Safety board chair: ATF blocking plant blast probe
WACO, Texas (AP) - The head of a federal safety board says federal agents and the state fire marshal are blocking the board from investigating a deadly Central Texas fertilizer plant blast.
Rafael Moure-Eraso chairs the U.S. Chemical Safety Board. He has told a senator planning hearings into the West Fertilizer plant blast that the board's investigation of the blast has been blocked by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and State Fire Marshal's Office.
The Waco Tribune-Herald (http://bit.ly/166Cib4) reports that in a May 17 letter, he asks U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer to help the board obtain evidence controlled by the ATF from the April 17 blast that killed 15 people and injured about 200 others.
Man convicted of killing sons may testify
DALLAS (AP) - A North Texas man convicted of capital murder for drowning his two young sons may testify in the penalty phase of his trial - or he may not.
The Dallas Morning News reports (http://bit.ly/11RHhuP ) Naim Rasool Muhammad had insisted on testifying against the advice of his attorney. He may testify Wednesday, but defense attorney Paul Johnson continues to urge against it.
Muhammad could get the death penalty for drowning 5-year-old Naim and 3-year-old Elijah in a creek in August 2011 - or he could get life imprisonment without parole.
Johnson has urged jurors to spare Muhammad's life, saying his client drowned the children out of fear they'd grow up to be like him. Muhammad told police he was mad at the children's mother for breaking up with him.
Man pleads guilty in Picasso vandalism case
HOUSTON (AP) - A man accused of vandalizing a 1929 Pablo Picasso painting in an act that was caught on cellphone video has pleaded guilty in exchange for a 2-year prison sentence.
Uriel Landeros had faced felony graffiti and criminal mischief charges accusing him of spray-painting "Woman in a Red Armchair" at the Menil Collection in Houston.
Emily Detoto, Landeros' attorney, says that at a court hearing Tuesday, her client pleaded guilty to the graffiti charge as part of a deal with prosecutors. The other charge was dropped.
The painting was damaged June 13. A bystander captured the act in a 24-second video that was posted on YouTube. The vandal left behind an image of a bullfighter, a bull and the word "conquista," the Spanish word for conquest.
Drug testing for unemployment passes Texas House
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - More than an hour of delaying tactics from House Democrats has blocked a vote on a hotly debated bill that would have mandated drug testing for some welfare applicants.
Lawmakers earlier Tuesday night approved a measure requiring some people seeking unemployment insurance to undergo drug screening.
But a proposal requiring such testing for people enrolled in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families wasn't voted on before a key midnight deadline.
It had already passed the Senate and was backed by Gov. Rick Perry. The measure would have required applicants to answer questions to see if they are at risk of abusing drugs.
If they failed the screening, they would have been required to take a drug test. If the person tests positive, state officials could have suspended the person's benefits.
Bill modifies concealed handgun licenses
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Concealed handgun license holders in Texas would be allowed to carry a revolver or semi-automatic pistol, regardless of what they trained with on the shooting range under a bill advancing in the Texas Legislature.
Current law certifies license holders to carry only the type of gun they used to get their license. The bill by Sen. Craig Estes, a Wichita Falls Republican, would allow them to carry either model.
The bill passed the Senate on Tuesday night and still needs a House vote to send it to Gov. Rick Perry. Texas has more than 500,000 concealed handgun license holders.
The bill also would prevent cities from banning possession of an air gun.
LESBIAN COUPLE-MORALITY CLAUSE
Divorce clause keeps lesbians from living together
MCKINNEY, Texas (AP) - A judge has ruled that a North Texas lesbian couple can't live together because of a morality clause in the divorce papers of 1 of the women.
The clause is common in divorce cases in Texas and other states. It prevents a divorced parent from having a romantic partner spend the night while children are in the home. If the couple marries, they can get out from under the legal provision, but that is not an option for gay couples in Texas.
The Dallas Morning News (http://dallasne.ws/16MlSUQ ) reports that in a divorce hearing last month for Carolyn and Joshua Compton, Collin County District Judge John Roach Jr. ordered Carolyn Compton's partner to move out of the home they shared with the Comptons' two daughters.
E COLI OUTBREAK
Officials link E. coli outbreak to restaurant
BRYAN, Texas (AP) - Authorities have traced an E. coli outbreak in Central Texas to meat served to customers of a Mexican restaurant.
Health officials in Brazos County said Tuesday ground meat prepared at Coco Loco in College Station over a 3-day period in mid-April carried a virulent strain of the bacteria.
The Eagle reports (http://bit.ly/18fZ4ux) that Brazos County Health Authority Dr. Eric Wilke describes the outbreak as an isolated matter and says the restaurant has taken steps to prevent any future problems.
In a show of support, Wilke took a bite from a Coco Loco taco while meeting with the media.
Officials say five people were infected and that five other cases were investigated due to similar symptoms and are classified as probable E. coli.
A restaurant manager wasn't immediately available for comment.
CHRISTMAS EVE SHOOTINGS
Texas inmate charged in shootings dies, had cancer
ODESSA, Texas (AP) - A West Texas inmate facing allegations that he killed his ex-wife and wounded her son in a Christmas Eve attack has died after being diagnosed with cancer.
The Ector County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday confirmed the death of 55-year-old L.C. Davis Jr. of Odessa.
Sgt. Gary Duesler (DOOS'-ler) says Davis recently was moved to hospice care while in custody. Davis died Sunday at an Odessa hospital.
Davis was arrested last December after a police chase from Midland to Odessa. He was accused in the fatal shooting of 50-year-old Venesta Davis and the wounding of her adult son, Andrew Thurman. The victims were discovered in her car.
Davis was charged with murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon-family violence.
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