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AP-TX--Texas News Digest 1 pm, TX

May 16, 2018

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: aptexas@ap.org

Reminder: This information is not for publication or broadcast, and these coverage plans are subject to change.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.




PONDER, Texas — Authorities say multiple people have died in a shooting at a home in a rural town north of Fort Worth. Denton County sheriff’s Capt. Orlando Hinojosa tells the Denton Record-Chronicle that the shooting occurred Wednesday morning at the home in Ponder, about 30 miles north of Fort Worth. Hinojosa says there’s no active shooter but did not release any details about a suspect. He declined to immediately say how many people have died or release any information on the victims. SENT: 120 words, pursuing photos. Developing.


HUNTSVILLE, Texas — A condemned Texas inmate insists he wasn’t involved in a San Antonio “lovers’ lane” killing more than 14 years ago that sent him to death row and now a scheduled execution. Juan Castillo faces lethal injection Wednesday evening for the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old man in a robbery plot that testimony showed was carried out by Castillo and several friends. By Michael Graczyk. SENT: 630 words, with photo. Will be updated.


HOUSTON — A group of nearly 60 officials from communities hit hard by Hurricane Harvey is asking Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to tap the state’s $11 billion rainy day fund to help match federal grants that can be used on flood mitigation projects. A letter sent by officials to Abbott on Tuesday is the latest disagreement over the use of the fund in the wake of Harvey, which struck Texas last August. While Abbott cannot authorize spending from the rainy day fund, he can call a special session of the Legislature on the issue. By Juan A. Lozano. SENT: 120 words. Will be updated.


HOUSTON — Houston leaders have approved new rules outlining additional community benefits companies seeking tax breaks for development projects will need to provide in order to get financial incentives from the city. The new benefits Wednesday — including improved training and affordable housing for the local workforce — are geared in part toward helping development in economically challenged communities. The discussion in Houston over its tax abatement program is similar to others being held in other cities around the country over how communities can get the most from programs that offer tax breaks to spur economic development. By Juan A. Lozano. SENT: 120 words. UPCOMING: 400 words.



HOUSTON — A Jordanian-born man accused in a pair of deaths that authorities describe as honor killings is claiming in the lead-up to his trial that court-appointed prosecutors in Houston have financial incentives to seek the death penalty. The Houston Chronicle reports that defense attorneys are seeking to remove pro tem prosecutors from the high-profile Houston case before Ali Irsan stands trial later this month. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 300 words.


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Spacewalking astronauts carried out a high-flying, high-tech version of musical chairs Wednesday, rearranging pumps outside the International Space Station. NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold quickly swapped the positions of two spare ammonia pumps that are part of the space station’s critical cooling system. Ammonia coolant is toxic, and Mission Control in Houston repeatedly warned the spacewalkers to be careful of leaks. By Marcia Dunn. SENT: 300 words, with photos.


WASHINGTON — The Health and Human Services Department is considering housing at military bases those children picked up crossing the U.S. border illegally either alone or after being separated from their parents by the government, according to two U.S. officials. One official said the department is looking at four bases in Texas and Arkansas. The officials discussed the plan Tuesday on condition of anonymity because it has not been made public or made final. By Lolita C. Baldor and Alan Fram. SENT: 740 words, with photos.


BILLINGS, Mont. — Federal officials are being asked to investigate whether a financially-troubled coal company has posted sufficient bonds to cover future reclamation work at its mines in the U.S. and Canada. The Montana-based Western Organization of Resource Councils said Wednesday that it’s concerned a bankruptcy by Westmoreland Coal could leave taxpayers to cover future reclamation costs. It asked the Interior Department to investigate. Westmoreland sold 50 million tons of coal last year from its mines in Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, Texas, North Dakota, Ohio, Alberta and Saskatchewan. By Matthew Brown. SENT: 130 words, will be updated.


TORONTO — Canada’s finance minister says the federal government will cover any losses a pipeline builder might suffer if British Colombia’s provincial government continues to obstruct the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Finance Minister Bill Morneau also said Wednesday that other investors would step in if Houston-based Kinder Morgan backs out of the expansion, which would triple the capacity of a line carrying oil from Alberta to a Pacific port. By Rob Gillies. SENT: 250 words.


FAIRBANKS, Alaska — An Army Corp of Engineers team is planning the formal decommissioning of the only nuclear power plant built in Alaska. Fort Greely’s SM-1A plant provided steam and electricity to the Army post near Delta Junction off and on between 1962 and 1972, the Daily News-Miner reported Tuesday. It was one of eight experimental projects to test the use of small nuclear power plants at remote installations. The Corp is also decommissioning an experimental nuclear power plant aboard the Sturgis, a former World War II Liberty Ship in Galveston, Texas. SENT: 430 words.


EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University has reached a $500 million settlement with hundreds of women and girls who say they were sexually assaulted by sports doctor Larry Nassar in the worst sex-abuse case in sports history. The deal was announced Wednesday by Michigan State and lawyers for 332 victims. Nassar pleaded guilty to assaulting victims with his hands under the guise of treatment. He also possessed child pornography and is serving decades in prison. Some members of the Olympic team trained in Texas. By David Eggert and Ed White. SENT: 340 words, with photos. Moving on news & sports lines.




— SEXUAL MISCONDUCT-TEXAS LEGISLATURE — The Texas House has established a working group to further try and prevent sexual harassment in the Legislature.

— HAMILTON-GEORGE HW BUSH — Former President George H.W. Bush says “history never sounded so powerful” as the touring company of the Tony-winning musical “Hamilton” gave the Republican a special performance in his Houston office.

— TEXAS EXECUTION-APPEALS — A federal appeals court has rejected an appeal from a Houston police officer’s convicted killer whose attorneys argued the presence of uniformed officers during his trial prevented him from receiving a fair trial.

— MAYOR-DEVELOPER-PUBLIC CORRUPTION — A former Dallas-area mayor and her now-husband have been indicted in a public corruption case alleging fraud and bribery while she was in office.

— DEPUTY SHOT-CENTRAL TEXAS — A grand jury south of Austin has indicted two people in the February shooting of a sheriff’s deputy who was wounded and required several surgeries to treat his injuries.

— HOUSTON HOTEL-WEAPONS-ARREST — A Houston police officer has been suspended for 45 days over unnecessary force in the New Year’s Eve arrest of a man found with guns in his hotel room in a felony case later dropped.

— MOST WANTED-ARRESTS — Two felons on Texas 10 Most Wanted lists have been arrested including one offender caught more than 2,000 miles away in Oregon.

— ALLIGATOR THREAT — Connecticut police say a North Texas man who placed a 3-foot alligator on top of a man in an extortion attempt has been arrested.

— MONARCH BUTTERFLY-CONSERVATION PLAN — Public comment is being sought through May 31 on a draft of a conservation plan expected to help reverse eastern monarch butterfly population declines in an effort that covers a 16-state region stretching from Texas to the Upper Midwest.

— CHILE-RURAL TRANSPORTATION — A southern New Mexico county has opted not to expand its rural transportation service to a village known as the “chile capital of the world.”



HARLINGEN, Texas — It was 17 years in the making for 22-year-old Dominik Torres. The Valley Morning Star reports he recently waited impatiently at the Union Pacific Rail Yard on Fair Park Boulevard in Harlingen for his dream to become a reality. Vivid memories of his grandfather make him smile every time he hears or sees a train. He had yearned to ride in a locomotive since he was a young boy. Dominik’s grandfather, Gonzalo Gonzales, or “GG,” was a train engineer for 45 years. Gonzales promised Dominik he would take him for a ride on the train. But Dominik, who has cerebral palsy, suffered a stroke at age 5. And soon after that, his grandfather was diagnosed with cancer and died. Dominik this month finally visited a Union Pacific freight train. By Maricela Rodriguez, Valley Morning Star. SENT: 820 words, with photos. Moving on news & business lines.



HOUSTON — James Harden and the top-seeded Houston Rockets look to even up the Western Conference finals at 1-1 after Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors took Game 1 in Houston on Monday night. By Kristie Rieken. UPCOMING: 700 words, with photos. Game starts at 8 p.m. CDT.


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