people to be charged in the sweeping college admissions scandal. Their secret weapon? The cooperation of some parents and coaches who have already agreed to plead guilty, observers say. “You can rest assured that there is going to be a new wave of indictments,” said former federal prosecutor Bradley Simon. “They wouldn’t need so many cooperators for existing cases. What seems to me is that these individuals who are cooperating are helping the government to make new cases,” he said. By Alanna Durkin Richer. SENT: 710 words, photos.
_ COLLEGE ADMISSIONS-BRIBERY-COOPERATORS-THE LATEST. With photos.
NEW ORLEANS _ The Trump administration and several Republican-led states faced a midnight Wednesday deadline for filing papers with a federal appeals panel reviewing a lower court ruling that former President Barack Obama’s health care law is unconstitutional. The administration switched its stance in the case, recently telling the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that it believes the Affordable Care Act should be struck down completely. Earlier, the administration had argued that only certain key parts of the law, such as protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions, should be invalidated. By Kevin McGill and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar. SENT: 540 words.
AMERICAN BURYING BEETLE
OKLAHOMA CITY _ U.S. wildlife officials say an endangered carnivorous beetle is making a comeback and should be downlisted to threatened. The American burying beetle was once found in 35 states and three Canadian provinces. When it was listed as endangered in 1989, it was only in eastern Oklahoma and Block Island off the cost of Rhode Island. Amy Leuders, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ southwest regional director, said Wednesday that conservation efforts over the past 30 years have helped the beetle recover and populations now can also be found in states including Texas. By Tim Talley SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 400 words. Photos requested.
COLLEGE CAMPUS SHOOTING-NORTH CAROLINA
CHARLOTTE, N.C. _ Students at a North Carolina university were gathered for end-of-year presentations in an anthropology class when a gunman burst in and opened fire with a pistol, killing two and wounding four, a professor said. New details emerged Wednesday about the previous day’s shooting that caused chaos and panic on the last day of classes at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. The suspect had previously lived in Texas. By Tom Foreman Jr. and Sarah Blake Morgan. SENT: 820 words, photos.
_ COLLEGE CAMPUS SHOOTING-NORTH CAROLINA-THE LATEST. With photos.
_ EDUCATORS ARRESTED-TEXAS _ The principal, assistant principal and head baseball coach for a Texas high school have been arrested on felony charges they failed to report a case of child abuse or neglect.
_ CHEMICAL PLANT FIRES-PROSECUTORS _ Houston-area officials have approved the hiring of additional assistant district attorneys to prosecute environmental crimes following two major chemical plant fires that closed schools and leaked toxic chemicals into coastal waters.
OAKLAND, Calif. _ James Harden’s eyes were still red and stinging well after the final buzzer. He could barely see on the court let alone read the box score after the game. The reigning MVP hopes he will feel better with a few days off before the Rockets’ Western Conference semifinal series against Golden State resumes Saturday in Houston with his team trailing 2-0 following a 115-109 loss Tuesday night in Game 2. By Janie McCauley. SENT: 460 words, photos.
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