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American Airlines Seeks Exemption From Tarmac Rule & Midday Roundup

By KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – Add American Airlines to the list of carriers that want out of the government's new rule to limit the time passengers can be held on the tarmac. American filed for a temporary exemption with the Department of Transportation on Monday.

The carrier, based in Fort Worth, Texas, says delays caused by the closure of the main runway at New York's JFK airport could cost them millions in fines. JetBlue and Delta asked for exemptions last week. Those three airlines are the largest operators at JFK.

The new rule is set to go into effect next month. It could mean fines of up to $27,500 per passenger if a plane is stuck on the tarmac for more than three hours.

Dallas County jail guard fired over remarks

A recently fired Dallas County jail guard previously disciplined for making offensive remarks says his free speech rights have been violated. A sheriff's department review concluded 59-year-old Stephen Johnson persisted in giving his religious opinions and speaking out against homosexuality.

The Dallas Morning News reported Tuesday that Johnson was fired Jan. 20 for conduct unbecoming an officer and for lying to internal affairs.

A sheriff's department report indicates Johnson in October interrupted a private conversation among jail staff and said gays should be annihilated.

Johnson said Monday that he was fired because he "hurt someone else's feelings." He says his free speech rights were violated, but he will not appeal.

Records show Johnson was suspended for three days and put on probation in 2000 for using a derogatory word to describe several minority inmates he was searching.

Tour bus rolls in south Texas

A Mexican tour bus overturned in south Texas, leaving at least two people dead and numerous passengers injured. Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Tom Vinger says the accident happened around 10 a.m. Tuesday on southbound Interstate 37, just north of Campbellton.

Vinger says the bus came to rest on its side in the grassy median, about 45 miles south of San Antonio.

Vinger told The Associated Press that the cause of the single-vehicle wreck is sought. He says the bus was traveling from San Antonio to Matamoros, Mexico. Vinger did not have information on where the trip originated.

Vinger says the bus carried about 35 people, including the driver. The DPS spokesman did not know whether the driver was among the injured. He had no number on those hurt, saying the injured were being transported to hospitals in San Antonio.

The accident happened during overcast conditions with temperatures in the mid-50s.