State News State News en-us Copyright 2014, All Rights Reserved. Feed content is not avaialble for commercial use. () () Sat, 19 Apr 2014 20:04:45 GMT Synapse CMS 10 144 25 Obama Administration Delays Review of Keystone XL Pipeline State News Fri, 18 Apr 2014 2:46:13 PM Obama Administration Delays Review of Keystone XL Pipeline

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration is extending indefinitely the amount of time federal agencies have to review the Keystone XL pipeline, the State Department said Friday, likely punting the decision over the controversial oil pipeline past the midterm elections.

The State Department didn't say how much longer it will grant agencies to weigh in but cited a recent decision by a Nebraska judge overturning a state law that allowed the pipeline's path through the state, prompting uncertainty and an ongoing legal battle. Nebraska's Supreme Court isn't expected to rule for another several months, and there could be more legal maneuvering after that. The delay potentially frees President Barack Obama to avoid making a final call on the pipeline until after the November election.

"The agency consultation process is not starting over. The process is ongoing, and the department and relevant agencies are actively continuing their work in assessing the permit application," the State Department said in a statement.

Republicans were quick to blast the latest delay in a review process that has dragged on for more than five years. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., accused Obama of kowtowing to "radical activists" from the environmental community, while House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called the decision "shameful" and said there were no credible reasons for further delay.

"This job-creating project has cleared every environmental hurdle and overwhelmingly passed the test of public opinion, yet it's been blocked for more than 2,000 days," Boehner said in a statement.

In an ironic show of bipartisanship, prominent Democrats from energy-dependent states joined Republicans in blasting the Obama administration for delaying the decision once again. Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, who faces a difficult re-election this year in conservative-leaning Louisiana, said Obama was signaling that a small minority of opponents can tie up the process forever in the courts, sacrificing 42,000 jobs and billions in economic activity in the process.

"This decision is irresponsible, unnecessary and unacceptable," Landrieu said.

But environmental groups fighting the pipeline hailed the delay, arguing that it shows the State Department is taking the arguments against the pipeline seriously.

"This is definitely great news," said Tiernan Sittenfeld, senior vice president for the League of Conservation Voters. "We are very confident as they continue to examine the issues with the lack of legal route in Nebraska and the terrible climate impacts, at the end of the day the pipeline will be rejected."

The announcement from the State Department came Friday afternoon, when many Americans were observing Good Friday and preparing for the Easter holiday. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., accused the administration of seizing that opportunity to downplay news of the latest delay.

Obama and environmental groups dispute the notion that the pipeline would create many permanent jobs or have a substantial economic impact, but Obama has refused to say whether he will nix it. The 1,179-mile pipeline would travel through Montana and South Dakota to a hub in Nebraska, where it would connect with existing pipelines to carry more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day to refineries in Texas.

The pipeline project, proposed by Canadian company TransCanada, has become a proxy for a larger battle between environmental activists and energy advocates over climate change and the future of American energy.

In January, the State Department said that building the pipeline would not significantly boost carbon emissions because the oil was likely to find its way to market no matter what. Transporting the oil by rail or truck would cause greater environmental problems than the pipeline, the report said.

The State Department has jurisdiction because the pipeline would cross the border between the U.S. and Canada.


Associated Press writers Bradley Klapper and Matthew Lee, and Grant Schulte in Lincoln, Neb., contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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FBI Probe Includes Legal Work by Wendy Davis State News Fri, 18 Apr 2014 11:13:20 AM FBI Probe Includes Legal Work by Wendy Davis

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis' legal work for a taxpayer-funded tollway agency is part of a larger FBI-led investigation into the agency.

The Dallas Morning News reports that a 2012 conflict-of-interest complaint alleges that the state senator from Fort Worth voted on toll legislation while representing the North Texas Tollway Authority.

Investigators in Travis County reviewed the case last year but closed it without an investigation. The FBI, however, continues examining the matter.

Davis' legal work and political activities are part of that ongoing investigation. But it's unclear if they're the focus or only part of the materials collected in the case.

A Davis spokesman said he wasn't aware that she was the subject of any investigation. He denied that Davis' legal work conflicted with her senatorial duties.


Information from: The Dallas Morning News,

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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Arrested: Burglar Caught On Baby Monitor State News Fri, 18 Apr 2014 4:40:33 AM Arrested: Burglar Caught On Baby Monitor

KATY, TEXAS - Authorities in Katy, Texas tracked down 18-year-old Christopher Gomez on Thursday.

Police say Gomez is the burglar seen in home security video walking around the victim's home and lurking over a young child asleep in a crib.

The video was so disturbing, the incident shocked tv and video viewers across the nation.

Gomez became a suspect in the burglary thanks to tips to crime stoppers spawned by public interest in the case.

According to investigators, the 18-year-old is also a suspect in two other home burglaries.

Gomez could appear in court later today on burglary charges.


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UT Won't Plug Maroon Bluebonnets After All State News Fri, 18 Apr 2014 3:52:39 AM Associated Press UT Won't Plug Maroon Bluebonnets After All

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Maroon bluebonnets will be allowed to remain on the University of Texas campus in Austin after mysteriously appearing in the shadow of the UT Tower.

It's believed that Texas A&M pranksters at some point planted the seeds for a variant of bluebonnet known as Alamo Fire, which is a shade of maroon. The Texas A&M colors are maroon and white, which Longhorn fans find unsightly in light of their loyalty to burnt orange.

A UT official had promised to remove the off-color lupine in an interview earlier this week. However, UT issued a statement Thursday to say the not-so-bluebonnets are safe. In the words of the statement, "UT Austin has no immediate or official plans to pull up the Aggie-colored wildflowers."

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Anniversary Date of the Explosion that Rocked West, Texas State News Thu, 17 Apr 2014 6:41:28 AM Anniversary Date of the Explosion that Rocked West, Texas

WEST, Texas (AP) - As word spread of a spiraling fire at this Texas town's fertilizer plant, volunteers raced to protect families and elderly residents who lived nearby. Then came the deafening explosion.

Stores of ammonium nitrate exploded in a gigantic blast that registered as a small earthquake and sprayed debris miles away. Fifteen people were killed, including 12 volunteer firefighters and others responding to the fire, and more than 200 were injured. The blast caved in homes and schools, and destroyed water lines and roads.

Residents of West, which is recovering but has a long way to go, will mark the one-year anniversary of the blast Thursday with a moment of silence at 7:51 p.m., the exact time of the leveling blast at West Fertilizer Co. Organizers want to honor the past but make clear that "greater things are yet to come," said John Crowder, the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in West.

West was settled by Czech immigrants more than a century ago, and some of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren still call it home. Its Czech bakeries are well-known among drivers on Interstate 35 between Dallas and Austin. It's a place where even if residents "don't know you from Adam, you're welcome with a handshake and a hello," said Brian Uptmor, whose brother, Buck, was killed in the blast.

In the weeks and months after the explosion, residents and city officials talked about how to persevere - to "Keep West West." The signs of physical progress are obvious: Gone are the dozens of wrecked homes with tongue-in-cheek "For Sale!" messages spray-painted on their walls, and about 70 homes are finished or in the process of construction. Two new schools and a nursing home to replace those destroyed by the explosion will soon give displaced students and elderly residents a better sense of normalcy.

Crowder lost his home in the blast and remains in a double-wide trailer purchased by deacons at his church. He's rebuilding, but with at least one small addition: a Bible, wrapped in plastic, laid with a prayer in the home's foundation under the living room floor.

"It'll never be what it was," Crowder said of his town. "So the next big step that we have to do as a community is create a new normal."

Other residents also are clear-eyed about the challenges ahead.

Payments from the city's long-term recovery fund, which received about $3.6 million in donations, have been delayed as organizers deal with unforeseen paperwork and federal regulations. The city's go-to person for that sort of work, City Secretary Joey Pustejovsky, was a volunteer firefighter who died in the blast.

"The rest of us had a huge learning curve," Crowder said.

West Mayor Tommy Muska said he's closely watching the emotional toll the blast has taken on the city's 2,800 residents, especially victims who are still recovering.

"A lot of them have suffered some type of post-traumatic stress of some sort," Muska said. "I am definitely concerned. We are not going to lose sight of that."

Holly Harris' husband, Dallas Fire-Rescue Capt. Kenneth Luckey Harris, rushed to save other first responders when he saw smoke at the plant. When she didn't immediately hear from him, she sensed he may have died.

She remains in their home outside West, where the fence now has a metal shield with her husband's initials above a fireman's hat. One of her sons remains a Dallas firefighter, and another has since signed up.

Harris and others say they've chosen to push forward and not dwell on unanswered questions, such as what sparked the fire or what firefighters knew going in - or what could have been done to prevent it.

"It's just a choice that we've made that we're not going to be sad," she said. "I mean, we are sad at times, but we're going to try to make everything a happy situation and try to get on with our lives."


Follow Nomaan Merchant on Twitter at

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Burglar Caught On Baby Monitor State News Wed, 16 Apr 2014 3:38:20 AM Burglar Caught On Baby Monitor

HOUSTON- Police in Houston are looking for a burglary suspect who broke into a home.

The family had no idea the thief was even inside their home, until a neighbor found something odd.

What they found next on their home security footage was even scarier.

Surveillance video of a burglar lurking around a baby's bedroom with a flashlight at 5:00 o'clock in the morning.

He even shines the light on the little boy who was soundly sleeping in his crib.

It's unclear what he's looking for, but these chilling images made the child's parents sick to their stomachs.

The scary part is he didn't even know someone had broken into their West Harris County home until the next day.

He and his wife were asleep in the master bedroom when the intruder came in through an unlocked front window.

Surveillance cameras all over the house show the burglar going from room to room looking for things to steal.

Police say he stole a briefcase and a wallet, then went and broke into a house around the block.

When the burglar left that house, he left Lee's items behind.

When that homeowner woke up the next morning, he found Lee's briefcase and wallet.

He called Lee and said check your cameras.

And the burglar is bold. Lee says he knew he was being recorded.

Lee cares and so do investigators. They're now looking for him. They believe he's just a teenager.

The family does have an alarm system, but say in this one particular night, they forgot to set it.


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Tornado Hits Town Of Lovelady State News Mon, 14 Apr 2014 7:06:51 AM Tornado Hits Town Of Lovelady

LOVELADY, TEXAS - One person was hospitalized after an apparent tornado hit the town of Lovelady, Texas Sunday afternoon.

The severe weather hit about 4 o'clock damaging eight structures including minor damage at the local high school.

A woman suffered cuts to her face and arm after a tree fell into her mobile home.

Other mobile homes in the area were also badly damaged.

Weather officials will be on the scene later today to determine if in fact a tornado is to blame for the destruction.


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Baby Komodo Dragon Debuts At San Antonio Zoo State News Mon, 14 Apr 2014 3:53:34 AM Associated Press Baby Komodo Dragon Debuts At San Antonio Zoo

SAN ANTONIO (AP) - The hatching of a Komodo dragon almost four months after his mother's death has cheered San Antonio Zoo employees and visitors.

The Komodo dragon named Phoenix went on display late last week at the zoo. Phoenix was born on April 3.

His mother, Scatha, along with five other reptiles died in December fire caused when a hot mat shorted out.

Craig Pelke, curator of reptiles, amphibians and aquatics, tells the San Antonio Express-News ( ), "Scatha was one of our favorites. She was my favorite animal at the zoo, so from an emotional standpoint, it has even more significance to us."

Pelke says that about four months before she died, Scatha buried about eight eggs. Zoo workers then unearthed and incubated them. Phoenix was the only one to survive.


Information from: San Antonio Express-News,

Photo From San Antonio Express-News

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Life Sentence for Stiletto Heel Murder State News Fri, 11 Apr 2014 4:21:35 PM Life Sentence for Stiletto Heel Murder

HOUSTON (AP) - A Houston woman was sentenced to life in prison Friday for fatally stabbing her boyfriend with the 5½-inch stiletto heel of her shoe, striking him at least 25 times in the face and head.

Ana Trujillo was convicted of murder Tuesday by the same jury for killing 59-year-old Alf Stefan Andersson during an argument last June at his Houston condominium. Defense attorneys argued that Trujillo, 45, was defending herself from an attack by Andersson, who was a University of Houston professor and researcher.

Trujillo could be seen silently crying Friday when her sentence was handed down.

"I never meant to hurt him," Trujillo said before the judge made the jury's decision final. "It was never my intent. I loved him. I wanted to get away. I never wanted to kill him."

Andersson's niece, lva Olofsson, said the family was happy with the verdict.

"My uncle was a great man. He was kind. He didn't deserve what happened to him. We are happy that justice is served," she said.

During closing arguments in the trial's punishment phase, prosecutor John Jordan asked jurors for the maximum sentence: life in prison. Jordan said Trujillo not only violently killed Andersson but tried to ruin his character during the trial by falsely claiming he had abused her.

"Send the message that in our community, when you beat a man to death for no reason, when you come into a courtroom and you slaughter his good name ... that we in Texas are going to hold you accountable," Jordan said.

Trujillo's attorney, Jack Carroll, asked jurors to find that his client acted in the heat of sudden passion, which would limit her sentence to between two and 20 years. Carroll asked jurors to give her a two-year sentence.

"Ms. Trujillo needs mercy right now," he said. During Carroll's closing argument, Trujillo began crying.

During their deliberations Friday, jurors asked to look at several pieces of evidence, including the blue suede stiletto heel - a size 9 platform pump. They reached agreement on a sentence after 4½ hours of deliberations, and also found that the crime was not done in the heat of sudden passion.

Prosecutors argued Friday that Trujillo didn't kill Andersson in a moment of sudden passion but that his slaying was a vicious murder in which she pinned him down and repeatedly stabbed him with her shoe while he never fought back.

Trujillo took the witness stand on Thursday, telling jurors that she was forced to kill Andersson to save her own life during a more than hourlong fight after being chased down, knocked into a wall and thrown over a couch.

During about seven hours of rambling testimony, she testified that she had no idea she had hurt Andersson so badly until she reached for him and realized her hands were full of blood.

Carroll maintained Friday that Trujillo killed Andersson in "pure self-defense" and that "she did what she had to."

"The fact she took a stiletto to his face 25 times and then paraded around town like she's the victim, that's insulting," prosecutor Sarah Mickelson said during closing arguments.

Trujillo also testified she had been repeatedly abused by men and sexually assaulted, and that Andersson was a heavy drinker who would get angry with her.

Witnesses presented by prosecutors in the punishment phase detailed Trujillo's criminal history or firsthand experiences in which she became violent toward them when she drank. Trujillo was arrested twice for drunk driving. She had been drinking the night of Andersson's death but her blood alcohol level was not tested, according to testimony.

During the trial, prosecutors highlighted that Trujillo, a native of Mexico, did not have any injuries from her confrontation with Andersson while the researcher had defensive wounds on his hands and wrists. Trujillo's attorneys argued she had been injured.

Witnesses, including family and friends, said Andersson, a native of Sweden who became a U.S. citizen, had a drinking problem, but they described him as mild-mannered, quiet and never violent.


Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter at

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1 Dead, 3 Injured in Arlington Apartment Shooting State News Fri, 11 Apr 2014 10:26:21 AM 1 Dead, 3 Injured in Arlington Apartment Shooting

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - One man has been killed and three others wounded in gunfire at a Dallas-Fort Worth area apartment.

Arlington police say a man was found dead early Friday on the balcony of an apartment. Two other men and a woman were found injured and have been taken to a hospital.

Police spokesman Jeffrey Houston says officers have been canvassing the area to find if there are any witnesses. He says it's not immediately certain how many people may have fired the shots.

He says investigators have recovered more than a dozen shell casings from the parking lot and guns and suspected drugs at the shooting scene.

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Jury Deliberating Sentence in Stiletto Heel Murder State News Fri, 11 Apr 2014 10:24:18 AM Jury Deliberating Sentence in Stiletto Heel Murder

HOUSTON (AP) - Jurors have begun deliberating the sentence of a Houston woman convicted of stabbing to death her boyfriend with the 5½-inch stiletto heel of her shoe.

Ana Trujillo (troo-HEE'-yoh) was convicted of striking 59-year-old Alf Stefan Andersson at least 25 times in the face with her shoe during an argument in June at his Houston condominium. Trujillo's attorneys have contended the 45-year-old woman was defending herself from an attack by Andersson, who was a University of Houston professor and researcher.

The jury got the case following closing arguments in the trial's sentencing phase earlier Thursday.

Prosecutor John Jordan asked jurors to sentence Trujillo to life in prison.

Trujillo's attorney, Jack Carroll, asked jurors to be merciful, and requested a two-year sentence.

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Immigration Protests At Civil Rights Summit State News Fri, 11 Apr 2014 4:26:02 AM Immigration Protests At Civil Rights Summit

AUSTIN - Dozens of immigration reform activists took to the streets of Austin on Thursday, as President Obama visited to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.

The protesters want action on immigration reform -- calling on the President to use executive orders to halt deportations.

Police arrested three people after they chained themselves to a statue of Martin Luther King Junior.


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Mom Accused of Poisoning Daughter with Salt State News Thu, 10 Apr 2014 2:05:32 PM Mom Accused of Poisoning Daughter with Salt

HOUSTON (AP) - A Houston-area woman has been arrested for giving her daughter dangerously large amounts of salt that required the girl to be hospitalized.

Harris County sheriff's spokesman Alan Bernstein said Thursday that 31-year-old Katie Alice Ripstra is charged with two counts of injury to a child/serious bodily injury. A probable cause affidavit says Ripstra fed her daughter, now 4, such excessive amounts of salt that the child suffered a brain injury. The girl has since recovered and is no longer in her mother's custody.

Bernstein says Ripstra took the child last year on four separate occasions for treatment at the hospital where Ripstra worked as a pediatric nurse.

He says Ripstra's motives are not clear.

Ripstra bonded out of jail Wednesday. Online records did not indicate an attorney for her.

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Woman Convicted in Stiletto Heel Murder Says She Was Afraid State News Thu, 10 Apr 2014 2:04:35 PM Woman Convicted in Stiletto Heel Murder Says She Was Afraid

HOUSTON (AP) - A Houston woman convicted of murder for fatally stabbing her boyfriend with a 5 ½-inch stiletto shoe heel tells jurors she loved her boyfriend and was trying to help him become a better person but he became aggressive during their relationship.

Ana Trujillo (troo-HEE'-yoh) took the witness stand in a Houston courtroom Thursday in the penalty phase of the trial, which will decide her sentence.

The jury convicted Trujillo on Tuesday of murder in last June's killing of 59-year-old Alf Stefan Andersson at his home. Prosecutors say she pinned him down and stabbed him at least 25 times with the 5½-inch heel of her shoe.

Trujillo's attorneys say Andersson attacked her and she was defending herself.

She told jurors Andersson was a heavy drinker, he would wake up angry and she became afraid of him.

Trujillo faces up to life in prison.

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Reflecting On Progress, Obama Honors Civil Rights State News Thu, 10 Apr 2014 7:45:59 AM Associated Press Reflecting On Progress, Obama Honors Civil Rights

HOUSTON (AP) - Barack Obama was 2 years old when Lyndon Baines Johnson sat in the East Room of the White House with Martin Luther King Jr. and signed the Civil Rights Act, putting an end to an America where schools, restaurants and water fountains were divided by race. Half a century later, the first black man to become president is commemorating what's been accomplished in his lifetime and recommitting the nation to fighting deep inequalities that remain.

Obama takes the podium on Thursday afternoon on the third and final day of a 50th anniversary summit that's bringing four living presidents, civil rights leaders and cultural icons to the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas. The celebration comes as Johnson's legacy, four decades removed from the end of the Vietnam War, is being revisited, with his prolific domestic achievements serving as a reminder of how little Washington seems to accomplish today.

For Obama, who was criticized by some African-Americans in his first term for doing too little to help minorities, the commemoration dovetails with a focus on inequality and economic opportunity that has become an early hallmark of Obama's second term with modest success. Democrats have seized on the broader theme as their battle cry for the election year.

Lingering injustices in the U.S. notwithstanding, the significance of Obama's participation in Thursday's ceremony isn't lost on Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., who withstood violence and arrest during the civil rights marches through Alabama in the mid-1960s.

"If somebody told me back in 1964 that a man of color would be president of the United States, I would have said, 'You're crazy, you're out of your mind, you don't even know what you're talking about,'" Lewis said in an interview. "When people say to me nothing has changed, that feels like, come and walk in my shoes."

The summit kicked off Tuesday with remarks from former President Jimmy Carter, who lamented residual racial inequality and Americans' apathy about the problem. Former President Bill Clinton followed on Wednesday, riffing on immigration and voting rights while warning that a modern-day reluctance to work together threatened to "put us back in the dustbin of old history."

After campaign events Wednesday night in Houston, Obama and first lady Michelle Obama were to fly to Austin in time to appear at the summit Thursday afternoon. Former President George W. Bush will deliver the finale in the evening.

"It's probably the most important moment in the history of the library since LBJ died in 1973," Mark Updegrove, the presidential library's director, said of the 50th anniversary.

When Americans look back 200 years from now at the nation's broader trajectory on civil rights, they'll likely single out three major markers along the way, presidential historian and LBJ biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin said: Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, the Civil Rights Act and Obama's election in 2007.

"The Emancipation Proclamation was a proclamation, but not a fact," Goodwin said. "LBJ brought it closer to being a fact. The election of the first African-American president brings it yet closer."

But the vision is not yet fulfilled, civil rights activists insist. They're wary of allowing celebrations of what's been accomplished to become excuses for failing to finish the job.

Johnson seemed to foreshadow those concerns when he warned in 1965, days after Lewis and others were beaten in Selma, Ala., that the battle was far from over.

"It's not just Negroes, but really it's all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice," Johnson said, using the vernacular of the time. "And we shall overcome."

As activists and leaders look to the next 50 years, the focus has turned to other areas where they say injustice remains and can be reduced, including equal pay for women, same-sex marriage and poverty - an issue that echoes Johnson's own War on Poverty. So too have voting rights attracted renewed attention in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling gutting much of the Voting Rights Act - another part of LBJ's legacy.

For Johnson's family, the symbolism is also personal. The day that LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act was the day his daughter, Luci Baines Johnson, turned 17. With no time to acquire a Hallmark card, her father gave her a handwritten note that year - the only one she has from her father, she said.

"And yet on my father's 100th birthday as we stood at his gravesite and (paid) tribute to the man we loved, we couldn't help but think that he was getting the best birthday present any man could ever hope for - but especially Lyndon Johnson - because Barack Obama was being nominated to head his party as its presidential candidate," she said.

The convergence of such historical heavyweights - all the living presidents except George H.W. Bush, who is 89, are attending - underlines a renaissance of sorts for Johnson, whose legacy for decades was stained by the expansion of the Vietnam War under his command. With time has come a renewed look at what he managed to accomplish on the domestic front, a long list of sweeping reforms that includes Medicare, Medicaid, fair housing and immigration legislation.

The aggressive pace of Johnson's legislative victories has offered a contrast to Obama in the years since Republicans seized control of the House two years into Obama's presidency. Republicans accuse Obama of lacking the enthusiasm to engage with Congress that marked Johnson's tenure. White House aides and Democrats point to Obama's ambitious health care law and argue that institutional changes unrelated to Obama have made governing near impossible.


Reach Josh Lederman on Twitter at

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2 Teens, 14, Detained In Texas Slaying, Victim 17 State News Thu, 10 Apr 2014 7:34:18 AM Associated Press 2 Teens, 14, Detained In Texas Slaying, Victim 17

DIANA, Texas (AP) - Two 14-year-old boys have been detained in the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old East Texas youth whose body was found in a vehicle.

The Upshur County Sheriff's Office says deputies Sunday night responded to a call about a suspicious vehicle in Diana. Officers located the body of Jacob Michael Johnson.

The sheriff's office Wednesday reported preliminary autopsy results indicate Johnson died of two gunshot wounds to the head. Justice of the Peace B.H. Jameson says the two 14-year-old suspects remained in custody.

The sheriff's office on Thursday did not immediate provide details on charges.

Diana is a town of about 600, located 125 miles east of Dallas.

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Authorities Investigate East Texas Fatal Shooting State News Thu, 10 Apr 2014 7:31:15 AM Associated Press Authorities Investigate East Texas Fatal Shooting

BEN WHEELER, Texas (AP) - An East Texas shooting has left one person dead.

The Van Zandt County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday night received a call about gunfire just outside of the town of Ben Wheeler.

KLTV-TV ( ) reports neighbors say they heard some sort of confrontation before shots were fired. Deputies were on the scene for several hours early Thursday searching a car and a nearby home.

The sheriff's office did not immediately provide additional details Thursday.

Ben Wheeler is a town of about 500, located 65 miles southeast of Dallas.


Information from: KLTV-TV,

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Board of Education Ducks Voting on Mexican-American Studies State News Wed, 9 Apr 2014 4:16:34 PM Board of Education Ducks Voting on Mexican-American Studies

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The Texas Board of Education has bypassed voting on a hotly debated proposal to create a statewide Mexican-Americans studies course as a high school elective.

Instead, members voted 11-3 on Wednesday to ask publishers to submit textbooks for Mexican-American studies and several other classes in different ethnic studies by the 2016-2017 school year.

Proponents of Mexican-American studies declared victory. They said the new books will allow local school districts across Texas to create their own courses more easily.

But opponents on the Republican-controlled board noted that school districts already were allowed to devise their own courses, and that publishers are under no obligation to produce new books.

Texas public schools are 51 percent Hispanic. Though Hispanic history is taught in other, existing classes, activists say they don't go far enough.

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Memorial Service at Fort Hood State News Wed, 9 Apr 2014 1:33:45 PM Memorial Service at Fort Hood

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) - Returning again to a grief-stricken corner of America, President Barack Obama is reprising his role as chief comforter, mourning with families of those killed last week at Fort Hood and offering solace to the nation.

Tucson. Aurora. Newtown. Boston. Washington Navy Yard. Fort Hood - twice.

The names of these communities have all become synonymous with tragedy in the five years since Obama took office, each challenging the president to find ways to impart meaning to senseless death.

"Increasingly, giving these eulogies has become a central responsibility for our presidents," said Michael Waldman, who helped write many eulogies as President Bill Clinton's chief speechwriter. "A president is not just a political leader. He is the head of state and speaks for the whole country."

But as Obama returns to Fort Hood on Wednesday, he brings little in the way of solutions to offer a society that has been confounded by the frequency of events that have jolted Americans out of their sense of security. For a president who is on the path to ending two wars, warding off violence at home has proved an elusive challenge.

Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrived late Wednesday morning at Fort Hood, where the camouflage fatigues of troops standing to salute his passing motorcade almost blended in with the desert terrain. Flags were lowered to half-staff at the sprawling Army base in central Texas, where Obama was meeting with victims' relatives before offering his public condolences.

The memorial was to take place at the same spot on the base where Obama eulogized victims of another mass shooting in 2009.

Those close to Obama say he sees his role after a tragedy as fulfilling a ministerial function for the nation. Valerie Jarrett, Obama's senior adviser and longtime friend, said although it's painful for Obama, he understands the importance for the president to show leadership, empathy and strength in times of crisis, and for him to spend time with each family member affected.

"It's hard because it's deeply personal for him," Jarrett said in an interview. "He identifies as a father, as a husband, as a son, as a family member."

The last time Obama came to Fort Hood, he told residents here that the 13 lives they lost would endure, their legacies safeguarded by the nation whose protection they had made their life's work.

"Every evening that the sun sets on a tranquil town, every dawn that a flag is unfurled, every moment that an American enjoys life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - that is their legacy," Obama said, adopting the role of comforter-in-chief for the first time.

Like an improbable bolt of lightning, tragedy has struck twice at Fort Hood. Army investigators are still piecing together what led to Spc. Ivan Lopez's deadly, eight-minute rampage last week, on the same sprawling post where an Army psychiatrist unloaded on his comrades five years earlier.

To be sure, Obama is not the first president called on to help Americans in their grief. Ronald Reagan had the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, Bill Clinton had Oklahoma City and George W. Bush had 9/11, to say nothing of the wars that American troops have fought overseas.

But for much of the country's history, the role fell largely to the vice president, said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University. Modern transportation, around-the-clock media and the public's demand for answers has put a spotlight on the president's personal response to catastrophes.

"It is an evolving role of any president in a hyper-YouTube age to make sure you get your boot heels on the ground and you go to those memorials," Brinkley said, calling the president "the de facto spokesperson for our grief."

In the days after a 20-year-old gunned down elementary school students in Newtown, Conn., Obama said he had been reflecting on whether America was doing enough to prevent such violence. He concluded that it was not.

"We can't tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change," Obama said as he consoled heartbroken parents at a prayer vigil.

There are few signs today that a new push to address such societal ills through public policy is in the works.

Obama's efforts to seek stronger gun control protections fell flat in Congress. What some hoped could be a productive national conversation about mental health raised fears that patients could be stigmatized by the actions of criminals.

In the face of such long odds, the president may be reluctant to generate undue hope that the nation will enact new laws or programs. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama's speech Wednesday will focus on the victims and their families, not on policy.

After Newtown, the National Rifle Association pushed back against new gun control legislation, insisting that "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." For proponents of more gun control, those words ring hollow following an insider attack on a base housing America's good guys with guns.

But for gun control foes - and there are plenty in Texas - equally hollow is the notion that the government can prevent such tragedies. Even after Fort Hood's second deadly shooting, military officials have warned that screening all soldiers for weapons as they enter the 108,000-acre base isn't feasible.

Adding complexity to the president's response are questions about whether the suspect's wartime service precipitated his actions. Although Lopez did a short stint in Iraq in 2011 and said he suffered a traumatic brain injury, Fort Hood officials have said his mental condition was not a "direct participating factor" in the shooting.

Such is the fraught political terrain that Obama's speechwriters must traverse as the president prepares, once again, to console a nation in grief. Craig Smith, a speechwriter in the Ford and first Bush administrations, said Obama, not his writers, makes the call about how far to go and whether to use the speech as a call to action.

"What you want to do is praise the people who lost their lives and use them to display certain virtues and values that the public needs to believe in at this moment," Smith said.


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4 Injured When Semi Truck Crashes Into McDonald's State News Wed, 9 Apr 2014 6:04:08 AM 4 Injured When Semi Truck Crashes Into McDonald's

AMARILLO - At least four people have been taken to the hospital after a semi-truck crashed into the McDonald's at Amarillo Boulevard and Pierce Street..

Police say around ten last night a semi-truck hauling hay crashed through the west wall of the building, continued through the front counter and into the kitchen.

One person was reportedly ejected from the vehicle, and two people from the sedan were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

Police say the driver of the semi-truck was stuck inside the cab for some time before firefighters were able to safely remove him.

No life-threatening injuries or deaths have been reported at this time.

Officials are concerned of a possible gas leak in the building as a result of the crash.

It is unknown at this time whether that issue has been resolved.


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